When Fingers are “Burning” to Try iStopMotion

by Megan -

When Don Evelyn took a stop motion course at the University of Trinidad and Tobago as a second-year animation studies student, he knew that the form of animation could be a new career opportunity for him. At the time, he had been unemployed for over two years, despite having an extensive 25-year history in the industries of graphic arts, pre-press and flexography, a special type of printing. As he loved animation, he decided to continue working with stop motion.

In February 2013, while searching for a program to help him with his course work, Don discovered iStopMotion on the Apple Store. After reading the reviews and watching demos on YouTube, Don purchased iStopMotion V3. For his first stop motion homework assignment, he created the short film “Feeding Frenzy Scissors” using iStopMotion, a Logitech 910 1080p video camera, three pairs of scissors and green screen cloth. It took him eight hours to complete.

His second stop motion homework assignment led him to create “Volcanic Eruption Effects”. Don used a 1080p 12 MegaPixel Sony Cybershot camera on a tripod to film the video. The Island City was made out of 14pt board with color print to enhance the diorama. It was used as a foreground shot with a volcano also made out of 14pt board, colored with oil pastels and Play-Doh for the mud and lava. The smoke was created using colored kite paper. Each frame was retouched in Photoshop to create the smoke and ash, and sound effects of a volcanic eruption and earthquake were added to further enhance the video.

By now, Don was becoming skilled in the art of stop motion animation. He created "Edinburgh 500 Pillow Race” for his third homework assignment. It was done over the long weekend of Trinidad’s Carnival 2013 at the Edinburgh 500 Recreational Grounds running course. With the help of two young brothers of the Khan family, Don was able to create the final version using a 1080p Sony Cybershot camera, a tripod, two pillows, two actors, and software including iStopMotion, iMovie and Photoshop.

Their hard work and patience under the hot Tuesday sun into the night paid off,” Don says. He is thankful for their eager participation in making the video a reality.

“Gorilla Movements”, above, was created using a wire frame and a gorilla cut from foam. Don used a glue gun to create the shape, burning his fingers over and over again for the cause. After the gorilla was assembled, it was painted using two coats of acrylic paint, since the foam kept absorbing the paint as fast as Don could paint it. Don filmed this video using a 910 Logitech 1080p camera and iStopMotion, moving the gorilla’s arms, legs and head frame by frame. The end result was over 560 pictures, which he then edited to remove the pins used to make the gorilla stand and to smooth the movements.

The program’s ease of use and accuracy in precisely aligning still frames with the previous is a great feature,” Don says about iStopMotion. He also particularly likes the ability to adjust the gamma and the use of green screen keying. Don says that the key to stop motion animation is to realize it can’t be rushed, and that planning is important. “My advice for those who are new to stop motion is to do a storyboard when planning your movie with simple drawings. And by all means, enjoy yourself … it is FUN!