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Humble Beginnings: Stop Motion via Smartphone

Before I'll get into the specifics of what equipment I got for my own home stop motion studio I'll take one step back and cover the super low budget version. If you have a smartphone and are potentially even willing to spare a few bucks then you're already set for some simple stop motion animation.

In general stop motion animation doesn't like camera movement, so the minimum you'll need is a smartphone mini tripod and some sort of a bluetooth remote shutter which you can both get for a few dollars from eBay or so.

That's enough to record an image sequence and make your household items come to life.

Of course, one step up, there's an app for that. A few apps actually. I used one called Stop Motion Studio which is available for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. I did a few tests and it worked quite OK. The basic version is free and you can take pictures in the app with onion skinning so that you can see the previous frame as a transparent overlay. You can also buy some extra features to allow you to import images, use a second device as a remote, green screen, sound effects and a few other things, the whole pack that includes all of this was around AU$6. Or look out for similar apps.

Stop Motion Studio
Stop Motion Studio isn't perfect and I ran into some issues where audio and video can run out of sync, and I didn't have a second device as a remote and for some reason the bluetooth shutter didn't work in this particular app. Not a big deal, I just took photos in the regular camera app and imported them. The downside here is that you miss out on the onion skin and the camera settings aren't locked in, so you may get some flicker. But this isn't a professional solution anyway, so I can live with this.

Within a few minutes you can put together some animated short films like these:




The black soot sprites (or makkuro kurosuke) in the second animation come to life very easily. To make them blink you just turn them so the eyes are no longer visible.

After this I combined image sequences and recorded video, and added a bit more sound design.



It's fun and quick, and after these few tests I was keen to go to the next level and build my own stop motion home studio. My next post will cover what is required for this, and also how much it'll set you back.

Stay tuned.

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