Home Stop Motion Studio Equipment and Pricing

As the rather dry title suggests, this isn't the most exciting post, but probably of some interest if you happen to consider building your own amateur home stop motion studio.

Below is a list of everything I got so far. Fortunately most things are one-off costs. Most things came from eBay with free shipping which will save a considerable amount of money. If I had bought e.g. just some simple sculpting tools in the local craft shop I could've easily spent 10x the amount for very similar tools. Buy local just wasn't an option for me for most things in this case … but I got some good Monster Clay from a specialised shop around the corner.

I live in Australia, so all prices are based on that in early 2016, and other currencies are based on the current exchange rate. I assume if you're e.g. in the US or Europe or Asia you might get these things even cheaper as there are just more options to buy from, and where shipping fees apply these would likely be lower. So this is probably a worst case scenario.

If you glance down, all up this comes down to around AUD 2000 / USD 1500 / EUR 1300 / GBP 1000. It may sound steep, but actually includes a lot, including armatures, a DSLR camera, in my case with 2 lenses, lighting, software, etc. Some items you may already have, but I didn't have anything on the list further below.

An amateur home stop motion studio

Some things are optional obviously, so the bare essentials , excluding  software and any of the listed sculpting equipment, would be AUD 1268 / USD 928 / EUR 819 / GBP 643. There's both cheaper and free software available which I'll cover in a different post. As for sculpting, depending on the style you're going for you may not need these items. I'm not yet certain myself if I'll eventually use sculpting (moulding, casting) for a film, so I consider it completely optional for a start.

For me essential are armatures (unless you go for a clay character only), a camera and lens with manual aperture (to avoid flickering), some lighting setup, a table (for me high trestles and a wooden panel), and some simple things like a drill.

The DSLR camera has a lot of optional items, but if you're already getting one you may—like me—as well use it for other purposes, so a SD card, case and second battery etc. may be worth adding.

DSLR camera and studio

On a real budget you can get a lot of things second hand or free. A friend asked his dentist if he had any old/spare tools.

I hope the list below is helpful as a rough guide, but before you spend any money on this I highly recommend to be really certain that you want to spend some serious time with stop motion, so go and try some simpler and cheap / free approaches first, as described in my previous article Humble Beginnings.

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2x Anibild Monster Tin Armatures$270$198€175£137includes $23 shipping
Loctite 2700 Thread Lock & Sealant$11$8€7£5some armatures need to permanently fix steel balls to threaded rods
Pliers Set$8$5€5£4
Gas Soldering Blow Torch$3$2€2£2to remove Loctite if required
Essentials total$292$213€189£148
Butane Gas for Blow Torch$5$4€3£3
All Armature total$297$217€192£151
Nikon D3300 Kit with 18-55mm VR II Lens Digital SLR Camera$476$349€308£241incl. $49 shipping; this lens is not necessarily required; could buy body only
Nikon AF 50mm f1.8D Lens$116$85€75£59manual aperture lens to avoid flicker
Camera AC Adapter$48$35€31£24
Tripod (up to 162cm high)$30$22€19£15
Essentials total$670$491€433£339
SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDSDXPA-032G 95MB/s SDHC Memory Card$44$32€28£22must have if you want to use your camera for more than just stop motion
Camera Case$30$22€19£15
Second Camera Battery$22$16€14£11
Infrared Remote Shutter$4$3€3£2
Timer and Remote Shutter$15$11€9£7
Mini Tripod$7$5€4£3
Card Reader$24$18€16£12
5m USB3.0 Extension Cable$8$6€5£4
Optionals total$154$113€98£76
All camera total$824$604€531£415
Redhead Lighting set (2 x 800W dimmable Redhead lights with barn doors)$119$87€77£60for key light and back light
Studio Umbrella Lighting Set (2 lights/stands, 2x2 umbrella types)$53$39€34£27for fill light and background light; came with 2 white and 2 silver umbrellas
Essentials total$172$126€111£87
2x 800W Redhead Bulb$6$4€4£3
2x $135W 5500K Studio Bulbs for Umbrella Lighting Set$20$15€13£10
Consumables total$26$19€17£13
Color Gel Filter Paper Set (4 colours)$23$17€15£12
Other Coloured Umbrellas (e.g. gold)$8$6€5£4
Blackout Curtains$33$24€21£17you want to avoid any daylight or other inconsisten light source
Metal Clips$4$3€3£2to fix color gel filters to redheads
Optionals total$68$50€44£35
All lighting total$266$195€172£135
2x Trestles$64$47€41£32should ideally be adjustable to a good working height to avoid back pain
MDF or Wooden Panel 120x180cm$25$18€16£13should not bend, and not be too hard to drill through
Drill$22$16€14£11from $22 corded, from $49 cordless, from $150 Li-Ion cordless
Drill Bit$3$2€2£2this should fit the armature (size M3 for Anibild)
Craft Knife or Set$5$4€3£3
Glue Gun$15$11€10£8
All other total$134$98€86£69
Dragonframe$430$315€278£217optional but probably the most professional stop motion software available; or try free or cheaper alternatives
All software total$430$315€278£217
Sculpting (incomplete as it doesn't include moulding/casting)AUDUSDEURGBPNotes
Monster Clay$55$40€36£28can be reused/recycled indefinitely
Air Drying Clay$7$5€4£3
Sculpting Wax Modeling Tool Sets$25$18€16£13I got three sets: a dentist tool set, some for cutting, scraping shaping
Soft Silicone Shapers for Sculpting$6$5€4£3
All sculpting total£93$68€60£47
Grand total (all incl. optionals)$2,044$1,497€1,319£1034

I'll focus on most of the areas above in future posts, highlighting things regarding armatures, camera/lens, lighting/studio setup, sculpting and software. Where I mention any brand names it's just what I decided to go with. Have a look around as other options may suit you better.

Armatures and lighting

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