Want to animate but aren’t sure how to start? Intimidated by the investment that seems to be required? Fear not! Tortor is here to save you.
Normally Tortor Smith makes their videos using a DSLR and Dragonframe, but this week they took a vlog-inspired deviation designed to highlight how you don’t need any fancy tech to get started in animating. The video covers how to start practising stop-motion basics at home for free – yes, FREE! “If you’ve got a smartphone,” Tortor says, “then you’ll be able to do it.”
Tortor begins the video by truly going back to basics. They switch off their proper set of LED lights in favor of opening up the blinds for some natural light and aim to use regular objects you can find around your house. As for your setup? A tabletop with a sheet of A1 white card stuck down with Blu-Tack will do just fine. Tortor suggests using anything you have lying about your house for your first stop motion: old dolls, cars or even a Malteser. Easy!
As for capturing your footage, the process is just as simple. While Tortor uses part of a selfie stick to mount their iPhone to a tripod, feel free to balance your own phone on a shelf or any other level surface (again, Blu-Tack will be your best friend here). “One of the most important things in stop-motion is that you don’t want things to move that shouldn’t be moving,” Tortor stresses, so anything that’ll keep your phone steady will do the job just fine.
Tortor then lets us in on their secret – using a pair of iPhone headphones to take each individual image to minimise the chances of disturbing your shots. “There are all sorts of complicated ways that you can get around this,” they explain. “You can Bluetooth from your phone to an iPad or something like that, but it all requires having extra kit. It’s just another expense.” They recommend downloading the free Stop-Motion Studio app, where you’ll be taking your photos and stitching them together, and adjusting all the settings to manual. This is crucial to keeping the shots steady and consistent.
Finally, add some sound effects to bring it all to life! “You can just play around and have fun,” they remind us. “The more you experiment, the more you try doing stop-motion, the more you will find out how far you need to move items to get the look that you want. It all just takes practice and a bit of patience, so just keep at it and you’ll get to where you want to be.
Filmmaking can be an intimidating genre to newcomers, especially more specialised animation skills like stop-motion, but Tortor’s tutorial reminds us to be just as creative in our approach to filmmaking as we are in the process. If you’re not eagerly awaiting their next instalment in this stop-motion basics series, then you definitely need to change that ASAP! We’ll all be pros in no time.