DIY film school
Create a short stop motion animation film, and watch your toys spring to life!
How does stop motion animation work?
It’s rumoured that the legendary cinema pioneer and illusionist Georges Méliès accidentally discovered stop motion animation when his camera mysteriously jammed. Upon restarting it, he noticed how everything in the room had subtly changed, and that by deliberately disrupting the process, he could make objects dance and move in the most peculiar and enchanting way.
Soon after, stop motion films began appearing in Europe. What started as a novelty turned into an acclaimed art form when artists began utilising its charms. Notable examples include Lotte Reiniger’s shadow puppet masterpieces – credited as the first animated films ever made – as well as Wallace and Gromit, Star Wars, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Oliver Postgate’s beloved Bagpuss, which tells the story of ‘the most important, the most beautiful, the most magical…saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.’
To make it work, you simply place an object in front of a camera and snap a photo. You then move the object a teeny tiny bit, and snap again. Repeat this process twenty to ten thousand times and play the sequence back in rapid progression. The objects will come to life, and appear to move fluidly across the screen, dancing and jumping.
- Start by talking to your child about what stop motion animation is.
- Set up your backdrop together. This could be a wall, or a piece of foam core. Simple, clean, and well-lit backdrops work best. You could shine some artificial light, or set up near a window.
- Encourage your child to gather some toys/objects to include in their animation, and discuss the characters of each. What are their personalities like? What’s their story? How can you try to convey this in the video? If you like, you can make things more challenging by helping your child to set up a storyboard A storyboard is a series of thumbnails that show the breakdown of the video, illustrating the key scenes — how the setting will look, who will be present, and what actions will take place. It looks a bit like a comic strip.
- Set up your tablet or smartphone on a stand or tripod, directly across from the backdrop.
- Start up the Stop Motion Animation App and let your imaginations run riot.
Benefits of stop motion animation for children
- Offers children ownership and autonomy in the filmmaking process
- Teaches children how stop motion animation works
- Encourages problem solving
- Encourages children to project and plan out where a story is heading
- Fosters experimentation through trying and testing
- Supports storytelling
- 1 hour
- 2 pieces of foam core, a collection of toys/objects to animate, a smart phone, tablet, or iPad, a tripod or stand to hold your device steady, a Stop Motion Animation App (we recommend the free version of Stop Motion Studio by Cateater for iOS - available here)
- Creativity, confidence, logic, problem solving, storytelling
- Future filmmakers