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George Fairbairn
Photography, Social Media Content, and Stop Motion


Why You Need Stop Motion Animation Video For Social Media


Stop Motion and Social Media… They Go Hand in Hand

You’ve more than likely seen it. Scrolling along on social media and you see an advertisement that is using stop motion animation.  It’s not “everywhere” at the moment, but it is certainly growing in usage and popularity.  First though, let’s back up.

What exactly is stop motion animation?

Even if you have no idea what stop motion animation is, you have almost certainly seen it.  According to Wikipedia stop motion animation is:

Stop motion is an animated-film making technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion when the series of frames is played back as a fast sequence.

That’s nice, but what does it mean?  In short, stop motion is taking a series of photographs where things have changed between frames and then speeding it up.  You will have seen this in one of the other names stop motion animation is sometimes referred to in claymation.  Claymation is stop motion using clay figures and is the process used for programs such as Wallace and Gromit.  Major motion pictures that have used claymation as their medium including The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline.

Even more elaborate usage of stop motion include Wes Anderson films The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Isle of Dogs.  Both of these films were shot completely as stop motion and used puppets as opposed to clay for the animation.  How this works is that a photograph is taken, something is manipulated in the scene (a smile, an arm movement, something in the background) and then another photograph is taken.  This process is continued until the scene is done.  How long this takes will depend on the frame rate that the stop motion is being shot at.  But, that is getting too deep for the subject of this article.

This all sounds far too complicated and expensive!

Even though I listed major motion pictures in my examples, not all stop motion has to be that complicated.  The joy of stop motion animation is that it can give life to the inanimate.  That is how I like to use stop motion.  Take something that people don’t expect to move, and move it!  I take the exact same principles that Wes Anderson and Henry Selik use but on a smaller scale.  I approach stop motion animation for use on social media which typically means it’s short (between 10-30 seconds longs) and fairly minimalistic.  This keeps the complexity down, thus keeping the costs lower.

Why Should I Use Stop Motion?

In order to understand the reasons for using stop motion animation in your social media strategy, we need to look at some figures for social media consumption.  In 2017, 500 million people on Facebook consumed at least one video every day.  When we look at all of Facebook users, 77% watch at least one video a week and 55% watch at least one video every day.  The length of time the videos that people watch isn’t important, it’s the fact that they watch videos that is important.  Video stands out on a timeline of text and photos.  Video, currently, is a pattern disruptor.  What this means is that it stands out from the pattern and people pay attention.  There are things that you can do with photos that will achieve this same pattern disruption, but let’s look at video… and specifically at stop motion animation.


You Need to Make an Impact Fast!

If your content doesn’t have cute kittens and puppies, you need something that is going to make an impact in a matter of seconds or people are going to scroll past it.  Your video or content needs to have something that will trigger something in the viewer to pay attention.  This could be triggering an emotion or just making them curious.  When you take an inanimate object, such as a donut in the stop motion below, that gets attention.  It makes people stop because you don’t see donuts moving around very often.

You Need to Make an Impact WithOUT Sound!

I am sure you have noticed, but when you scroll through Facebook and Instagram and see videos playing, by default the sound is muted.  The viewer has to physically turn the volume on.  This is why you see so many videos with text that says “Sound On!”  It’s to let the viewer know that they need sound on in order to get the most out of the video.  This is VERY important.   If your video is going to be an advertisement, you don’t typically want to add the text of “Sound On!” to your video.  So you need something, without relying on sound, that is going to get their attention.  We can add sound to a stop motion, but today that sound is secondary to the overall video.  It may enhance the animation, but it should be able to draw and hold attention with sound.  Making a bagel for breakfast without any hands like the stop motion below can do exactly that.  Note that the sound is simply… there.  It doesn’t change the feel or impact of the video with or without the sound on.

Keep it Short!

One of the many benefits of stop motion animation is that it can be as short or as long as you need it to be.  The typical stop motion that I create for brands is under 15 seconds.  This is for a number of reasons, but the most import being that is the time limit set for use on Instagram and Facebook stories.  Neither of these will accept videos longer than 15 seconds.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t make longer versions of these videos though!  Stop motion can change length by changing the frame rate, slowing one section down a little, or cutting parts out.  We can shorten or lengthen an animation fairly easily to give the most flexibility possible out of the animation.  A good example of this is the Ice Lollies dance stop motion below.  This was originally shot as a single sequence that was around 6 seconds in length.  When the client asked for a longer version we were able to do that quite easily and could lengthen it even more.


So, Why Stop Motion Animation?

Stop motion has seen a bit of a resurgence in mainstream culture because it’s a perfect fit for social media for the reasons listed below.

  1. It’s interesting and it stands out.  When you can make an inanimate object animated, that is always going to capture people’s attention.

  2. It can make an impact without sound.  Making an impact without sound is becoming more and more important in the world of video advertising and stop motion animation is perfect for that!

  3. It works because it can be short, and in turn less expensive.

But, there is one benefit to stop motion that I haven’t mentioned yet.  Because stop motion animation is a series of photographs that are played at a faster rate, you also have a series of high resolution still photographs that can be used on their own as well.  A typical 10 second stop motion animation will consist of 120 individual photographs.  Not all of those will be of use on their own, but the odds are quite high that there will be at least a few.  This gives you an eye catching animation to use for your video content as well as high resolution stills to use for your static content… win win!



Stop motion is an inexpensive and creative way to increase your advertising performance.  The possibilities of it’s usage are almost endless.  Because stop motion animation is a series of photographs, we can do a lot of editing and make the impossible possible.