Stop Motion Movies

Create your own stop-motion animated movie!

Stop motion is a special type of animation. It uses real objects—instead of drawings or computer-generated images—to tell a story. The story characters can be people, animals, or even everyday objects. You can make them out of clay or paper or just use some toy figures, puppets, or even friends whom you pose.
Give it a try, and be creative!
That’s what moviemaking is all about.

(AD) Get the book!

Learn the science behind stuff.

What you'll need

Be sure to get your parent’s permission if you’re going to use a stop-motion app.


1. A smartphone or camera that shoots video

2. A stable base for the phone or camera, such as a tripod or bean bag

3. Your imagination and a story to tell

4. Movie props: characters (use action figures, toys, etc., or make some with clay or paper)

5. Backdrops, backgrounds, or a good place to shoot a movie

6. Whatever else you need for your story


Brainstorm a story.

What to do

1. Get creative and brainstorm a shortstory. Make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end.

2. Write down your story (or pick one you’ve already written). if you want to get professional, make a storyboard—rough sketches of the story’s key scenes.

3.Gather or make the characters and props you’ll need for your movie.

4. Pick a location where you’re going to shoot the movie. Make sure you’ll have enough room to take pictures from different angles.

5. Find or create any backdrops you may want. (Sometimes even a blanket will suffice.)


Assemble your props.

6. Ask your parents if you can use a stop-motion smartphone app. Seriously recommended: They make the shoot easier and even let you add sound effects. (There are lots of options, but most cost a few dollars.) You can also make a stop-motion movie using a video recorder on a phone or camera. But it’s harder, and you’ll need to shoot a silent story that moves slowly. If neither of those are options, maybe you could even experiment with creating an awesome flip book by taking still images and printing them.

7. Set up your first shot. Position your characters and props for your first scene. Put your “movie camera” (what we’re calling your smartphone or camera now) on a tripod, if you have one, or figure out a way to keep it steady and in the same place. (Tip: Keep your camera on the samelevel as the action. Don’t shoot the scene from above, unless you’re doing a special aerial shot.)


Steady the camera.

8. Whether you’re using a moviemaking app or not, the process is the same: Take a picture, move your characters a tiny bit to show some action—whatever the story needs— and repeat. If you’re using an app, follow its instructions about recording each frame.

9. Repeat step 8 over and over and over until you complete your story. (Tip: If you mess up a shot, no worries. You can just redo that one.)

10. Gather family and friends and debut your film!

Photographs by Becky Hale, National Geographic


Experiment with different angles.

What's going on?

When the individual pictures are played back one after another, they create an illusion that your characters are actually moving. If the pictures are played back quickly enough—for example, if you used a stop-motion app—your brain will blend them together, perceiving fairly smooth motion.


(AD) Get the book!

Learn how things work.

(AD) Get the book!

Learn the science behind stuff.


Find your favorite titles.

Be a scientist!

Get cool experiments.