Fun Project of the Week : Stop Motion

This has been a crazy busy week. Following another crazy busy week. Like. I only took a breath on Thursday, at around 10 pm. But between all the crazy-ness and busy-ness I figured, why not have some fun (See, commitment to the Fun Project, its real). I had a school project due Wednesday. One that required me to list all my successful creative endeavours from the past. And talk about all the creative endeavours I am currently undertaking (Yes I realize I sound super academic right now. It will end. Soon enough). These topics only accounted for about 1/5th of the project. I started working on the project on Monday. That was not very smart.

Now, I could have written 12 pages and been done with the entire project. I had a bunch of other things to do. It would have saved me time. A lot of time. But I have been curious about this whole stop motion thing. One of my friends had done a beautiful job with it for an election campaign and it had made an impression on me. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had only ever seen the magic of stop motion in advertisements. Created by powerful corporations. I did not know it was accessible to us mere mortals (turns out a bunch of my friends had been doing it growing up. Apparently its an ancient concept. I blame the whole childhood spent in the middle east for this). I decided that I would learn how to create a stop motion video. For fun.

With absolutely no idea how to create one, I looked to the most reliable place for an answer. Google. Turns out, IPhone has an app that could help me out. So I logged on to the app store and downloaded “stop motion studio“. I couldnt stop grinning from excitement. A new toy would be in my hands within the next few seconds. Oh what a magical world. I was sitting in a classroom with a few of my friends. They got curious about what I was up to, mainly because I looked about ready to jump in my seat. So I told them. I started to play around with the app once it was done downloading. I then ended up paying 5 dollars for features I have yet to use. I guess I will have to continue making stop motion videos to justify that purchase. The purchase I made 5 minutes into owning a free app. That is so very me. Anything below 5 dollars get bought if its half decent. I lack control of my spending.

The app was super easy to use. I just needed to point it at an area, make sure it stayed very still and then do whatever I wanted within the area the camera was capturing. In the midst of playing around with it I realized that I could set it  up so that the app would go off every 10 seconds and take a picture. This made life super simple. Without much prep I decided to film what I needed for the school project.

Now imagine, a mature adult woman (yes, thats me, I am mature, I don’t care what anyone says) running around a half empty class room trying to get her phone to stay still. I was building some sort of stand with my backpack so that the phone would stay still. Eventually, one of my friends, taking pity at my plight and probably tired of the distraction (me running around like a mad woman) suggested using the podium. This worked perfectly. Ish. While the camera stood very still, the pictures it took weren’t that great. I was essentially drawing on a white board. Yes the one at the front of the class. A class with people in it. And let me assure you, I suck at drawing. So I had a bunch of students listening to music and ever so often watching me as I pranced about drawing stick figures on the white board.

I kept messing up. Obviously. I had no clue what I was doing. I hadn’t planned anything. After drawing something, I would find myself standing, dumbfounded, wondering what to do next. While this app kept going off taking pictures every 10 seconds. I was killing my phone’s memory, slowly, as it saved the same exact picture about 20 times. I eventually gave up. It was a cloudy day, so some of the pictures were dark while some were clear. The white balance was so off it was embarrassing. So I did what anyone would do. I gave up. I decided I would PLAN, WRITE A SCRIPT AND THEN take this up again the next day. Now remember, this project was due on Wednesday. And I still had a lot of writing to do.

I went to sleep on Monday night, with the script complete, thinking about all the ways I could have the camera set up so that it wouldn’t fall. I needed it to be at a height, above my head, held perfectly still. With a source of light less fickle than the sun in the sky. My best option was to place a paper towel holder on top of bunch of tissue boxes, such that it was slightly tilted. The phone would be tied to the holder. I tested my theory in my imagination. I went to bed assured my plan would work and I would be fine.

I wasn’t. The whole paper towel holder set up failed miserably Tuesday morning. Not only was the phone too heavy for the paper towel holder to handle but the camera was at an angle that wouldn’t work unless I taped the notebook to my chest and drew on it. So I gave up on that idea pretty quick.

Desperate for resolution, I headed to the kitchen. Convinced that breakfast would make me feel better and smarter. While in the kitchen, I noticed my housemate’s broken-ish fridge. The height was just right. I could sit on the ground and have the the camera rest above my head, taking pictures every 10 seconds. Capturing my genius. But where would the light come from? My table lamp perhaps? But there was no plug near the fridge. I could move the fridge though (yea, I go back and forth with myself a lot). And so I began. To push the ginormous piece of equipment. And I stopped halfway into giving it a good push. I COULD USE THE LIVING ROOM TABLE. Mostly because it was easier to move. Despite its height which was much lower than the fridge. And so I did. I set up an uber ghetto set up (picture below) and I filmed my very first stop motion video. It was so much fun! I came across a bunch of hurdles but I figured out how to navigate through them when I would expect myself to give up on the whole thing all together.  

The dishrag was super helpful in keeping the phone in place. It is funny to think that mom left these behind so that I would use them to clean the dust off furniture in my room. Yea. Like that was ever going to happen. Also the Jars of garlic and peanut butter was a god sent. 

So why did I keep pushing? Why did I keep going until I got it right (kinda, the video isn’t my best work of art). Because it was FUN. Because I couldn’t fail. Not even if I tried. Because it was creative. It was like a game. I felt the rush with every hurdle I overcame. And the best part was I wasn’t trying to go anywhere with it. I did it all purely for the joy of it. Like when we used to build sand castles at the beach as kids. Knowing full well they would disappear with the next wave. Figuring out how to make the castle taller and surround it with a river that was separate from the giant ocean that stood before us was more rewarding than the structure’s immortality.

I think I am beginning to understand this whole concept of “fun”. Until next time!


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