Keep it short: I pushed the time limit with my video being 1min 43 seconds. The average viewer’s attention spans for online videos is about 10 seconds. Those that stay on past that will drop off after a minute. I know, I know, ALL the information is VITAL- but if the video is too long, they won’t even watch it. Compromise: If your video is longer than about 2.5 minutes, make it a mini-video series.
More Photos=Less jarring: Always shoot more photos than you think you will need. It’s easy to delete photos but nearly impossible to add photos under the exact same conditions (lighting, focus, setting, angles, etc) later. Let’s do some math to figure out how many is enough: 15 frames per second means 15 photos per second. However, iMovie only allows you to set a 0.2 second limit on each photo which means you only need 8-10 photos per second. If you’re film is purely stop-action, realize that a 1-minute video will be ~600 photos!
Shoot NOT to Edit later: I had well over 100 pictures for my mini-film. That is A LOT of photos to edit the whitebalance, exposure, photoshop things in or out, etc later. Thorough preparation before starting will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Write a Script/Storyboard: This was emphasized on the How-To Process page so I won’t re-hash, however, this piece of advice is so important that it deserved to be mentioned again.
Nail your camera down: Bumping, moving, adjusting- all death words to creating fluid stop-motion. Adjusting your camera even a fraction of an inch will cause an uncomfortable jarring effect in the middle of a scene. I used masking tape to “nail down” the camera for each scene but I’d recommend a tripod if you have access to one.
Set your exposure, focus, and white balance and leave it there: I failed this piece of advice in a few of my scenes and it is very noticeable. I assumed I could correct it in Photoshop only to realize an hour later that it’s nearly impossible to equalize all of the photos perfectly.
Shoot in Hi-Res: It’s easy to down-size files but impossible to up-size them with the same amount of clarity. You’ll find that you may want to zoom into a photo later, pan the image across the screen, or add other visual effects- the more pixels you have to work with, the more visual effects you can do/use.
Give yourself time: This is not a project you will be able to do in a single afternoon. It took me about an hour per scene (shooting and post-editing) and my film was very basic.
Bribe your actors: In order to get a student actor to dedicate his time in the filming of my video, I let him have and drink the 3 RedBulls used in the making of the film. It worked splendidly for everyone involved.
Disclaimer: RedBull had no part in the making of this video nor do they endorse the video.
Just Do it: Seriously, what do you have to lose? My video is FAR from perfect but it’s the first one I’ve ever made. One thing I do know: my next one will be better than my first and the one after that will be even better, and on and on. The hardest part is welling up the courage to start.