Stop motion animation techniques and tools can vary greatly. The main tool in creating stop motion animation is the camera. Whether it's mounted in a static position or rigged to allow controlled movement, ensuring its stability is crucial.
The animated subject can be just about anything you can think of, from using clay characters to pieces of paper or even people. Simply moving the subject a little at a time and taking a snapshot with the camera allows the animator to build the animation. By controlling the amount of movement the subject makes with each shot, the animator can create a range of effects from nearly lifelike movement to time lapsed effects.
Considering the frame rate of standard film which is 30 frames per second, it will require 1,800 shots for a single minute of animation. Generally the animator would then bring the footage into a video editing program to adjust timing and add sound.
The sets used for stop motion feature films can be extremely elaborate where entire miniature cities are built allowing the characters to travel the streets throughout the animation. They can also be quite simple making it a great option for lower budget projects.
It's not uncommon for kids who are interested in animation to break out the family video camera and start moving their toys around to create their first animation.
In fact here's an excellent example of simplicity in stop motion animation, a static camera over a whiteboard. The biggest expense in this example would be time:
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