Capn's Blog

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stop-motion animation

When I was in grade 5, I went to a primary school in the country. This school had one teacher, and six (yes 6!) students. We had such a family feeling in that school. I still can't forget it.

One thing I remember doing was stop-motion animation, using a Super-8 movie camera. We did storyboarding, cut shapes out of paper, and did the composition and shooting. I think it took us a couple of weeks to do, and ran for about two minutes.

For our project, we did the launch and lunar landing of an Apollo-style rocket. As far as I remember, it had three scenes. The first was the Saturn V launch sequence, the second was the docking of the Lunar Module with the Command/Service Module, and the third was the landing of the Lunar Module on the moon.

Now I'd like to do similar things with my boys. And in these modern times (hah!) technology makes it better and cheaper than ever.

To show them what's possible, last night I made a simple animation. (Yeah I know it's not very good. But it only took about an hour for shooting, and an hour for production).

Click the play button. You may need to wait a minute. If it still doesn't work, you can see it here.
This video stored free at Putfile. Thanks Putfile!

Here's what I did:

  • Attached my Canon 300D digital camera to a tripod, and mounted it horizontally over the edge of a table, so the camera was pointing down to the floor.
  • Put an old piece of blue card on the floor, and aligned it so it's in the camera's view and taped it down.
  • Used counting rods to write the names of my boys in a 5x7 "dot-matrix" style font. (Each length is of a particular colour).
  • Starting at the last stroke of the last letter ("m") and working backwards, replaced each rod in turn with a shorter one.
  • After each change, took a photo (70 photos in all).
  • Copied these photos into my computer.
  • Used ULead Video Studio to arrange the images in reverse order for 40 mSec, thus creating a movie of the images.
  • Used CyberLink PowerDirector to encode the movie into .wmv form.
I did it in reverse to make sure the letters would look good - much easier to start with placed letters and work backwards, than try to build them on-the-fly.

This morning I talked with my boys about storyboarding, and I roughed out some sample storyboards on paper.

I hope they'll find it interesting and we can make some good animations together.


  • Nice work!
    I was rummaging randomly through blogger and came across your post. I thought I'd recommend Monkey Jam ( if you want to play with stop motion some more. Cheers!

    By Blogger Glen Pearce, at 2:34 pm  

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