How to make your first stop-motion video on a budget
So, you’ve seen plenty of splendid stop-motion videos, and you’ve finally decided to make your own. Rob Nelson of the Rob & Jonas duo will show you where to start and how to make your very first stop-motion video. You don’t need fancy gear and a lot of money to start. If you have a smartphone, it’s basically free. You need some props, a few hours of your time and the willingness to do it, that’s all.
As I mentioned, making a stop-motion video will take up some of your time. Rob writes that it will probably take you around 3 hours for the first one, which doesn’t sound too bad at all.
Rob mentions four categories of stop-motion, which could help you get to know the genre and decide what to make:
- clay-motion, animating clay objects
- object-motion, animating moving objects
- cut-out motion, animating paper cutouts
- pixilation, moving and animating people
Alexander Unger, one of the artists Rob features in the video, uses a DSLR and Dragonframe software to create his animations. The software costs around $300, which can be a bit too much for just playing and having fun with stop-motion. But if you ever plan to make a bigger project, maybe it’s also not a bad solution.
Anyway, since we’re dealing with a virtually free way to create a stop-motion video, let’s get back to it.
First, think about what you want to make, and I suggest that you start with something simple. Rob uses Stop Motion Studio app, which captures one picture at a time onto your timeline. You can pause it at any time and review the frames, delete the shots and so on. It’s free for download, so you can get it straight away and try it out. I downloaded it, and it’s very intuitive.
Rob shares some basic concepts and things to consider before and during creating your stop-motion:
- Keep it steady: use a tripod or any other stable surface for your camera to prevent it from moving.
- Don’t touch your camera: use a remote trigger to take the pictures. If you touch the camera every time, you can’t avoid moving it at least a bit, and it will show in the final video. Instead of using the remote trigger, you can also set the camera to take a shot every ten seconds. Another solution is to shoot on one device and sync it with another that will trigger it.
- Shoot manually: use manual settings and lock them in the Stop Motion Studio app so you avoid the flicker effect.
- Lighting: use good, consistent lighting. Keep in mind that, when you move out of the frame, you may cast the shadow onto the scene. It also creates the flicker effect, but it can look good. If you want to achieve it, that’s cool. But if you don’t, pay attention not to cast the shadow onto the scene.
- Frame rate: you need to know how many frames to shoot to have a certain sequence in your video. For example, videos are generally shot at 24 or 30 frames per second. Stop-motion videos have the jittery effect, which you’ll achieve with a lower frame rate: seven to ten frames per second.
- Audio: keep in mind that you’re creating silent still images, so you need to add sound later. Therefore, think about what you want the final video to sound. You can add music, sound effects, or both. It all depends on what you want to achieve.
I’ve always been into watching stop-motion videos, but it always seemed too complicated to make them myself. Rob has made it look simple, at least when you just want to play with the technique. So, I’m now into creating my own stop-motion video. If Rob’s tutorial has inspired you to try it as well, feel free to share the results with us. Good luck!
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.