Toys of any kind are nice and easy to use as they are bendy yet stable. Also, the natural jarring motion of the stop-action works well with the idea of toys moving. As you can see in the below picture, I chose the lego men for three reasons: I had a lot of them so there were plenty of heads to manipulate, they were believable with the jarred movement of stop-action, and they talked to me from a childhood I had long ago making them familiar to me on a deeper level (I figured i couldn’t have been the only one who grew up with playing, and consequently stepping on, Legos).
I used masking tape in a lot of the scenes to hold the legos in place. You’ll find that things move a lot when adjusting the characters. My first go-round, I didn’t tape down the boat and it looked like the boat was hitting some pretty rocky waters while my lego men moved. Not the effect I was going for! Looking back, sticky putty would have made life much easier.
What kind of camera you have is not important. What is important is that you can adjust things manually and not completely rely on the auto setting. You can rely on auto for almost everything except for the white-balance and exposure. See the Tips page for more details on setting white balance and exposure. Don’t fret, it’s easy to do.
Another fun feature of having a manual setting camera is that close-up shots are REALLY easy to do.
Camtasia Screen Capture:
Any screen capturing software will work since time is not an issue. Some popular free options are Jing and CamStudio. You want screen capturing software that has a zoom function for emphasis. You will find that most screen capturing software will have a time limit of about 5 minutes- this is a good thing- a person’s average attention span is about 10 secs, those who stay on longer will drop off after a minute. Don’t believe me? Check it: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/business/11drill.html
iMovie (Movie-maker software provided on every Mac computer):
I would recommend using Window’s Movie Maker if using a PC. If you have access to more robust software, like Final Cut Pro by Adobe, then have at it! But do realize that there is a much steeper learning curve for Final Cut Pro as it is meant for professional videographers.
This software is totally free for Macs and PCs. I used this to cut down my Creative Commons music from 4.5 minutes to 1 min 40 seconds. It is easy to learn in a short amount of time. If you need help, check out this wiki: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/
Yes, that’s it. Let down there’s not more? Sorry about your luck.