Now that you have had a chance to explore the concept of stopmotion with some online tools in the first activity and worked with your webcam in the second activity, you are ready to make your first claymation movie.
One of the critical elements of claymation is that you need a story and characters if you want to keep the viewer's interest. If you have ever read a good book, you probably have become invested in the hero (protagonist) and villain (antagonist) and you may have even followed the story arc from beginning to middle to end. Even in a small claymation video, it helps to have the story and characters in mind instead of just winging it. So, before you even start creating characters or filming your project, storyboard your idea. Download a typical storyboard and sketch out the plot and main action points. You don't need to get too detailed here. It's more of a rough draft, and it is fine to move your story in new directions when the filming is underway.
Now that you have a story in mind, and some characters to consider, you can start to play with the clay. This is the fun part. Using either regular modeling clay or expensive materials, you should work to create a unique identity for your characters through the use of clay. In other words, the physical elements of your character should match the personality of the characters. You are creating visual character traits, really, so that the viewer has a sense of who the characters are on the screen.
If you want to have a background set, now is the time to get that all in place, too. This could be as simple as drawing a background on a white piece of paper and taping it to the wall, or as elaborate as creating a space in which the action unfolds. Using toy props for the background often works well, too, because the size and scale are a natural fit for claymation, so dig out those Lego sets and other toys from your closet, and see if they work well for what you need.
Next up is the fun but challenging part: the filming. The best piece of advice to keep in mind is "patience." As you may have learned from our earlier work, the most fluid stopmotion movies are filmed with very little variation from one frame to the next. Large amounts of movement lead to jerky scenes. Small movements lead to realistic scenes. So, take your time when shooting the movie. Remember that your goal here is to create an illusion for the viewer. You will need your webcam and some stopmotion capturing software (In our second activity, we shared out the free JellyCam program). You can also do stopmotion by taking individual pictures from a camera, and then pulling those images into an editing program. You will need a LOT of images, however.
Once you have the raw stopmotion footage, you have a couple of choices to consider. You can publish the raw video file itself as a movie (using online hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo) or you can move the file into a video editing system, such as iMovie on the Mac or MovieMaker on the Windows PC. Using a video editing program allows you to add titles, and record narration, and even add some soundtrack music. If you post to the Internet, share out the links and make the world your audience.
- Modeling Clay
- Assorted Toy Props
- Storyboard Template
- Video Editing Software (suggested)
What challenges did you face as you worked with clay? If your clay figures started to move, you can always add paper clip wires or some other materials inside the figures to keep them sturdy. Or create a fat base (fat feet) to anchor them.
Did you get your own hands in the frames? This is a common mistake and you can use editing software to remove them. When working with a partner, it is important to set up a system, such as the person working the camera saying "OK" before the person moving the claymation figures doing anything.
Note: Patience and communication are key elements to a successful claymation project.
Claymation Movies by Sixth Graders
Badges UnLocked: Webmaker Content Creator
Some Behind the Scenes Videos:
A Classic: Frog and Toad
Sticky Note Stopmotion
Playing with Clay
Have fun with your own claymation experimentations!
You may have noticed that there are some mobile apps referenced in the software section of this kit. More and more developers are creating tools for making movies on smaller devices, and stopmotion is no different. You may lose a bit in quality, depending on the camera on your device, but you make up for that with portability and ease of use.