Setting up a stop motion studio
If you aren't planning on building a more permanent stop motion studio in your office, here are a few quick tips to set up your own stop motion studio on the go!
Find a stable table or surface
Get yourself a solid table that doesn't have wheels (or if it does, make sure you can lock them in position). This will make sure your setup and shot won't move from frame to frame in your video.
Be wary of light
Try to find a room where you can block out all natural light.
Light from the sun can change quickly, and the slightest shift (from a cloud or the sun changing position) will be noticeable in your video.
If you can find a closet that fits a table and your camera setup, you're in luck.
Conference rooms work great too! Your goal is to have flat, even light, just like you would use for a talking head video.
A lot of times, one well-placed light with some diffusion will do the trick.
You can use softboxes or key lights to achieve this effect, or a clip light can work just as well.
Just watch out for any hotspots or reflections.
Set up a backdrop
works great for stop motion videos. We'll usually opt for the 4-foot paper roll as opposed to the 9-foot, since we're working with a smaller video frame. We grab a couple of light stands, a cross bar, and our paper color of choice. Then, we use
to fasten the paper to the table.
Steady your camera
Once you've locked down your table's position, you'll want to do the same with your camera.
For a quick stop motion setup, and not a permanent installation, we use just a regular old tripod.
Make sure your tripod legs and center column are all locked down, as well as the tripod head.
If you've got a sandbag handy, try clipping it to your tripod to add some extra weight.
Consider an external display
In order to easily see your stop motion scene, consider using an external display.
It can make the whole process more efficient, and you won't have to keep running to the back of your camera each time you move your objects.
We use the line of
for our external displays.
They plug into your DSLR through HDMI and display what would have shown on your camera's LCD.
We'll usually set up our external display on it's own separate little light stand at a nice angle, so it's easy to see the scene without having to touch the camera. If you don't have an external display, a spare TV can work just as well!
Minimize camera movement with a shutter release
If you're investing in stop motion video, get an external camera controller—either
This way, you don't have to touch your camera at all.
This is pretty key, especially since any movement in your camera will affect your stop motion animation.