There are 3 things we want to talk about to give you good information on this subject.
- What equipment do you really need to have?
- What do you charge to do Stop Motion?
- How to get clients?
We will cover these 3 things and give you a good idea of how to make money with Stop Motion Photography.
Let’s start with the equipment you need.
Equipment – The must haves for doing stop motion:
- You need a camera and lens. If you don’t have those and you want to get started with a device or phone or iPad, that’s a great starting point. I think it is really important to start with what you have. Don’t invest a ton of money and go crazy if you don’t know if this is a viable path for you. Or if you are waiting to start it until you can get the right camera you can start with what you have to get your feet wet. Stop worrying about it and just jump in and get started. But if you are ready to invest and really build a career around doing Stop Motion you need a camera. I would suggest to someone who is going to have clients who will pay them good money, have a full frame camera. Have a really nice camera so when you deliver a product to your client it is something that you feel like you are giving them the best product.
- Next is camera support. Trisha has solved this in the most unique way I have ever seen. Trisha uses a C-stand. I like C-stands because they are really pretty inexpensive. You can get a great C-stand with a C-stand arm and a spigot or spud. The spigot (Impact Double-Ended Spigot) or spud has a 1/4″-20 Male Threads on one side and 3/8″-16 Male Threads on the other side. You can tighten it onto the bottom of your camera and then put it into the C-stand arm. You can raise or lower the C-stand. You can raise it up pretty high. And what is nice about it is you can sit at a table and put your C-stand arm overhead and you don’t have to animate sitting on the floor. Which I did for many years. It is a great way to start. But it really helps your body if you don’t have to sit on the floor. With most tripods it is hard to get the tripod up high and you have to worry about hitting it with your legs. So a C-stand is a pretty dang good option. It’s not as expensive as a tripod. It also gives you as much or more reach over the table that you are animating on.
- Then you need a tether to tether to your computer.
- So that means you also need a computer.
- And what is really helpful is an AC power adapter that you can plug into your camera and plug it into the wall and you don’t have to worry about switching out batteries and touching your camera all of the time. So that is a must.
- Some source of continuous lighting is great. If all you have is strobes then go for it because there are great ways you can shoot with strobe. But, if you have the ability to shoot with continuous lights, go for it. The problem with strobes is that unless you have a really good strobe it is going to flicker a little bit. It is not going to give you the exact output every time you do a frame. And when you are doing 10 frames a second the frames are going to be different intensities and it will flicker. You can de-flicker but it is better if you don’t have to. LEDs make a lot more sense. Window light is just too hard because the sun comes and goes. You can’t shoot when there is no light. Animation takes so long. I can’t tell you the number of times I have said, “Oh this is going to be so fast”. And then 12 hours later I am still moving coffee beans.
What to charge.
My perspective is that as you are starting out if you are doing things around $1000 – $1200 that is low end work. It might be a way to get into the market. But it kind of needs to move up from there pretty quickly. Because really, this kind of work is worth into the $3000-$5000 range. Especially because you put so much work into it, hours and hours and hours. You need to make sure that it is worth your time. It is kind of complicated to bid a job. How complex is the video? How long is it going to take me to shoot it? What props do I need?
When you are pricing a shoot you really want to think about the time and effort you put into a shoot. So, for example, moving a paper car across a scene is going to take much less time than photographing a coffee bean explosion with 600 coffee beans. The coffee bean explosion means I have to move 600 beans for 500 frames. I have to touch bazillions of things. It will take me a bazillion hours. Sometimes you have to illustrate assets or hire an illustrator, or spend time drawing. And then you have to print and then cut. Then you have to build a scene.
Usually for an animation between 6 and 15 seconds I charge around $5000 and then as you grow in time and complexity that number increases. A lot of times if a client has a very specific budget in mind and they only want to pay $2000-$3000 then we can scale back the scope of the video. So maybe instead of doing a 15 second video we can do a 6 second video that loops or a 5 second video that loops 3 times. So they still get the length that they need for the budget that they have.
How to get clients.
This is the biggest question we all struggle with. We all need help with this, every single one of us. It’s the life long process of being in the creative industry. So for actively getting clients I have found that Instagram is huge for me. I think there are also emerging platforms that would be really intriguing to look into like TikTok. There are a lot of really cool avenues to show your work. And it doesn’t have be the big ones like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It can be shown in other ways. But putting it out there and showing your work on social media platforms is so important.
One thing I do is identify clients that would be a great fit with my work. My vibe fits their vibe. My values are the same values they believe in. I think I can deliver great content for them. I identify these clients and create a list. Then I like to start engaging with them on social media because you want to love people who love you back. So you like their content and make comments about the things that they are posting in a really genuine way. I actively follow, like, comment on their Instagram stories, direct message them telling them they are doing a great job. A lot of times they reach out to me and say they love my work and they want to know if I will do some work for them. Then sometimes they don’t reach out. So I reach out and they know who I am because they have seen me commenting. You show that you are invested in their brand. It’s not like you are cold calling from a huge list. It shows you have some history with them and desire to work for them.
That is a really great principle. I am looking at this from this point of view. You have to be active on social media. You need to post on a regular basis. You need to shoot new images on a regular basis doing creative, interesting and innovative types of things. I think you also can look for people who are not necessarily going to pay you a lot of money, but they may have some great projects. Work for them for a little while not making a lot of money yet building up your portfolio. This helps you create the content you need.
So there’s some good points about the equipment you need, what you should charge and how to get some clients. We could talk about how to get clients all day long. We have so many great ideas.
Make sure you go to theslantedlens.com/tsl-store and you can check out the downloads we have together. They are great classes. We cover so many topics from food videos to just getting started to more advanced techniques to fully editing videos. There’s some great stuff.
So if you watched this video and you are thinking to yourself, “I can do stop motion and make some killer cash.”, get our download. Because that download is going to go way more in depth about everything we have talked about here and much, much more. So go over to theslantedlens.com/tsl-store and get your download today.
So keep the camera’s rollin’ and keep on clickin’.
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