Stop-motion is hard work

Zach and I ended up working together on our stop-motion project. We tossed some ideas back and forth, and at first we were thinking about doing something involving time-travel by using onion skinning in the actual video file.

After some more discussion we decided to do something different. Zach had done some stop-motion work for fun a while back, and he had used aluminum foil for his characters. This seemed like a pretty cool idea so we sat down and did that. I’m rather pleased with the results:

A couple of things that were interesting here:

1. Stop-motion is incredibly time-consuming. We shot just under 500 frames, and it took us just over three hours to do. It probably would have been slightly faster with a better pre-production setup, but most of that time was taken up by actual posing work so I doubt it would have been much faster.

2. Since neither of us had Macs, I used a piece of open-source software called StopMojo. It’s nothing fancy, just a simple Java-based image capture program that tracks frames and allows for simple onion-skinning. The frames are stored as JPG images. For post-production we simply copied that folder of JPGs and imported them into iStopMotion in order to duplicate frames as needed, and delete or move things show out of order.

3. We had assumed at first that we would be using 15 frames per second, but once we took a look at that, it felt too fast, too smooth. We ended up dialing things back to 12 frames per second which felt a lot closer to what we were going for.

4. I was shocked by the size of the final video file. The 500 frames we ended up using constituted about 4MB of space on the disk. The just over 40 second .mov file we ended up with was over 600MB. With no audio track. I have to assume that it got saved as an uncompressed MPG2 format file or something because I’ve never seen 40 seconds take up that much space before.

Thomas

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