Make your own stop-motion movie!
I spent my childhood writing, drawing and watching cartoons like my favourite, always showing after school, ... La Linea!

So when years later, after my graduation in space engineering, a video contest about space pops up (Wake-Up, Rosetta! Contest by the European Space Agency), I just felt compelled to do something about it!!

So here is the result of an afternoon of tremendous fun for the contest and, most importantly, a tutorial about how you can create the same kind of stories , with kids or friends or just your own, in the confort of your home or pretty much anywhere!

Ready? Let's go! :)

Step 1: Gather Material

Make your own stop-motion movie!
The possiblities of stop-motion are virtually endless. But here is what you're going to need to shoot your movie in the style of the video above!
  • Black papersheets (lots)
  • A white pen
  • Scissors
  • A digital camera. Optional : camera enabling the user to customize and freeze its settings (typically, a reflex camera)
  • A tripod
  • Lighting (lamps or studio spots)
  • A computer

  • Step 2: Gather Inspiration

    Ok ok . No panic to have!

    If you have a good idea of what story you would like to tell, good for you.

    If not, my best advice would be to start drawing a character or a object you like and imagine how you would make it move in space by drawing the same object/character in a different position and so on...**

    The most important is to have fun in the process and , also, nothing prevents you from drawing inspiration from other movies you might have seen! For instance, here are some stop-motion classics :

    (1) Wallace and Gromit

    (2) La Linea

    Step 3: Set the camera

    Make your own stop-motion movie!
    First actual step is to set up the camera and some lights in a way that general brightness and contrast of your pictures will be constant from a frame to the next.

  • Place the back booknote according to your taste. Horizontal position is recommended as all drawings will actually be cut and placed on the notebook.
  • Place a tripod and the camera above the scene you want to shoot. Follow a trial-and-error approach to tune your tripod until you are satisfied with the framing
  • Place the lighting according to your taste.
  • Finally, tune the aperture and shutter speed of your camera so that 2 consecutive shots are similar in terms of brightness and contrast (Example of article about camera tuning )
  • Step 4: Principle of stop-motion

    Make your own stop-motion movie!
    Chosen concept for the realisation
    "Stop-motion animation" is a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started, for example to give animated figures the impression of movement.

    With that in mind, the goal is to create moving drawings on the black-paper notebook used for the scene. Two possibilities come mind:
  • Either use a different page for each shoot. This approach is paper consuming, time prohibitive and drawing two figures very close from each other can be tedious.
  • Either draw the different objects separately and place them onto the notebook at will.
  • The second solution offers high flexibility, is time-efficient, does not use much extra paper.

    Therefore, for instance :
  • The march of the character in my video can be reduced to a handful of simple drawings that are replaced regularily in the pictures to give impression of movement
  • Each star in the background can be moved to give also impression of movement
  • Etc...
  • Step 5: Start shooting

    Make your own stop-motion movie!
    Once familiar with the concept, everything is simple :
  • Place the scene as you like
  • Take a picture
  • Make small changes to the scene
  • Take a picture
  • And so on...
  • Step 6: Editing : Images and sounds

    Make your own stop-motion movie!
    Phew! The manual is done : now, it's time to assemble the photos and edit the movie

    Software considerations
  • Many freewares are available online.
  • For this specific project, I went straight to the one I had, Movie Maker, at the price of huge efforts. So, if you have time ahead of you and good friends advising you, pick up your software carefully! (sometimes the least-energy path is sometimes the most interesting one!)

  • Assembling images
    Assembling images should be very straightforward at this point. The preliminary work of camera settings will show its benefits in this phase by limiting the differences between frames to the actual drawings and not general lighting.

    Sounds and music
    Again, possibilities are endless from recording your own sounds to download sound files from active forums such as

    Video Format
    Once satisfied with your editing, convert your project into a video file.

    Step 7: Enjoy your video & comment this tutorial !

    Make your own stop-motion movie!
    That's it : you did it !

    Now, enjoy the result (and probably the mess you've created), share it to friends, post it in the comments below... do whatever you wanna do!


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