I have had the opportunity to direct an Analog Stop Motion film for the past month and it has been amazing. What started as an animation class ended with us shooting our own film, from scratch. I almost did not participate because I knew nothing about animation but I did participate and it has been awesome. I remembered what Tom Kuegler said; that to be a great writer, you have to do cool stuff at times.
Pre-production is everything.
You have to plan the whole story, backgrounds, scenes, ways in which to give the characters life and improvising methods. As in everything in life, you know you can’t jump in head first. A bit of testing and research helps.
With Analog Stop Motion, have all the scenes and backgrounds figured out. If possible, use a template to figure backgrounds, moving objects and characters out. These part I didn’t particularly enjoy, maybe I would have chosen to dive head first. This process helped me reflect on how to engage in creative pursuits.
Commitment is Key.
Analog Stop Motion will teach you patience, commitment and discipline. It takes 24 frames to shoot one second video. The video should be believable, have continuity and most of all, the storyline can be seen from the video.
When using natural lighting, you are limited to shoot at only certain times a day when the weather is similar. If you shoot a frame at night, all other frames have to be shot at night. Artificial light is the best option and the camera or rather the tripod should not move.
All these requirements require you to be strict, patient and willing to repeat frames in case you mess them.
You can never plan enough.
Inasmuch as you plan and make cut outs; there are execution ideas that will only pop up during shooting. Like transitions for example; the ideas around them arose while we were shooting. You can also incorporate editing to enhance transitions.
I say this because you might end up spending so many time making cut outs rather than planning transitions and filming. What you can do, is have your characters ready and be creative with the transitions. Let the story be your guide.
I have definitely learnt a lot from Stop Motion. My team and I spent long days going from zero knowledge on Stop Motion to an actual film. Yes, sometimes you have to experience life, get out of your comfort zone and engage in the cool shit.
Group Work needs Patience
Just because you voice opinions doesn’t mean they’ll be considered. Give people the freedom of taking them up, or not.
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