How to Create a Claymation or Stop-motion Video

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clay1   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion VideoNeed a cool project for school? Have oodles of free time? Try your skills at creating a video with claymation or stopmotion!

Claymation is an animation technique used with clay figures. ¬†Basically, each movement is a new “shot” and the “shots” are connected together at the end to make a movie. Famous claymation cartoons like Gumby and Wallace and Gromit have made the artistic form popular.

Stopmotion is the original animation technique used to create cartoons.  You can use any kind of toy (legos, for example). This technique was replaced by computer animation. Old cartoons used this technique to replace drawings and cells. There is no clay involved.

stopmotion   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of patience
  • A detailed storyboard
  • Clay (for claymation) or toys (for stopmotion)
  • Backdrop for scene
  • Digital camera
  • 6 more cups of patience
  • Lots of time
  • Movie-making software (free or commercial)

Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

There is a really good reason that old cartoons are short. They take a long time to create. So, if you need a quick project for school, learning how to create a claymation and stopmotion are not your best bets.

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clocks   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

Think about it.  To have your character raise her hand, it can take about 30 positions.  If you want your character to raise her hand, wave, jump for joy, and run away, you might need hundreds of positions! If you add in another character, like a puppy, you need even more pictures.

So, before you get started, plan which form you will use (clay or toys), plan for a lot of time, and plan to do a lot of laborious work. The end result is worth it!

Step 2: Create a Story Board

Every good movie starts with a story board. A story board maps out every single scene (including audio and special effects) within a movie. There are all sorts of fancy ones you can pay to own, or you can find a lot of good free ones online.

storyboard   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

For claymation and stopmotion, you want to make sure that you document every single movement that you will need shots for to create the exact movement of each scene. One excellent resource is offered free by Atomic Learning; you can watch free tutorials on Storyboarding and download free software to create one. Pizza by the Slice has some nice free storyboard downloads, as well.

Step 3: Build your clay models (or gather toys)

Clay is really fun to play with, but you will need to remember a few specific things…models that are too small are hard to work with when you have to change poses (a lot). ¬†Large clay figures often fall over.¬†Try to work with action figure sizes. Use wire inside the clay to keep the parts together (like a skeleton). This will make life so much easier when you change the poses.

legos   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

If you are working with toys, be sure all the parts work and that they can stand independently. ¬†Also, be sure the toys aren’t too small or too big. Wes Fryer’s stopmotion camp has some great photos if you would like to see some examples.

Step 4: Start Snapping!

Remember this golden rule for both claymation and stopmotion: each new position needs a new photo. Even if it is just slight, a new photo needs to be taken. For example, if you blink, you might think it is just eye open, eye shut. But, if you really think about a blink, your eyelid is open, closes a quarter, a half, three-quarters, is fully closed, opens 3 quarters, half, a quarter and opens fully. That equals 9 shots (though you can save time and use the duplicates twice so long as no other part of the body is moving).

kodak   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

Remember, you can never run out of digital film. Take lots of shots so you don’t have to go back and redo an entire movement. Get every possible angle you might need while the figure is in position.

Step 5: Load Images into Movie Program

Mac and PC users can use programs specific to the platform, but I find that Picasa’s movie maker works really well and is easy for my kids to manipulate.

picasa1   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

Simply load in the pics, set the flip speed to the lowest setting, and presto!

flip1   How to Create a Claymation or Stop motion Video

But, remember to load all of the pictures in order. If you want more polish, use Photoshop or Gimp to clear photo blemishes and trim edges.

Mac users can try using FrameByFrame or iMovie to create stopmotion videos. Windows users may try Windows Movie Maker or VirtualDub to export the sequential images as a video file.

Why Bother?

Claymation and stopmotion teach patience, attention to detail, photography and communication skills. Creating a movie from a lot of hard work is rewarding, as well!

Check out this final stopmotion video by Bang-yao Liu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design. You can see how the movie was made here (Thanks to Cindy Lane for the lead!).

Have you made claymation or stopmotion videos?  If they are kid-friendly, please post the URL in the comments box!

More Resources: Kevin Hodgson has a great page devoted to using stopmotion in the classroom.

Images by Statico, Wesley Fryer, Chris Campbell, Leo Reynolds, Joriel “Joz” Jimenez, Capt Kodak

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16 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Tovo

OK, so my son and I tried this a few months ago… it’s definitely not the greatest, but it’s definitely on topic and was a GREAT learning experience for my son (and me too). Just under 3 minutes, so you won’t waste too much time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU6C1Qej2UQ

We’re working on the sequel now… lots of lessons learned from the first run.

Beth Ritter-Guth

Awesome!!!! I think it is super :-) Let us know when the sequel is out :-)

Reply

Tovo

OK, so my son and I tried this a few months ago… it’s definitely not the greatest, but it’s definitely on topic and was a GREAT learning experience for my son (and me too). Just under 3 minutes, so you won’t waste too much time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

We’re working on the sequel now… lots of lessons learned from the first run.

Reply

Dead End

Just to let people know, you don’t need to work at 30 frames per second if you’re just going to upload your video to the net. If you’re jsut going to upload to youtube or vimeo, a lower frame rate like 15fps works fine. If you want your video on a DVD that can be played in any DVD player, then you need to work at 30 fps. If you work at 30 fps, you can work on two’s for most movements (each photo lasts onscreen for two frames), which will cut your workload in half.

You don’t actually need to have every blink be 9 shots. You can use the 1 photo eyes open/ 1 photo eyes closed/ 1 photo eyes open again for fast, snappy blinks. Just have the eyes closed photo last for 2 frames. But if you want someone to blink more slowly, then of course make the entire movement last more frames.

You can also use webcams for stop motion. Webcams are great because they can be detected and used by stop motion software, meaning you can use the programs to give you live feeds, onion skinning, edit your animation as you shoot it, etc. Webcams typically do poorly in low light situations though, so make sure your sets have a lot of light.

In addition to FramebyFrame, Framethief is also free for Macs.

Free stop motion programs for PC are:

Monkeyjam
http://www.giantscreamingrobotmonkeys.com/monkeyjam/

AnimatorDV: Simple+
http://www.animatordv.com/download7

SAM Animation.
http://www.samanimation.com/

Beth Ritter-Guth

Thanks, Dead End! There are a few different ways to do it, and I appreciate the information you posted!

Reply

Dead End

Just to let people know, you don’t need to work at 30 frames per second if you’re just going to upload your video to the net. If you’re jsut going to upload to youtube or vimeo, a lower frame rate like 15fps works fine. If you want your video on a DVD that can be played in any DVD player, then you need to work at 30 fps. If you work at 30 fps, you can work on two’s for most movements (each photo lasts onscreen for two frames), which will cut your workload in half.

You don’t actually need to have every blink be 9 shots. You can use the 1 photo eyes open/ 1 photo eyes closed/ 1 photo eyes open again for fast, snappy blinks. Just have the eyes closed photo last for 2 frames. But if you want someone to blink more slowly, then of course make the entire movement last more frames.

You can also use webcams for stop motion. Webcams are great because they can be detected and used by stop motion software, meaning you can use the programs to give you live feeds, onion skinning, edit your animation as you shoot it, etc. Webcams typically do poorly in low light situations though, so make sure your sets have a lot of light.

In addition to FramebyFrame, Framethief is also free for Macs.

Free stop motion programs for PC are:

Monkeyjam
http://www.giantscreamingrobot

AnimatorDV: Simple+
http://www.animatordv.com/down

SAM Animation.
http://www.samanimation.com/

Reply

Simon Slangen

Experimented with these when I was 15, using wire and a magazine.

“A little stop motion ad for NewGrounds, kinda like a frankenstein version of a magazine. This is one week intensive work, and I can sure tell you: paper guys are VERY unstable creatures. Well, vote fair, and I hope you guys like it.”

http://www.newgrounds.com/port

Looking back, a tripod would’ve been nice.

Reply

Simon Slangen

Experimented with these when I was 15, using wire and a magazine.

“A little stop motion ad for NewGrounds, kinda like a frankenstein version of a magazine. This is one week intensive work, and I can sure tell you: paper guys are VERY unstable creatures. Well, vote fair, and I hope you guys like it.”

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/345258

Looking back, a tripod would’ve been nice.

Reply

Laura Jacob

I did my first attempt with claymation with my basic English 12 classes this year. The kids did get frustrated quickly, but they sure do remember the story well now. Here are two examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

Reply

Laura Jacob

I did my first attempt with claymation with my basic English 12 classes this year. The kids did get frustrated quickly, but they sure do remember the story well now. Here are two examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqilD_XgS7I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqHkPx2nBvY

Beth Ritter-Guth

Awesome!!!! Tell the kids they did a fabulous job!

Reply

Mathew

Great post. I interviewed three teachers who use clay animation in their classrooms, including Kevin Hodgson, and posted their interview and examples of their work here: http://videointheclassroom.com/view_movies/film_pages/clay_animation.html

Reply

Mathew

Great post. I interviewed three teachers who use clay animation in their classrooms, including Kevin Hodgson, and posted their interview and examples of their work here: http://videointheclassroom.com

Reply

WendyElf

At the primary school I work in we had great fun making stop motion animation movies. (The children in our class are 10/11yr olds). Six different groups filmed short movies, using their own props and backgrounds, then added sound. As the films were so short, I combined them all together with Serif Movieplus x3 (with extra linking shots etc), and made a series of three films. Watch them here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akrxd2g-rKY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZS55Bj8C5A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAg3yAoPzcE

Free software for making stopmotion films:
http://www.heliumfrog.net63.net/heliumfrogindex.html

This next one looks great for kids, as it includes editing and sound effects, great for schools (but is not free): http://www.zu3d.com/

After our first lessons last year I went home full of rampant enthusiasm and made a few films to show the kids the next day, this is one of my first efforts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW5g-NQsxt4 the quality is fairly rubbish, but you can tell I was having fun… :)

This next one combines stop motion animation (using a webcam) and Crazytalk 5, http://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk/(makes whatever you want talk, is GREAT fun) edited in Serif Movieplusx3 – (the end is my fave bit)

Because I was communicating with good old Logitech earlier this year (I won one of their competions for the Logitech squeezebox, by making a short movie that people voted on), I asked them for, and they gave me, some free webcams for our school, so we can make more movies!!!! Fab… :)

Love your site btw… oh yes, and an article on where to source free sound effects (like http://www.freesound.org and royalty free music would be most useful!)

Reply

WendyElf

At the primary school I work in we had great fun making stop motion animation movies. (The children in our class are 10/11yr olds). Six different groups filmed short movies, using their own props and backgrounds, then added sound. As the films were so short, I combined them all together with Serif Movieplus x3 (with extra linking shots etc), and made a series of three films. Watch them here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

Free software for making stopmotion films:
http://www.heliumfrog.net63.ne

This next one looks great for kids, as it includes editing and sound effects, great for schools (but is not free): http://www.zu3d.com/

After our first lessons last year I went home full of rampant enthusiasm and made a few films to show the kids the next day, this is one of my first efforts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… the quality is fairly rubbish, but you can tell I was having fun… :)

This next one combines stop motion animation (using a webcam) and Crazytalk 5, http://www.reallusion.com/craz… whatever you want talk, is GREAT fun) edited in Serif Movieplusx3 – (the end is my fave bit)

Because I was communicating with good old Logitech earlier this year (I won one of their competions for the Logitech squeezebox, by making a short movie that people voted on), I asked them for, and they gave me, some free webcams for our school, so we can make more movies!!!! Fab… :)

Love your site btw… oh yes, and an article on where to source free sound effects (like http://www.freesound.org and royalty free music would be most useful!)

Reply

ooppym

Framebyframe stop motion.
Garageband soundtrack.
Kid-safe fun.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU_QOcf_Et0

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