What is a stop motion?
Stop motion is an animation that is captured one frame at a time, with physical objects that are moved between frames. When you play back the sequence of images rapidly, it creates the illusion of movement. You see stop-motion animation all the time, you probably don't realize it. They are easy to find in commercials, and video clips, but recently very popular in photography.
The process of animation is really simple. It's just taking a photograph of your objects, moving them slightly, and taking another photograph and another. When you combine the images in 1 video project and press play the objects appear to move on their own.
Stop motion in food and product photography
As you can see creating a stop-motion project is not as hard as it looks. It can be a fun, creative and additional way to tell your stories. These days there are many tools for making stop motions, and this funny art form is available to storytellers of all budgets and skill levels.
Examples of how you can use Stop motion videos in food photography
When you look at the recipe, break it into little and easy steps, so it’s less confusing. You can show all the ingredients appearing in your scene one by one. Adding them to a mixing bowl (any bake), again one by one, and mixing all the ingredients in a few captures to create movement. The next step might be a tin shown in the scene and dough filling the tin in a few steps. Then the tin will leave the scene and will come back as a ready-made cake. This is just an example, be creative once you create the stop-motion projects!
In the example below, you can see how I created a salad in a few steps. That's another type of recipe development created with the stop-motion method.
Many brands use this method to promote their products. It's a funny and easy-to-watch way of promotion. I've attached for you an example of the work I've created for my client. Isn't it funny?
You can also present an eye-catching action shot, like when you show a spectacular splash or pour, in a stop motion. I sadly don't have an example of a splash but do have an example of a pour video I've created in collaboration with my client.
How to create a stop-motion
Now you have an overview of what you can create, so let's focus on how to create a stop motion and what you need to create it.
Before you start create a plan. Write down your steps and how your objects will move around the scene. Most likely you might change your mind once you will be shooting, but it's good to have a plan. Once you have a draft of the scene you will be making, you have to set up your scene, camera and light.
A short tip, working with artificial light is easier, only because the light on each capture will be exactly the same. However, if the weather conditions are stable (not like in London, a mix of rain and sun within an hour) you can easily create it with natural light.
A must-have in stop motion is a tripod. Each scene must be the same, so only with a tripod can you be sure that your camera won't move. Of course, if your camera moves just a tiny bit, that’s fine, you can fix it in a post-production process or just leave it. But if it moves a lot, it’ll create a jump in your animation and it can be difficult to get everything lined up again.
When you create a stop motion for Instagram or Tik Tok, remember that the final dimensions need to be 16:9, which means it's a different aspect ratio than you see in your camera and different from an Instagram photo (4:5/1:1). So I have a little tip for this. When you set up your camera, create lines on your scene to know which area is visible and where you can operate it.
Now when the area for your scene is ready, and you have your stop-motion plan you can start creating it. It's an easy process of showing elements one by one:
or moving elements around the scene:
Now you can see why a steady look is important, and you can't achieve it without a tripod. The number of frames is totally up to you. You can create a great stop motion with 10, 30 or even 90 frames. And even if you will have 90 frames it's still easy to put everything together. Do you know why? Because you edit only one photo and then copy and paste the edits to all the other photos. The below example shows you how easily you do this in Adobe Lightroom.
edit your photo the way you like it
crop to 16:9
command+A (in Mac) ctrl+A in Windows
click right and choose to Develop settings -> Paste setting
save all photos in a separate folder in.jpg
I'm pretty sure the process is very similar in other software, like Capture One. Now when the photos are ready and all the same it's time to create a stop-motion video.
stop motion in Photoshop
In Photoshop navigate to File > Scripts > Load files into Stack and select your sequence (Browse) from the dedicated folder and click OK. This will put all of your images on separate layers within one document.
In Photoshop go to Window and turn on Timeline option. When the timeline feature shows, make sure to select ‘Create Frame Animation’ (not ‘Create Video Timeline’). Then press the button.
Go to Select and select All Layers. Then go to the burger menu and select ‘Make Frames From Layers’.
Now you will see all your frames in the Timeline. They will show up in the order from the last to the first capture, and we want it the other way around. Easy peasy! Go to the burger menu again and select Reverse Frames.
Go to the Burger menu again and Select all of the frames and set the time you'd like each one to show before the sequence moves to the next image. Select 1st photo and in the little menu below the image where you see 0 sec. choose the time frame you would like to set (I usually set between 0.1-0.3).
Press ‘File’ > Export.. > Render video if you want to export it as a video. Name your video, choose the location where to save it, choose custom sizing and enter the ratio of your photos. Now you have a stop-motion video that you can post to your channels!
stop motion in iMovie (Mac users)*
With iMovie, a free video editing program which is on every Mac, it’s so easy to create a stop-motion movie.
After starting iMovie, you must first create a new project. Click on the big plus icon Create in the top left corner and create a new movie.
Next you have to drag and drop the created images into the iMovie window in the timeline. The images are then automatically imported. Mark all photos (keyboard shortcut cmd + A) go to the Crop icon and select Fit. This step will automatically fit the photos to the original dimensions you cropped when editing the images (below is shown 16:9 for Instagram Reels and TikTok).
Mark all photos again go to the i icon and select a duration for frames.
Name the project and select Next. Save your project and voila!
* For Windows users Microsoft Windows Movie Maker works very similarly.
In both options: Photoshop and iMovie you have to add music later on. I usually choose some fun music from the Instagram gallery, and even if I create for a client I suggest doing this too.
stop motion in user-friendly apps and different software
My favourite app when it comes to video editing. All my Reels are made here. To make a stop motion video with InShot you simply upload an existing photo sequence from your camera roll to the video feature (tap ‘video’ and choose ‘photos’). Your photos are automatically placed on a timeline, where you can change the duration of each photo. Tap the photo you want to change the duration of, and drag it on one of the sides to make it shorter. Even with the free version of this app, you can remove the watermark.
This is a great app for making a stop motion directly on your smartphone. You can either take photos directly within the app or add existing photos from your camera roll. You can change the speed and duration of every photo, and change the size of the video before exporting. However, if you want to be able to remove the watermark (their logo) from your video, you need the pro version.
Creating stop-motion in the app has one positive aspect - you can add music automatically.
With this program, you have several options, depending on the way you work and the camera you have. You can easily import your captured images, set the frame rate and export the movie. You can also capture the pictures directly with Stop Motion Studio.
Animoto’s got everything you need to create marketing videos and stop motions on your desktop. Easily upload from your computer or import from cloud storage. You can add attention-grabbing effects, animations, and transitions. And finally, download your videos in high quality and share them on your social media.
Doesn't matter where you create the stop-motion, the most important is creating the project and having fun while doing it. I hope that my article helped you to realise how easy this process can be and encourages you to create more stop motions! Be creative! I can't wait to see your stop motions on Instagram. It's possible that I don't follow you all, so if you would like me to see your project, please mention me in your caption or use the hashtag #learnwithanna_janecka.
If you have any questions or struggle with any subject, send me a DM on my Instagram or email me. I will do my best to answer and help.