My stop-motion niche

It’s been really fun to carve out a specialism in my work, and that has turned out to be short-form, seamlessly looping stop-motion assets. Essentially, we’re talking stop-motion GIFs, videos created from photographic stills, but I’m rebranding it to make me feel smarterer.



I approach these from a photographic standpoint rather than video, and in doing so the stills from these assets retain the high resolution quality you expect from photography assets as well as being functional and high resolution motion assets. And as an added bonus, I get to keep my feet planted firmly in the realm of photography whilst leaning over the threshold of videography. 

There’s a multitude of challenges that I’ve somewhat blindly fought my way through to get to a point where I can create these kinds of assets with a consistent quality, and the biggest lesson learned was to plan assets that wouldn’t require excessive editing. Editing a single image is a task by itself, but to commit to consistent edits across a motion asset made up of 20 individual frames is impossible to make time or cost effective. And this has been crucial for – often I take on projects consisting entirely of this type of content, and spending days on individual assets is detrimental to not only your profits and deadlines, but your work quality as well.

As with most methods or processes, once you master the basics you can start getting experimental. And even if you make a mistake and need to edit countless frames to make something work, you can guarantee that somewhere in the hours of repetitively editing in photoshop that you’ll figure out where you went wrong and how to solve that problem next time around.



If I had to summarise the structure of creating these assets, it would be:

  • Begin with an idea of the composition. The moving elements might affect change in this down the road, but an impactful still that works well without the movement is the aim.
  • Source accurate props, product, backdrops, etc, that don’t require editing. The least amount of editing to these assets is key.
  • Shoot tethered, with a remote shutter, from a tripod. You want to make sure each shot is as consistent as possible, and even triggering the shutter from a camera can move the camera by tiny, but noticeable amounts. Remote shutters are relatively cheap to buy, I use this one for my Canon 5D Mk IV, or you can trigger the shutter via your tethered device in Capture One or Lightroom.
  • Shoot to the crop you need. Extending backgrounds for multiple slides is possible, but a time consuming process you should avoid if possible.
  • Firmly secure all elements of your set-up. A reflector leaning against something, unsecured, will take any opportunity to fall over, knock into something in-shot and cause you to need to start from scratch.
  • Instruct any extra bodies in your studio, such as assistants or clients that aren’t involved in the shot to either take a seat or commit to standing still. Any unwanted shadows, reflections, or movements can cause you hours of extra work to amend.
  • Figure out the moving element, like a hand picking/putting down, a product moving, shadows changing, etc, making sure the movement doesn’t cross over anything that needs to be edited, if this kind of editing is unavoidable.
  • Control your lighting and the stability of your set-up as much as possible. A window adding light to the room can change as a cloud passes in front of the sun, and often these changes to the ambient lighting will be unnoticed until you start to edit and you realise looping your animation will be difficult as each slide has exposed differently.
  • Spend the extra time making sure the initial shot is as close to perfect as possible — any problems you need to fix in post are compounded by the number of slides in your asset.
  • When editing, copy and paste identical lighting edits in Capture One/Lightroom to all assets before exporting and stacking in Photoshop.
  • Export your final asset as a video, not a gif. Gifs reduce quality, so unless this file format is required for a specific purpose, avoid it. Take this webpage for example: Video examples of these assets would have much better resolution, but I have page load times to worry about, so I exported gif files. Social platforms like Instagram will convert gifs back to video, ruining the quality even more, so you might as well start with the hi-res video export. There are also things like file size upload limits and auto compressors across different platforms to worry about too, but that’s another rabbit hole to go down.

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