Animation tips part 9: Setting up the stage – Lighting

Animation tips part 9: Setting up the stage – Lighting

Natural light doesn’t tend to provide good conditions for animation as it changes all the time and this has a negative effect on image quality. Never make a movie with your back to the window as your main light source as you create a big shadow! Try to keep natural light out of your movie as it can create a flickering effect as clouds go by. It’s better to use artificial lighting and create a studio with constant lighting where to film the animations. You can set up the set inside a cardboard box to limit the changes in lighting.

The slightest flicker or change in brightness can ruin a shot and consequently, the whole animation, as flickering is a big no-no for creating professional looking videos. However, when used properly, lighting can help the animation to appear more realistic as it can emphasise the movement and depth of your set. The lighting can show the details of characters, it can create shadows for a more realistic feel, and it can emphasise the space through which the characters are moving.

The best way to set up lighting on the set is to keep it as close to reality as possible. For example, if you have your animation set up in a cardboard box which you changed into a living room, cut out windows in the sides of the box and place a lamp or lamps so they create natural looking shadows on the floor of your set. It helps when you can adjust the light, dim the lamps, or place something in front of them when you need to change the brightness.

Getting a constant light for smooth stop motion animation can be quite tricky but as you experiment with it, you will find the best way to create good quality videos. On the other hand, using daylight is perfect for time-lapse videos as you can get a real feeling of time passing.

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