Basics of Stop Motion Animation

If you’re looking at doing stop motion for the animation assignment or just for fun, here’s a great website outlining some of the basics- It has tutorials, some of the best cameras to use, lighting, and much more. Here’s what it says about lighting:

Key Light- This is the main light. It is usually the strongest and has the greatest influence on the look of the scene. It is placed to one side of the camera/subject at anything from 15 to 45 degrees so that this side is nicely lit and the other side has some shadow.

Fill Light- This is the secondary light and is placed on the opposite side of the key light. It is used to fill the shadows created by the key. The fill is usually be softer in tone and less bright than the key. To achieve this effect, you could move the light further away or use greaseproof paper.

Back light- The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the rear. Rather than providing direct lighting (like the key and fill), its purpose is to provide definition and subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This helps separate the subject from the background and provide a three-dimensional look.

Daylight- An alternative to artificial lights. However, the problem with relying on sunlight is that the sun moves in the sky throughout the day. Shadows will move on your set following the path of the sun. Clouds and other objects in the path of your light will cause unexpected shadows that you may or may not notice until after you have finished shooting your footage. If you do shoot by sunlight, be sure to work in the middle of the day when the sun’s position in the sky remains fairly “constant”.


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