Beginners guide to Animation

Hints and tips for beginners learning to animate using stop-motion

These are some useful pointers we have learnt over the years which will help to improve your animations. Feel free to email us with any queries -

The lighting needs to be consistent and bright. Therefore animate away from windows (light from outside constantly changes) and with electric lights on. Table lamps are useful for this. The more light there is, the better the image quality you will get from your camera (especially if you are using a web camera). 

Camera steadiness
If your camera is constantly moving, the finished animation will be very difficult to watch. Ideally use a camera on a tripod, or else fix the camera to something that wont move. Don't stand too close to the camera, in case you accidentally knock it – even leaning on it slightly will create unwanted movement.

Frame Rates
Professional animators use 24 frames per second to create television animation, though 12 frames a second can seem just as smooth if the style of animation is correct. 8 frames per second is the best rate to use when beginning, or 4 will do if you don’t mind it being a bit rough and ready. 

Any shadows cast onto the animation set will lead to a flicker in the final piece. Try and stop other people from walking past while you’re filming. Everyone should stand in the same position for each shot. 

Hands in shot
It’s very easy to get your hands in shot when taking the picture. Whoever is operating the laptop needs to check for this before they take the picture. Make sure they don’t get too carried away and take pictures too quickly.

Think about what needs to be seen to tell the story. Make sure things you don’t want to see, or clutter the shot, are out of the frame. Work through the shot before you start – think about where the character will walk to? Can the camera see that point? Also, try and vary the shot. Use wide shots, close up shots etc. Each one can be just a few seconds long, but variety makes the film more interesting. 

Keep them short, simple and fun! Work them out first and then create a script and storyboard to make sure the final film works and you capture everything you need. Think of an ending – often beginners just want to jump straight in, but it’s important to know how it ends first. 

Be inventive and try things out
It’s not a big hassle to do things again if they don’t work first time. So be inventive, try putting the camera in different places, using different styles or techniques. Look around you and think about what you might be able to use in the room you are in. 

There are some links to animation software, some of it free, on the tabs to the right of this page

Best of luck!!

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