Cannes Lions trophies marching like soldiers. A stuffed shark meandering through an empty office. Candies dancing.
Are these visions from a chemically altered brain? No, these creative scenes are examples of stop-motion animation produced by Scott Terry, production manager and Instagram director at ad shop DDB Chicago (a FleishmanHillard sister company in the Omnicom Group network).
Terry’s stop-motion work on Instagram was recognized this year with a nomination for a Shorty Award, considered by many the Oscars of the online world. By virtue of Instagram rules, Terry’s posts to the channel last at most 15 seconds. But what goes into the creation – both creatively and technically – for those few seconds of entertainment?
Below, in his own words, Terry explains the process:
I share an office with Will St. Clair, my executive producer. Will has a lot of Cannes Lions trophies. In fact, people periodically come by and say, “Wow, Will has a lot of trophies!” Yes, yes, he does.
I’ve been trying to up my game on Instagram a bit and do more stop-motion and animation. So I figured, let’s do something with the lions. What if the old lions marched out the office to make way for younger cubs? Then a coworker suggested leaving a lion behind, which then scurries to catch up.
I’m always happy to incorporate other people’s ideas when they add a little something to it. Plus, he volunteered to help me do the stop-motion, which I gladly accepted because you have to move each thing a hundred times.
Will’s trophies are in the window, and I was worried about too much light. I thought I could retouch the video, so we did it. But the light was too bright, and all the trophies were washed out. So I came back at night to do it again (after getting the green light from my wife).
After clearing out a few of the items in Will’s office, I put a footrest up against the radiator so the trophies could take a step down and then another step to the ground. Basically, I was trying to think how they would walk. I envisioned an army formation, like a bunch of soldiers. And the last one, I thought I’d have a little fun and have him flip back and forth to walk. I just eyeballed it from above to make sure I had my straight line. Every time I moved them, I tried to keep it evenly spaced.
Moving each one and taking a picture probably took about 45 minutes. And that’s not bad, considering the Skittles (animation) took six hours. Then again, the shark video only took about 15 minutes.
The Finishing Touches
Typically, Instagram purists use only their phones, so I’d say 99 percent of the photos and videos I have created on our site, I took with my phone. But, after I took all those pictures, there’s an app called Flipagram. You basically select all the photos, and it creates the stop-motion and animates them for you. It makes it easy. You can actually pick the speed you want, so you can slow it down, make it super-fast. My only limitation is that Instagram is 15 seconds or less. So I try to pick a good speed, not too fast, not too slow.
When I’m creating the stop-motion, I’m always thinking that if I do too many moves or take too many pictures, I’m going to have to have it go fast. I try to keep that in mind as well, so I don’t get stuck with having it go fast or super-fast.
Then I just upload it to Instagram, try to think of a clever caption and think of some hashtags that will help increase the likes (e.g., #CannesLions #Stop-motion).
Once I have a post up there, I’m constantly monitoring the comments, and I try to respond to each comment. Because, you know, social medial is supposed to be social.
Photo/video credits: All images and videos are courtesy of DDB Chicago.