Blobstudios

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Where To Start?

So you want to make stop motion videos?

Well, you're in the right place!!!

 

First of all you'll need to have a large clean desk like this:

Now to make stop motions you'll need a lego board. Make sure it is completely stuck down either with blu-tack or with masking tape. This is essential so your set does not move about while filming.

On your desk you should only have the following things:


Your set, blu-tack, masking tape, your camera and any spare lego you will need.

 

You will also need access to your computer, somewhere close like this:


This is important so you can take frames and not have to reach far away from your set.

Securing Everything

To make a good stop motion you need to make sure nothing moves around that's not supposed to while filming.

To create the illusion of smooth movement the camera needs to be secure, the set needs to be secure and the lighting needs to be even.

First of all tape down your lego baseplate on the desk using masking tape like this:


The lego baseplate is where you will build your sets to be filmed.

 

Securing your camera is also very important. If you keep bumping the camera while taking your pictures, when you play your animation it will bump a alot and give away the effect of movement. Here are ways to secure your camera.

 

  • Use a tripod which is taped securely down to the desk.
  • Use sticky tack and/or masking tape to secure the camera to the desk.
  • If you use a certain camera make a lego base for it which connects with the baseplate so it keeps the camera very steady (more information at the bottom of the page).

Lighting

If your set is not lighted properly then when taking pictures the light will be different in every picture. To ensure there is no light flicker in your videos do the following things which will prevent this.

 

  • Wear dark clothes.
  • Make sure you go back to the same position when taking each picture.
  • Close your curtains or film at night.
  • Make sure there is enough light on the set.
  • Turn off the automatic settings on your camera like the white balance and exposure.

 

Here is my setup for my lighting:

I put paper around my lights to reduce the harshness of the lights and to spread the light evenly over my set.

Software

Different people animate in different styles. Some people do not use a frame capture program where as others do and some people will use more programs than others.

Here is a list of the main software I use:

 

  • Sony Vegas 9.0 - for editing video, adding in sound effects and audio
  • MonkeyJam - for taking pictures and stringing them together
  • Audacity - for recording and editing audio
  • Gimp - for editing images and for adding special effects
  • VirtualDub - for adding other video effects 
  • Bafran - for masking images (Gimp can do this too but I find Bafran faster)

You shouldn't use some software because other people do, try a few out and see which ones you feel comfortable with. 

Here is a list of free software for Linux, Mac OSX and Windows on Bricksinmotion.com

Equipment

Next you will need some equipment. The most important being a computer but if you're reading this then you probably already have one. Any computer will be able to create films on but it does need to be able to take lots of programs and be able to stay on for a long time without overheating (unlike my old computer).

The next piece of equipment you will need is a camera. There are so many cameras out there it is hard to know which ones are suitable for stop motion.

Here is a small criteria it must meet:

 

  • Should have a high resolution (minimum of 640x480)
  • Must have manual focus
  • Must have full control over the settings

 

The 'Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000' (~£35 / ~$53) is by far the most popular camera for stop motion as it meets the criteria and it's cheap. It works for Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Some people use digital cameras and others use webcams. I use a webcam as it is able to connect to a computer and therefore you can use a frame capture program to take pictures.

For recording audio you will also need a microphone. At the moment I use a C01U USB Condenser Microphone.

In my older films I have used a microphone that came in the PS2 game Singstar. I have listed some good microphones and their prices here: 

 

  • Logitech Desktop Microphone - £15
  • Logitech USB Desktop Microphone - £25 / $30
  • Samson C01U USB Condenser Microphone - ~£70 / ~$75
  • Blue Snowball USB Microphone - ~£65 / ~$65

 

The microphones I have listed above are ones I have used myself or I know people who use them.

A pop filter is also a useful thing to have when recording voices.

What now...

Now that you've set up your very own animation studio you should be ready to start animating.

Take a look at my other guides to help you get started on the 'Guides & Tutorials' page.