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App Synergy: How To Synergize Your Stop Motion Video

App Synergy: How To Synergize Your Stop Motion Video

May 6, 2012
About a week and a half ago, my boss forwarded me an email with the subject line, "Possible App Synergy at work?" The email was from Brandon, one of our readers, who requested that we check out a stop motion video he made using 15 apps, encompassing the iPad, iPhone and Mac. I clicked on the link, watched the video and silently answered the question: App synergy? Yes. Yes it is. Oh boy, is it. I contacted Brandon and let him know that I wanted to write about his video. My one fear was that I would have a hard time concisely describing what looked to be a complex, high level use. Brandon made life easy for me by breaking down the steps and supplying plenty of screenshots and videos. Thank you Brandon. This article will focus specifically on the apps used and not the non-app steps involving pottery, set design and the like. However, for those interested, Brandon was kind enough to make the following behind the scenes video, which summarizes the entire process.

Step 1: Put A Shot List Together

For a massive project like this, the first step is good planning. Before beginning any filming, Brandon organized his thoughts using Apple's own Reminders app. Reminders is a native app, which allows you to easily make lists, whether they are to-do, to-see, to-eat, or in this case, to-shoot lists. For iPhone 4S users, you can also make reminders using Siri and have them synced to all your devices through iCloud.

Step 2: Sketch The Storyboard

Filmmakers recognize that storyboarding is an essential part of the planning process. Paper by FiftyThree is not a professional-grade drawing app for artists; for that, you want to use Procreate, Brushes or SketchBook Pro. What Paper is, is an excellent and easy way to give life to your ideas. Brandon used the app to create a storyboard by setting each page to a specific scene, which could then be flipped through to tell the story. Here's a video of Paper in use.

Step 3: Explore Movement Of Characters

To explore movement of his characters, Brandon used Animation Desk by Kdan Mobile. He described the app better than I could, so in his words:
Animation Desk is what it says it is, an app that simulates an animation desk, allowing for the creation of animated drawings. It really does look like a desk, which is visually pleasing, however when first becoming accustom (sic) to this app it is rather difficult to know what you are looking at and what each tool will do. It is loaded with options, features, layers, backgrounds and tools. This app allowed for the exploration of movement. As you can see from the screen shots above the mug (Doctore) has a whip and two arms that need to move a specific way in order to give the appearance of a whip being used. Prior to shooting the scene in iStopMotion this app was used to see what the movement of the arms and whip could look like.

Step 4: Experiment With Camera Angles

Next, Brandon used a trio of iPhone apps to experiment with camera angles and character placement. Tilt Shifting creates the illusion of miniaturization. Brandon used TiltShift Generator to add depth to the set design and to examine camera angles and character placement prior to final shooting. While iMovie is an universal app, Brandon sometimes found it quicker to perform edits while using it on the iPhone. Brandon also used the iPhone's native camera app for test photos and video clips prior to final animation production.

Step 5: Shoot The Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation is a filming technique that is used to make a static object appear to move on its own. This is done through physical manipulation in small increments. There are a number of apps that can do this. The app of choice for Brandon was iStopMotion for iPad. He also used its free companion app, iStopMotion Remote Camera. As Brandon states, "This app along with iStopMotion for iPad gives the user the freedom to capture scenes, shots, and camera angles via a wi-fi connection." Brandon shot his video's animated scenes entirely through the lens of an iPhone 4S, as it was connected to an iPad.

Step 6: Shoot Intro

At the very beginning of the finished SpartaCup video, there is a quick background intro video of a kiln peep hole. This was shot using Video Camera by i4Software. One feature that Brandon especially appreciated was its auto zoom. He later altered the shot in Photoshop and overlaid it with text in LiveType.

Step 7: Edit And Experiment With Stop Motion Animations

For this step, Brandon again used the iMovie app, this time on the iPad. After shooting a scene with iStopMotion, he could check out how it would look with a transition or cut in place. While this could also be done on the more powerful iMovie Mac app, it was a lot more efficient for Brandon to do his work without constantly downloading and uploading clips from and to his computer.

Step 8: Import Into iMovie OS X And Edit

Of course, iMovie for iOS is still limited compared to the Mac version. To create a cohesive video, Brandon imported the pieces and parts of his video into the Mac OS X version of iMovie for editing. It's not as powerful as Final Cut Pro, but iMovie is a respectable piece of video editing software and an excellent gateway to Final Cut. Among its options are a nice variety of effects, transitions and titles.

Step 9: Alter, Edit And Adjust Clips In Photoshop

As mentioned above, Brandon created an intro video using the Video Camera app. He then used Adobe Photoshop to manipulate the video by adding a layer over it, creating a vignette type effect.

Step 10: Create Titles With LiveType

In addition, Brandon created some neat looking titles for his video, which he then imported into iMovie. LiveType is an ideal app for creating original titles or animated text videos.

Step 11: Create Original Music

Besides shooting video, Brandon also used apps to create his video's soundtrack. Apple's GarageBand is the standard for music creation on the iPad, especially for those with little music-making experience. When composing his score, Brandon wanted to create a specific mood for his video. He found it easy to lay down a bass line, add rhythm and jam out a guitar solo, using GarageBand. He then imported the music from the iPad to GarageBand on the Mac.

Step 12: Add Sound Effects And Music To Video

SoundTrack Pro is an excellent app for adding sound effects, music and other noises to your video. It created the majority of sounds used in SpartaCup. Brandon included this screen shot, which shows only a small number of the many audio tracks used in his video.

Step 13: Finishing Touches

Finally, Brandon imported the audio back into iMovie, finalized the video and exported it for our viewing pleasure. Here is the finished version of SpartaCup: Mugs Of The Arena. What impressed me most about Brandon's app synergy use was that it was a stop motion video, but it was more than that. The apps used transcended the realm of traditional video applications to also include productivity, art and music uses. This article only covered the making of SpartaCup in broad strokes. To learn even more about the project, visit the SpartaCup site. Also, please continue to send us your great app synergy uses.

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