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

Author: Eric Holsinger

Eric Holsinger is a software professional and photography enthusiast in Southern Maine.

3 thoughts on “the campsite: a stop motion animation short”

  1. It took me about 40 minutes to set it all up and get the lighting and stuff to be acceptable. Then the actual shooting of the frames was probably 20-30 minutes. I spent another hour or so playing around with Monkey Jam and making the frames with the text on them. So probably a little over 2 hours.

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