Today was a very relaxed day in our household. We had breakfast for lunch (hash browns, maple-y bacon, scrambled eggs and homemade lemonade... mmm...), filled the bird feeders and sorted some laundry for future washing, later tonight. My little guy and I spent time sorting LEGOs for a blog post on patterns, and then he spent the remainder of the afternoon creating and filming World War II battles in the back yard, using a slew of little plastic Army men he has collected over the years.
While he was working, it began to snow. It made for cold working conditions, but added to the authenticity of his little battle scenes.
Here is a photo log of his afternoon (guest "blogged" by the cinematographer, himself)... We submitted this post to both Carnival of Homeschooling and Top Ten Tuesday.
Ten Helpful Hints to Make a Perfect Stop-Motion Battle Re-enactment
by Guest Blogger, Malik B., Age 9
The key to stop motion is to have a camera with plenty of memory space, because you will need to take a LOT of pictures. If you run out of room in the beginning, it will take you a long time to delete extra pictures.
I have a V-Tech Kidzoom camera. It holds thousands of pictures and also takes videos.
Videos take a lot of space out of your memory, so I recommend not to have videos on your camera when you want to take stop motion photos.
It was very cold and snowing, so I decided to name the movie, Plastic Army Men: The Cold War.
The second thing you need to know is how to do stop motion. The way most people do it is to take a picture, move the figure a little bit in the direction you want it to go, then take another picture. When you're in Microsoft Movie Editor, and you put the photos together, it will look like the guy is gliding right across the screen.
If you want to see a great stop motion video, look up Plastic Apocalypse, by Theakker3B.
The next thing you should know is how to make home-made special effects. I learned how to do these things by watching a You Tube video called, The Making of 'Bricks of War,' by Kooberz.
In the video, he shows a clip of how he makes "blood" splatter on his lens without messing up his camera lens. He suggested placing plastic wrap in front of your lens to cover it.
For blood spatter on the lens, I put paint on the plastic wrap covering the lens. You can also use red clay, which sticks better, but doesn't look as realistic as the watery paint.
Since it was very cold outside, my paint wash container became a slushy, and the wet paint froze, too. I had to breathe on it to thaw it.
This is what the picture of the blood spatter effect looks like, after I took the picture of the tan soldier (hint #4).
I realized I used a little too much paint, so I deleted this photo and took another one. If you wait to check when you get ready to edit, it's too difficult to set up your scene perfect again.
Like my favorite filmer, Theakker3B, I take various natural objects and turn them into other objects. Because I didn't have a plastic sniper post, I took the open cabin on my truck (see Hint #2) and used three sticks, taped together, to make a platform that I put on top of the cabin.
If you don't have something, you can always make a makeshift version.
This is the inside of one of my Army men storage containers. It's a mixture of landscape items, plus tan and green soldiers.
Another key to stop motion battle scenes, depending on your scene, is to always have lots of Army men available, plus paint and water if you like my idea for the special effects.
Here you can see that I have several tan soldiers out. Some of them are covered in red paint, due to "battle injuries."
Sometimes I have broken pieces off my Army men, to make battle scenes look more realistic. Or, if you don't want to destroy your things, you can use two identical men, bury the chest and head of one partway in the dirt, then bury the legs of another in the dirt.
It's always nice to have an audience while you work. This is one of my cats, Cody Bear, who is watching me work from under the patio table.
Notice that she is getting covered with snow.
My mom was also watching as she filled the bird feeders.
You go through a lot of batteries during this process, so stock up.
We discovered that you can buy bags of plastic Army men for a dollar at most dollar stores. We have tan, green and some pink (?) ones, plus a few blue. It's ok to have multiple sets -- you just make bigger armies.