• Ailsa Clare

How To Stop Motion Like A Pro!

Stop motion works with all different subjects — people, cars, umbrellas… anything that can move is fair game. I've learned a few things along the way about creating a makeshift studio. Read on to learn all of my secrets.


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 small space that fits a table and your camera setup, you’re in luck.

Your goal is to have flat, even light. 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 shadows or reflections.

Set up a backdrop

Seamless paper works great for stop motion videos, I usually opt for a few mount boards. I grab a couple of lights, and my paper colour of choice. Then, I use bull dog clips to fasten the paper to the table or hooks I have on the wall.

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, I use a ball head/ are extending tripod. Make sure your tripod legs and center column are all locked down, as well as the tripod head. If you’ve got something heavy, 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.

I tether my camera to my laptop or phone to see the scene easily. This way, you don’t have to touch your camera at all. This is key, especially since any movement in your camera will affect your stop motion animation.

Capture a few blank frames

Shoot a few pictures before you start any action and a few more after the action ends. This will help with timing, and it might come in handy if you end up needing to insert black space into your edit. Blank frames can also be useful if you want to “pause” the motion at any point in your video.

Editing it all together

Put all the pictures into a folder and then head into Premiere. With Premiere open, go to File > Import and navigate to the first picture you took.

Select that picture and check “Image Sequence.” This will turn all of your pictures into one cohesive timelapse. From here, all you need to do is adjust the timing and pacing, add some music and thats it!

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