The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: Digital Cinematography: Part 1
Stop-motion photography is not just one image, but rather a series of images that create motion when strung together. Shooting stop-motion relies on having the following things: a story to tell, puppets to tell that story with, and a camera to be the eyepiece for that story. If you have the first two nailed down, reading this chapter will help you focus (no pun intended) on what you should know about your camera, some details on how to shoot with it, and some practical effects you can try.
When stop-motion was shot on film, each frame would exist as its own separate image, strung together on a strip of 8mm, 16mm, or 35mm film (Figure 4.1). The film would be registered with a series of sprockets that push the strip of film through a gate in front of a square window blocked by a shutter. Exposing one frame of film with the touch of a button would open the shutter and expose light through the lens onto the film. Then, the sprockets inside would advance the filmstrip to the next unexposed space for the next image to be captured. Each image was essentially a separate photograph with its own established focus, exposure, color, and lighting. These elements would essentially be a continuous tone, and the features on a film camera could be set manually, although fluctuations could happen because of uneven shutter speed, changes in temperature, or the film moving around in the gate. There was no way to make sure each frame was consistent with the next one. The result of the whole process was basically a series of still images on the strip of film that would exist only in negative form until it was sent to a lab to create the positive print. Looking at the strip of film itself, all of the separate images are visible, so an editor can see exactly where scenes begin and end, and the images can be re-arranged and spliced together.