Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Take 5: Stop Motion Animation Hacks for a MakerSpace

When I became a librarian, I never knew that one day I would become the creator of stop motion animation. But lo and behold, here we are and I spend a lot of time with my teens teaching them how to do stop motion animation. I have the basics down, and the rest we figure out together which is both fun and empowering for my teens (and me). At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we are heavily immersed right now in creating our MakerSpace, and given the popularity of stop motion animation one of the first stations I set out to create was stop motion focused. So here are five of my favorite hacks.

Mini movie made with 3 teens, the GIFfer app, a paper background held in an acrylic sign holder & word bubbles.

Mini movie made with 3 teens, the GIFfer app, a paper background held in an acrylic sign holder & word bubbles.

Green Screen

Our trifold green screen. Easy to put away and take out when you need it. Cheap.

Our trifold green screen. Easy to put away and take out when you need it. Cheap.

Many libraries have set up amazing green screen studios, something that I simply don’t have the space for. But stop motion can be a fun and, more importantly for us, smaller scale way to teach green screen. Instead of buying a more expensive and traditional green screen, I bought a green tri fold science fair project board and cut it in half to make two green screens. It totally works. You don’t have to cut it in half, I just did.

Background Hack #1: Scrapbook Paper

Scrapbook paper for the win!

Scrapbook paper for the win!

A regular size piece of scrapbook paper is 12×12 in size. They come in all kinds of shapes and colors and patterns and they work fantastic as a backdrop. You can use a binder clip to clip it to the edge of your green screen mentioned above to get a more color background.

Background Hack #2: Acrylic Sign Holders

Stop motion animation station with background.

Stop motion animation station with background.

Most libraries have acrylic sign holders laying around. You can create a background scene using paper and a sign holder.

Paper Props and Word Bubbles

You know how you can easily make your own photo booth props (or if you don’t want to make them, you can buy them almost everywhere now and Oriental Trading has a large collection of them available for purchase)? These also work as stop motion animation props. Especially the word bubbles, you can quickly add in a “Pow” or an “Argggghhhhhh” using one of these. To make your own, use your publisher creation software to create your design, print it off, and then laminate it (or cover it in clear contact paper. You can hot glue it to a clothespin or small dowel rod to insert it into a scene. Or, if you are using an acrylic sign holder for your backdrop, you simply slip it in when you want the item to appear in your frame. See above folder for the word “Bam” which I easily inserted into my scene.

StikBots and Wooden Drawing Mannequins

Stikbots!

Stikbots!

Want a figure to appear in your mini movie? You can of course use things like Lego creations and various figurines. We have made movies with Funko Pop characters, key chains and Lego creations. But you can also use wooden drawing mannequins and something called Stikbots, both of which are available at a really low cost. We got wooden drawing mannequins for $6 and $10 at the local craft store. You can buy Stikbots at places like Wal-Mart or online for anywhere between $5 and $12. These are awesome tools to use because they  are easily pose-able for taking frame by frame shots. The Stikbots take the idea of a wooden drawing mannequin and up it by giving you a variety of colors to choose from and they have suction cups at the end of the hands and feet which can help you create and maintain some fun poses.

What about you, do you have any fun hacks to share with me? I’m always looking for new ideas to try with my teens.

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  1. […] Take 5: Stop Motion Animation Hacks for a MakerSpace by Karen Jensen at the Teen Librarian Toolbox […]

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