Learning about Stop-motion: The Camera

One of my most difficult decisions in setting up for stop-motion was choosing the camera.

Most articles on stop-motion for beginners recommend that you start with a simple web-cam. It’s cheap and effective.  But I already knew that I wanted to be able to be able to zoom into detail areas, so the images need to be fairly high res.   Web-cams produce low resolution images, and so do most other hand-held video cameras.  Also – a decent entry-level video camera is much more expensive than a good quality digital stills camera.

So I started looking for a digital still camera.  These are the things to look for when buying a digital still camera for stop-motion: More

Learning about Stop-Motion: The Software

In my previous post on stop-motion animation, I got a little ahead of myself and jumped straight to showing my first experiments.  I want to back track a little and start with what I learnt while creating a stop-motion setup.

Today’s post is about the software choices for creating stop-frame animation.

I’m using something called frame-grabber software.  Frame-grabbers help to take the guesswork out of creating a stop-motion animation.  When animating without a frame-grabber, you take a picture, move the object and take another picture.   You need to guess how far to move things, and remember which direction you’ve just moved them in.  Sounds simple until you have multiple things moving at different speeds!

Frame-grabbers work like this: More

Stop-motion Experiment Day 1

After many weeks of teaching, I’ve taken some time off to focus (at last) on learning how to make a stopframe animation.  Brendon set up a basic animation rig for me, but I’ll write about the rig, software and equipment in a future post.

Today was all about remembering how to use the camera and the frame-grabber software, and fine tuning the animation stand, so I just made some very rough animations using salt on glass.

For the uninitiated, stopframe animation is when you animate objects or drawings by  taking a picture, moving something, taking another picture, moving something again, and so on.  This job is made a lot easier by using frame-grabber software that let’s you preview how to move the object before you take the picture.  The camera sends a “live feed” image of the scene you are animating to your computer, which is what makes all of this possible. But.. I’ll explain how that works in the upcoming post on the software setup I’m using. 🙂

Lessons learnt today: More

Improvisation in Sand – César Díaz

My post on  Caroline Leaf’s “Owl and Goose” has lead me to another interesting animation.   Spanish musician-animator César Díaz used the same sand on glass technique to create this animation for the song No Corras Tanto.

César is a musician as well as an animator – in fact, he is one of the musicians in El Combolinga, the band responsible for this song .  He was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

Firstly – the imagery in the animation was entirely spontaneous and improvised.  César says: More

Danger! Time-sink ahead

I’m pretty good at finding on-line time-sinks, especially those that make you feel as though you are at least doing something vaguely creative.  And those are the most dangerous of all…

AniBoom Shape Shifter


The Shape Shifter is a free on-line animation machine for creating frame by frame animations.  The challenge is that you can use only  four basic geometric shapes. More

Design Indaba 09 || Day 2 || Animation

The second day of Design Indaba started with a number of South African animators.


First up was Craig Wessels from Wickedpixels More

Work In Progress – Sneak Peek of what happened during my leave

I’ve just returned from a long research leave during which I worked on an exhibition. I dont like showing my work before the opening night, but here is a sneak peek.

My exhibition is in three parts. First, I wrote some very short stories. Then I created the characters in these stories as puppets. Now I am creating small drawn animations of each of these characters. I am going to show you a bit of two of the characters. There are five of them at the moment.

Here is Benjamin.

His story starts like this: More

Miyazaki remembers

How well do you remember the things that happened to you in childhood?  Do you really remember what it was like?  I think we mostly forget, and so do not realise how much children understand what is going on around them, and we underestimate their inner lives.

I have just come accross this interview with Hayao Miyazaki in which he touches on what motivates him to make the kinds of movies he makes.  He was a child in Japan during World War Two, and he recounts an air raid that happened when he was four years old.  The most traumatic part of this experience is not, as one might expect, the running away, or the bombs falling, or the fires they caused.  What he remembers most painfully is this:  His family were fleeing the fire bombs.  There were fires everywhere and they got to their car – one of those old fasioned cars that start with a crank.   They got it started easily “since it was warmed well by the fire”.  Little Miyazaki was hidden under a futon because they would have to drive through the fire. Before they could drive off, a neighbour, a woman holding a small girl came up to them and asked if she could leave with them.  But his parents just drove off, leaving her running after them, calling for help.

This woman and her child survived.  But Miyazaki says:

“…the fact that we ran away riding a rare gasoline truck while others were dying, deserting even those who were asking us to take them with us, those facts remained as a very strong memory even for a four years old child. That was very difficult to bear, when you think about what people say about living right or being considerate toward others. And as a small child, you want to believe that your parents are good people, the best in the world.”

He goes on to say that he creates movies in which a child would speak up, and tell the parents to stop and help others.  He wants to believe that such a world may be.  Think of “Laputa – Castle in the Sky” with its terrible war robots that have turned into gardeners.  Or the war images in “Howls Moving Castle”.

How often do you think of the impact of your actions or words on a child as small as that?  That a small child could be so aware of injustice?

Princess Mononoke

Am once again overwhelmed by the films of Miyazaki – this time “Princess Mononoke”


Like Spirited Away, the movie drew me in. The Deer God’s forest is a manifestation of all that is disappearing or already missing from our world. More