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Stop Motion storytelling can be a vehicle for video marketers trying to make mass-appeal content on a shoestring budget. If you want to reach a wider audience with your story but cannot hire screen actors or hand-draw your animation, then you should be using Stop Motion in Social Media Campaigns for your clients/business.
This resource will help you figure out what stop motion is and how it is shot. You will also learn the best practices for creating a stop motion social media campaign. So, let's get started with an expansive definition of stop motion.
What Is Stop Motion?
Stop motion is an animation technique that uses real-life motion. In regular animation, the frames are digitally generated or drawn, while in stop motion, they are captured on camera. To best understand stop motion, consider the simple animation of a ball rolling across the floor.
In traditional animation, you would draw the ball and move it slightly with each new drawing. Once you have dozens of drawings, flipping through them at the rate of 24 drawings per second would create the illusion of smooth movement. That would be 24 frames per second (fps). In digital animation, you would need to clone 24 images of the ball and digitally move the ball in each frame.
In both of the above scenarios, the ball doesn’t need to exist in reality. But when it comes to stop motion animation, the ball must exist. You have to take dozens of pictures of the ball. Before each subsequent picture, you’d need to move the ball a little and stop it to take a snap. This combination of motion and stopping can be credited with the name stop motion.
Now, if you're more of a visual learner, this video will explain what stop motion is much better than the text above.
Stop motion has existed for over 120 years and, with time, has become more accessible. The more readily available models and miniatures become, the easier stop motion gets. The more accessible cameras become, the easier it is for people to create stop motion shorts at home.
In 2024, you have apps that help you create stop motion videos even if you have no animation experience. Then, there are courses that can help you figure out how to set up your models and create stop motion content.
It will take you roughly three months of dedicated learning and practice to start making decent stop motion videos. We'll get into how stop motion content is made, but first, let's go over a few pros and cons. These will help you decide if stop motion is worth it for you or not.
The pros of stop motion videography are:
You can do it solo - While stop motion is effort-intensive, it doesn't necessarily require a large team.
You do not need screen actors - This is why stop motion is more practical for small video marketing campaigns.
It can be fun - the stop motion filming process can be entertaining if you enjoy taking pictures.
You don't need a big budget - You can definitely make big-budget stop motion films, but a big budget is not a prerequisite for most stop motion content.
The cons of stop motion videography are:
It can be frustrating - Stop motion requires a lot of patience.
It takes too much time - You might not have enough time to make enough stop motion content for your campaign.
All in all, stop motion is great for video marketers with small teams, but one must approach it with a lot of time and patience.
How Is Stop Motion Shot?
If you have the time and patience for stop motion videography, then you must begin with the fundamentals. This section covers the basic principles of stop motion animation.
Even before a single frame is captured or animated, the director must shortlist his subjects. As covered earlier, whatever's moving on the screen must exist for stop motion to work. You can't just draw or digitally create subjects; they must exist as models.
If your script says that the model will wave at the camera, you will need a model with a movable arm. Model selection is just as crucial as the script.
Once the models are created/selected, the next step is getting the frames. And the most important frame is the first one. Stop motion is just a series of moving pictures, so having a vision for your first and final pictures is pretty important.
What will you capture the pictures with? Will you use a digital camera, film, or your smartphone? What gets you the best picture quality and facilitates your workflow?
Motion is obviously essential for any kind of animation, let alone a type that has 'motion' in its name. But here, we're not talking about the motion itself but how you would play out the motion.
You can place all the images in succession on the project timeline in any video editor and get the basic picture-flipping motion. But there are also dedicated stop motion programs that help you capture, organize, and render animations.
The vehicle for your stop motion is the program that makes it possible. Stop Motion Studio, Life Lapse, and Onion Cam are just a few apps that can be the vehicle for your stop motion project.
Once all these are sorted, you just need to place the models in the starting position and then capture the first image. After that, you move the models according to your script and then take the next picture. Keep taking subsequent pictures until you have all the shots.
As long as you use the right vehicle for your project and you take enough pictures, you'll get the perfect stop motion animation.
Quick Tip: A very easy way to master stop motion for a small project is to pick a stop motion app and watch a YouTube tutorial for it.
Here is a tutorial for Life Lapse, covering a simple product rotation animation.
We will cover more use cases later. But first, let's go over the main benefits of stop motion in marketing.
Why Use Stop Motion For Marketing?
Stop motion content can be bite-sized and engaging. And if you use it to showcase your products, then you don't even need advanced animation skills.
In this section, we go over the marketing-specific benefits of stop motion, starting with user engagement.
Stop motion animation stands out because it is not as prevalent as live-captured video content. Plus, it can be quite entertaining. So not only can you catch a passive scroller's attention with stop motion content, but you can also keep him engaged for a long period.
Stop Motion videography offers opportunities for novelty from frame to frame, so the whimsical output can definitely outengage standard videography.
Sometimes, relevant B-roll can be expensive, and you don't have the budget to film slice-of-life footage. In those cases, stop motion content can be a lifesaver. Suppose you have an insurance company, and you make videos related to car crashes and victim compensation.
Footage of an actual car crash might be too disturbing for your viewers, but that's beside the point. You'd have to get the license to use that footage from a stock website. And if you want your own footage, you'd have to stage a car crash and film it.
Both of those are not ideal scenarios. But stop motion animation is ideal in every way. It is feasible and not disturbing, and you own its copyright if you film it.
Another major advantage of stop motion content is that it brings variety to your timeline. Posting the same type of content over and over can be boring.
By strategically uploading stop motion pieces every now and then, you can spice up your feed with novelty. Content variety is also beneficial for your image as it gives the impression that your business has a large team working on different types of content.
So, even if you don't plan to make stop motion your main content type, you should buy or create a few stop motion clips to post on your branded accounts.
Finally, stop motion is like popcorn. It is very easy to digest, and it isn't as vulnerable to prejudice as slice-of-life content. If you shoot a slice of life with a Caucasian actor, an asian viewer might not find that relatable. But if your content is stop motion and your lead is a toy or a sculpture, people of all backgrounds will be able to project themselves onto it.
Broad Appeal is one of the main reasons behind the rise of stop motion and animated content online. However, it is not the sole reason for the format's popularity. A major contributor to the rise of stop motion is its versatility, which you will learn more about in the next section.
As a video marketer, you can use stop motion in multiple ways. On the simplest side of the spectrum, you have use cases like product unboxing clips. And on the high-end side, you have full-blown video series with characters and a plot.
Being at any point on this spectrum is not wrong, and the article above will help you no matter how you intend to use stop motion for your social media. You decide how to use stop motion for your business. There are no wrong answers, except not using stop motion at all.