Christmas is a holiday celebrated all around the world. Christmas cards play an essential role in this holiday, as we connect with those we care about and share our love. Wouldn’t it be amazing to do something different this year and send digital Christmas Cards? In this project, students will create stop motion animated Christmas cards for the holidays.
CHRISTMAS STOP MOTION ANIMATION PROJECT
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In this fun Animation activity, you will learn how to create a digital Christmas Card using an app called Stop Motion Animation. It’s an exciting and creative way to use your camera, cell phone, tablet or iPad.
Stop Motion Animations are fun and easy to make. The kind of Stop Motion you will do today is called Cutout-Motion. You are going to make paper shapes come alive!
They may seem challenging to make but are simple, and you need very few things to do this. Once done, you can post your animations on any social media platform for all your friends and family worldwide to see.
DIY Stop Motion Animation STEM Activity Video
Check out a video tutorial of how we did our animation and the results. You can also find this video on the STEAM Powered Family YouTube Channel.
What is Stop Motion?
Stop Motion Animation is a filmmaking technique that brings motionless objects to life by moving these objects in small increments and capturing each movement with any camera, one frame at a time. When it is played back, the things in the Animation come to life. This technique of filming is called an Illusion of Motion. This technique is like a Flipbook.
Stop Motion Animation takes a long time as every twelve to fifteen photos captured makes up only one second in the video. So, it would be best if you took many, sometimes hundreds of photos, each image slightly different from the last one. Playing the Animation back is hugely satisfying when you have taken all the photos, as all these moving objects have now formed a movie.
The Basics of Stop Motion
- Decide what your background will be and gather all your objects together.
- Set up your phone, tablet, iPad or camera.
- Take a photo.
- Move your objects slightly.
- Take another photo.
- Move your objects slightly.
- Take another photo.
- Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 until you have taken all the needed photos.
- The app on your device will combine all these photos to make your movie.
- Share your creation!
Apps & Rigs for Stop Motion
Download and install the “Stop Motion Studio App” on your device – this app is available on all phones & tablets. There is a free and paid version of this app. This app is simple to use and automatically stitches all the photos to create your video.
If you use a digital camera, you will need a computer’s photo/video editing software, like the “Microsoft Photo App.”
A tripod or a universal, foldable camera arm or some other stand is a crucial piece of equipment as the camera cannot move between shots and must remain stable for smooth Animation.
CLASSROOM TIP! If you are a teacher or educator, try to get your school to purchase a few Universal, foldable camera arms and keep them on your tables for easy access. I keep mine folded, and they are never in anyone’s way.
There are many options for setting up the camera online if you don’t have a tripod or camera arm. You can use a pile of books, build one out of Lego, or get creative and build a stand for your camera with whatever materials you have on hand. It is very important that the camera does not move and that you can easily access all the buttons.
Getting everything ready for your first Animation
In this project we are making a Christmas animation with paper. You can access the exact images and templates we used by joining the STEAM Powered Family mailing list and downloading the free printable.
Cut out all the pieces you will need – the fireplace, the pot, the tree layers, the baubles for the tree, all the gifts and don’t forget Santa Claus and his sign. You can color them in, use them in black & white or print out the colored pieces.
Set up your camera and tripod. Make sure the stand is secure and the camera will not get bumped or moved.
Set up your background. Place the fireplace anywhere you like on a white or colored background. One idea is to make a custom background from homemade paper or you can buy large display boards at the dollarstore that work great.
Make sure you have enough light on your scene. Do not film in a dark room or in harsh direct like that creates a lot of dark shadows. If using natural light, be cautious of how the light might change while you are shooting which could affect the continuity of your images.
How to use the Stop Motion App
Open the Stop Motion App and press the + to start a new movie.
At this stage, check out what each icon does. It is a very easy and intuitive app.
Line the camera up with your scene.
Tap the camera icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. You are ready to begin your Christmas Animation!
