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.
6. Start recording!
Animating with Life Lapse is straightforward. All you have to do is move the pieces of each frame and take a picture.
Now you might notice some “ghosting” on your screen. Don’t worry because that’s the app’s Onion Skin feature.
The Onion Skin may seem distracting if you’re not used to it. But using this feature allows you to visualize the increments of your movements. That way, you can be more precise with your movements.
7. Edit your project.
Once you finish recording your project, press the Play icon on the upper right part of the screen.
When the series of images you took appears on the screen, tap the Play button at the BOTTOM of the screen. Doing so takes you to the app's editing bay.
At the bottom of the screen, you have the choice to add music, adjust exposure settings, speed, and size, among other parameters. It even has a boomerang feature as well as filters. They work like regular editing tools, so you’ll find them easy to use.
The most crucial aspect of editing your animation is changing the speed of your video. When you click the Speed icon, you’ll see a slider with a turtle on one end and a hare on the other.
Move the slider toward the hare to make your video faster and toward the turtle to make it slower. Press the Play button in the middle of the screen to check your footage. You’ll know you have the correct speed when your clip appears smooth and not jittery.
8. Resize your file.
Various social media platforms require different sizes for the video. That’s why it’s essential to use the Size tool to change the dimensions of your file.
For Instagram posts, you can use either 1:1 or 4:3. But for Stories, 9:16 would be the best option for you.
As for Tiktok, the recommended aspect ratio would be 9:16 to ensure that you fill up the entire frame.
9. Export your clip.
What’s excellent about Life Lapse is that you have the option to export your file as a GIF or video. If you want to use your animation for Instagram or Tiktok, saving it as a video file would be the best choice. But if you're going to use it for your blog or website, then we recommend GIF.
If animating with a regular camera intimidates you, smartphone animation is the best option for you.
Honestly, Lifelapse works so much like most standard stop motion programs such as Dragonframe. So it's a great way to train yourself to use professional apps down the line.
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