Animation tips part 7: Explosions

Animation tips part 7: Explosions

This is another of our set of tutorials about stop motion tricks and special effects used in animation. Last time we told you how to make characters in your animation appear as if they were flying. This week, we’re going to explore the stop motion process behind explosions.

When animating any movement, it is important to keep in mind the direction and speed of whatever it is you’re animating. Have a look at this video we made about one very explosive teddy bear. Warning: Violent content, you’re about to watch a teddy bear explode.

As you may have noticed in the video, the first trick we used, prior to the explosion, was that we moved the camera so that it appeared as if everything had started shaking. You can do something like this to let the viewer know that something is going to happen or you can jump straight to the explosion itself. As mentioned earlier, you have to think about the direction and speed of the explosion. We made it look like the bear exploded from inside out. His belly was torn, his head and leg blew off; out came his white fluffy guts, and everything flew in all directions.

Explosions happen in a split second. You can make them go more slowly if you want to emphasise the process but think about the timing whenever you’re animating an explosion.

Explosions don’t have to be brutal, they can also be beautiful: just think of fireworks. These can be tricky to animate but if you keep one of the basic rules of animation in mind and identify the main characteristics of whatever it is that you are animating, you’ll be fine. This video shows that the main things to consider when animating fireworks for your stop motion film are closely imitating the movement, adding sound effects and playing with the light.

To learn more about other special effects, such as how to animate lightning or smoke, check out part 3 of our animation tips tutorial.

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