Let’s start at the beginning – do you know what stop-motion videos are?
Stop motion is an animation technique where objects are moved in small increments and photographed each time, then the photographs are put together in sequence to create the illusion of movement. Think of the old-fashioned cartoon flip-books you used to make at school, and you have the idea. Of course the best example would be something like Wallace and Grommit, but that is a mile away from what we have managed to create!
Kids are now being taught film-making technology in schools. Stop-motion is often where they start. It is relatively simple and helps them to understand how a film is made frame by frame. Therefore, getting involved in making stop-motion movies or clips will not only ensure you keep up with the latest technology, or appear to be ‘down with the kids'(!), you will also be helping them with their school work and learning. You’ve heard the phrases STEM or STEAM bandied around, haven’t you?
We started our stop-motion journey with Stikbots. We firstly chose a small set of two figures from Wicked Uncle. Our boys loved the idea of them, as they are poseable and come with their own free downloadable app. They were particularly excited to see that there was a green-screen facility on the app, as Hugo got a green screen for his birthday and was keen to use it. Unfortunately though, the Stikbots didn’t stick to the green fabric, so he found it quite frustrating, and eventually took to the outdoors to make his movie debut.
Fast forward a month or two, and we were lucky to be sent more Stikbots from the manufacturer. This time, a great Stikbots Studio set (Zanimation Studio) which came with its own green screen and blue screen, and a mini tripod to hold your phone, plus a really funny Action Pack set with different hairstyles for our Stikbots. Check out the Mullet-Bot – hilarious! The screen/stage setup was only cardboard, but was robust and the perfect surface for the characters to stick to. The boys were so pleased!
One thing I really like about Stikbots is that they encourage creativity and the use of imagination, as well as developing I.T. skills. I got my kids to draw out a story board to think about what their characters would do in the video, so they were writing a story and drawing out a sequence – a brilliant creative writing experience for children who don’t usually like to write! Sneaky, huh?! Since the set came with its own mini tripod, I was happy to leave the boys to their own devices to develop their film. The app is very user-friendly, and they are probably better at the technology than I am anyway! After the movie is made by taking a series of snaps, there is also the option to add sound effects, music or a voice-over.
The thing many children may need help with is realising that making a stop-motion video is a time-consuming process. They need to take so many pictures just to create a very short film clip, moving them just a fraction each time, which can be frustrating to the less patient child in need of fairly instant gratification (like mine are!). However, they may just have fun acting out the story without actually making a video – my children certainly did. They almost couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just film the Stikbots in real time and just have the hands in the movie. Well, to be honest, why not? It’s their toy, whatever makes them happy and keeps them occupied!
If you want to see how it’s done ‘properly’, there is a whole channel on YouTube for Stikbots called Stikbot Central. It’s really fantastic as a showcase of creativity and provides so many ideas and such inspiration. It’s very entertaining and funny for the kids to watch too! I’m not sure our efforts will ever be featured, but I’m happy that my kids were learning as well as having a good time.
You can make stop-motion videos with so many different things, the principle is always the same. You simply move your object a small amount and take a photo each time. There are so many apps which will put the clips together for you and allow you to add music or you can use conventional movie-maker type editing programs. Try children’s toys (Lego works well, or perhaps poseable figures), or fruit and veg with the addition of googly eyes or drawn on faces, and of course those of us old enough to remember Morph will know that plasticine or clay works well too.
Or stick with Stikbots, they’ve got all the right pieces and pose so well for you!
Stikbots are available on Amazon from approx. £3.99
The Stikbots Zanimation studio is currently £18.26 (prices correct at time of publishing and subject to change)
These are affiliate links
Disclaimer – we were sent the Stikbots Studio and hairstyles accessory products for the purpose of reviewing, but all opinions are completely honest and entirely our own.
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