Take a photo by pressing the large red button on the right.
Make incremental movements with the object and take another photo.
Pro Tip! Blue Tack or Removable Sticky Dots help to stop the pieces from moving around during the filming.
Do this until you have finished your Animation.
At the bottom of the screen, you will see all your photos.
To see your Animation, tap the icon, which will play from the beginning.
If you need to delete, add, or redo any photos, double tap the image you want to delete and either delete it or add a new photo. Tap the camera icon again and take a new photo by tapping the large red button again.
At this stage, you can add audio by tapping the microphone icon on the left-hand side of the screen.
When you are satisfied with the result, tap the back arrow icon on the top left-hand side of the screen to save your video.
Your animation is now complete and ready to be played!
Preparation is Everything
I took 174 photos in total. You don’t want to be editing every single one of them. So, before you start shooting, take a few test shots to ensure everything looks correct. Check the lighting, angles, positioning, background, framing, etc. This way nothing in the scene will need editing or retakes later.
Different types of Stop Motion Animation
Also known as Object Animation. It’s simply the moving of objects per frame. The choices are limitless here because you can create stories using objects around you like Lego.
Claymation involves changing the shape of clay objects in each frame. Chicken Run and Shaun, the Sheep Movie, are two of some of the greatest Claymation movies of all time.
Animating people! This Animation takes a long time, and it is not easy to get people to move in small increments or stand still in one position for too long.
Using pieces of paper colored and cut out gives any boring 2D object life. Cutout Motion is the method you used in this activity.
Bring puppets or toys to life by telling unique stories.
Objects or actors are placed behind a thin white sheet, and a backlight helps to illuminate their shadows onto the sheet.
Hand Drawn Animation
Bring hand-drawn stick figures to life. This type of Animation is like the Flipbook concept.
Other Stop Motion Ideas
Stop Motion is fantastic for kids to do year round. Here are some more ideas to inspire your kids.
- Earth Day Stop Motion – Share your love of our planet by creating a special Earth Day Stop Motion, and promote awareness of issues threatening the environment.
- Upgrade those Reports – Writing reports or doing presentations gets a whole new fun twist when you have students create an animation demonstrating their knowledge on a subject. The videos also make great tools for sharing with other students and sharing the knowledge.
- Make an Epic Classroom Project – Have your students work individually or in small groups on part of a bigger animation piece, then put them all together to make a classroom project you can share with the school and parents. This could be a fun way to do a classroom virtual tour project.
- Playing with your food – Our parents tell us not to play with our food, but stop-motion meals are a fun way to start experimenting with this exciting film technique. Try playing with all types of pasta or make fruit and veggies “talk” by adding paper mouths and googly eyes.
- Use Lego, action figures and toys – Most households with kids have Legos, action figures and lots of toys, which are both great for storytelling. They are great for instilling kindness and caring stories for kids, even role-playing bullying.
- Mental Health – Here is a good idea for the classroom: kids use toys in their Animation to demonstrate their understanding of “Growth Mindset” or “The Power of Yet.”
- Space Theme – What fun it is to draw a rocket, an astronaut and all the planets and create and space adventure.
- Hand-drawn animations – Let the kids draw their stick figures and tell a simple story with them.
- The Kitchen – Bring pots, pans, cups etc., to life in the kitchen. How do the pots and pans feel when it’s their “bath-time (In the sink or dishwasher).”
The list of ideas for Stop Motion is endless. Let the kids decide and let their imaginations run wild.
For more advanced students, especially those with a keen eye for photography, have them take all the photos with a camera or device. Then use a photo or video editing app to edit the photos and put the animation together. This technique requires a little more technical skill!
Avoid hitting the camera each time you take a photo. The camera must not move.
12 pictures or frames equals about one second of video. So, before you start shooting, set your frame rate to 12 frames per second. You don’t want your Animation to be too slow or too jittery because it is too fast.
Remember to keep your hands out of the photo each time you take a picture.