Stop motion pre-production: what you need for a short movie
If you want to make a short stop motion film that people will actually watch, you need to start with good planning. In this article we list the most important aspects for making a simple movie.
It starts with planning
Before you pick up a camera, make sure you have a well-thought-out plan of action. This does not have to be a complete book, but a number of points of interest should certainly be included.
First, you should ask the following three questions:
Why am I making this short film?
Determine the reason for putting so much time and effort into a stop motion movie. Do you want to tell an interesting story, do you have a message to convey or do you want to earn a lot of money quickly?
In the latter case; strength, you will need it!
Who will watch the short stop motion film?
Always consider who the intended target audience is. You can make the film purely for yourself, but don’t expect to attract full cinemas.
A clear target group gives you focus and direction, which will benefit the end result.
Where will they watch it and what will they do next?
If we assume a short film, the audience will be online, for example Youtube or Vimeo.
Then take the playing time into account, it is quite a challenge to captivate a mobile viewer with a smartphone on the bus or in the toilet for more than one minute. Tell your story quickly and purposefully.
Especially with the internet, where everything is linked together, you also have to think about a “call to action”, what do you want the viewer to do AFTER viewing your artwork?
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If you know what you want to tell and who you are making the film for, you will have to do research into the subject.
First, you want to avoid stupid mistakes, viewers are often well informed and factual mistakes can take you out of the movie completely. And secondly, thorough research also gives you a lot of inspiration for your script.
Write your script. If you have a lot of dialogue you can also consider a voice over, which gives you much more flexibility in editing and makes the filming process a lot easier.
Indicate the locations where events are taking place and under what circumstances. Keep it simple and focus on well-developed characters and a logical story.
Draw a storyboard too, just like a comic strip. That makes choosing camera angles a lot easier later on. You can also play around with the sequence of shots and scenes before shooting.
Finally getting started with the camera! Make it a lot easier for yourself with these practical tips.
- Use a tripod (these are great for stop motion). Even if you’re filming handheld, some form of stabilization is almost indispensable.
- Total, half total, close up. Film in these three angles and you have a lot of options in editing.
- Use a microphone, the built-in microphone is often not good enough, especially from a distance. Plugging directly into the camera prevents audio and video synchronization afterwards.
- Film during the day, cameras eat light, good lighting is an art in itself so make up a story that takes place during the day and save yourself a lot of worry.
- Don’t zoom during a stop motion scene, actually never zoom, just get closer and choose one tight image.
Filmed enough? Then go assemble. You don’t immediately need the most expensive software, you will be amazed what you can already achieve with an iPad and iMovie.
And it already has a pretty good camera built in so you can bring your production studio with you!
Select the best images, choose the best order and judge the whole, the “flow” takes precedence over single beautiful pictures. If desired, add the voice over with a decent microphone.
Always keep a high quality copy for yourself, on hard drive, stick and online on your own Cloud drive. You can always make a lower quality version. Upload the best possible quality.
And after publishing, let all your friends and acquaintances know that you made a movie and where they can watch it. Promotion is an important part of making films, you ultimately want your work to be seen!
Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.