Easy-Peasy Stop Motion


Add Imperfection With The Wiggler Tool


Using the Posterize Time Effect


Achieving a Paper Cutout Look


Using the posterizeTime Expression


Write a Wiggle Expression


Animation Control via Expression Layer


Inconsistent Lighting


Precomps and Time Remapping


Individual Character Text Layers


How to Wiggle X & Y Without Z


Stop-Motion Recap


Easy-Peasy Stop Motion

Published by Rich Armstrong

Episode Notes

Extra tips from the author

Most of the time we aim for perfect designs and animations, but this series is about reversing that idea to deliberately create a hand-made and imperfect look.

Whether you call it stop-frame animation or stop-motion, what makes it cool is its flaws, its bumps, its jiggles, its inconsistencies. You can see its had a human touch. In this short series you're going to learn how to create a synthetic stop-motion animation in After Effects. What this means is you don’t need a camera, you don’t need lights, and you don’t need to painstakingly move elements frame by frame. We’re gonna cheat. We’re gonna have fun. We’re gonna do it quickly. And, we’re going to do it all in After Effects.

What is stop-motion animation?

What is a video? What is a film? It’s basically a bunch of pictures strung together and moved frame by frame at a certain speed – a frame rate, at a frame per second speed. And this creates an illusion of movement. And whether its a stop-motion film, a 3d animation, or a live action film, illusion is the name of the game.

Now think about how stop-motion films are made. Move element. Take photo. Move element. Take photo. Oh no! I bumped something. Reposition the camera. Take photo. Move element. This is how stop-motion works. In the real world things change! We bump things. The wind blows. Clouds block the light. Even in Hollywood blockbusters they mess things up. Most stop-motion films have at least a bit of jitter and jump, and this is the look we’re going to learn about recreating.

So what’s happening when an animator is taking photos in the real world? Each picture they’re taking equates to a single frame in a film. If the film is being animated at 30 frames per second, that means every picture taken will appear for only one 30th of a second.

The frame rate is a very important aspect to keep in mind! 25 to 30 fps feels natural to the human eye, but is really hard work to try animate at that frame rate. So animator often make their films at 10 or 15fps. Fewer frames means a less-smooth animation, but it means it’s quicker to make. The good thing, is that in After Effects we won’t have too many of those problems. We’re going to be recreating a stop-motion look.

Stop-Motion Examples

Below are some awesome stop-motion people to reference and follow. I’m not sure how many of them would be pleased with me showing you a quick and easy way of doing stop-motion in After Effects :)

Code Editors (for expressions):

Additional Resources

Episode Topics: