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Stop Motion Animation

Updated on February 1, 2008

What is Stop Motion Animation?

You probably already know that a movie in the movie theatre is actually a series of pictures shown in quick succession. If you look at the film this is what you see - a series of pictures. Each picture is a little bit different and when you play them in succession it creates the illusion of motion.

This is exactly what happens with stop motion animation except you create each picture in the series individually. Let's say you take a picture of a ball laying on the floor. You then move the ball one inch to the right and take another picture. You continue moving the ball one inch at a time and take a new picture. If you play these pictures in succession you get a movie of the ball moving across the floor.

Using a ball is just a simplified example and you can probably see that the possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to making animations. Anything that can be moved or changed can be turned into an animation and it is in this creativity that the whole hobby gets to be a lot of fun.

An Animator at work

A stop motion animation of a paper knight
A stop motion animation of a paper knight

Creative Ideas for animation

Just about anything can be turned into an animation and you can work in both 2 dimensions or 3 dimensions. Here are some ideas that will get your creativity flowing.

  • Drawings on paper can be erased and moved
  • Flipbook style animation
  • Draw on dry erase board - This is really effective because the drawings are easily erased and redrawn

  • Do drawings of figures and cut them out then animate them on a flat surface

  • Claymation - Clay and playdoh are great mediums for making figures and objects

  • Dolls and toys make good subjects for animation

  • Just about anything at all can be animated -furniture, things on your desk, clothing, paper, dishes, even pets or yourself

So How do you do it?

Here is a quick overview of the process

  1. Create your models
  2. take your series of pictures as you move your models
  3. upload this series of pictures to your computer
  4. Use some kind of software to concatenate the pictures into a smooth video.

If you are wondering about what software to use istopmotion is great software for the Macintosh and MovieMaker is great (and free) software that comes with most windows operating systems.

A tutorial on how to make a stop motion animation


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