Stop Motion Studio

Matt Milkowski
with students from Kenwood Academy, Chicago

Students create collaborative stop motion films in 45 minutes or less.

Materials: objects from home or the classroom, large sheets of flexible white poster board, clamp light or lamp, digital camera, free/cheap Internet stop motion program (Frame Thief, or iStopMotion) or video editing software (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker)

• Before class: tape about 4- 6 pieces of poster board together forming a large, flexible, white backdrop (4’ x 5’). Clamp, pin, or tape it to a wall, and allow it to seamlessly curve onto a table.
• Illuminate with 1-2 clamp lights or lamps. You may turn off other overhead lights.
• Set up digital camera on a tripod or pile of books so it faces backdrop.
• If you have numerous cameras, repeat studio set-up in other locations in the room for simultaneous group shoots.
• In the first 5 minutes of class, have student groups pick an object, and generate ideas for a few simple actions (move, roll, wrap, cover, etc...)
• Demonstrate stop motion technique: take a photo, move object 1 inch, take another shot, repeat until at least 100 shots are taken in the class period. Inform students that 30 minutes of work will probably only generate 5-15 seconds of footage.
• Repeat for other groups or periods, and combine footage for final film.
• Put images into editing software; adjust the still frame rate to 1/10 to 1/15 of a second.
TIP: For Mac users: a great "how to" video: iMovie Stop Motion Tutorial

Lesson Expansion:
• Use the same set to film “invisible drawings” in which students slowly add an inch or so of pencil, charcoal, or paint to a drawing, so that it appears to draw itself.
• Have students make a "flip book" of simple line drawings on a pad of sticky notes.
• Ignore the white set, and use parts of your school for sets.
• Use previous 3-D artwork as subjects for your stop motion movies.