Stop Motion Videos: Big Results & Little Effort

Are you responsible for the social media appearance of your company? Then you might be familiar with this: It’s a daily struggle to have your content stand out from the sheer enormity of noise surrounding your audience, your budget is say… “limited” and you are once again in the situation that you have to fill the editorial calendar with quality segments.

I recently found a possible solution to these challenges. It’s relatively resource-efficient and — I dare say — even fun to realise. And I’m more than willing to share my new weapon of choice with you: Stop motion videos.

Stop motion is a technique to animate movies. By stringing together images, you create the illusion that immobile objects seemingly start to move.

DIY Stop Motion Video

Don’t think about it too much, just do it. Of course that’s easier said than done. That’s why I will share some of the insights I gained in the first semester of my Content Strategy master’s degree. In the DIY-phase of the lecture Video & Multimedia we were coached by video and storytelling pro Hubert Weitzer on the realities behind the camera.

In our final lecture, we got the opportunity to try out the techniques that we learned ourselves. In teams of 6, we tackled the challenge.

Turns out that producing your own stop motion video is not nearly as difficult as you might have thought. Here is your step-by-step guide:

  1. Come up with an script for your short video. Don’t forget to consider the art of storytelling. Important: Keep it simple.
  2. Get your equipment ready. But don’t worry: You don’t need an excessive amount — in fact a decent camera does the job. You might also consider some additional lighting.
  3. Arrange your first scene. Play around with artificial lighting a little bit if you want.
  4. Take your first photo.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for as long as your script demands. Make sure that you only change the scene on the subsequent photo marginally — this ensures the animation will appear more smoothly.
  6. Start with the post production. Open the programme of your choice (we opted for Photoshop just because it was already installed on the computer). Arrange the photos — one after the other — in the timeline so that they are a couple of milliseconds apart. Vary the speed of your animation to find the sweet spot for your particular animation.

In our first attempt, my group and I reenacted the invention of the wheel. I’m sure that there are still a couple of tricks to be learned and aspects that could use a final touch, but I have to admit this: I’m truly proud of my very first stop motion animation.

Our very first slow motion video — “The invention of the wheel”

Stop motion approaches and how to use them

Off the top of my head, there are lots of possible applications for this technique. I can hardly wait put my new-won insider knowledge about stop motion clips into practice — and produce a video that puts a smile on the faces of my target audience.

Stop motion clips open up a world of opportunities. Because really, what other technique allows you to turn a bunch of multi-coloured post-its into a stunning video clip?

Prepare to be awed: Stunning post-it animation

So here is a little challenge for you: Think about how you could turn the next event invitation into a captivating short clip that will catch the attention of your audience.

Framing, equipment, and other video-making essentials

Of course you can’t — or rather shouldn’t — start with your own video project before acquiring basic video-making essentials. That’s why our lecturer Hubert Weitzer helped us build a solid theoretical backbone in the first couple of weeks of our lecture. Among other things, we learned that colours do matter. That the framing of a movie doesn’t just occur by chance. And that light settings determines the mood of a scene. And we got our teeth into the various forms of equipment.

What became quite clear over the course of my lecture was, however, that we (the amateurs) have to lose the fear of the equipment. Just literally go out there and try out different things. Find examples that you liked and improve your own technique by trying to imitate them. But don’t forget to get your creative energies flowing as well. The rest is practice — and quite possibly a little bit of talent.

What are you waiting for? Get your cameras out and start creating!

The runner-ups — some of our other projects that didn’t turn out half bad:

Vertico effect brought to life
Our interpretation of Cinemagram