Stop Motion Filmmaking

Stop motion is an animation technique which makes static objects appear to move. It is central to the clay animation technique used on popular children's shows such as Gumby and to the puppet-based animation of such well-known films as (Tim Burton's) The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993), Chicken  Run (DreamWorks/Aardman Animations, 2000) Corpse Bride (Tim Burton, 2005), and all of  the Wallace And Gromit films. Wikipedia

Stop Motion Animation In the Classroom: You will find more examples and resources here.

Practice Software

iMotion HD on the iPad is a great introduction to stop motion animation. It is easy to use and give you immediate feedback.

Warm-up Activities

Use the following Basic Principles of Animation as a warm up. Keep your setup simple so you can concentrate on mastering the animation principles and your stop motion animation techniques. All you need is a chunk of clay and a flat stage.


Use Pinnacle Studio to make a short demo reel of your examples. Use the title tools to point out each principles. Try adding your examples more than once since they will be pretty quick. Export the video to the camera library. Then upload it to your YouTube account and share your work with your instructor.

Stop Motion Film

Now you need a story to tell with your new stop motion animation skills. Take the time to plan it out so that you can maximize your animation time.

Treatment: Start by filling out the treatment plan so you can bounce your initial ideas off your instructor and fellow animators.

Script: Write a script for your film. Again, you will want to bounce this off others when you finish.

Storyboard Template  (pdf) Once you are confident you have a strong story it is time to visualize your plan in the form of a storyboard.

Animatic: Scan each panel or take a photograph. Make a rough cut of your film using the storyboard panels and music/sound FX/voice overs. This will help you figure out the timing and test out the strength/clarity of your story before you start the difficult work of stop motion animation.

Set and Prop Development: We have a mobile set and tons of prop materials. Take a couple weeks to build your sets and props.

Stop Motion Production

At this point you have the choice to continue using an iPad/iMotion HD and Pinnacle Studio or step up to a the professional tools of a DSLR camera and Dragon Frame software. If you decide to go with the pro route you will need to spend a couple weeks familiarizing yourself with the hardware and software. Revisit some of those animation principles using these new tools.