Mini-Class: Stop Motion Videos: Create + Animate | Brock Davis | Skillshare

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Mini-Class: Stop Motion Videos: Create + Animate

teacher avatar Brock Davis, Visual Artist, Creative Director

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started: Ideation


    • 3.

      Getting Started: Storyboarding


    • 4.

      Figuring Out What You Need to Buy, Rig or Build


    • 5.

      Finding the Perfect Place to Film


    • 6.

      Composing Your Set, Lights and Camera


    • 7.

      Filming, Editing and Sharing


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About This Class

While the mobile phone is great for taking photos of your lunch or your cat... or your cat eating your lunch, it is also a versatile creative tool. A simple way to spontaneously capture and create moments of inspiration through photo and video.

Stills from "A Match Doing Sit-ups" (2012)

In this class, I'll show you how to create compelling stop motion videos using your mobile phone and minimal equipment. We'll cover ideation, storyboarding, prep and production, lighting and composition and of course, the shooting and editing. We'll work on a project under the theme of "destination."

Whether you're interested in stop motion on a serious level, or if you just want to dabble here and there, this class will teach you the basics to get started. You don't need to be a film industry professional or have professional photo, video and editing equipment. All you need is a little inspiration, a good idea and your phone.

Stills from "Cherry Bomb" and "Hungry Sofa" (2013)

Meet Your Teacher

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Brock Davis

Visual Artist, Creative Director


Brock Davis is an award-winning, visual artist specializing in art direction, illustration, graphic design, photography and creative direction. Brock has worked in the advertising and design industry for the past 17 years, creating ground-breaking work for Jack Links Beef Jerky, Subaru, Harley-Davidson, Porsche, Gibson Guitars, Rapala and many others. His work has received national and international acclaim, acquiring every notable industry award including the prestigious Cannes Lion.

When he isn't making work for brands he's busy making other things, like one piece of art every day for a year in his "Make Something Cool Every Day" project, and t-shirt designs for his line of Brock Davis kid's tees at Target stores. He is a regular contributing artist to the New York Times, Wired,... See full profile

