The great (?) thing about working for yourself is that you wear many hats and are constantly learning – some things you welcome with open arms and some with a little more kicking and screaming (taxes, I’m looking at you). My formal experience is as a Graphic Designer and Art Director but thanks to this blog I’ve also evolved into a decor/prop/food stylist, a craft queen, a workshop host, a magazine editor, a WordPress (semi) pro, a Public Relations and Social Media expert, an amateur photographer……and now I’m getting into stop-motion video.
When my good friends at Kendall-Jackson Wines asked me to come up with some new ideas for the upcoming year I thought it was a good opportunity for both them and I to jump on the recipe video trend that’s taking over your Facebook feed right now. They agreed and I was on my way to creating my first stop-motion video. I partnered up with my photographer pal Maya Visnyei and we set off to make a video for this delicious Red Wine Chocolate Cake Recipe.
Overall it was a great experience although I realized mid-process that I probably could’ve picked a simpler recipe to start with. oops. How could I resist this delicious (multi-step) cake though? It was a bit of a process for this beginner but thankfully Maya had some stop-motion experience under her belt and we got through it with flying colours. Eat your little chocolate heart out at this:
If you’re not familiar with the stop-motion technique, it’s another way to create animation without using video. What you’re doing is taking a bunch of photos of each little step and then showing them consecutively which creates the look of motion – but because it’s not totally fluid, it’s called stop-motion. The more photos you take, the more realistic the motion appears. It’s the same idea as when you draw an image in the corner of each page of a notebook and then watch it move when you flip through it quickly. The technique has been around forever but it’s definitely become popular and mainstream again with social media. There are dozens of plugins that can be used to create stop-motion, it’s all about finding the right one that works for you. I’ve tried a few, from big names like photoshop to an adobe installer and even smaller software brands too, but I think I’ve found something that works well for me.
Here’s some behind the scenes from the day. It’s really just a photo set which is nice compared to video because you can take your time and set up and not feel the pressure of the flashing record light.
The hardest part of stop motion is actually slowing down and making sure you snap a shot of every step so that when you put it all together it looks like movement. Then you have to exercise some editing skills and decide what frames you really need to make it look real without going overboard. There’s multiple ways to edit a stop-motion film but I decided to stick with what I know (and what I have) and used the Timeline Animition tool in Adobe Photoshop CS6. You can do it all from beginning to end in Photoshop, including adding a music track and exporting it as an .mp4 file. It was wayyyyy easier and relatively smooth sailing compared to what I was anticipating.
For those nerds who are interested, you start off by creating a timeline with frames made from your photo layers and it will look something like this:
Then once you’re happy with the timing and look of the animation you covert it to a video timeline and then the editing box will look like below. This is where you can add the music and then when you’re happy with it you can render it to a .mp4. All of that using Photoshop! I know I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to this stuff but I was impressed. I thought for sure I was going to be sitting there for days without showing, pulling my hair out trying to figure it out.
The good thing about stop-motion is that you also have a bunch of still photos to use if you like. Here’s a few of the process.
And the finished, oh so delicious final shot. What else would you serve with red wine cake other than red wine of course.
So if you have a decent camera, a tripod and Photoshop, I suggest giving it a shot – but maybe start with something that has a few less steps.