Do you have a Fantastic Mr. Fox or perhaps an even creepier take on The Nightmare Before Christmas in you? StopMo Studio, a new app from the National Film Board of Canada, has made that possible. Even if you have zero experience with animation, you can make stop-motion magic. “We use a version of it in workshops with teachers and children,” says Matthieu Stréliski, NFBC’s director of platform development. “It’s quick and easy.”
Canada’s animation hub since its launch in 1939, the NFB has become a hotbed of storytelling innovation over the last several years, with its groundbreaking productions like Bear 71, as well as the development of a series of apps. We’ve covered the board’s McLaren Workshop app, which teaches users techniques from animation pioneer Norman McLaren. With StopMo Studio, the NFB makes the tricky, time-consuming process of stop-motion animation accessible to (just about) anyone.
To make a StopMo Studio movie, just hold your iPad camera in front of whatever miniature set you’ve designed and then take a picture. Voila! You’ve taken the very first shot of your feature film. You take a new picture every time you tweak the set. Eventually, your inanimate objects will appear to be having a party. There are 20 features, including the ability to insert photographs, digital graphics, and even draw cartoons on top of the screen. “It’s very playful,” Stréliski promises.
Stréliski allows that how polished your film looks is dependent on getting comfortable with the technology. “Professional stop-motion films have 24 frames a second,” he says. “For amateurs it more like 5 or 10.” So if you want your film to be Oscar-worthy, you’d better get snapping.