Friday, March 17, 2017

Crazy About iPad Stop Motion Animation

I wanted to call this blog post "If I Can Do Claymation, Then So Can YOU!" but that is too long for a title even though it is true - you can do this!

It All Started At The Ottawa Public Library

For March Break in Ottawa, I attended a workshop called "iPad Stop Motion Animation" that took place in the "Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Children's Library (Monday March 13, 2017).

This is the picture I tweeted from the Ottawa Public Library
The workshop was being done by Jessie Curell of Hands On Media Education from Montreal.

Jessie provided all of the equipment, instructions and encouragement for about a dozen young folks. I was amazed at how quickly she impressed upon all of the children what was required, the necessary steps and what they could expect at the end of the day.

One work station at the OPL Children's Library
There were four work stations set up with clay, a scenery backdrop and a tripod with an iPad. Jessie said that an artist friend of hers had painted the scenes which she then had enlarged at Staples and pasted onto display board. The scenes were beautiful!

I loved this Arctic backdrop
Each of the scenes were really stunning and this Arctic one was one of my favourites, Jessie does a lot of work in the north with her visual storytelling workshops as well as the  iPad Stop Motion Animation workshop.

In terms of process, Jessie made it clear - do not touch the clay until you have your story line completed. The steps were simple:
  1. Write your story-line
  2. Build your characters
  3. Film your story
I love the look of this clay character - he has been through a lot. And the books are flip-books to illustrate how stop motion works
The stories that the children came up with were absolutely brilliant! A grandmother being robbed, children coming across a dinosaur and an underwater adventure!

Children in the process of filming.
The process was incredibly simple. It may just be a sign-of-the-times that we are living in (where even toddlers have iPads) but ALL of these children managed the iPad and the software with ease.

The iPad Software

I asked what the software was and Jessie said it was called "Stop Motion Studio" so I googled it and found out it was FREE! I thought this was amazing and Jessie added that the free version was good but there were features that you would not be able to use (for example: add music) but she said it would be great for practicing just making animations. The free version has very high customer ratings.

The Stop Motion Studio Pro full version is only $4.99 though so I splurged and bought the Pro version.

This seemed much less challenging and less expensive than what I had imagined and I was excited to try some animation once I got back home. Just one last technical question for Jessie: the iPad remaining stationary during the whole process is key and how much would it cost for an iPad set-up like the one she had brought to the workshop? Jessie said that each unit she had was between $200-300. For her workshops, high quality equipment that could withstand the use and reuse at the many workshops that she runs was necessary.

This was going to be a problem for me. I didn't want a big expense to give clay animation a try and I didn't need equipment that could withstand heavy use. I stopped in at Henry's Camera store on the way home from the library to look at what they had for using an iPad to do stop-motion animation.

What luck! The Henry's employee I talked to also does shadow puppet animation! He asked if I had a camera tripod (which I did) and he then sold me the iPad mount below for $19.99! I was on my way!

My Henry's Tablet Mount

Playing With Clay

I bought some modeling clay at Wallack's (under $5) (I had some Sculpey at home from another project) and I started experimenting with my character.

My story-line involved a bunch of foam letters that I had bought at the dollar store a long time ago.  I wanted to play with the words "activist", "archivist" and "artist" because these three passions have been a major part of my entire life.

My characters head made from Sculpey
I was unhappy with my first full-bodied character so I decided to focus on just a head instead.

The Sculpey head into the oven
My First Animation!

I am happy with my first attempt! And now my mind is busy building more story-lines for future animations.

I hope that this has inspired you to give it a try. Try the free version of the software and have some fun.

I know that I will!