Here's a stop motion project from a team in the year below us, who I was lucky enough to have work on my script "Chilly Reception" from the narrative project!

Nice work guys!

The Final Piece (above), as you can see, is a work in progress, with the deadline being 30th April, so still with a few weeks to finish filming and editing. I just wanted to get something coherent together, and add a few sounds so hopefully people can see what's going on. I stuck some simple credits on the end too as I wanted to have a go at making some in flash as part of this project. They're by no means perfect but they're just to give the idea.

I think the biggest help has been simply sitting down with classic and critically acclaimed films of similar genres and deconstructing them, finding out what makes them so well-made and being able to apply those techniques and ideas to my own work. You can see so much when you know what you're looking for, rather than just zoning out. Whether it's the technical aspects of filming, or the more metaphorical uses of shots etc. It seems you have to learn all of the 'rules' of cinematography and film-making, and then break them in clever ways.

The rest has all been a case of trial and error, with helpful resources or teaching on stop motion very thin on the ground. I guess it's all part of the learning curve, but can be frustrating at times.

Criticisms and Issues:
 - Some parts are still going faster than I'd have liked, so need to be paced more smoothly and slowed down a little.
 - Some of the footage which was meant to be final has some very bad flicker in the lighting due to me wearing a white t-shirt, lesson learned!
 - Similar to the light flickering, there is a little bit of movement in the background props in some of the scene where they have been knocked while animating. It's hard to get around this issue as I'm working in very limited space, and I'm not a robot. I've done the best I can and will edit out anything too obvious.

Further Tasks by Priority:
 - Finish filming the rest of the scenes
 - Re-film the 'bad' scenes (shaky, flickering etc)
 - Re-edit entire film
 - Source/create better sound effects
 - New credits sequence
 -  Photograph set and props for portfolio

So overall, I think I'm well on the way to hitting the deadline, with only a few tasks left to go. Looking back at my personal goals and what I wanted to get out of this project:

Personal Aims:
-To produce a short film for use in my portfolio
-Improve my knowledge of photography, filming, lighting and editing.
-To improve my knowledge and creation of a stylised stop motion environment
-Make use of a set and stop-motion characters I’d built in my spare time.

Project Requirements:
-Approximately 5 minute film
-Completion to deadline (30th Apr)
-Create a strong, complete, narrative and story, with the set and characters already established
-Define who the audience would be and find out how to make it appeal to them ( i.e. styles and filming techniques)

I'll happily say, once it's complete, I've ticked every box, and communicated my story and message effectively, via deconstructing existing media and using what I've learned in order to produce a piece.

Just some of the scenes so far, much in need of editing and a bit of TLC. Also some scenes in there need to be replaced due to bad lighting/shaky camera and other issues. But at least you can see what I'm going for so far.

Also, incase anyone's interested, here are a few snaps I took during the process of filming a few scenes, might give you a little insight as to how I like to work:

Before planning the storyboards and shots etc I decided it would be a good idea to look at some pre-existing examples of horror and 'zom-com' to get a feel for the types of shots and techniques to use within my own animation. I spent much time watching classics such as The Shining, Nosferatu, Rear Window, as well as more modern films such as Shaun of the Dead, The Descent, Black Sheep, Slither, The Host and others. And I have to say I learnt much more than usual, when I knew what I was looking for within them
When you know about some of the techniques used, you can spot them a mile off, and seem to be everywhere. Others are much more subtle, but add so much to the atmosphere of a piece (such as depth of field effects).

Possible useful ones:
Rule of thirds
Eye-lines (perspective lines)
Depth of field use
Dutch tilt
'Extreme' shots (ie extreme close up, extreme wide shot)

As I'll be using a DSLR to film my animation, none of these are out of reach, and are all possibilities to be considered.

Setting the Scene
Most of the research for the set had be done before hand, but I decided to look again at the kind of locale I was working with, incase there was anything further that could be applied now that I had a clear idea of what the story was going to be.

Lighting plays a crucial role in any film, especially horrors. Use of shadows and different forms of lighting can change the mood of a film in an instant and communicate so much to the audience in terms of atmosphere. I'm hoping to emulate a dark atmosphere with a custom made snoot for a (warm orange/yellow) spot/streetlight effect, as well as a soft diffused cold white light to emulate moonlight on the street. White card and reflectors will be used to help illuminate any dark areas softly.

Depth of Field
Depth of field effects are brilliant for drawing the audience's eyes to areas of the shot you want to be the main focus of the scene (unintentional pun was unintentional), as well as adding a real depth to any shot. Looking at use of techniques used in classics like The Shining as well as more modern day masterpieces like Wall-E.

"Dutch Tilt"
This tilting of the shot creates a sense of claustrophobia and confusion, and is put to great use in a great many classic horrors, but here's a picture of it in use in Batman:
"Holy Dingleberries Batman, we're at some kind of angle!"

I hate to use this word, but yes it really helps a shot look 'dynamic', it gives it an extra 'edge'. Hopefully a few of my shots in the short will be able to put this to use and, especially in the opening, help give off a vibe of unease when introducing the unsettling characters for the first time.

The combination of all the techniques, as well as the use of previous cinematic and photographic techniques, such as close-ups, mid shots, wide shots, the rule of thirds etc, will hopefully be able to give my short the atmosphere it needs in order to succeed as a B-movie/horror pastiche.

Working with a few of Luke's designs, a couple of tester pieces for the Millions advert:

The main one - click to embiggen.