How to Train Your Nephew

Here’s an idea for keeping your kid away from video games for a while ― make a stop-motion short.
Watch a killer robot suspense flick I’ve made with my nephew (8 years old):

He designed the robot, made the (hardly visible) blood effects and it was also his idea that the burned skeleton should keep his hard hat on.
In the middle of the shooting my son (3 years old), the creator of the tower, suddenly decided to remove it from the scene. I used the green tint to hide the fact and it worked as well as you might imagine.

Bigger version:

Captured with EyeToy (Cheese app in Linux Mint 17), laser effects added in MS Paint, composed in ImageReady.


Nice! I was afraid this was going to be some sort of “how to train UP your nephew” kind of thing.

If you’ve got an old digital camera you don’t mind getting knocked around a bit, let the kid take the photos. Once they understand that the pictures they take can be made into a stop action movie like this, they can do most of it (editing might have to wait until around 8-9 or so). Their toys, their pictures, their creation.

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Tablets are another great way for kids to do stop motion projects because you get the instant feedback of showing them the progress of the film as it’s being made, even editing out mistakes on the fly. I recently helped my wife’s 4th grade class do a stop-motion film project using paper cut-out, we made the setup out of an iPad and some improvised classroom furniture.

They even used a sound recording app to create an original soundtrack, though if I’d planned ahead I’m sure I would have tried to find a better microphone. Still, zero to YouTube in less than a day:


My son’s new favorite movie, was requested like 4 times in a day, beating even the “Wheels of the Bus” hit.

By the way, did you know that there’s dozens of different videos on YouTube for “The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round” song, with different lyrics, not to mention visuals?

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It used to keep my friends and I busy for days… We had an old, 1950’s, Brownie Super 8 camera:

One had to wind it up and the roll of film had to be flipped and re-threaded halfway through filming. It actually had a single frame advance, so it worked well for stop motion, but our downfall was the need to flip the film – we always messed it up. I think that we only got a few seconds of viewable material.
At least VHS cameras came to our rescue in our teen years, but by then our patience for constructing cardboard towns to be destroyed by flame spewing clay dinosaurs had evaporated and we just did little walking clay guys who would get smooshed and reconstituted or who would pummel an aluminum can into a hockey-puck.

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