Stop-Motion Production

Choose some props and make stop-motion animation.

There are a lot of options when it come to the supplies youth can use while creating their stop-motion videos: figurines, pencil/paper, puppets, Legos, clay, assorted objects, whiteboard, or people. Decide which medium members will work in, or, if possible, give them a range of choices.




What is Stop-Motion Animation?

What do you think stop-motion animation is? If you are working with others, share your thoughts. If you are working independently, jot down a few notes. Do you know any examples?

Do a web search for stop-motion videos and watch a few examples. What do the examples have in common? And how are they different? What materials were used in creating the examples you saw? What questions do you have about how stop-motion is created?

Watch the video Stop Motion Animation Tutorials - Part 1: Getting Started.

Some of the stop motion animation films you saw were probably claymation. If you want your stop-motion animation to be a claymation movie, start with the claymation project and then come back to this project.
Begin the session by asking the group if anyone can describe stop-motion animation. Listen to a few ideas and ask for some examples. Then, as a group, watch the video Stop Motion Animation Tutorials - Part 1: Getting Started.


What Props Will You Use?

If you’ve already done the project Clay Animation, skip this activity.

What medium do you want to use for stop-motion? Some animators use clay, but others use toys, drawings, paper, puppets or even people. If you want to draw your Stop Motion story, using a whiteboard will be easier than a pen and paper since you can erase tiny parts of the drawing and change them between photos. Watch this video to an example. Stop-motion animations made with Legos are called “Brickfilms.”

What do you want to do in your video? Remember, it can be as simple as making a sock look like it is alive as it inches across the floor. Keep your idea short. It takes A LOT of photos for video that is several seconds long.

Check out the Brickfilm Colton Plays Ball, made by a Club member.

Here is The Happy Gardener, an example of a 12-second claymation stop-motion animation. How many photos do you think were taken to make this video?

Believe it or not, that was 36 photos. Each second of video showed 3 photos (so the animation was 3 frames per second).

As a group, watch a few examples of stop-motion videos using different mediums. Ask members what they like about each and what differences they notice.

Stop-Motion Whiteboard Animation: The Marker Maker
Colton Plays Ball (Brickfilm made with Legos)
The Happy Gardener (clay)

After watching The Happy Gardener, ask members how many photos they think the video is composed of. You could ask every member for a guess. Yhe one who guesses the closest wins. (36 photos) Next, say: The video is 12 seconds long. How many photos are in each second? (3 photos)

For information on using stop-motion in a learning environment, read the article "Engage Elementary Students with Stop Motion" from the International Society for Technology in Education.


Take Tons of Photographs

Ready to start the show?

1.) Place your camera on a tripod pointing toward a well-lit area. If you don’t have a tripod, make your camera as stable as possible by setting it on something. Some stop motion animation videos are shot from above. If the items you’re using are paper or drawings, try to find a way to stabilize your camera or mobile device so that it sits directly above the items you want to animate.

2.) Set up your props. Take a photo.

3.) Move your props a TINY bit in the direction you want them to go. Take another photo.

4.) Continue making tiny adjustments and taking photos until your props have “acted out” the entire story (like in the images below). The idea is to move bit by bit toward the final goal. You’re going to end up with a ton of photos. Take your time. Moving too quickly or shaking the camera are two of the most common mistakes in stop-motion animation.

Show students the series of photographs to the left. When they are played one after the other, they become the movie "The Happy Gardener."

Talk through the checklist, in the section to the left, with members. Or give them a copy of the checklist and let them work through things on their own.


Produce Your Movie

Put all your photos on your computer.

-- If you are using a Mac, open iMovie and follow this tutorial.
-- If you are using a Windows PC, open Windows Movie Maker and watch this tutorial or start on page 45 of this guide.
-- If you don’t have either program, use the free version of WeVideo. This tutorial covers uploading your photos to your WeVideo account.

Load all of your media (photos) into the editing software. Select all your photos (try to keep them in order!) into the video builder.

To make the photos look like continuous motion, adjust the length of time that each photo plays. When each photo shows for a long time, it looks like a slide show, but a quick series of photos looks like an animation. Professional animators might use 24 photos per second of video, but you can also make an animation using 2 photos per second.

Once your photos are playing fast enough to look like an animation, you could add music or narration. You might also add a title page, credits or other graphics.

If you have questions about specific parts of the process, you could search online for more stop-motion support or other video tutorials.
Each member will finish taking all their photos at a different time. Give members the instructions listed when they finish taking their photos. If some members struggle with written directions like this, you could project your screen and do each step with them.


Share Your Movie

When you’ve completed your movie, you’ll need to export it so that you can share it.

To export your movie from iMovie, follow these instructions. To export your movie from Movie Maker, follow these instructions. In WeVideo, you could save your video as an MP4 or upload it to Vimeo. 

To share your video with friends over email, social media or the My.Future platform, you might want to upload your movie to Vimeo. Learn how to upload a movie to Vimeo here.

Share your finished movie and ask for ideas for future stop-motion movies. Don’t stop here. Keep creating.

Have members export their finished movies. After that, they can show their videos to people in person and share them digitally by uploading them to to Vimeo.


Save and Submit

Upload your video to YouTube, and then upload your YouTube URL to earn a star.

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