How to make your own stop motion videos

In the creative industry, being able to adopt new skills and expand your work into new mediums is essential if you’re going to continue evolve professionally in an increasingly tech-savvy marketplace.

Stop motion videos are hardly a new fad to the creative world; Tony Hart was using them to make waves long before the internet and social networking even existed. We sat down with illustrator, animator and designer, Dan Olivier-Argyle, to find out why this medium is so relevant, how it can enhance your business and what you’ll need to get started.

As far as digital media goes, stop motion videos are notoriously time consuming to make and can often be tricky to get right, but taking the time to give it a go could be well worth your while. Dan is quick to point out how relevant this technique is, saying; “[it] has become trendy on social networks, particularly Instagram, and is now commonly used in advertising.” Many companies have adopted this creative technique to approach ‘the sell’ with a much softer, more shareable approach. Dan says, “Some companies use them to announce new products and services, and others use them to create excitement around events. Either way, the content is usually fun and engaging, cute and very shareable.” Since there is already demand in the commercial world for this kind of creative content, picking it up as a skill could secure you that extra commission and can also add another layer to your portfolio.

You won’t necessarily need a suite of video editing software, a studio or an expensive video camera to get started; the market for video creation is so diverse that no matter what your skill level or budget, you’ll be able to find an option that works for you.

“All you really need is a smartphone, something to hold it still (like a tripod), and a stop motion app. I like to take it to the next level and use a DSLR camera, and a continuous lighting kit I bought online for around £30. I edit my videos in Photoshop, frame by frame, and add music later on using Adobe Premiere. There are free options available too, like MonkeyJam (PC) and iMovie (Mac). If you want to really splash out, Dragonframe is supposed to be the bee’s knees, and is the industry standard for professional stop motion video production.”

Once you’ve set yourself up with the equipment that suits you, you’ll be ready to get started. “I sketch a rough storyboard before each video, then lay out a big sheet of card and arrange my props for the first shot. I like to control the lighting, so I switch off every light in the room except for my studio light.” Like anything, getting the foundations of the creative project on-point from the very start is crucial, especially if you’re going to invest a substantial amount of time in creating and finishing the piece. “Once everything is set up, I shoot some practice shots and flick through them on my camera to see if everything is in focus and in frame. Then it’s a matter of shooting every frame, moving objects a little with each shot.”

The post-shooting editing process is relatively simple and is made even more enjoyable when watching playback of your own footage and sharing that finished piece of work with the world.

Dan says; “Once I have every shot, I bring them into Photoshop and set up an animation timeline. I adjust the viewing time for each shot until I’m happy with the motion. This stage is really exciting because you get to see your still frames come to life. Then all that’s left to do is to export the video and share it online.”

Once you’re happy that you have the basics down, you can start to explore various techniques to help give your videos character and realism. “Add a little ‘easing’ to the motion by moving the objects more when they’re speeding up, and less when they slowing down. Once you’ve nailed those, try making things bounce, explode and disappear.”

Any final words of wisdom from Dan? “Watching stop motion is magical, but creating it yourself and sharing it with the world is even better. I’d recommend it to anyone with ideas to share and a lot of patience for inanimate objects!”

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