Hi Everyone, 

So far this message board has really helped me learn a lot about stop motion, last year I made my first, 'Paper Planes' as an assignment for 3rd year film school. I know it contains a lot of errors and I shot it in 4 weeks time. I'm not an animation student but have since figured out that stop motion is what I want to do most in the world. So, for my master's degree I'm going to create another stopmotion short, that I will posts updates about this following year. 

But before I start my 2nd project, I would love to hear what you guys think about Paper Planes..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbg2lLdIxDk

It was the most fun I've ever had on a film production and I learned a lot, but to impress a masters jury I'll have to do a lot better so any advice is welcome. 

P.s. Yes I learned I should've used proper tiedowns 

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A nice setting and characters, with some good camera angles and editing to tell the story. A very good start! The things to improve on are mostly technical things to do with the animation.
Were you using a framegrabber (like Stop Motion Pro or Dragonframe) to see exactly what was changing in the frame each time you took a shot? If not, it would make a big difference.
Sometimes, things move in the background that should not move - usually because your hand brushes them when you reach in to move the puppet. With the framegrabber you check the last frame and compare it to the live view before capturing the frame, so you should be able to see that something has moved. It is best to stick everything down with hot glue or sticky wax so it does not move easily. Sometimes you can move it back if it has moved, sometimes you can't get it perfect.
You have some places where the puppet moves, then stops suddenly and stays still. It will look more natural if you ease-in and ease-out with the moves. So if the puppet is moving it's arm and it is going to stop, move it a smaller amount for one frame, then less for the next frame, then a tiny amount before shooting a frame with no movement. The same with starting a move, start very small, then build up speed. That is how things move in the real world, they have to accellerate just like a car building up speed. It will make the moves look smoother, and the "holds" - the pauses with no movement - not feel like the puppet was snap frozen. And unless they run into a wall, they need to decellerate a little before coming to a complete stop.
Tie downs will help with that too, as well as holding the puppet up and keeping the feet from sliding around, you have more control over all the movements when the puppet is held firmly onto the set. Also use the framegrabber to see the last 3 or 4 frames to make the moves even, and not changing direction suddenly.
If you search for "principles of animation" you will find others, like Anticipation and Follow-through, that can help you improve.
Apart from the animation, filmmaking is the same whether it is live action, drawings, or puppets, so anything you have learned about telling the story with film will still be the most important thing.

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