I've wanted to make a stop-motion movie for a while. Below is trial number one. The images were shot at the Sangamon Valley Trail bike path in Springfield, Ill. Check out the video and read the notes below.
I ventured down to the Centennial Park entrance of the Sangamon Valley Trail on the morning of Dec. 4. It was an overcast day, great for an experiment such as this. My gear consisted of my Canon 50D camera, Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, a UV filter and Manfrotto tripod. Because I didn't know how long I'd be shooting, I set the image quality in the camera to small, fine JPEG. This setting, with an image resolution of 2352x1568, is more than enough resolution to create an HD YouTube video, and the small file size allowed me to snap more shots, of course.
My method was simple. I would take a shot, pick up the tripod, take two steps, set it back down, recompose, take a shot and repeat. I manually set the f-stop to 7.1, for a nice depth of field, ISO to 200, manual focus and varied the shutter speed.
During editing, I batch-applied an "aged photo" look to each of the images to make them stand out a bit more. I imported the pictures into my video-editing software to make the stop-motion video. The outrageously awesome musical score is something I tapped out on Garage Band for iPad. I used the "smart" instruments. There's no way my musical ability could even come close to sounding decent.
What I Learned
Overall, I'm pleased with how it turned out. I played around with the exposure as I progressed down the trail. After reviewing the photos, I can see that even a few thirds of a stop can make a big difference, because you are viewing them so quickly one after another. Varying cloud conditions also contributed along the way.
I have a few ideas to try next time:
- Do the whole trail in the spring! It was cold out (in the 30s) and I wasn't dressed warmly enough. It became apparent that the winter months just won't have enough hours of daylight to complete the trail in one day.
- Pay close attention to the exposure. This will drastically cut down on editing before importing into the video editing software. I didn't edit any files for exposure for this test video.
- Watch the horizon. Bobbing up and down for the entire trail won't make for a great viewing experience.
- See if I can get wheels for my tripod. I think this would cut down a lot of time. Instead of picking up the tripod and moving, I could just push it two steps forward.
- I'll probably use a polarizing filter next time to cut down glare from the trail itself.
Hope you liked it!