How to Animate Found Objects

Learn how to animate found objects from Joe Vena of the Children's Museum of the Arts in this stop motion tutorial from Howcast.

So it’s good to know that when you’re animating found objects, you can animate with almost any object you can find though some objects work better than others. For example, animating with a block may prove easier than animating with a ball because the block will stay where you put it whereas the ball may roll away.

So using something that you can control is a good way to start. And we have a block here, small orange block and we’re going to set up the block underneath our camera, which is here shooting down to this table where we’re setting our block covered in black paper. The camera sees only an amount of the black paper and now it sees the orange block. The camera is connected to our computer with the fire wire. Of course we need to keep that connection intact and we’re using a software called iStopMotion.

When we animate with iStopMotion, we take pictures with the space bar. We’re going to start our animation with our block in the frame. That’s right in the middle of the frame and I’m going to take a picture hitting the space bar.

We animate 15 frames per second so for every 1 second of our movie there are 15 pictures to see. So a 2 second film would be made up of 30 pictures and so on. You’re not simply turning on a camera and moving in front of it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You’re taking a still picture, changing your subject, taking another picture, changing your subject.

So we’ll start by taking just 6 or 7 frames of nothing happening and now we’re going to move our block and move it up just a little bit. The software shows us the picture that we just took and the picture that we’re about to take. This is called the overlay or the onion skin. We drag to this side. This is only the picture that we just took. If we drag this little icon here that’s only what the camera sees.

As an animator, you should keep it right in the middle there. It shows you where you were and where you’re going. They are valuable things to know when you’re animating. You want to make sure that your moves are very small. Moving in small increments will create a slower motion to your block. If you make larger moves with the block, it will appear to move faster in your film.

We’re going to exit our block from the frame, shadow and all. Stop motion animation requires quite a lot of patience and quite a lot of focus but the results are often very magical and well worth it. And the block disappears. Fun stuff.