Here are the steps to making a stopmotion movie using a webcam, free software and Windows Moviemaker. (If you are on a Mac, you could use iMovie. See Mr. Mayo's excellent tutorial for Mac users). One note, too: You could make a stopmotion movie with a digital camera, lots and lots of individual pictures, and a video editing software. The downside to this approach is that you will have a ton of images to deal with because a typical stopmotion movie has hundreds of frames. Using a webcam with the freeware I share down below makes the whole process a lot easier because the software captures the frames for you as an .avi video file.
Step One: Come up with an interesting story. Brainstorm possibilities. Use the storyboard, elements of a story, and character brainstorm sheets to help you with the planning. Write a script with dialogue. Proofread your writing, improve the dialogue and story, and practice your parts BEFORE you get started with the technology. This will allow you to focus on the story first.
Step Two: Build a set for the background of your movie (or scenes). This could be done simply, with paper on which you draw a background scene. Or it could be more elaborate. Don't be afraid to look through your toy closet or basement or attic for interesting items for props and sets. An old castle might be perfect for the movie.
Step Three: Download the Stopmotion Animator Freeware.
Here are some hints for shooting stopmotion footage:
- Divide your movie into smaller segments, and film each segment separately.
- Move characters and props slowly. The more frames you can take of an action, the smoother the final footage will be.
- Don't get frustrated with the technology. Sometimes, things don't go the way you want.
- Don't be afraid to redo a scene. We learn from our mistakes and miscues.
- Keep your storyboard handy, so you follow the sequence of the story.
- Have good lighting. A well-lit scene looks so much better than a scene with shadows and darkness (unless your scene needs to be dark and shadowy for your story.)
- Have fun with the project. Making movies is an adventure.
Step Five: Once all of your raw footage has been shot and saved, then open up Moviemaker (or some similar video editing platform).
- Import the video files into your Moviemaker collection (note: you may need to download a free codec to allow integration of the .avi files from Stopmotion Animator software into Moviemaker. I suggest the DIVX codec, which is free.);
- Put the scenes in order;
- Add a title and some credits;
- Add narration to the movie;
- Optional: you can also add music to your movie, but with Moviemaker, you need to first create a completed video with your audio narration, and then move that video back into Moviemaker in order to layer music. I know, this is frustrating to have an extra step, but what do you want with a free system?
- Follow the steps in Moviemaker to make your video into a movie.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW A MOVIE PRODUCER!
Time to make the popcorn, invite family and friends over, and enjoy the show.