Make Your Own Stop Motion Animation for #CelebrateCapeTownSummer!

Ideas for stop motion

Calling all aspiring filmmakers! As What’s on in Cape Town’s new advisers on tech, gaming and animation, we at Studio Djembe have an announcement to make:
We want to see short animation videos featuring our beautiful city. This is not as hard as it sounds, and we’re going to tell you exactly how and what you need.

pinhead stop motion animation

First, what is stop motion?

Stop motion animation has been a powerful method of filmmaking for decades, from classics like ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Coraline’ to recent releases such as ‘Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget’ or Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio’. It’s a brilliant mix of animation and reality. However, anyone who’s peeked behind the curtain can quickly feel overwhelmed by metal skeletons and camera setups. In reality, stop motion is more accessible than you’d think and a great creative outlet for those who want to bring their ideas to life – literally.

But what exactly is stop motion? Well, it’s a filmmaking technique where physical objects are manipulated frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. The reason stop motion is still used today is that it captures a realism that regular computer animation cannot. It utilises real sets and props, all created by hand. For stop motion feature films, a monumental amount of effort is required. But with some clear thinking and good planning, a great little stop motion film can be created in just an afternoon.

Ideas for stop motion


What you need to create your own stop motion animation

OK, so the above photo is not set in Cape Town, but let’s pretend it is. Someone has simply taken some Lego figures and posed them in the foreground to create a story. All you would need to do to make this a stop motion video is to keep the camera where it is, but move the figures across the frame – left, right, left, right – taking photos as you go, and you’ve got yourself the basics of a stop motion animation! Got it? Then let’s break that down a little further:

1. A half-decent camera

You don’t need a fancy camera, just your phone or tablet and a stand or something to hold it steady. It’s pretty important that it doesn’t move so that your shots always line up.

2. A stop-motion app

There are lots of great options on the App Store and Play Store. We’d recommend Stop Motion Studio; there’s even a free version.

3. A subject / something to animate

This can be anything! Objects that articulate are great (e.g. poseable action figures or Lego). But it doesn’t have to move: even Lego bricks can be animated in a fun and dynamic way, as can books that open and close. A pair of trousers could ‘walk’ along a pavement (lying down of course), a sandcastle could build itself, or an apple could get eaten one bite at a time. Keep it simple, and keep it short – even 5 seconds is plenty! The only limit is your imagination.

Kids setting up a lego stop motion filmHow to set up your scene

1. Choose your backdrop

You want somewhere that is instantly recognisable, has good natural light and plenty of room so you don’t get in anyone’s way while you’re making your film. Somewhere like Battery Park, Tafelberg Rd, Hout Bay Harbour, the Stadium precinct or the Muizenberg beach huts would work perfectly.

2. Frame your action

You need to ensure that your chosen Cape Town backdrop is clearly in the frame, and that you have a stable surface to work on. Ideally find a small wall or a box you can use so that you don’t have to place your camera on the ground. NB You want to avoid having uninvited people in the shot if at all possible, so you’ll probably need to be looking down over a view (eg from Signal Hill), or up over people’s heads (eg up at Lion’s Head), or just be quite close to the main feature (eg one of the many statues or sculptures across the city).

3. Jump in!

Begin by taking photos of your scene, then make slight adjustments to your subject’s position and then take another photo. Repeat this, while making small movements each time. Every one of those photos makes up the frames you’ll need. Once you’re done, go over your photos and edit (there may be a few with your hand in the frame). A great finishing touch for your film would be editing in some sound effects or music to bring it all together.

And there you have it. You’ve just made your first stop-motion film.

How to enter your stop motion animation into the #CelebrateCapeTownSummer competition

If you want to enter the competition and potentially win a fabulous Cape Town hamper of prizes (read more here), you can share it on Instagram and tag @sceneit.ct and #CelebrateCapeTownSummer.

Don’t have an Instagram account, or like to keep your account private? No problem. You can also send your submissions directly to via WeTransfer. The best submissions will be reposted on the Scene It platforms (with your permission of course) and our favourites will be shared on What’s on in Cape Town.

If you’re looking for some inspiration before you get started, YouTube has some fantastic examples from Claymation to Lego food.

So that’s our quick guide on how to make a simple stop-motion short film, and you could even win yourself a fantastic prize! We can’t wait to see what you come up with. We’ll leave you with one last blast of inspiration:

Human skateboarding stop motion gifpinhead stop motion animation



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