What is stop motion?
A dictionary definition for you: a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started, for example to give animated figures the impression of movement. So if you wanted a video of your toy car driving itself around, you'd take a photo, move the car slighty, take another photo, move the car a little more, take another photo, move the car a little more, take another... etc. It's beyond tedious! But if you've got patience, the effect is worth it.
Why did I use stop motion in my A to Z Challenge video?
Anyone can take a video these days (most cellphones can do it) so it's not really that exciting anymore. I wanted to do something a little different, so I went for stop motion. I've found the idea fascinating since I watched the Wallace and Gromit short films when I was little. Those films would technically be called clay-mation (from clay animation). The characters are made from plasticine modelling clay, and it must be a truly painstaking job to make all the teeny, tiny changes for each frame so that the characters appear to move smoothly.
I'm not quite that skilled yet! The only thing I had to move in my video was my hand, and the movement in each frame was noticeable because I wanted to achieve that jerky "stop motion" feel (and it would have taken way too long if I'd wanted to make the movement any smoother!).
How can you do it?
You need a tripod, a camera and a computer with video editing software. Well, you don't actually need a tripod, but it makes life a whole lot easier (I know, because I've done this without a tripod before!). Computers with Windows should have Windows Movie Maker on them (or you can download it for free), and Apple computers come with iMovie.
1. Set your camera up on your tripod (mine was pointing down onto a table).
2. Arrange your subject in front of the camera (I had pieces of paper with words written on them, plus my hand).
3. Take your first photo.
4. Move the subject slightly (I moved my hand to reveal a letter or two of a word I was covering).
5. Take another photo.
6. Repeat this until you a) reach the end of whatever sequence you've planned, b) get really bored or c) deplete the life of your camera batteries.
7. Open up Windows Movie Maker (or the Apple version, which I've never used) and insert all your photos (in order, obviously).
8. Adjust the length of time each photo is visible for (I used half a second) so that the photos follow on from one another really quickly.
9. Add music, captions and titles if you feel like it.
10. Save the movie.
It really is very easy!
Rachel Morgan is the author of Guardian, the first novelette in the Creepy Hollow series. She was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.
Thank you, Rachel! As she says here, creating an animated film is fairly easy to do as long as you have the equipment, time, and plenty of patience. I encourage you to try it yourself if you are interested in video making. If you create anything you'd like to share with the rest of us, feel free to send it to me and I'll feature it in this blog.
Be sure to stop by to visit Rachel at Rachel Morgan Writes and don't forget that she has a new book out. For more information about her book Guardian (Creepy Hollow #1) please visit:
Have you ever dabbled in stop-motion or other experimental types of film making? Do you have a favorite film that was made using the stop motion technique? Have you read Guardian yet?
Just in case you have not yet seen Rachel's A to Z Video here it is again: