If you were gutted to hear your son or daughter mutter, “I wish you were cool enough to make movies like Wallace & Gromit” mid-film, don’t fret. Making stop motion movies isn’t as complicated as it looks. Sure, you won’t be making a 2-hour Hollywood blockbuster (look below at my “movie” for evidence), but kids definitely enjoy seeing their own crazy ideas come to life on the screen. And as a parent, that gives you joy, right? Of course it does!
Here’s how to get started with a stop motion masterpiece:
- Decide on a story. Keep it simple to begin with (singing Sesame Street fruit might be a tad ambitious at this moment in time—even if it is your kid’s lifelong goal to make an orange sing). Attacking gummy worms, rubber ducky parties or even a Robot Rampage are some simple themes used with things lying around the house.
- Once a story is decided on, kids can then plan the entire movie out on a storyboard, just like a real animator. They don’t need to be a Picasso during this stage—just simple pictures to show a rough outline on how the story will unfold.
- Fun time! Kids will create the characters and the backdrop. Lego men in an Arabian desert? Rubber duckies in outer space? Stuffed toys in a castle? This is where you’ll really see your kid’s creativity come alive (just ignore those really wacky suggestions where the kids beg you to construct a wooden fort for the project. That can come later).
- IN POSITION! So you’re all set. It’s time to finally start filming. Here’s where the kids will learn all about patience. Stop motion takes a bit of time, but it’s well worth it in the end. Place the camera (if you’re using a digital camera/camcorder) in a stationary position. You don’t want it to be moving at all. Then go ahead and set up the scene.
- QUIET ON SET! ACTION! Follow the storyboard and take pictures with your digital camera, webcam or camcorder. You’ll need about 10 pictures per each second of film (it’s a lengthy process, I know, but it’s well worth it!). Be sure to remember that each new position needs a new picture. If your character is waving, you need to take pictures of every motion of that wave. Also remember not to get in the shot (you’ll see I don’t take my own advice in my movie below!). Your child will be a pro at taking photos after this activity—you can count on it.
- Once all the photos are taken, it’s time to load them into a Stop Motion program. There is plenty of software out there. For my poorly-edited, poor-quality 27 second “movie,” I used a trial version of Boinx iStopMotion (don’t judge this awesome software by the quality of my movie!) which took me about 20 minutes to make (obviously). And with a better camera (my webcam is from the dark ages), imagine the high quality films you and the kids can make when you have a whole day to spend creating.
Why are you still reading? Your future Spielberg is raring to go!