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How to make a stop motion commercial that breaks the mould

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, businesses are preparing all sorts of offers and deals to be plastered around the web, making it really hard for any brand to stand out without blending in with the noise.

Days before Black Friday, potential customers start getting drowned by constant discounts and promotions; and with Cyber Monday surpassing it as the preferred day for getting a good deal, nobody is waiting until Christmas to stock up or treat themselves.

We just released our new stop motion feature, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use this animation technique to shoot our own branded commercial and at the same time, put together this unique quick tip, so you can do the same for your next commercial job.

Watch the full tutorial below or continue scrolling for a written breakdown.

 

 

DEFINE THE CREATIVE DIRECTION AND PLAN YOUR SPACE 

For product commercials or any ad campaign, this is probably the most challenging step. After defining the main goal of the production, you need the creativity to kick in.

Brainstorming is a great starting point to generate ideas. However, thinking outside of the box can be scary for those that don’t want to risk it all and would rather choose a more traditional approach. We are lucky enough to have content creators at Syrp that are willing to challenge their filmmaking skills (and the rest of the marketing team) every time we have to create new content. After brainstorming and once you have set out the right path, stick to that idea and modify it just enough to accommodate the project goals, budget and timing.

For this piece, preparation was key. Matt and Chase found creative style references, planned their art animation according to this and wrote a full proposal and costume lists with colour pallets to nail the tone. Finally, mocked up the studio in CAD (3D) to plan their lenses and camera movement to ensure they weren’t painting anything unnecessary.

And this is how they broke the news to us: to make this stop motion video they will paint our pristine white studio walls… several times!

 


DIRTY HANDS ARE A SIGN OF CREATIVE SUCCESS 

If you want to shoot a stop motion at these dimensions, precision is key. We set up a 9 metre long Magic Carpet Pro slider with a Genie II Linear for precise motion control movement, connected wirelessly via the App using the new stop motion feature. The Syrp Genie 2 App doesn’t directly integrate with Dragon Frame (Stop Motion Software), so instead we synced the settings on both the Genie 2 App and Dragon Frame. Later, used the Genie 2 App for movement, and Dragon Frame for the triggering the images. We used a Canon Mark 6D II and a Manfrotto XPRO 3-Way for this setup.

As the main camera is moving, we needed a second reference for accuracy, so we attached our Sony A9 to a table in the middle of the room using a Manfrotto Super Clamp.

Matt and Chase (and a few little helpers here and there) painted the background frame by frame. To make the transition from one to the next, they used a Panasonic PT-RZ970BU to project outlines for each frame so they could easily paint it more accurately.

In addition to the background paint, they also had the challenge of animating the person in the scenes and all the Syrp gear. They used an Avenger C-stand and a Manfrotto Magic arm to help them achieve this difficult task. They had to do a test run of each animation first to refine the animation curves and ensure they had a final shot they would like. With stop motion, making small tweaks after shooting is nearly impossible!

After planning all of this, they went to the closest hardware store to buy big cans of paint, plenty of snacks from the supermarket and barely left the studio for more than 5 days.

 

FRAME BY FRAME, WE ANIMATE! 

Post-production doesn’t always have to be daunting if you take it step by step. In fact, the post-production for this project was quite straight forward thanks to the planning beforehand.

This process consisted mainly of 2 key steps. Firstly, we aligned the clips in the timeline so that the movement from scene to scene matched up. Due to the repeatability capability of the motion control, it was just a matter of finding the matching frame.

The second step was to remove the Avenger C-stand we used for animating the floating objects. This can be a time-consuming process of painting out unwanted objects. Throughout the stop motion, we took clean plates on any frame that had objects which needed removal. Although this slowed down the capturing process it simplified post-production by simply masking out anything we didn’t want in the frame to reveal the clean plate behind.

 

 

LET’S BE HONEST: BEING CREATIVE IS HARD 

Our goal was clear; we wanted to shoot a product commercial that stood out from the rest during a Holiday Shopping Season. This is what every brand wants but it is easier said than done.

Moving past the “everything’s been done” stage is hard, especially for those whose main role is exactly that: to be creative. We expect them to deliver unique jaw-dropping content all the time.

The truth is that, as a content creator, when you think out-of-the-box and do something unique, it is almost impossible to predict what the reaction of the audience is going to be. Sometimes it’s well-received and sometimes, unfairly criticized.

As a viewer, most likely none of us will realize how much work was put into creating this one-of-a-kind 10 seconds video. Some producers will even think that it is not worth the effort.

But with all that said we believe that, as creatives, sometimes it’s best to risk it all and you might be surprised by the outcome of what you can achieve!

Finally, check this short video to learn how to get started with the stop motion feature using the Syrp Genie 2 App:

What has been your most challenging project so far?

Did we miss something or have any filmmaking questions? Comment below!

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