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1. Trailer: Hi, I'm Brock Davis. I'm a Visual Artist and a Creative Director. For this class, I'm going to be teaching how to make awesome stop-motion videos using only your mobile phone. In this class, we'll work on a stop-motion video under the theme "Destination." What does destination mean to you, and how can you create a stop-motion video that relays that theme? I'm basically going to take students through my process, starting with generating an idea, sketching out a storyboard, planning what materials I need, finding where I'm going to shoot this film, and eventually shooting the film, editing, and finally sharing it for the world to see. I think it's gonna be great for students. It's a good way for them to understand how animation works, how movement works. It's a lot of fun to take an inanimate object and to give it a personality and an emotion. 2. Getting Started: Ideation: Hey guys, welcome to class. This is going to be fun, but there are a few things that you're going to need before we get started. One, something to put your ideas in, a notepad, field notes whatever you like to use to capture your ideas and of course something to write them down with and the mobile phone, we're going to need one of those. A tripod for the phone. This is the one that I like to use. This is the joby gorillapod. I also have a little tripod clamp here that is designed to go on a tripod mount. So, if you have a professional tripod that you like to use this will help keep your phone on there, and last but not least a laptop, something to upload your video to should you want to do some editing in a movie or another program that you like to use and a USB cable so that you can do the upload. Also this is very important for keeping your phone charged, and that seems like a no brainer, but I often find myself making stop motion videos and are about to take a photo and my phone goes dead. So, keep your phone charged. Before you can make a video, the first thing you have to do is come up with an idea, and that's by far the toughest part of everything that you're going to be learning about making a stop motion video. It's never easy come up with an idea, people ask me all the time how do you come up with these ideas? Where do they come from? My best answer is I have no idea where they come from. There are a lot of different ways that people can arrive at a cool idea. Some people like to look at a lot of visual stimulus to be inspired. Me personally over the last couple of years I've been more inspired by just ordinary objects and things around our environment around the house, things like a pencil or an electrical outlet. Things that we just don't ever think about, just really normal boring things, and I also find that for me when I do mundane things like wash dishes or cut the grass or brush my teeth those are those moments where it seems like inspiration really hits me pretty well. It's actually easy to think of an idea, but it's much more difficult to think of a good idea. So, what I like to do and this is the process that I do is when I come up with an idea that I think is cool, I write it down, but then I keep going. I always like to try to push myself and come up with something as original as possible. I don't know what the secret is, everyone has their own method to how they like to think and how they like to concepts. Some people like listening to music and kind of zoning out. Other people they like to go online and look at a lot of visual stimuli. All of those things are good answers. I'm actually going to share with you guys some of the things I've been sketching here on my notepad. I usually start out by writing down what am I thinking about. Well, our class project is about destinations. So, I just write destination down at the top of the page and then I just kind of start writing down my first stream of conscious stops that I think what do I think of when I think of destination. Point A to B. That's the first thing I wrote on this thing. You're starting at one location and going to another. Then I started I wrote down traveling from from one point to another or arriving at an awesome destination. The arrival, I drew I'm not sure what this is. Looks like a little onion boy and he's crashing through a wall and he's saying "I'm here." Something arrives unexpectedly. I wrote that down. There are no dumb ideas when you are concept thing. Here is a drawing of a trash can. There's a crumpled piece of paper. He's rolling out of the trash can and magically transforming into an airplane. Journey versus arrival, this is a drawing of a toaster and I wrote sad things that want to escape to something better. So, perhaps this toaster is going on a little journey to try to find something a better place for him to be besides on someone's counter top making toast. Actually I wrote here. A toaster that has been thrown away so far out of garbage and makes and moves to a beautiful scenic location. Then right here, I think this is a drawing of like a stack of pancakes and this is like a little butter man buttered climbing up a stack of pancakes, he gets the top A destination is the top of the pancakes. That's his destination. Then here I drew him getting such poured all over his body. So, basically, that's all it is. When you're concepting. You're writing down what you're thinking about, and for me I liked to create ideas that make me feel something. First and foremost I do it for me. I find that if you are excited about the idea that you're creating, others will be excited by it too. I try not to make things because people may expect me to make something. I try to make things because I feel inspired to do so. 3. Getting Started: Storyboarding: So, now you have an idea that you like, so it's time to take that idea and put it into a storyboard format. So, what you do is you just start drawing some squares like this that can kind of represent a frame. I'm going to have that I'll first start off with a little trash can. I'm thinking maybe it's like some kind of an office scenario like there's a table, there's maybe a chair there. Maybe he rolls back and forth and knocks over the trash can and it starts to roll out. Maybe he rolls right up to the table, going right up to table leg. Maybe I'll go to a lower angle for that so I show the table leg and I show him start to roll magically right up because this is stop-motion. In stop motion this little guy can do anything he wants. Maybe he now comes over the edge of the table. There's a laptop on the table because its a desk. Maybe he knocks that laptop out of the way. He just knocks it right out of the way because he needs area to transform. He needs space. So then he has his space. He comes back in the center of the frame on the table. He animates into the airplane. He magically starts to fly forward off the table. Maybe I go to a lower angle to show him there's a window right there by the table. Then maybe we go outside and we show him just flying with the blue sky behind right to the air. So, the paper maybe was some old document or an idea that was thrown away. The paper comes to life, rolls out of the trash can, rolls up the office desk, moves that horrible laptop out of the way because the laptop sort of represents kind of working. The paper is like, "You know what, no more working. It's time to be free." Pushes that laptop out of the way because he's a strong ball of paper, transforms into the airplane, flies off the table. We cut to a different angle to show it going from table out the window and then outside to freedom. So, that's the way a storyboard works. So, what have we covered so far? Idea generating. I have it on one page here, but guys, I've seriously burned through two or three of these things to try to get to one idea. So, don't be frustrated. Don't feel frustrated if it takes you a while to get to an idea that you're excited about. Ideas are hard, and good ideas are even harder. But they're well worth the pursuit. Then, to the story boarding process from idea to story boarding, how that idea has gone from paper now going into a sequence of frames to tell the story that we want to tell. Now that we kind of know what we want to shoot, let's figure out what we're going to need to shoot it correctly to be sure that what we're executing has the best chance of being an executional success and just being something that people are like, "Whoa, that's pretty cool." 4. Figuring Out What You Need to Buy, Rig or Build: Okay, so we have our idea and we have a story