Dan Gorosito (A.k.a Metalmadcat)
So, you want to be a stop motion animator. First of all let me congratulate you. You made a brilliant choice. No place is better place for expanding your universe promoting creativity at best. But let me help you telling you my own experience what I consider would be essential to start. Starting is perhaps the hardest step to take. Fear not. You are not alone. We all felt disoriented where to begin. Hopefully my experience would allow you gain more confidence over your learning experience.
First thing you may want to consider is that stop motion is a place where your universe can become a reality. It never ceases to amaze me the endless possibilities it brings to anyone who puts the right time to it. But just as it can bring the greatest results, the more you get familiar with it, the more you know the effort you must put into. That being said, any fears you may feel leave it from the very first moment you decide to initiate your journey. Remember nothing is impossible if you can believe in your dreams.
PLANNING AHEAD - BRAINSTORMING
As second thing into consideration, now that you managed to take all your fear you can start planning. No matter how simple or silly you think your idea may be, see the potential it could have and write it down. Perhaps some ideas are bigger than others. That is okay. Some can wait more or less whenever you are ready. But it is good that you write them all down and start to organize yourself. Planning also involved being realistic. And that means you want to look at your time, your budget, the days you can possibly work to animate and the days you want to rest. We all suddenly want to make all kinds of things but we must stick to our limitations to find the best results. This would also allow you from getting frustrated.
QUESTION QUESTION QUESTION
Speaking of frustration, I will never forget how I discovered stop motion. I was drawn by curiosity to see what stop motion was all about and I began my research. There I discovered this fantastic place known as www.stopmotionanimation.com. Now of course there is also Stop Motion Magic to help you along. Communities are great place to help you along. Ask questions as many as you need to leave all your doubts. Don’t be afraid how novice you may look in the community. There is always someone below you and someone above you that you can learn from. And there is no need comparing yourself with others. Your learning curve is yours only and it is in relation with the time you put in it. Remember this to avoid frustration too.
Here is perhaps the golden rule in animation, especially in stop motion: Research. As animator you must constantly read before, during, and after animating. You want to make your learning process the best experience and this means being up to date with techniques and experimentation. Being active at the community can help you immensely and your research can be more worthy. You may learn lots of things by simply asking people or just reading someone´s blog. Of course if you can buy books for further reading that is great too. However, online there is more free information for you learn than you could imagine. So make sure to read and keep yourself informed watching films that can both inspire you and teach you. So if your budget don’t let you buy books, in case you can´t afford that there are free sources all over the net.
PLANNING YOUR FIRST EXERCISES
Before going to ambitious about your first film you may want to begin with simple exercise. Even doing exercise take time and planning. So, as you may know at this point (thanks to proper research) there are 12 principle of animation that are key to be learned. I recommend you to practice these as devoted as you possibly can. From these training lots of ideas would to your head. You will notice how simple exercise could lead to bigger ideas, perhaps one possible first film of yours. Principles not only help you to understand what animation is all about, but it will also grow your confidence in the field. Be it digital, experimental or traditional, these principles apply for all. So, before even going that far of making a short film or a complex story, you want to exercise as much as you can before jumping any "big step"
BASIC TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST FILM
Once you are familiar with the 12 principles of stop motion you can think of your first potential film. Who knows, maybe as you were training you already got something on the works. The time it would take you to get here is up to you. In fact, you can always go back to your training. The more you train yourself the better results will be in your film. However, as the essential things to keep in mind your first film I would recommend the following:
1 – Choose a right spot for you to work comfortable. Look for a place that will not be crowded. If possible a place away from humidity and where you can avoid the wind. It could be your own room, a basement, or a garage. Whichever place you choose make sure you can put things there and no one will move all the equipment next day.
2 – Lighting is super important in film. Having more than 1 source of light is ideal. If you have two lamps and one light source on the ceiling you are good to go.
3 – Start building your set. It can be an ordinary table or you can design one that suits best for you. I would recommend whichever table you use is for stop motion purposes only. Think of many times you will be working there. Unmounting your table to give a new purpose every now and then may be stressful.