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Expert Advice: How to Make Stop Motion Vines (And Maybe Even Make Money)

Indiewire By Julia Pugachevsky | Indiewire July 22, 2013 at 3:6PM

Frank Danna gives his tips for making stop motion Vines.
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Frank Danna Image from Frank Danna's "Fruit Ninja" Vine
Over at TribecaFilm.com, Julia Pugachevsky serves as the Vine correspondent, compiling a weekly round-up of the 10 Best Vines of the Week. She regularly profiles expert Vine users. Most recently, she spoke to Frank Danna, whose stop motion experiments on Vine have gotten him work making stop motion Vines for brands. Pugachevsky spoke to Danna about what drew him to the medium, what the pre-production process entails, and tips for making stop motion Vines. Below are a few highlights from the conversation. You can read the full interview here.

You use a lot of ordinary objects in your Vines and create cool stop motion clips. What does it take for something to inspire you enough to create a Vine?

Frank Danna: Early on, I raided my wife's craft closet (which she may still be slightly peeved about), and used things within arms reach like snack food, fruit, and my own shadow to craft Vines. From a 50,000 foot view, my inspiration comes from the technical limitations of the platform. Six seconds feels like the perfect amount of time to craft a unique and compelling story. I don't view the time limit as an artistic restraint; I view it as a level playing field for creative autonomy. On a more personal level (the 6 foot view), I draw inspiration from a simple five word question: "Wouldn't it be cool if?" Many of my ideas for Vines start with that question:

"Wouldn't it be cool if I peeled a banana using a shadow of my hand?"

"Wouldn't it be cool if I consolidated all six season of LOST into a six second loop?" 

That (seemingly) simple question has inspired me time and time again to simultaneously solve challenging problems and create art on Vine. I absolutely love it.

How much planning do you do before making a Vine? Or do you spend some time experimenting with camera angles/lighting/etc until you form an idea? (Essentially, what’s your process usually like?)

FD: I usually need to see the entire Vine in my mind before I begin shooting. Once I ask the question "Wouldn't it be cool if?", I have to make sense of how I'll make things work on a technical level. If I can deduce how the mechanics of capturing the Vine will work, I can then take it to the next stage of development. Whether I'm building a Vine for a brand or for personal use, I typically begin with rough sketches or written walkthroughs that help me keep the story of my Vine intact and insure consistency from start to finish.

Storyboarding generally takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to around an hour and is purely contingent on the complexity of the Vine or the input from others required before shooting. Once I've storyboarded the concept, I'll begin to work on creating or customizing any items needed for the Vine. Camera angles are usually listed in the storyboarding phase, but lighting (if necessary) comes last, just before filming.

What’s the average amount of time you spend making a Vine?

FD: From beginning to end (storyboarding, pre-production, content gathering or creation, shooting, and posting) it ranges from 45 minutes to upwards of three or four hours. My 'Fruit Ninja' Vine took around three and a half hours to create from beginning to end.

Were you actively making videos before Vine?

FD: Not actively; however, I have dabbled in graphic design and photography/video-graphy in the past. I (like many of my contemporaries on Vine) had never tinkered with stop motion until I began experimenting with the technique on Vine. Having a rudimentary knowledge of photography basics certainly helps from a stylistic/storytelling perspective, but a majority of what I create on Vine has ultimately come from trial and error within the application.

Who are your favorite Viners?

FD: The list is fairly extensive (and I'm sure I've forgotten many of them, but here are a few I can think of off the cuff):

For art/stop motion (In no particular order): Matt Willis (yelldesign), Pinot, Meagan Cignoli, Ian Padgham, BetterOffRed, Hunter Harrison, YvesDas, Jethro Ames, JadeButter, Chris Donlon, Brock Davis.

For comedy/other (In a VERY particular order): Jordan BurtRob Johnston, KC James, Bottlerocket, Marcus Johns, Nicholas Megalis, Austin Miles Geter, Rudy Mancuso, Nick Confalone, Bonifa and Tay Tay

(Just kidding, I like all of these guys equally.)

What is one piece of advice you’d give to beginner Viners?

FD: Start by using Vine to capture moments you're passionate about. It may end up being a rant about a burrito, and that's totally cool. It could be a welcome home Vine for your new puppy, a drive in the summer breeze, or a song about gummy worms. One way or another, each person using Vine is able to share things they have feelings for in unique and creative ways. You'll quickly discover what you like to share or create on Vine if you begin by recording your passions. If you're still having 'Viners block', you can start with the question "Wouldn't it be cool if?" and go from there.

To read the full interview, visit TribecaFilm.com. See a couple of Frank Danna's Vines below:


This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Technology, Vine, Features