How to make stop motion characters fly and jump in your animations

by Joost | Last Updated: July 29, 2022
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Stop motion animation is a technique that brings inanimate objects to life on screen.

It involves taking photographs of objects in different positions and then stringing them together to create the illusion of movement.

This can be done with any kind of object but is often used with clay figures or Lego bricks.

How to make stop motion characters fly and jump

One of the most popular uses for stop motion animation is to create the illusion of flight or superhuman jumps. This is done by suspending the objects on wire, a rig, or placing them on a stand and using special effects like green screen technology. You can then delete the support from the scene using special effects called masking.

Making your stop motion characters fly or jump is a great way to add excitement and energy to your animations.

It can also be used to tell a story or convey a message in a unique and engaging way.

Playmobil petting zoo stop motion
Playmobil petting zoo stop motion

If you want to learn how to make your stop motion characters fly or jump, there are a few things you need to know.

Keep reading to find out how to do it!

Flying and jumping techniques for stop motion animation

Making things fly is easiest with the LEGO characters used in brickfilms (a type of stop motion using LEGO).

Of course, you might use clay puppets, too, but it’s easiest to animate lego figures because you can tie them with string and place them on a stand without damaging their shape.

To achieve the appearance of fast movement, you need individually photographed frames, and then you have to make your characters or puppets move in very small increments.

With a good camera, you can shoot at a high frame rate, which will give you more flexibility when it comes to editing the video.

You’ll end up with high-quality stop motion flight or jumping scenes.

  1. First, you’ll need to choose the right materials for your project.
  2. Second, you’ll need to take care in planning and executing your shots.
  3. And third, you’ll need to have patience and a steady hand to get the perfect results.

Stop motion software: masking

If you want the easiest way to create jumps and flying motions, use software like Stop Motion Studio Pro for iOS or Android.

These kinds of programs offer a masking effect that allows you to erase the support from your photos in post-production manually.

This is a quick and easy way to create flying or jumping animations without having to worry about the rig or stand being visible.

How to mask in stop motion studio?

Masking is a way to block out part of the frame so that only certain objects or areas are visible.

It’s a useful stop motion animation technique that can be used to create the illusion of movement.

To mask in Stop Motion Studio, you’ll need to use the Masking Tool.

First, select the area that you want to mask out. Then, click on the “Mask” button and a mask will be applied to the selected area.

You can also use the Eraser Tool to remove parts of the mask.

Also, the advantage is that you don’t need to have special image editing skills or be an experienced Photoshop user to make this happen.

Most stop motion animation apps have a variety of features. Even the free version of some software can help you animate flight and jumping moments.

Here’s how it works:

The image editor will have a masking effect, and you can manually trace and erase the stands, rigs, and other unwanted objects from your scene.

Here’s a demo video on Youtube of someone using Stop Motion Pro to create the appearance of a flying object easily:

Shoot a clean background for composition

When you want to make your character appear to fly in the frame, you’ll need to take many photos of your character in different positions.

You can do this by suspending your character from the ceiling or by placing them on a stand.

To create the illusion of jumps and flying in a stop motion movie, you have to shoot each scene with your character at rest, your character performing the motion, and then the clean background.

Therefore, it’s necessary to photograph the clean background separately.

This is so that you can later composite the two together in post-production and make it look like your character is really flying.

So to do this, let’s pretend you’re making your character fly on a small plane from one side of the screen to the other.

You would want to take 3 photos:

  1. your character at rest on the plane on one side of the frame,
  2. your character in the air jumping or flying across the frame,
  3. and the clean background without the plane or character.

But keep in mind that you do keep repeating this process several times while the character is “flying” across the screen to make the actual animation longer.

For each motion shot, you take a picture with the plane at rest, one while flying, and one of the background without the flying character.

The software and editing part of your stop motion animation is very important because that’s when you remove the supports used to make your characters appear to fly.

Place characters on a stand or rig

The secret to simple flying and jumping motions is to place the character on a support or stand – this can be anything from a lego brick stand to a wire or a skewer – that is not too thick, and then take the photo.

You can use white tack to stick the support in place if you need to.

Another popular stand is a stop motion rig. I’ve reviewed the best stop motion rig arms in a previous post but what you need to know is that you place your puppet or lego figures on the rig and edit the rig or stand out in post-production.

To start, you need to take a photograph of your character or puppet on a stand. Then, if the character is throwing an object in the air, you need a few frames of the object on a stand.

You can use lego bricks or a clay stand and adjust the object or character on it as needed.

You will need to take multiple pictures, moving the character or puppet slightly each time.

In post-production, you will then edit the images and add motion to the character or object, making it appear as if it’s really flying or jumping.

Create flight and jumps using wire or string

You can also use wire or a string to make your characters fly or jump. This is a bit more complicated than using a stand, but it gives you more control over the movement of your character.

First, you’ll need to attach the wire or string to the ceiling or another support. Make sure that the wire is taut and that there is enough slack to allow your character to move.

The idea is to suspend the character, puppet, or object in the air. The figure will be guided using your hands but will appear to be flying on its own.

Next, you’ll need to attach the other end of the wire or string to your character. You can do this by tying it around their waist or attaching it to their clothing.

To make your character jump, you can pull on the wire or string with your finger to create the illusion of jumping or flying lego figures or puppets.

