I have a ten year old who dreams of one day being a movie producer/director, so when we found out we were being sent the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion he was so excited! He would sit and watch for the mail to come to see if it had arrived for days after I told him it had been sent.
The Stop Motion Animation Kit we received included a 1080p HD video camera, animation software (cd and download versions), a 290 page book covering all aspects of stopmotion animation, and a quick-start guide. I will talk about a few of these components in detail later in this review.
What is stopmotion animation?
Before I get into sharing more about this awesome kit, let me explain briefly what stopmotion animation entails. When creating a stopmotion film, objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion when the series of frames is played back as a fast sequence. A film as short as one minute can contain as many as 30 or more individually captured images! Creating this kind of film can be very tedious and attention to detail is required. Think of all those classic claymation films from your childhood – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer being my personal favorite. These were produced with stopmotion animation using elements made from clay! Almost any medium can be used in this technique – lego creations and minifigures, dolls, toy dinosaurs, plastic army men… the possibilities are endless.
Stopmotion Explosion – Animate Anything and Make Movies
In this book written by Nate Eckerson included in the Stop Motion Animation Kit, you will not only read about the intricacies of stopmotion animation techniques, but you will learn about film history as a whole. There is a lot of detailed practical information on everything from choosing and creating “actors”, to creating scripts and storylines, to building sets, and more. Several chapters are dedicated to technical aspects of filmmaking such as lighting, composition, and cameras. The last half of this book teaches specific methods for animating, filming, editing, and adding sound to your films. They even cover specific elements of filming related to animating war scenes and flight!
We have only dug into a few specific chapters at this point and have found the book to be extremely interesting yet thorough. I found this book to be the most important part of the Stop Motion Animation Kit. The way it is structured makes it easy to jump to the sections you may need as you begin your filmmaking process. It would lend itself very well as an entire course broken up into topical studies culminating in a final “project” for evaluation. Sprinkled throughout the text are small projects such as building an armature or creating a flying rig, as well as numerous links to examples and tutorials that help demonstrate the techniques being learned.
The Camera & the Software…
In order to create a stopmotion film, two things you absolutely need are a camera and some sort of software to take your still images and combine them into a movie. The camera included in this kit was selected because its features make it perfect for this kind of task. The HD camera is capable of capturing 1080p HD imagery, has a built-in microphone, manual focus, and a clip to secure it into position. It has the ability to focus in on objects very close to the lens which makes it perfect for stopmotion projects. We found the clip can also function as a stand when needed.
The included Stopmotion Explosion Animator software has a very simple interface, but includes lots of options you can use to “tweak” the way your film is captured and compiled. It can also be used to take images captured on devices other than the included HD camera and create movies from them. We found we were up and running within minutes after tweaking a few settings to our preference. With a click of your mouse, you can capture each image then with another click the software creates a movie file that can then be edited in the software of your choosing. We opted to use iMovie as my son was already proficient with it and could edit from his iPad.
The Quick Start Guide…
The 12 page quick start guide included in the kit is brief overview of how to setup and use your software, how to install and use the included HD video camera, a small Q&A section, and links to a few key tutorial videos to get you going. This guide contains enough basic information so that you can begin making movies right away, whereas the actual book will dig deeper and provide you with information you can use to improve your movies and attempt more complicated techniques.
This kit made the entire process very simple and left very little room for guess work. My almost adult children used to make Lego stopmotion movies years and years ago using just a compact dslr and youtube and while they figured a lot out through trial and error, it took them weeks to produce their first short film. We were able to produce a short film (very very short) within a couple of hours from beginning to end. Below I have included some “behind the scenes” images as well as our very first minifilm for your enjoyment. As you can see, we started out very simple in order to get a feel for the equipment, the software, and the process…
We give the Stop Motion Animation Kit 5 STARS!! Joey is in the process of making a longer, more intricate film at the time of this writing. I will be sure to share that here on the blog once it’s finished.
Make sure to click in over to the Review Crew blog to read more reviews of the Stop Motion Animation Kit!