boarded out. So the next thing to do is to figure out what materials, what supplies, what equipment do you need to get, you need to research, you need to stockpile in order to make your video come to life? I have a crumpled piece of paper in a trash can, trash can falls over, paper goes up the table, turns into an airplane, flies out the window. So, I obviously need a trash can, so I've already source that for myself. Of course, I have my paper ball here. Here's the airplane. So somehow this is going to turn into this through the magic of stop-motion animation. The other thing I need, looking at my storyboard, is a laptop which I have, a table which I have. There is a part, though, in my video where the airplane is going to have to fly off. So I'm going to have to make a rig in order to make that happen. Meaning that I'm going to have to figure out a way to suspend the airplane, so that I can take shots of it without having to have my hand in the shot. So let's talk about some of the other general supplies that are just good to have on hand. If you plan on doing more stop-motion videos or any photo and video work aside from the video that you're doing for this class, it's good to have some of these things around. Aluminum foil, great for adding stability to objects and also really good for reflecting light. Fishing line or monofilament as it's called in the professional world. Any kind of tape, duct tape, scotch tape, of course these two guys work together and they're best friends, and they can make things happen for you. Mounting putty or the tacky putty. A hot glue gun. I never thought I would ever buy one of these things when I was a teenager but, you know what? Hot glue guns are amazing they can do amazing things. An X-Acto knife. I actually took an X-Acto class in art school and it was one of the best classes ever took. X-Acto knives is probably my favorite tool in the house. Skewers, just your basic wooden skewer, great for Shish kebab but also really good for helping with props, keeping things suspended. A nice utility knife, with needle-nose pliers and lot of other goodies in here. A lot of this stuff, you may be like, "How am I ever going to use that, when am I going to use it." You know what, at some point or another I found myself needing one of these things, and they're all very valuable. I suggest you, stock up. Okay, so we've talked about the things that you need to get, based on reading your storyboard, and we've talked about some of the things that it's just good to have on hand anyway. Now, let's move on and discuss where are you going to shoot this? Where you're going to shoot your video? 5. Finding the Perfect Place to Film: So we have our supplies. Now, we're ready to shoot this stop motion video. Now, we just got to figure out where we're going to shoot it. We have to find the perfect place. Now, depending on your script and your idea, perhaps that location is within your apartment, within your house, within your office or maybe you have to travel for, maybe you have to go to a park or you have to go to the woods or field or like an urban area. Look at your storyboard and really think about how you have it mapped out, and see what is best for that. The location, whether it be interior or exterior or maybe you have to build a set, to me it's all based on what helps communicate the idea, the most clearly and the most simply. Simple backgrounds are great. When you're making a video, you want your subject to be the focus. If the background is too crazy, it can distract from that. Now, what about making a set in your home? Well, I like to know where all my tables are, how tall they are. Sometimes, I want to keep my video the topic in context, so I want to shoot like on an actual table or on the carpet or on a couch or something like that. Other times, I want kind of my set area to be very clean. That's where art paper comes in. These papers are perfect for making a very quick little backdrops and very quick little sets. Of course, it's important to have white, grays, and blacks. Then you can get some primary colors too; Red, yellows blues, greens. But these are also really good for reflecting light and filling in shadows, so they will have multiple uses for you. You can also if you want to step things up a little bit, when it comes to making a little set for yourself, you can buy some rolls of seamless paper. They have this six-foot roll. Some of them are even smaller, I believe, where it's just like a sheet of white paper and you kind of peel it off the roll and you can use it as a nice background. So when you're shooting something, the background can kind of just go off into the distance and be nice and clean. The thing to really do though is to discover a lot of these for yourself. Once again, go back to your storyboard. Look at what your idea is and what you're trying to shoot. You have the supplies already. Now, take some time to walk around your surroundings and find what the right location is going to be to make your shoot awesome. 6. Composing Your Set, Lights and Camera: Okay. So, we've talked about location. Hopefully by now, you've chosen an awesome location for your video. I've chosen my location. This is my dining room. I loved the light that gets in this room, it gets great daylight. As I was saying, if you can shoot in daylight, I recommend it. You don't have as much control over it, but it just has such a wonderful look. If I'm not going to shoot in daylight, one thing I like to use, is this light. This is a ProMaster three in one, cool light, I think it's called. I recommended if you are looking for a good dependable light, that's very versatile. If you don't want to invest in a light like this, and they're not that expensive. I mean, if you factor in the bulbs that you have to buy, you can get sort of spending. But if you want to avoid that altogether, and just make stop-motion videos with everything that you have at the house, you can definitely do it. One option is to take a ikea desk light, and throw a t-shirt over it. The thing of course, to think about with that is, you don't want to burn your house down. So, other than that, it's perfect. So, I've set up my shot, I like the way it looks in the phone. My goal is to create a faux office scene, so that the stop animation happens in a contextual environment instead of an ambient environment. So, it's a in situation. Now, usually, I use my Joby Gorillapod Tripod. Which is great. Because you can bend it around, you can put it up on something high in these little arms, and legs that it has make it great for clamping down on things. I decided to use just a standard of a boom tripod that I have here. I've thought about the lines, I've thought about the background, everything is very clean, and it's now just ready to tell the story. 7. Filming, Editing and Sharing: Okay, so I'm ready to film now. I love my composition. I take the trash can down so nothing's going to slide around. Now, it's time to make my stop-motion video. I'm going to be using the Vine app to make my video. Vine is, the screen is very good, very sensitive for hitting each frame. So, what will happen is as soon as I touch the frame, it will record. When I remove my finger, it stops recording. It's very sensitive. So, every time I tap the screen, that's like one photo being taken. One reason why I'm using Vine is because they have a ghost feature on the screen. So, every time I take an image by tapping the screen with my finger, I can see a very faint view of what my previous shot was. That way, I know how to keep my stop-motion sequence in looking fluid. So, let's go ahead and try to do it. So, how do we get this to become this using stop motion animation? Well, what I did was I made 16 layers of this. I started with this ball, then I took another piece of paper and had this ball less tight, then another piece of paper and had a more open, then another piece of paper and had it open up until it becomes a flat piece of paper. Then, I took another sheet of paper and I start basically made a paper airplane in the steps that it takes to make one. So, we go from this to this, which is about 16 pieces of paper. Now that your video is edited, you love the way it looks, the next thing to do is to share it with the world. The way that I like to do that is to Instagram video. Remember, when you upload to Instagram, don't forget to use hashtag make our mark, and hashtag dream. Thanks for taking this class. I hope you had a great time and I hope you saw how easy it can be to make an awesome stop-motion video.