a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Aug, 2010

Switching gears with a different kind of project

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Multimedia experiments

I can’t take full credit for this one as it was almost entirely Mark’s doing.

Stop animation productions (aka stop motion/stop action) are fairly easy to do with kids and the results are amazing. Some great examples of stop animation (clay animation, actually) include the show Pingu as well as Wallace & Gromit.

And you can make your own!

To create your own stop animation movie you will need a video camera or digital camera, a tripod, some video editing software and some characters. They don’t need to be clay, just look around the house and find something fun that’ll fit your storyline.

Step 1: Choose your characters. We went with a Playmobil and Fisher Price combo. Stick your camera of choice on a tripod and plan your scene. Kids might find writing out a script or drawing a storyboard a bit boring (although I’d encourage doing it as part of the creative process), so at the very least, talk it out. Ask yourself: What’s going to happen? What are the characters going to do? Where will they go? What will make sense? (Hint: bathroom humour is a popular option.)

Emma’s advice here – if you’re keen to know – is to “try to pick a scene that you’re interested in so you’ll have fun making it.” I would agree with that.

Step 2: Once everything is in place and your camera is set up on the tripod, take the first shot. Our Sony video camera has a really cool setting for this kind of project called “frame recording.” Love. It. Press the record button and it shoots six frames and pauses for the next shot. If your camera has this setting, find it. It will really speed up the time you’ll spend on the editing side of things. (BTW, there are a couple of iPhone apps that do stop motion too, just don’t forget, you REALLY need a tripod.)

When the first shot is done, move your characters a tiny little bit and take the next shot. Smaller movements will result in a smoother animation. Don’t move the camera or tip over the tripod. Keep it still!

Repeat, repeat, repeat until your scene is complete. At this rate, you’ll need five different shots to make one second of footage. Patience is a virtue. Stick with it! 

A note about lighting: try to keep it uniform. Our video was shot on the back porch and it shows.

Step 3: String your shots together using the software of your choice. Mark used Final Cut Express. Add some tunes to make it more fun, but be forewarned, YouTube will strip the music out of it if it’s protected by copyright.

If your video camera shoots a few frames at a time you won’t need to do much editing. You’ll be able to render it out and export it in a file format that works for you, like Quicktime.

I am immensely proud of my brood for their first animation project. They persevered and worked really hard. Toilet humour aside and the fact that there is no real storyline, I think it worked out really well for a bunch of first timers.

We uploaded ours to YouTube for all to view. The girls are eager to hear what you all think.

Here it is:

20 Responses to "Switching gears with a different kind of project"

1 | Darcy

August 11th, 2010 at 6:06 am


That was incredible. The crew should be incredibly proud of themselves.

It’s like they caught what the Playmobile family actually does when no one is home.

I can’t imagine how much time the girls invested in the project. Fantastic work!

2 | Lee

August 11th, 2010 at 6:47 am


LOVE it! Great job!!

3 | angela

August 11th, 2010 at 6:47 am


very clever:)

our local art gallery offered a stop animation course for kids this summer and they get to see their production on the big screen ( local cinema ) this fall – it is an awesome project for kids!!

loved the turtle at the end:)

4 | Ginger

August 11th, 2010 at 6:54 am


That is so awesome! What great work and how amazing to see through a project like that! And personally, I thought the pooping dog was a riot! I actually laughed out loud! What a great way to start my Wednesday!

5 | Jenn of the Roof

August 11th, 2010 at 6:57 am


That was amazing! What a fun project!

6 | Laura

August 11th, 2010 at 7:00 am


That is fantastic!!! I showed it to my family – your movie received multiple COOL!(s) :)

7 | BeachMama

August 11th, 2010 at 7:10 am


That was awesome. Apple just asked to watch it again and again and again……

8 | Stephanie

August 11th, 2010 at 8:30 am


Love it! Absolutely brilliant! I think you have budding film makers in your family. What an awesome job. I will definitely do this with my son when he’s a bit older :)

9 | Brie

August 11th, 2010 at 8:36 am


I watched it with both kids and they loved it.

10 | Danielle

August 11th, 2010 at 9:03 am


That is way too cool!! My daughter will love this! Thanks for sharing.

11 | Jen

August 11th, 2010 at 9:10 am


that was awesome!!! they did a fantastic job!

love the poop humour :-)

12 | Shannon

August 11th, 2010 at 9:11 am


That is super cool! Very neat!
I’m also jealous – I bought that same house second hand for my daughter but it came with no furniture/accessories. If you ever see them around town, let me know!!

13 | hillary

August 11th, 2010 at 12:15 pm


That’s so great! I’ve been interested in stop animation ever since three classes at my school did a special artist in residence program and did a short film. They cut everything out of construction paper to make their films!

Here’s one of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neBhKJegX34

“Graduation Ghost” and “Olympic Letdown” are theirs, too. (Olympic letdown was SO sad… our inner city kids got a chance to go see the torch pass by our school the day before the opening ceremonies. We got all dressed up, all excited, and got there super early. We waited and waited and waited, but a huge protest a few blocks away had organizers change the route and we missed it!)

Anyway – I LOVE all the creative ideas you do with your girls! So fun! :)

14 | Sara

August 11th, 2010 at 12:31 pm


So much fun!!! I’m imagining godzilla (DS2) reeking havoc on DS1’s Playmobil ;)

15 | Carly

August 11th, 2010 at 7:35 pm


I’m impressed – great job ladies!!! I can’t wait until the Little Man is old enough (AKA patient enough) to give this a shot.


PS…I hate to say it, but I loved the pooping dog. Made me laugh out loud.

16 | Kimusan

August 11th, 2010 at 8:31 pm


Ridiculous. Ridiculous.

17 | Shannon

August 12th, 2010 at 8:58 am


Oh, Hillary. That’s so sad about the Olympic Letdown. :(

18 | Mandy from Nova Scotia

August 12th, 2010 at 2:31 pm


OMG! I love that it was sooooo good, especially for your first try I think you girls have a future in this!

19 | Mel Gallant

August 11th, 2011 at 8:33 am


Oh so fun! Love the cavalry of animals passing by at the end. :)

20 | My theme song du jour plus a potential project >> a peek inside the fishbowl

May 7th, 2014 at 11:23 am


[…] that neat? We’ve done stop motion projects before (like this one) but I think I’d like to try something like this with the girls over the […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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