I've long had a fascination with stop motion animation, certainly since television programs that utilized it in my youth. Later on, much bigger productions, such as Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline further cemented this fascination. And I'm not alone, of course, as stop motion is everywhere...even mixed to great effect with digital animation. There are always incredible stop motion works being created, and many of the short films I've highlighted in my Motion Weekly series here are made via stop motion.
More recently, as I got into learning photography, I have played with the idea of creating an animated short of my own via stop motion magic. Though I have done a few tests using sand on a light pad, and a morphing figure in clay, I haven't yet taken it further. I have many interests, but my adherence to completion most often requires a deadline, or something to strive for.
Enter something like StopMo Jam, which is a series of short animated ideas submitted by people the world over, edited together, and all relating to a particular theme. The StopMo Jam was first introduced by stop motion animator, Anthony Scott, via his stopmotionanimation.com website in 2017. Anthony Scott himself has had a long career in the business, working on such things as Gumby, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more recently, The Little Prince. To learn more about Anthony, be sure to read my interview here.
The theme for the first three StopMo Jams were: Spring, Run and Halloween. But now it is time for StopMo Jam 4, and with a theme of Sci-Fi, the possibilities are endless. So, if this is of interest, read on for the rules and specifications of StopMo Jam 4, as posted by Anthony Scott at stopmotionanimation.com:
Rules for StopMo Jam 4
Sci-Fi is the theme for STOPMO JAM 4! We're going to the X Files: Aliens! Spaceships! Robots!
So what is a STOPMO JAM?
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
Your Jam must start and end with the camera lens obscured. Example: your character is super close to the camera, (the first frame can be black or in shadow, etc) then your character quickly pulls away and then kicks toward the camera, covering the lens. This is just a simple example, I am sure you can think of something much more clever! Just make sure your start and end frame both cover up the lens. This will help when I edit all the Jams together. 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 JULY 10, 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 SMA.com 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!
Nick C Sorbin (Nick Charles) is a former Managing Editor of 9 years for Renderosity's CG Industry News. By day, a mild-mannered Certified Pharmacy Technician working in both home infusion and a hospital ER, contrasting creative outlets as a digital artist, sculptor, musician, singer/songwriter, and Staff Writer for Renderosity Magazine. Read his articles