Finally, you’ll need to take your photos. Start by having your character in the starting position. Then, move them slightly and take another photo. Repeat this process until your character has reached their destination.

When you come to edit your photos together, it will look like they are flying or jumping through the air!

Wire or string can also be used to make your characters spin or rotate in the air. This is a bit more tricky, but it can add an extra element of excitement to your animation.

To do this, you’ll need to attach the wire or string to a support and then attach the other end to your character. Make sure that the wire is taut and that there is enough slack to allow your character to rotate.

Next, you’ll need to take your photos. Start by having your character in the starting position. Then, rotate them slightly and take another photo.

Repeat this process until your character has reached their destination. When you come to edit your photos together, it will look like they are spinning or rotating in the air!

How to make objects and figures fly without using computer effects
For this old-school stop motion animation technique, you’ll need to use some tacky putty like the Instant tacky putty to attach your flying objects or figures to a small toothpick or stick/plastic.

For example, let’s pretend you’re making a ball fly. You can use your image editor to see what you’re doing, but you can simply use any camera and look through the viewfinder while you’re working.

Attach the ball to the toothpick with some tacky putty, and then place the toothpick+ball on the ground in your scene. It’s best to start with the ball a little bit elevated.

You can even make a “crater” in the ground by denting it with your finger before you place the toothpick+ball.

For each frame, slightly move the toothpick+ball, and take a picture. You may want to use a tripod to keep your camera steady.

The idea is to make it so that you cannot see the stick or tack you put on the wall or in the ground. Also, the shadow should not be visible.

This method of masking is great because it appears your object is floating in the air or “flying.”

This basic technique can be used to make anything appear to fly, from a bird to a plane.

One potential issue you might encounter with this classic method is that your stand or stick can create a shadow on your background, and it will be visible in your stop motion animation.

That’s why you need to use a small, thin stand or stick so that the shadow is not visible in your final animation.

Green screen or chroma key

If you want to have more control over the position of your flying characters or objects, you can use a green screen or chroma key.

This will allow you to composite your flying characters or objects into any background that you want in post-production.

To do this, you’ll need to set up a green screen or chroma key background. Then, take your photos of your characters or objects in front of the green screen.

In post-production, you can then composite your characters or objects into any background that you want.

This could be a sky background, or you could even composite them into a live-action scene!

This technique gives you a lot of control over the position of your flying characters or objects and gives you the ability to composite them into any background that you want.

It can be a cool way to animate if you’re into that kind of thing.

Tethering your character or object to a helium balloon

There are plenty of creative ideas for flying stop motion characters or objects, but one of the most popular is to tether them to a helium balloon.

This is a really cool stop motion animation technique that will allow you to make your character or object appear to float in the air.

To do this, you’ll need to get a small helium balloon and tether your character or object to it with some string.

Then, you’ll need to take your photos with your camera. Start by having your character or object in the starting position. Then, let the balloon float up and take another photo.

Repeat this process until your character or object has reached their destination. When you come to edit your photos together, it will look like they are floating in the air!

Flying and jumping stop motion animation tips and tricks

Making stop motion animation smooth can be challenging, and getting the jumps, throws, and flights can be a true test.

The stop motion movie can appear very sloppy or bad if the character movements are not done just right.

Sure, you can edit the stands and rigs on the computer or tablet later on, but if you don’t set up your figure correctly for the moves, it won’t look perfect.

Here are some tips on how to make your stop motion characters fly or jump and look good in stop motion animation videos:

Choose the right materials

The first step is to choose the right materials for your project.

If you’re using clay figures, make sure they are lightweight and won’t break when dropped. If you’re using Lego bricks and lego figures, make sure they are securely fastened together.

Then you need to decide what kind of stand, rig, or stick you will need to support your character or object.

It needs to be strong enough to hold up your character or object but not so thick that it will be visible in your final animation.

Don’t forget about tacky putty if needed.

Plan and execute your shots carefully

The second step is to plan and execute your shots carefully. You’ll need to take into account the weight of your objects, the length of your wires, and the placement of your camera.

A good camera is the key to taking good pictures. But you also need to consider the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings.

You’ll also need to take into account the type of lighting you’re using. This can cause issues with shadows.

Be patient and have a steady hand

The third and final step is to be patient and have a steady hand. It takes a lot of patience and practice to get the perfect results.

But with some time and effort, you’ll be able to create amazing stop motion animations.

Here’s something to keep in mind: move the objects and figures in very small increments.

This will help to make the movements appear smoother in your final animation.

Also, use a tripod for your camera to keep the shots steady.

A single frame is not enough to show the movement, so you’ll need to take a lot of photos. The number of photos will depend on the speed of your animation.

Flight and jumps aren’t too hard, but when making stop motion animation as a beginner, it’s best to start with small movements and work your way up.

Takeaway

There are plenty of tips and tricks that you can use to make your stop motion characters fly or jump.

By using the right materials and planning your shots carefully, you’ll be able to create amazing stop motion animations that will impress your friends and family.

The secret is to use a stand to lift your characters or objects into the air and then use an image editor to remove the stand from the final animation.

This takes some time and effort, but it’s worth it when you see the results.

So go out, prep your stage, and start shooting!

Read next: Stop motion lighting 101 – how to use lights for your set