Review of Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit

Stopmotion Explosion Review

What is Stopmotion Explosion?

We were excited for the opportunity to review the Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit as movie-making and animation has become a special outlet for my boys’ imagination.

My 12-year old has explored stop-motion animation using his iPod Touch and a few video apps, but we have been looking for tools to take his interest and skills to the next level. For my nine-year-old who has only tried stop-motion a few times, this kit provided a good on-ramp to the craft that his brother enjoys.

Included in the Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit

Stopmotion Explosion comes as a stand-alone book with links to online resources or as a kit that includes the book, access to the online resources, camera and disk.

We tried out the kit, which includes:

  1. A 720p HD video camera with internal microphone, manual focus, and clip
  2. A quick-start guide
  3. The Stopmotion Explosion book (nearly 300-pages)
  4. A CDRom with animation software and other resources

Our favorite part of the kit was the book, Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to stop-motion filmmaking, and includes the following chapters:

  1. How Movies Work
  2. Animation Actors
  3. Creating Stories
  4. Building Sets
  5. Cameras
  6. Lighting
  7. Composition
  8. Animating
  9. Flight
  10. The Art of War
  11. Sound
  12. Video Editing
  13. Files and Formats
  14. Frame Conversion
  15. Sharing Your Animations
  16. Animating with DSLRs
  17. What Next?

How did our family use Stopmotion Explosion?

The opening chapter was a great way to start our journey. Even though we have done some movie making and even stop-motion projects before, it was good to step back and review how movie-making started. In a way, stop motion has close connections with early filmmaking when photographers and inventors were just discovering the “persistence of vision” that makes movies possible with inventions like the Thaumatrope and the Zoetrope. We had fun looking up pioneering stop motion films on YouTube for inspiration.

Chapter 2 discusses “animation actors,” the subject(s) to be animated in your movie. In addition to covering the expected Lego minifigures and the use of clay or Silly Putty, this chapter provided quite detailed instructions on creating animation actors called ModiBots, Stikfas, and Armitures, which all seem pretty awesome, but we decided to stick with Legos and other found items for now.

We spent more time with Chapter 3: Creating Stories, as I felt this chapter will have the biggest impact on how my boys turn their fun exploration into a slightly more serious and intentional endeavor. The process of thinking through their movies ahead of time with a Treatment paragraph and storyboards to preplan before building out their sets and characters is a game-changer for us.

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The rest of the chapters of the book cover a lot of ground in technique and practical considerations, more than we were able to fully dive into in the time we have had the product. As we plan out our curriculum for the rest of the semester, we will be diving into each of these in depth and look forward to seeing how our movies improve over time.

Here are some of their initial creations:

Our thoughts about Stopmotion Explosion

At first my oldest was a little annoyed at adding some discipline and learning to an activity that had been purely fun before, but once we dug into the book and the resources, and once we experienced the power of using a dedicated mid-quality camera rather than just his iPod camera, he was sold.

The animation kit, which provides a pretty complete starter set for a new movie-maker, feels like a good investment at $79.

If there is one thing I would fault the kit for, the core animation software included on the disk — Frame by Frame — was pretty easy to use and powerful (and free!), but it has not been updated for many years, and started crashing once we reached more than 250 animation frames (we researched this online, and found that this has been documented by other users as a bug, but it appears that the software is no longer supported). This caused a bit of distress as we struggled to recover work we had done that we could not export. So if you get the kit, use the software with caution, and export in small chunks (that you can stitch back together in another program) rather than building a large file that will crash the program.

Where can you find this resource?

Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit and the standalone book, can be found and purchased through their website.

I received free access to this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew (http://www.schoolhousereviewcrew.com) in exchange for my honest review.

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