“Book Club” – A Stop Motion Movie

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I decided to begin with the Stop Motion Movie since the idea of a book taking revenge came very quickly to my mind. I wanted to show that education in most systems is reduced to rote learning for students, who have to study an extreme amount of contents in order to pass exams. Thus, many students do not appreciate the educational value of their readings anymore. The Stop Motion technique is based on making pictures for each frame and put them together as a video.

Furthermore, I had to fulfill my teacher’s prerequisite that an inanimate object comes to live in the movie. The stop motion technique should be used to accomplish this task. Before I started the shooting, I informed myself about this technique and watched some YouTube videos to understand the possibilities of this technique. The post “5 Tips for Making a Stop Motion Movie” by Christina Dickson on Digital Photography School helped me to refine the process before the actual shooting. Following the 5 tips I created the story board:

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The Storyboard

The storyboard does not need to be a masterpiece of your drawing skills. It helps you to visualize the action and work on the coherence of your story. Furthermore, you can explain the plot to your team much easier with this visual aid. Creating the storyboard before the shooting saved a lot of time and helped the whole team to imagine the action. Having a team, in which everybody has a certain role in your shooting crew, assisted me greatly. I worked with two reflexive camera, one for the shooting and the other for shooting the process – thus a small making-of might follow later on. A friend was responsible for the movement of the book and the actress could just concentrate on her job. However, the actress told me after the shooting that it was considerably easier for her to act after most of the others left – in the end it was only her, the photographer and me. I already mentioned how to use certain roles effectively in the classroom in my earlier post.

The shooting itself went relatively smoothly. The original position of the table had to be adjusted because the lighting was unfavorable. Furthermore, the face of the book was drawn during the shooting. I should have the artist draw it before to save time. The shooting lasted nearly 3 hours and over 450 pictures were shot. Note that such a project without a reflexive camera is nigh impossible. If you want to use this technique in school, make sure you have enough of those cameras available.

The editing needed significantly more time than the shooting of the raw material, even thou the movie’s actual running time is not longer than 2:10  (I used Adobe Premiere – you can use the test version to get a feeling). Even following the above mentioned tips to shoot not to edit, it took some time to get a proper result. Keep in mind that you need a high-tech computer for editing over 400 high-resolution pictures into one video. In retrospect, I would lower the resolution/quality of the pictures in order to have the possibility to live-render the video in Premiere. Furthermore, in schools I would suggest to use a simpler program such as Windows Movie Maker (WMW) or Apple’s counterpart for several reasons:

  • You do not need a licence for Premiere
  • Premiere needs a high-tech computer
  • The possible benefits of professional editing are neglectable in this technique, especially in schools
  • Students do not get distracted with useless features and focus on the process

Even though I edited my movie heavily and used the features of Premiere, the list of WMW’s benefits is ongoing (see the simplicity in this tutorial). Students can work with simpler programs more naturally.

After the video editing was done, I was looking for music, which in the age of strict copyright laws is a huge problem, if you want to release your movie publicly. However, I found the website of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech) who composes film scores and offers them for free. I can strongly recommend this site to anybody who is looking for classic film scores and hope that you support MacLeod’s project. For my movie I used the song “Tango de Manzana” – as an homage to the tango used in the classic “Un Chien Andalou” by Luis Bunuel.

And finally the movie:

My teacher told me that the final scene could have been expanded more with the other books moving, thou I had the feeling that it would diminish the feeling of the punch line. What are your impressions?

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