Stop motion video is really fun, and increasingly easy when you take into account the very efficient mobile apps and desktop programs available. One very important thing for stop motion is keeping your camera still. There are plenty of stands that you can buy, and plenty of tutorials for how to make one, but I wanted to make an easy, cheap, sturdy, and collapsable option. Perhaps you don't have wads of cash, perhaps you'll only use it once or twice, maybe you forgot your fancy one or just don't have time for something more complicated. You can make this in ten minutes with minimal tools and free materials.
Read on to find out how, and see the last step for animated gifs that I made using this stand!
You can also see a high-speed assembly of this stand in a tutorial video I did on how to make custom animations for a FlipBooKit.
Step 1: Materials
- Cardboard (thicker is better, or you can do double layers)
- Phone with stop motion app
- Tape - duck, masking, etc (optional)
Step 2: Measure and Cut Base Pieces
Measuring in this project doesn't need to be exact. You need three pieces of cardboard, two of them about the size of your phone, and one about 1/2 or 1/3 as wide (see photos). I took a strip of cardboard (I made two of these stands... one time the strip was a bit larger than the long side of my phone, the other time it was a bit smaller... both worked fine), and then cut the pieces I needed.
Step 3: Make Slots
This stand is held together with slots, making it very portable. It can be easily disassembled and stored flat.
See the pictures for help in slot positioning. It doesn't have to be exact. This stand makes a triangle and holds the phone at a wide angle, so the camera doesn't see the cardboard holding it.
A good rule of thumb, if you want slots to fit together flush, is that the combined length of a pair of slots should be equal to the size of the smaller piece (if they are different sizes). Example: If you have two pieces of cardboard each 4 inches wide, and you make a slot that is 1 inch, the accompanying slot on the other piece of cardboard should be 3 inches. What this means is that you don't need a ruler. Sketch on one piece of cardboard where the slot should be (make sure it isn't wider than the thickness of your cardboard, you want the slots to fit snugly), then line the other piece next to it and mark the remainder of the distance. See pictures.
The small piece of cardboard is used to hold the base together, and is short so that it stays out of the way of the screen. The slots you create to hold your phone (which will be larger - about the width of your phone) need to be placed so that the camera points away from the stand. The lens angle isn't too wide, so this shouldn't be a problem.
Step 4: Assemble
When all slots have been marked and cut, put them together, starting with the two largest pieces, then adding the narrow piece (which should slide on from the bottom), and finally sliding your phone into the larger slots. There will be a piece of cardboard that runs across your screen; pull up your stop motion app, and align your phone so that the cardboard isn't obscuring your photo button.
Step 5: Make a Movie
There are lots of really nice apps out for doing stop motion, I'm particularly fond of Stop Motion Studio, which has both a free and a paid version. The free version does everything that I need.
Place your stand so that it has a nice view. You can prop it up to change the height or angle. Tapping the camera button shouldn't move the stand, but you can also tape it down if you want it to be even more sturdy. Many apps, including Stop Motion Studio, also have a timer option so that it will take pictures at a set interval.
A timer option is handy, especially if you decide to use the stand on the dashboard of your car (I recommend taping it down for this). Be safe and don't try to operate a camera while you're driving unless it's set to run without your attention. See the gifs for some examples I made using this stand: a view from my car driving around Venice/West LA, and a wire sculpture animation I did for a FlipBooKit.
I hope you enjoy this project, and please share your creations!