Animate a Shot

It's time to animate a shot! First, we need to build our set, and add lighting and characters.

Set Build

Find a good spot to create your set -- a big table or workbench is best, especially if you can put it up against a wall to serve as your backdrop.

You can lay down some cardstock or foamcore board as your ground plane and back wall in the set.

We'll use some poster putty or tape to place one of the Adafruit Halloween cards in the background of our set.

Characters

A couple of Adafruit Halloween character stickers seem just right for this! You can peel them off of the backing and stick them to a small stack of LEGO bricks so they'll stand upright.

Lighting

You may notice that natural shifts in lighting while you're creating your film become very noticeable when playing back the shot at speed. To minimize this, try to control your lighting by placing a couple of lights above and to either side of your set.

Camera Setup

We want to avoid any wiggle in our frames by locking down the camera. You can use a tripod mounting case for your device or simply wedge it in place with rubber bands and some hard back books! Anything that works so long as the lens is clear, you can see and use the screen, and it isn't going to move around while you're animating!

Pose the Characters

Pose the first frame of your shot. We'll start with a very simple setup, using our Crickit trick-or-treater near the center of the frame, and our Bat-AdaBot flying in from off frame upper right using a support of some kind. I am using a helping hand arm.

App Setup

Specific steps will vary depending on the software you use. In Stop Motion Studio, we'll first create a new project by pressing the plus sign.

Next, point the camera at your subject and tap the camera icon to lock in the setting we want. If we don't do so, the focus, exposure, shutter speed, and white balance will tend to vary from frame to frame.

Use the manual mode and pick the settings you want to lock in for the shot.

Frame Rate

Choose your frame rate for the shot -- I am using 5 FPS, which means for every frame I shoot it will be played for 1/6th of a second.

Shoot the Frame

Now, press the record frame button (or use the button on a pair of earbuds plugged into the headphone port). Your first frame is in the can!

Next, adjust the characters slightly to they'll meet up an a couple of seconds. You can see by the overlaid onion skin transparency what the positions were for each character on the previous frame. If these are very nearly overlapping, you'll make slower final movements in the animation; if these are farther apart, the motion will be rapid.

We want Bat-AdaBot to move quickly, so you'll want bigger spacing between frames. Shoot your next frame of animation.

Here's a section from my John Park's Workshop livestream where I added some animation to a shot. Also note how I've oriented the whole scene as a down shot, which really helps your characters to defy gravity!

Repeat until Finished!

Keep posing and shooting each frame of animation until you're done! You can use these images as a guide.

At any time you can scrub the timeline images left and right to get a sense of the motion, or press play to preview the shot at full speed.

Exporting and Share Your Movie

You can now choose the back button in the app to complete your shooting and then export the animation. You'll have choices for exporting still frames (great if you want to do more editing) or a movie file. Export the movie file and share it with your friends!

This guide was first published on Oct 05, 2018. It was last updated on Oct 05, 2018. This page (Animate a Shot) was last updated on Sep 15, 2019.