How to Create a Light Stop Motion Video




WATCH THIS VIDEO FIRST THING!!! This is the ACTUAL FILM and is the basis for the ENTIRE instructable! ENJOY!

CLICK THIS LINK IF THE VIDEO IS NOT LOADING FOR YOU! I found that it would not always load, and well you need to see the video in order to really see the project results!

This is a stop motion video using light photography that I created for a final art portfolio. I took a little over 200 photos and put them together as a stop motion animation. It took 15 hrs to make for just a little over 2 minutes of actual footage! Each picture was taken by increasing the shutter speed on my digital camera to 30 seconds and drawing in mid air with laser and LED lights to create the characters. This instructable will explain my process and help you learn how to create light photography and even develop it into stop motion animation!

Materials/Tools Needed:
1 Digital SLR camera
1 Tripod (or table/object to keep the camera steady)
1 Mac or computer with video editing (such as Imovie)
1 Red Laser Light
1 White LED Light
1 Green LED Light
1 Dark Room full of fun items/people to light draw on
1 Artistic Soundtrack for film
200+ Photographs for film

Don't forget! you'll need plenty of energy and at least 15 hrs or more of time to take the photos and compile them into an actual video!!! All of this project needs to be photographed at night unless you have black curtains or a room with no windows!


Step 1: Setting Up Your Camera for Stop Motion Photography

Stop motion photography and light photography are made up of two separate components. Stop motion photography is creating a short film by collecting a set of pictures and putting them together one after another to create what seems like a moving image. Light photography is created by actually drawing in the air with a light source in a dark area,  and taking a picture of that action with a digital camera set on an extremely low shutter speed. Combine them both, and you have a very artistic exciting form of art that is relatively new and fun! I used both to create this video, and I am very happy with the results.

To start off your camera needs to be set up on either a tripod or some object to keep the camera completely still and pointed in the same area for the entire photography session. I actually set mine up on a shelf like object in my room about waist high and pointed directly at my bed. My film tells the story of a girl having dreams of characters as good vs. evil so I figured this would be the best angle and area to shoot in. Once you have your camera set up exactly the way you want it, make sure you are in a dark room so that you can capture the light within the image. Definitely do some test runs so you can figure out what is best for your shutter speed time with the type of light you are using. The green lit image in the beginning of this instructable is one of my test runs! The next step will explain how to use yourself, your lights, and your camera to produce such images!

Step 2: Setting the Shutter Speed & Drawing With White LED Light

Once your camera is set up the way you would like it and sturdy, set the shutter speed to BULB or at least 30 seconds. If you have a remote with your camera I would suggest using the remote to snap the shutter shut once you are done with your drawing, it will save a lot of time and effort. As for me, I had to press the button, run to the area I wanted to draw an image and finish the drawing within 30 SECONDS! This was very difficult but I definitely got my exercise for 15 hours!

Basically the steps to creating a light image are simple but take effort. Once your shutter speed is set, have your light ready to move in the air with your hand in order to draw an image. I used a red laser light and and LED lights. The first images were in white LED light. The beginning of the film contains the girls dream bubble and the "good" character breaking out of that dream and interacting with the room around it. So, I had my LED white light in hand ready to draw in the air. I was in my almost pitch dark room (you need a slight bit of light to see where you are drawing). I pressed the shutter button and ran to my bed. I turned on the LED light, pointed it in the cameras directions and drew ONE single circle and turn the light off. Then I would wait for the picture to snap. After the one picture was done I would go to the camera and press the button again and run to my bed, then draw TWO circles in the air around the same area. I would then again wait for the picture to snap. I would continue to add circles until I got to the actual dream bubble and then would snap one WHOLE picture with the circles and the air bubble drawn in the air!

Drawing in the air is SO much different and more difficult than drawing on paper. You are completely guessing where your hand should be and where you have and have not drawn an image because nothing stays in your sight. I would just imagine that I was drawing on paper and try to estimate where my hand had been and what image was formed. In some instances I would use objects in the room as the basis for my drawing, by following the lines of the object, like my lamp character later in the film! Just be creative and have fun with it, you never know what you'll get, its more like an experimental art form where practice makes perfect.

Step 3: Drawing With the Red Laser Light

Not only did I use white LED lights but I also used a Red Laser light. Drawing with this light is a little easier in process but harder to get a clean line image like the white light drawings. When I drew with the red laser light I literally sat in a chair in my room and pointed my light at a point on the wall or object, turned it on and drew a picture. I would turn the light on and off to draw disconnected lines or details. I photographed using the same camera settings with a 30 second shutter speed.

The main difference between using this laser light and the LED light is being able to stay in one place and draw directly onto something instead of jumping up and rushing around drawing in the air! If you like smooth detail though, stick with the LED light as the laser light is a lot harder to control! I used the red laser light as the "evil" characters and had a lot of fun having these characters seem to come out of the walls, lamps and curtains! 

Any pictures containing both the white LED light and red laser light characters were created in the same way but both at the same time. Therefore the shutter speed would still be 30 seconds, but it was much much harder to draw with one light and then the other in ONLY 30 seconds. This is where it would come in handy to have a remote control so that you could take your time drawing and snap the shutter once you were finished. It took some practice but I eventually I was fast enough to draw with both in that small amount of time!

Step 4: Using Props & Using the Photos to Create the Film

I used my own stuffed animal bear for some of these images to give a new feel to the "good" characters of the film and have fun with it! I actually would take the bear and flash some white light behind the animal, then draw with the white LED light to create little details around the bears head. Using a green light, I actually gave the bear a kind of light saber to fight the "evil" red characters. Using props definitely adds creativity to your piece and is really exciting, and you use the same process as the other light photos.

LASTLY, as for compiling the photos together to create an actual stop motion video you need a computer and some kind of movie editing software. I used a Mac and Imovie, and I ended up taking over 200 photos to get barely a couple of minutes of video! Remember if you want a good video, the more photographs you have the better. Also, make sure to go step by step with the order of photos and a small amount of movement between each image to create that movement often seen in stop motion animation. 

I simply placed all of my photos into Imovie and changed the transitions to my liking. Most images have less than a second in between them, even down to .3 seconds!! This makes the images look more like they are moving and creates a great animation! Be sure to pick a great song to go along with your film as it will make it that much more interesting. Publish your video to a website and bravo!! you have your Light Stop Motion Animation! I hope you all enjoy making your film as much as I have!

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    14 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    How would you do this if you wanted the light to come out of your hands and not in mid air? Like, if I were to stand there and 'shoot the light from my hand', how would I do that?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    check out my channel, i make stop motion animations:



    6 years ago on Introduction

    this is a pretty good instructable, but you should speed up the video. it makes it a lot less choppy.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great technique ! Nice story , i had similar instruction but just on photo mode not wentupto video. I like your work.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Its by Deadmau5 ' I remember '
    One of my favorite songs from him.
    Deadmau5 has really great music(:


    7 years ago on Step 2

    This has always been a problem for me ( the drawing in the air). I like the way you go step by step on your tutorial. Thank you....

    To be honest, I thought your instructable deserved a higher spot in the winner table =) Really nice job!