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As Hollywood briefly shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the one aspect of entertainment that kept moving along was animation. It’s one of the only kinds of mainstream filmmaking that you can do from the safe isolation of your home. Besides, who among us hasn’t fantasized about making a great animated film at one point or another? If you’ve been sitting on a great idea for a cartoon, there’s probably never been a better time to take that leap of faith. But of course, most of us don’t have the equipment for Pixar-level computer animation. That’s where stop motion comes in. By taking countless pictures of puppets and editing them together, anyone with a good eye for detail and some time to kill, can make an animated film. And if you’re looking for equipment, we rounded up some of the best gear for you to buy.
There are numerous advantages of stop motion, including the elimination of many of the budgetary constraints. You usually don’t need to travel to far away locations, coordinate and pay large crews, or be at the mercy of the weather. Still, stop animation takes an enormous amount of time and patience, but if you have the willpower for it, the logistics are relatively straightforward. You’ll need a clear, well-lit surface, a couple of specialized camera mounts, and something to edit your film on.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan of claymation who’s finally taking the leap and making your first film, or simply looking for a new pandemic hobby, keep reading for our favorite beginner equipment for stop motion animation.
Whether you’re shooting on a smartphone or a DSLR camera, a tripod is an absolute must for stop motion. But the tripod you use for live action films is likely too large to fit into a stop motion set up, so this inexpensive option from Manfrotto is a great addition to your kit. It’s designed to fit on a table, but still well-made and quite durable.
Since you’ll likely be working in a smaller space, overhead shots and other complex camera angles are quite easy to execute in stop motion. This video stand attaches to your table and makes it easy to use your phone to take overhead pictures, giving your film a professional touch.
You may know ring lights as the purview of vloggers and Instagram influencers, but these things really work! If you want to make your stop motion film look beautiful without creating a glare or taking up too much space, we suggest picking up this light from ESDDI. And once you have it, there’s no shame in using it to take your Zoom call game to the next level.
A 3D printer isn’t necessary to get started with stop motion, but if you find you like the art form, you’ll probably want to start making films that are more imaginative. 3D printing your characters and sets means you’re only limited by your creativity, not the materials you can find around the house. This printer from ELEGOO is a great entry level option that allows you to print high quality items at a beginner price.
Congratulations! By this point, you’ve gone through the painstaking process of taking a million pictures, so all that’s left to do is put them together. Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the most popular editing softwares on the market, and in addition to the top notch color correction, it features a variety of motion effects that will make your stop motion editing process as seamless as possible.