SCI-FI is the theme for STOPMO JAM 4! We're breaking out the X Files: Aliens! Spaceships! Robots!

So what is a STOPMO JAM?

It is a series of short animated ideas that all relate to the theme. We've done Spring, Run and Halloween thus far. This time, it's Sci Fi!

Puppets can be made of clay, paper, foam, wire, sand, whichever materials you can utilize to create your design but it must be stop motion animated. Sorry no LEGOs, action figures, toys, or store bought items are allowed UNLESS it is modified (painted, covered with paper or clay, etc). The goal is to make a hand-made experimental film. Stop motion puppets, 2d cutouts, sand, painting, pixelation*, all hand-made animation techniques allowed.

*animating your hand interacting with a puppet is ok

IMPORTANT: Your Jam must start and end with the camera lens obscured. See this similar idea here in this VIDEO from LAIKA (but it doesn't have to be characters fighting). You just need to cover the camera lens at the start and at the end of your shot. This will help when I edit all the Jams together.  

Once you are completely finished with your Jam, upload it to online storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox or WeTransfer and send the link to my INBOX.

If you have any questions, post them below.




Important Technical Requirements!

For your Jam to look its best, please adhere to these guidelines.

Shot Length: up to 20 seconds maximum

Frame Rate: 24 fps (not 23.96 or 30 or 29.97....24 please!) 

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 @ 1920 x 1080

Finished Animation: export to Quicktime (H264 is good)

Add your own Sound FX and/or music. Make sure you have the rights to it. Better yet, record your own! 

DEADLINE is now August 21, 2022. This may seem like a long ways away but for stop motion people, it's just around the corner. Remember, you have to build and animate everything yourself. You could easily spend months just building a puppet. Start thinking of your idea first, once you have nailed it down, get to work. If you have any questions, send me a message thru or better yet, reply to this thread. Content must be ok for kids to watch.* I reserve the right not to include your animation if it doesn't fit into these guidelines. Ok go make something!

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    • I'm with you, I grabbed the free version of Stop Motion Studio for my phone simply because my android phone is capable of manual camera settings and very high resolution. If my personal tests work out, then I'll binge on the $5 version of the app, just to have and to unlock more features, like green screen. I've been hoarding foam packing and cardboard since before Xmas for the very same reasons. I get some clear plastic from a packaging bubble and think "ooooh sci-fi panel right there, or a helmet visor, or or or..." IF, and really if, this actually works for me then I'll most likely start working toward the adult toys like Dragonframe and a real camera. But for construction and sets its on the cheap, foam build-up, latex and whatever finessing I can do marrying in what 3D capability I have (largely for an experiment on workflows and toolkit expansion). For post-production, I am capable in After Effects and PremierPro for a final composite, I have to have Adobe suite for work, so some things I come to the table already spoiled with. I guess my point is to never feel bad on the cheap, we aren't pros with a chunky budget. We are repurposing things that would end up in the bin for a greater purpose. Yeah! That's it! If anything, showing what can be done cheaply and effectively encourages others. Just my 2 cents.
      PS- I had a small stint in a shop that worked on some armor for the collector cosplay crowd, storm troopers etc. I can tell you that the screen-used props incorporated a lot of ordinary things. For instance, on the desert trooper's backpack, part of a cylinder is patterned from the underside of a tupperware lid from the
      'cool-aid' pitcher in the 70's a lot of us kids had. ;)
    • Lol I just soaked cheap kitchen sponges in paint and cut them into asteroids when they dried. They were so cheap they had air bubble holes everywhere and it looks like craters.
  • I have a question for everyone. What software do most people use to do the animations? I have an old version of Adobe creative suit and use Flash. It works but I wondered if theres something geared more for this type of thing.
    • The industry standard software for frame capture is Dragonframe - for amateurs, pros, TV, short films and feature films. I used to use Stop Motion Pro when I had a PC, but with only Macs now, I use Dragonframe. It is most often paired with Canon DSLR cameras and often Nikon manual lenses.
      A cheap option would be Stop Motion Studio. I have tested the free version of the SMM app on my iPad and iPhone, and it did all I needed. I could lock the exposure/focus/white balance so they stayed put, click back and forth to compare the live view with the frames previously shot, replay the animation, and capture and save the images in HD. The main limitation was the it was using the video function of the camera, not the still image, so it was limited to a short exposure and needed more light than I usually use to avoid it boosting the brightness and getting grainy. I believe there are versions of SMS that also run on computers, and maybe can connect to DSLR cameras, but I am not certain about that.

