the campsite: a stop motion animation short

I just created my first stop motion animation short using my Canon EOS 10D as remote capture device and Monkey Jam to build the movie file.

I created “the campsite“, a stop motion animation short using my Canon EOS 10D camera and Monkey Jam. I have been reading about and watching brickfilms and some stop motion animation films online. I had the crazy idea that it would be fun to blow my sons mind by making a short film of some of his toys. It turns out that it’s a lot of work.

Casting Call

First, I had to raid my sons toy collection. I picked a couple of figures from an adventure sport/camping play set. They had chairs and tables and a bunch of coleman gear that was already their size. I figured this would be the easier way to create a “set” without using Legos.

the campsite, still frame, by eric holsinger

Set Construction and Lighting

I cleared an area on one of my computer desks and put an old checkerboard down for the set area. The background is a large piece of graph paper stuck to a LCD monitor.

It took a while to arrange the scene for a sense of depth. I experimented a lot with the shrubbery.

I put my camera on the tripod and connected the remote capture cable, a USB cable, to my laptop. My Canon EOS 10D has Remote Capture abilitiy. So I can shoot the camera from my laptop. I used my EOS 550 EX flash with a Stofen Bounce Flash to even out the light.

Then I experimented with the exposure and depth-of-field. I ended up focusing on the firepit at f/8.

Here is the setup:

the campsite, by eric holsinger; set construction and camera angle

Production

I shot 27 frames of animation. Then I used Monkey Jam to make the movie. At 15 frames per second, it looks a bit jerky. At a faster fps, the motion looks smoother, but obviously doesn’t last as long.

Lessons Learned

I discovered that it’s really hard to keep the set in place. I knew enough to stick the shrubs and firepit to the checkerboard. I also stuck the checkerboard to the desk. But the chairs weren’t stuck and neither were the table and cooler in the background. When the figures got close to those items, I bumped them and you can see the jump in the animation.

Also, it’s really difficult to get the “actors” to behave. I used plasti-tak to hold their feet to the checkboard, but the plasti-tak stretched and stuck to the checkerboard more than it did to their feet.

Looking to the Future

The next thing to do will be to actually create a little script and then add some sound effects.

You can view the animation by downloading from