By Dina Ginzburg
Have you ever dreamed of being the director of a stop-motion movie like PARANORMAN? There’s no reason to wait until you grow up. You have all you need right now to make an incredible stop-motion film! Big studios with amazing equipment and large budgets are great, but everybody’s got to start somewhere!
Write a Script
Every great movie starts with a great script. Think of an interesting plot for a short stop-motion animation film that won’t require any crazy visual effects that you won’t be able to do on your own. Write all the dialogue and the actions your puppets will have to make. This will be your main point of reference, so the more detail that goes into this, the better. For your first attempt, keep the movie short (3-5 minutes max.) because these movies can be very time-consuming to make.
A visual representation of your script will make it easier to film. Sketch out each frame so that when it comes to filming, you’ll know exactly what you have to recreate. This will also give you the chance to decide what kind of shots and angles you’ll want to use.
Now it’s time to build! Make your props, sets, puppets and costumes. Use cardboard boxes, paint, glue, construction paper, dollhouse furniture and even grass and sticks to make your sets. A great way to create your puppets is by first making their skeleton out of some craft wire and covering it with plasticine in the colour you want your character’s skin to be. Then, sew their costumes using scraps of cloth or felt. Remember to find a way to add light to your sets. Flashlights or desk lamps work well for this.
For this part, you’ll need a camera attached to a computer or a laptop webcam. Additionally, you'll need a stop-motion computer program that these pictures will go to. Set up your puppets on set and carefully manipulate them, making them move ever so slightly. Take a picture every time they make even the tiniest movement. Use 15 frames for every second of footage and take a picture of each frame twice.
You’ll need to record all your dialogue, sound effects and music separately. If your script has more than one character, get some friends to play some of the characters. Make sure to always have some sort of sound throughout the entire movie, otherwise it will seem awkward and empty.
Go through all the frames that you uploaded to the computer stop-motion program and get rid of the bad ones. Import them to a movie editing software like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and make sure that they play seamlessly one after the other.
Add all the dialogue, sound effects and music to the footage. Check that the audio is in sync with what’s happening on the screen.
To make your movie look super professional, add a title using the movie editor. Don’t forget to create rolling credits at the end to show who did what to create the movie.
That’s it, you’re done! Show your movie to your friends and family and post it on YouTube. You’re one step closer to being a famous director! Good luck!
For inspiration check out PARANORMAN when it hits theatres on August 17!