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22 of 52 Assignment – Fun With Kids (Stop Motion Animation)

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posted by "Bob" alias RobertWEvans on Friday 4th of July 2014 08:32:29 AM

If the video isn't playing well or you're have trouble viewing it you can watch it on my YouTube channel Video: To everyone in the USA, Happy 4th of July. Watch out because the M&M’s have gone wild. If you have any with you tonight, you might want to let them free before they blow up. Stop Motion Animation (SMA) is something that is a lot of fun and definitely something you can get the kids involved in. What’s so wonderful about them is taking something that shouldn’t move and bringing it to life. The only objects in the above video are M&M’s, but with a little imagination and a Digital Camera you can make the impossible look possible. One thing I need to point out. SMA isn’t Time Lapse (We will do that next). Time lapse is pointing the camera at something and taking pictures of it for a period of time and then compiling the photos into a movie to speed up real life. SMA isn’t real life. It’s taking a picture of something, then intentionally moving that object a little and taking another picture and so on and when you combine the photos into a movie, something that doesn’t happen in life (like exploding M&M’s), happens. A SMA movie can be as simple or complex as you want. Your first tries will probably be something as simple as a penny moving around a table but the more you make, naturally the more complex they become. One thing I try to do before I start is create a story. Why is the penny moving? Once you figure that out the pictures come naturally. So how do you start? The first thing is location. I recommend doing this indoors in a room with the shades drawn and using artificial light. The reason for this is because it takes awhile to make a SMA movie. A few hours to a few days. The above video took me off-and-on two days of photography (over 350 pictures). That’s a lot of changing light levels from day to night and back. But if you control the light, it makes it so much simpler. As far as equipment any DSLR will do. In fact any digital camera will work. You want it digital because we are going to take lots of pictures and film would be too expensive. The only other thing you need is a tripod. You don’t want the camera moving while you are taking pictures because you will never get it back to the same position. One thing that should be required but I will just recommend it is a shutter release. The less you touch the camera while taking the pictures the better. Next are camera settings. As far as ISO and f-num, I just use normal camera techniques. If you are in control of the lighting then it’s real simple. Once you’ve positioned the camera on the tripod and aimed it, take several test pictures using different exposure levels to see what settings give you the best picture quality. With the M&M’s, I was almost 2 full f-stops over exposed to get the wall to a reasonable exposure (the wall is actually white). You don’t want to take several dozen pictures and realize after downloading that the exposure was incorrect. If you are not in control of the light, you might think about using aperture priority and let the camera adjust the speed. Finally focus the camera and then turn off the autofocus. You don’t want anything to change once you start taking pictures. As far as taking the pictures, it really is as simple as taking a picture then moving the object (or objects). Take another picture then move the object again, and again, and again, until your done. The first question that get’s asked is how far should you move the object between pictures. To answer that you have to ask yourself “What kind of movie quality do you want?” The more pictures you take per distance of travel, the better movie quality you will get. When you put your pictures together to make the movie, the lowest quality you want to use is six frames per second (fps). That’s what I used on this movie and you can see it has a little stutter to it. To have the best quality you want 24 to 30 fps (preferably 30fps). But here’s the thing. For this one-minute video, the difference between low quality and high quality is almost 1500 pictures. If I were getting paid to make a movie that’s one thing, but since I don’t, low quality is fine with me. Low quality, high quality or somewhere in between, that’s your call. So the answer is “The shorter the distance the object moves between pictures, the better the quality, but the longer it will take to make your movie.” Now that you’ve started taking pictures for your movie, you need to keep reminding yourself of one important thing. What you are doing isn’t real… The reason I say this is don’t feel like you have to take all the pictures in the order they will play in the movie. Sometimes to get the effect you want it’s best to take the pictures in reverse order or out of order. For an example go to my YouTube channel, and watch the “Happy Halloween 2008” video. That entire video was filmed backwards from what you see. The main point is don’t think like a movie viewer, think like a moviemaker. You’ve finally taken your last picture, what‘s next. First is to look at your pictures and make sure they are numbered in sequential order, lowest to highest. Some cameras have a max number and then start over. Or maybe you took your pictures out of order. Whatever the reason, if they are not numbered lowest to highest, renumber the pictures so they are. Next is to find an app to compile your photos into a movie. There are a lot of fancy programs like Photoshop, MovieMaker and iMovie that give you all kinds of fancy features for a price. I don’t know much about PC’s but in the App Store on a Mac there appears to be several cheap programs that will assemble “Batches” of photos into a movie. I’ve always gone pretty simple. I use QuickTime 7 with a QuickTime Pro Key (QuickTime 10 doesn’t go Pro) for $30 but I’m usually not looking to be too fancy. The main thing you want is an app that will allow you to be able to select many different fps and create the movie in a format like QuickTime that can be viewed by most people. When I assemble the photos into a movie I first create the movie at 6 fps. In QuickTime 7, the next rate is 10 fps. I will also recreate the movie at that rate and then watch them both to see what looks better. You might need a higher rate then that. When you are taking the pictures, you don’t really know what you are going to get so you want to view the movie at more than one frame rate. A larger frame rate will speed the movie up while a smaller frame rate will slow it down. A lot of the time you will find that different parts of your movie will require different frame rates. In the above video, the beginning march to the first launch is at 10 fps, but from the first launch to almost the end is at 6 fps. The final 6 seconds is just two photos at 3 seconds per frame each. If you need different frame rates, separate your photos into separate movies and then join the two or more finished movies together later. Finally, you have created your movie but after viewing it, something seems to be missing. Movies without audio tracks feel like half movies. The right music, sound or vocal track can make an ordinary movie into magic. There are a lot of sounds you can get on line but as to music understand that copyright is a big deal on a lot of the social sites today, especially YouTube. Don’t mess with music on your computers music app. I posted a silly Thanksgiving video in 2007 for friends and family on YouTube when my channel was getting zero views. Next thing I know it’s on the main page on Thanksgiving morning and now has almost 2 million views. I had to track down the song owner and get permission, which normally isn’t possible. You never know so don’t mess with copyrighted music. If you want to add music, here’s a website you can download copyright free and monetary free music. Donations are accepted but all the guy asks for is you give him credit in the video description. Most of the big YouTubers use his music. Most of my videos I have removed the original with lots of views and re-uploaded newer versions with different music to correct copyright issues that I didn't understand when I originally uploaded them. One final thought on frame rates. You can create your movie at 6 fps but if you plan to upload it to a site like YouTube, you will normally need to re-render your finished video to a higher frame rate (preferably 30 fps). I don’t know how other apps go about it but if you can make your movie in the QuickTime format, then all you do is go into QuickTime>File>Export and it will give you the option to recreate your movie at the higher frame rate. When you export it, just export it to your desktop. I guess that about covers it so I guess I should give you an assignment. Pick an object. It can be anything from your child’s toy car or stuffed animal to coins or food. Something small so it won’t take an entire room to film. Take 60 pictures of the object doing something and combine the photos in a program at 6 fps to create a 10 second movie. Have fun and again Happy 4th of July. Photo Disclaimer: All my photos in this project are SOOC unless stated otherwise because if you can’t recreate what I’ve done with your camera then it isn't fair to you trying to learn by my example with these assignments.

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