Faster stop motion editing with the Pancake method & a Wacom

by Joost | Last Updated: June 29, 2022
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In stop motion video editing, faster is always better. When you work with colleagues on a project, you have to work quickly so that other people can continue with their work.

It is a chain in which you as an editor cannot be the weakest link. Whether you’re editing for a news report, video clip or a feature film, every edit should be completed yesterday.

I’ll share my 2 favorite tools for faster stop motion editing!

Faster video editing with the Pancake method and a Wacom

That is why you use as many keyboard shortcuts as possible and you organize your project with all images neatly arranged in bins. To shave even more time off the assembly process, read these two quick tips!

The Pancake Method

A pancake rarely comes alone.

Often it is a pile of delicious thin pancakes that you want to eat piece by piece. Vashi Nedomansky was the first to coin this term for video editing, but there are several famous video editors that use the same technique.

Playmobil petting zoo stop motion
Playmobil petting zoo stop motion

The challenge

At “The Social Network” there were 324 hours of raw images, of which 281 hours were usable and divided into “selects”.

That is all clips and fragments with potentially useful material. For the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” 483 hours were filmed with no less than 443 hours of “selects”. It’s hard to keep track of that.

You can put all images in bins, which is already a good way to neatly organize your project. The disadvantage is that you miss a bit of overview, it is less visual.

You can put everything in one timeline and place the edit at the beginning and later all your footage and then slide it up and down but that will not be successful.

With the Pancake method you keep an overview and you save a lot of time.

How does the pancake method for video editing work?

You have two timelines. The primary timeline in which your montage is located, in addition, you have a timeline with the usable images.

By partially dragging the second timeline over the first timeline, you can link these two timelines. Above you see the rough images, below you see the editing.

Now you have an overview. You can zoom in and zoom out the raw material timeline, you can easily find, split and view material.

And if you have a usable clip, add it directly to the bottom timeline. The line of fragments remains unchanged. You can drag the clips, but you can work even faster with keyboard shortcuts.

Pancake Edits with Macro

We now have a good overview of the montage and the images, it only takes a lot of time to drag or copy the images from one timeline to another.

You can automate this process by compiling a macro. Let’s assume you want to copy snippets that you cut to size at the top.

Normally you would select the desired fragment, copy it (CMD+C), then switch to the other timeline (SHIFT+3) and paste the fragment (CMD+V).

Then you have to switch back to the first timeline (SHIFT+3) to continue. Those are five actions that you have to perform over and over again.

By creating a macro you can perform these actions with the push of a button. With this macro you return to the selection timeline and you can immediately continue working.

This of course saves quite a bit of time. Macros allow you to automate many repetitive actions.

These are all processes that do not require creativity and insight, so you will outsource them to your help editor, or the macro function.

There are special keyboards for video editing, you can also use a gaming mouse. They have many more buttons that you can give actions such as the aforementioned macros.

There is another way to edit video, and that is with a drawing tablet.

Pancake-edit-stop motion

Editing stop motion with a Wacom drawing tablet

Normally, Wacom drawing tablets are used by draftsmen, painters and other graphic artists.

A drawing tablet simulates the act of drawing on paper with a pen, but with all the advantages that software can offer.

The pressure sensitivity makes it possible to create both thin and thick lines by putting more pressure on the pen. But why use a Wacom tablet for video editing?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

We used to call this a “tennis arm”, now it is often referred to as a “mouse arm”. If you continuously make small movements from your wrist, you can suffer from this.

With all that window switching, dragging and dropping, etc., video editors are a risk group for this condition, especially for all the minute changes in stop motion editing. And you won’t get rid of that quickly!

It is also known as RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury. We are not doctors, for us it comes down to the same…

With a drawing tablet (we call it Wacom because it is a standard just like Adobe, but there are also other tablets that are undoubtedly top notch) you prevent RSI complaints because of the natural posture.

But there are even more reasons to choose a Wacom drawing tablet:

Absolute position

A mouse works with a relative position. When you lift and move the mouse, the arrow stays in the same position. A drawing tablet follows exactly your movement, 1-on-1 and you can set the scale yourself.

If you practice for a while it will become second nature and it will save time. Maybe just seconds in a day, but it makes a difference.

Button Functions

The Wacom pen also has two buttons. For example, you can use it as a mouse click, but you can also configure the buttons with frequently used actions.

For example, that Pancake Edit Macro from above. In the settings of a Wacom tablet you can specify exactly what you use the pen for, and which key combinations are placed on one button of the pen.

So if you perform a Pancake Edit with a pen, and you press the button, you can immediately continue without moving your hand. That definitely saves time.

No batteries and dusty tables

These are two advantages that should be mentioned. A drawing tablet does not require batteries and is powered by the computer, as does the wireless pen.

Because you work on the surface of the tablet, you do not suffer from bad mouse pads, reflective surfaces and dusty tables as you will often encounter with computer mice.

Conclusion

With Pancake Editing on the timeline and with macros in combination with a Wacom drawing tablet as a mouse replacement, you can edit video faster. And in film and video production, every second is one too many.