Stop Motion Animation

Stop Motion Animation

With Director Nathan Lee

Stop motion animation is a technique of taking photos and stitching them together to create movement. It has been around since the dawn of motion pictures and is relevant today because it is real, tactile, and handmade and has a charm, which is unmistakable. It is a good technique for fun products, such as toys, and for a particularly artistic project when you want to infuse magical whimsy. One of the keys to good stop motion is shooting those extra frames, which add curves and a smoothness & elegance to the motion.

The tools to make stop motion animation are relatively simple, but critical. The hot blue gun is your best friend and aluminum wire is right up there. You obviously need a camera, lights and a computer with animation software to put it all together. Fishing line can be helpful for rigging. Tape, blades, & lots of glues are also great. Consistent lighting is a must for quality stop motion because it may be five minutes between shots.

The time to produce stop motion must always be taken into account. I shoot 12 frames per second and movies shoot 24 frames per second. In stop motion each frame is it’s own unique set up that is a different shot from the previous one. For a 30 second commercial that is 360 shots. You can spend about one hour shooting per one second of video, which can be roughly 3 shoot days. There is also a fair amount of preproduction creating all of the elements prior to filming.

The good thing about stop motion is you are essentially editing as you capture the frames. The post is mostly spent cleaning up rigging, color correcting, and audio. A thirty-second spot can take approximately 2 weeks of non-stop production to delivery if all goes according to plan.

You can see Nathan’s work at: