You probably think you need a lot of fancy equipment to create high-quality stop motion animation. But what if we told you that you could achieve professional results with just your phone and a few accessories?
The short clip you see above was shot with a regular smartphone on a tripod. If we didn’t tell you that, you probably would have thought we used a professional camera to pull it off. Here are all the steps you need to follow to make eye-catching animations with your mobile device.
In theory, you can create stop motion with just your phone. But if you want your animation to look smooth, you’ll need to buy a few accessories. Thankfully, there are only three items on our list, and you can buy all of them for under 30USD!
Stability is crucial in creating smooth animation. That’s why it’s a prerequisite to use a tripod to ensure your stop motion doesn’t look too jittery. You can use a tabletop tripod like the one you see above. But if you want more flexibility, it’s best to use a regular tripod.
This accessory has a thread at the bottom that allows you to screw your device into a tripod. The good news is that when you get a mini tripod, it often already comes with an adapter so you don't have to buy one!
In some cases, you can get away with pressing the shutter button on your screen to take pictures. But doing that could cause the phone to move. As a result, your animation might end up looking wobbly. The Bluetooth remote allows you to activate the camera without touching your device at all.
If you want to streamline your workflow and achieve precise movements for your animation, you need to consider using an app.
There are plenty of stop motion apps out there. The most popular options include the Stop Motion Studio Pro and Life Lapse Stop Motion Maker. They not only allow you to capture shots but also edit them straight from your phone.
We will be using Life Lapse for this tutorial because it’s more user-friendly, especially for beginners. It’s so easy to use that you only need five minutes to learn how to use all its features (it even includes two mini tutorial videos!).
…and don’t worry, we’ll go through all the steps one by one so you could start making your newest viral social media post immediately after this!
The Smartphone Animation Process
What’s great about the smartphone animation workflow is that it uses the same process as professional shoots. So take your time to learn it because it will help you transition smoothly once you start working with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.
1. Connect your phone to your tripod
First, you’ll need to attach your phone to the phone adapter so you can connect it to the tripod. As for the tripod, you can use either a mini tripod or the regular version, depending on what you want to do.
In most cases, placing the mini tripod on a table works perfectly. But sometimes, you may need the full-size version to achieve the angle and height you need. For this project, we used a regular tripod since we wanted to capture the scene from above.
2. Build your set
Your set will depend on the product or object you want to animate. If your project involves a coffee mug, you might want to consider using the kitchen as the background. If you’re working with makeup accessories, then perhaps you could create a bedroom or bathroom scene.
Since we had to do an animation with polygonal erasers, we included notebooks and other school items in our set. That way, the audience could easily imagine they’re looking at a study table or even a classroom.
3. Turn on your app.
When you activate the app, press the little button with the plus sign to start a new project. It will then take you to the New Project page. Press the camera button so you can see a live view of your scene.
4. Lock Auto White Balance and Exposure.
Once everything is in the frame, press the AWB and EXP icons to lock your Auto White Balance and Exposure. Doing so ensures that those two settings stay constant as you take pictures.
This step is necessary because typically, your phone automatically changes the white balance and the exposure every time you take a picture. When you take a series of photos, all those automatic adjustments may vary from frame to frame. As a result, your final animation might end up with some images darker or brighter than the others.
5. Activate your remote.
Your phone remote is Bluetooth enabled, so you can activate it like any other wireless device. Turn it on and pair it with your phone to use it.
Before you animate, test your remote by pressing the shutter button. Make sure your phone is communicating with your trigger every time you activate the trigger. That way, you can ensure you don't miss any frames when you start taking pictures.