      After capture there are usually other programs needed to crop and shrink the big 3:2 DSLR image down to a video format like HD 1920 x 1080, do wire removals and fix-ups, and composite elements together. I do most of it in TV Paint, but have used After Effects for green screen keying. I just lost access to all Adobe subscription software like AE and PS (via educational institution) so will probably do all future keying in Da Vinci Resolve Fusion. Da Vinci Resolve is a professional grade editor that is free, and I switched to it from Final Cut Pro 6 with no regrets. Fusion is the effects part of it, which I have only just started to look into. Probably it can also replace a few other programs I use. I do still have PS and AE Creative Suite 5 from before Adobe went with the monthly subscription payment plan, and they also do what I need, but they are on a very old computer that struggles with loading 100+ frames of hi res still images and takes hours to render the key.
    • Tahoma2D is the free opensource Ghibli 2D production tool with added stopmotion and canon support. A really powerful combination. Runs on PC, Mac and Linux. Visit and give it a try. If you need any help - join the discord community and you'll get all the help you could dream off. For enthusiasts who wants to help shape their tool - it's brilliant.
    • For my first two Jam videos I used Corel Video Studio it was only $60 USD back when I got it for video editing several years ago. It has a live camera view that was compatible with my Canon. The live view was always dark. For my third animation I bought Dragon Frame.
  • I was experimenting and decided I may attempt doing something like they did in Paranorman and I think Coraline where they actually make interchangable facial expressions. It seems tedious but it's not as bad as I thought it might be. I don't have the ability to pring in color, but I can paint them. Also, Catia is good for mechanical stuff but not so good for making figures. last I checked, 3Dxmax and Mia or more geared for that. Maybe Rhino too. I'll make do though. Those ones are expensive and it would be too much of a learning curve to use them.
    • I've been waiting for blender to add something called the pose library which they did in the recent release which makes this very easy take a 3d model of your character rig the face and simply animate it with the ease of keyframes then simply save each frame as a pos add it to a pose library export as a stl 3d print then mark the back of the head with the name of the pose or with the frame number and reference it so you can switch out each head according to your animation I can share some stls from my proof of concept if you want
    • I agree with James. Blender is a great character program for the price.. FREE. It is the little program that does a bit of everything. I use it for all my 3D modeling and 3D printing. I also use it for my pre-viz animations. It has video editing and compositing but I have switched to Divinci for that. The Blender organization puts out an animation each time for the big release. This year it is called "Sprite Fright" and it looks amazing. The story is NOT for kids however. Supposedly Blender really added a bunch of facial animation additional tools but I have not explored them.
    • To my somewhat limited knowledge, over the last year and a half, the free program Blender has gone LEAPS ahead in its ability to sculpt organically. It has box modeling, rigging, weight painting, animation timeline (to generate expressions) etc built in. The community is also awesome when it comes to sharing and learning. I find that if I have a goal, then try to get a workflow achieved, then most software becomes a bit more intuitive once you know where the right gizmo is to make it happen. I've never explored most of the more professional programs other than ZBrush, but I managed to grab that back in 2008, so I tend stay with it since it does what I need for my actual work and I was never a hard-surface guy in that realm. The large HP printers solidify a print from particle dust, then they dunk em in a bath of cyano to keep a neat texture. Ray Harryhausen hand-carved & painted his faces to replace, there are some great images of Humpty Dumpty and Rapunzel faces he did that you can find online if I recall correctly (meant for those unaware - just for the nostalgia its worth it -grins-). It is inevitable that I will try it one day. Maybe some cool twist on the Japanese Noh masks in an expressive dance... low demand, just to try.
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15 Weeks Left to finish your Stopmo Jam

It's been a little quiet, so I thought I'd check in to see how everyone's progress is going? Need more time or is July 10 still doeable? I am in the final weeks of Animation on Wendell and Wild, so I haven't had time to work on mine, although I usually do the Titles. Anyway, let me know how it's going or if you have any questions.

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24 Replies · Reply by Emily Myers Jun 9