Have you ever wanted to bring your toys to life, recreate a scene from your favorite movie, or just make up a great story?
Luckily there’s a fun, simple way for any kid to become a movie maker– stop motion. Stop motion movies are simple to make, don’t require any complex equipment, and can provide hours of fun maker time.
The movie below shows what you can do in an hour with some LEGOs, an iOS or Android device, and a free app:
To get started, you’ll just just need a few pieces of equipment, most of which you may already have.
Mobile Phone or Tablet
Any fairly modern mobile phone or tablet should do they trick. It acts as the camera and editing studio all rolled into one. We even had success with a 4 year-old Samsung phone.
Stop Motion Software
There are a bunch of choices out there, but the best one we’ve found so far is Stop Motion Studio, available for both iOS and Android devices. The FREE version is great, and for $4.99 you can upgrade it to include green screen support which let’s you add fun backgrounds to your movies, like outer space or underwater.
A tripod is the easiest way to improve the quality of your movies. Stop motion movies come out best when your camera (phone or tablet) stays still. If you’re just starting out, you can just prop your camera up against a chair or table or heavy book. The example movie above was made using a chair as a tripod. But a tripod for your phone or tablet will make a world of difference. If you’re using a mobile phone to make your movie, here’s a pretty good tripod available from Amazon for under $10.
Under most conditions, you can get away with normal room lighting. Try to position your setup so that your scene gets even lighting from multiple directions. If you want to film under any condition (e.g. at night or in a dimly lit room), dedicated lighting is critical. Set lighting is also really helpful if you want to use green screen effects. The easiest lighting setup is to just grab one or two desk or table lamps and plug them in near your set.
If you want your scene to be uncluttered so you can set the stage exactly the way you want, then a backdrop will help. A backdrop is just anything you use as the background for filming your movie. A fancy backdrop looks like this:
But for a small stop motion movie, you can get just as good results with a piece of foam board. It’s probably easiest to buy this at your local Target because shipping from Amazon is pretty expensive unless you order in bulk.
If you score the board down the middle by cutting part way through, but not all the way through the foam you can make a pretty nice backdrop for your set. After you score the board (on the back side), fold it in half, and place another piece of cardboard on the back, and you’ve got a self-propping photo booth.
A green board will give you the chance to use the green screen effect if you decide to purchase Stop Motion Studio Pro.
LEGOs, Letters, or Anything Else you Want to Animate
With stop motion, you can animate just about anything. LEGOs are a great place to start and letters can be a ton of fun. But just about any small toy can serve the purpose.
Watch this tutorial video to learn how to use Stop Motion Studio: