For more animation apps, see: Desktop & Mobile Apps for Animation
STOP MOTION BASICS
What is Stop Motion?
A series of photos of inanimate objects that were repositioned in tiny increments to create the illusion that they’re “alive” and are moving or behaving with a purpose. Objects may include those that resemble people or animals, such as puppets, dolls, clay figures, toys, and so on, or any other object that might plausibly “come alive” in order to tell a story.
What Equipment Do I Need?
(1) Objects to animate
You can animate: paper cutouts, clay figures, action figures, LEGOS, household objects, food, and just about anything else you can think of.
(2) Table top surface devoted to your stage
You do NOT want to have to set up and break down your stage every time you want to record some new material!
Here’s an early version of my table top set for stop motion with clay:
(3) A mobile or desktop app specifically for capturing stop motion
What makes an app designed specifically for stop motion is that it has “onion skinning,” which allows you to see a “ghost image” of where your characters were in your last shot, so you can easily line them up for the next shot. (See screenshots further down.)
(4) A webcam or mobile device camera
These cameras allow you to use the “onion skinning” feature in stop motion apps, while most other kinds of digital cameras do not. There’s no point in using a higher quality digital camera for stop motion because the process will take you 4x as long and all the extra pixels you captured will just be wasted.
I’ve used my iPhone and iPad cameras (with appropriate apps) and got good results, but now I use a $60 HP webcam so that I have more freedom with where to position it.
APPS FOR STOP MOTION
The most useful feature of a stop motion app is the ability to use onion-skinning. Scroll down for an example of what this feature looks like in iStopMotion for Mac.
- iStopMotion for Mac (you can use the free trial version)
- Smoovie for Mac
- I Can Animate 2 (Mac and Windows)
WHY YOU NEED ONION SKINNING
If you use a stop motion app with the ability to do “onion skinning,” you’ll find the process a LOT faster and less tedious. Every stop motion animation app for iPad I tried has this ability. The only one for Mac I’ve tried is iStopMotion, which is available as a free trial (but I ended up buying it).
The screenshots below are from iStopMotion for Mac. I made them to show you what onion skinning looks like, but you can learn a lot more by doing your own Google searches.
TO LEARN MORE
- Teach Animation: Stop Motion Lesson (paper cutout, drawn, 3D, and clay)
- Stop Motion Animation Tutorials & more
- Brick Films (stop motion with Lego or other block figures)
- Clay Animation Resources
- How stop motion is made
- Wikipedia article on Stop Motion
- “Art doll” template (for creating a paper cutout puppet)