One of the biggest benefits of the widespread popularity of use of digital photography and digital video is that it is now easier for amateur filmmakers to create stop motion videos.
Stop motion is a technique in which still images are sequenced to create the illusion of movement. In analogue film, 24 still frames are projected each second. When images move at that speed—which more closely resembles real life movements—our brains are involved in a process called closure. Closure involves filling in the gaps and perceiving movement where there is none. That is the basic logic behind film and other sequential arts such as comic books.
Amateur stop motion filmmakers can use a camera or even a smartphone to capture the still images and then edit them together using a desktop editing suite. When working with stop motion there is one golden rule: detail is king.
In order to create a sequence of images that is cohesive and has internal logic, factors such as lightning and the placement of each object have to be consistent. Here are five must-follow tips to shoot excellent stop motion videos on your own:
Light is one of cinema’s main tools for expression, but it can also give rookie filmmakers headaches. If you shoot a stop motion video in an exterior location, chances are that the lightning will vary tremendously, particularly if you work over several hours or several days. For that reason, it is always better to shoot in an environment that you can control and where you can move the lights around on your own accord.
Tell a simple story with simple characters. Learning how to tell complex stories is a craft that takes a long period of time to master; so if you are just starting out, tell a story with one location and one or two characters alone. This will also let you control the environment and achieve a higher level of detail.
A good way to exercise both your creativity and your technical skills is to shoot different objects. You can make awesome short stop motion films using fruit, rocks or even metal objects like motorcycle parts. By doing this, you will know how to capture surfaces that reflect light in different ways.
Keep track of technical elements such as the aperture and the speed of each shot. This will help you be consistent, learn from your mistakes and know exactly how you were able to capture that awesome shot. If you are good at drawing, it is highly recommend that you plan each scene using storyboards.
One of the most popular uses of stop motion is the recreation of famous movies using Lego. This might seem a bit childish for some, but the creators of these videos make a good point; in order to perfect your stop motion repertoire, why not have fun while practicing?