Little Red and the Big Wolf: An Experiment With Stop Motion

I've always been a huge fan of painting and crafts, which got me thinking, is there a way to combine my filmmaking with my crafty side?

I had some down time this spring (work was slow), and I just decided to start playing around with some ideas I had in the back of my mind. Soon, these ideas become my film "Little Red and the Big Wolf", a film that was selected for the Gotta Minute Festival for 2017.

Here's my process in creating this little film.

Step 1: Storyboarding

When I started this project, I just had a vague vision of a stop motion film that somehow looked like it was on a stage. I didn't really have a storyline in mind. Storyboarding my thoughts helped me develop a concrete idea of how this film might look, and served as a starting point for creating the elements.

Step 2: Painting, Cardboard Cutting, and Some Fun With Styrofoam

On this step I let myself create freely and had fun experimenting with materials and paint. I collected scraps of cardboard and paper, and began to experiment with creating a stage. The result was admittedly a little hodge-podge, with cardstock reinforcements and a lot of tape for staboility, but on camera, everything looked good.

For "Little Red" and the "Wolf", I used styrofoam held together with toothpicks for the frames, and various fabrics and felt for the clothing and hair. The Wolf's fur was created with cotton ball fluff, and a ton of glue to keep it from being too wispy.

Step 3: Stop Motion

The next step of this process was actually bringing the characters to life through stop motion. It took some experimentation to develop their movement. Seeing that my Little Red character didn't have feet, I had to find a way to make her move that didn't look like she was gliding across the scene. I found that turning her slightly to the right and left as I positioned her worked well to give the illusion of walking. Just like people don't keep their bodies perfectly straight when they walk, I let her movements sway a little bit to make it look like she actually had feet.

Step 4: The Outdoors

This section of the film was as close to improved as a a stop motion film can get. I wasn't sure where the story was going at first, and I just thought "wouldn't it be neat if this character in this painted, cardboard world came across the real world?". So, I went to my backyard and started experimenting.

I had Little Red "walk" by some flowers and by some trees and whatever I thought might be visually interesting from the point of view of a character that's only a few inches tall. That's when I thought it would be super fun to include my dog, Oliver.

Step 5: Controlling the "Wolf"

This may have been the hardest part of the film. My dog is not movie trained, so getting him to go where I needed him, wasn't very easy. He's a bit stubborn, so with a lot of cheese to coax him into position, I was able to get a few useable shots of him walking past Little Red and "into" a little door.

Step 6: Editing

Lastly came the editing of the stop motion footage. I had decided instead of taking a singular photo of each movement I did (how stop- motion is traditionally filmed), that it would be easier to let the camera roll as a repositioned each stop motion component. Therefore I had to go though the footage and cut out each time my hand came into frame and moved Little Red over a few centimetres. I realized there is a very good reason most stop motion animators just take singular frames, instead of rolling on everything. It took a long time to edit the footage the way I filmed it!

Finally, after several hours of editing, I finally had a finished product. Little Red and the Big Wolf was now a reality!

So without further ado, please enjoy this little one-minute film!