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iPhone animation salutes our 10,000 Facebook fans

To celebrate reaching 10,000 Facebook fans, we made this totally amazing stop-motion animation using only plasticine and our iPhone.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
3 min read

10,000 Facebook fans. It might just be a bunch of zeros to you, but to us it was a milestone that brought the kind of excitement and adrenaline that can only normally be achieved with a well-stocked cake cupboard.

But how to celebrate such a milestone? By making a poorly conceived animation with an iPhone 4 of course!

If you want to make one yourself (we know you do), gather your materials and put aside a Sunday morning to get creative.

What you'll need:

A smart phone. Complete with an app that can create stop-motion animations. We used iTimeLapse Pro for iPhone that lets you create an animation frame by frame, as well as letting you make those awesome time-lapse videos of clouds.

A tripod. You'll need to attach your phone to it, so either get a case that has a tripod mount, or do as we did and simply duct-tape your normal case to it and slip your phone inside.

Plasticine. We bought ours on a whim from Sainsbury's and were glad to finally find a use for it. You could also simply animate any random objects you have lying around, or draw characters out on individual sheets of paper.

The mind of a child. If you spend your Sunday mornings worrying about stocks, bonds, house prices and your trouser press, you're not going to make a good animation. Try throwing on a T-shirt with a kitten on it, spin around in circles while laughing hysterically then drink three pints of Ribena. Now you're ready to create!

How to make your animation:

Step 1: Devise your plot. Will it be a romance? A tragedy? A disaster flick? Write down a few ideas and think of which would be easiest to animate with the materials you have. If you have access to a scale model of a city, by all means consider doing something ludicrously elaborate.

We went for the classic 'man waves sign, jumps into roll of tape, watches snake slither past, holds second sign with snake' plot. If that's not Oscar-winning, we don't know what is.

Step 2: Create your characters. If you're using plasticine like us, get those fingers warmed and start making shapes. Sausage shapes work well for arms and legs while odd-looking square lumps can make good identifiable torsos. You can stick to the colours in your packet or go wild like we did and combine colours as you need.

Step 3: Prepare your set. Clear a table and set your tripod and phone up next to it. Position your characters in place and fire up the iTimeLapse app. You can set the picture quality to whatever file size you like, but you'll need to make sure 'Snap interval' and 'Start capturing' are both set to manual in order for you to recompose the scene between each shot.

Step 4: Animate! Stop-motion animation is done by moving each character very slightly between each frame. When these frames are built up and played back, it gives the illusion of movement.

By now, your scene should be set up and your app should be waiting for you. Take your first picture. You now need to move your characters and the scene according to the action you want to portray. It's best to move them only tiny amounts between each frame so that the motion looks smooth when it's played back. Our 35-second video was composed of over 350 individually composed frames.

It's obviously a very time-consuming process, so make sure you've set aside a good portion of the day if you want to create something as mind-blowing as our video.

Once you've created your masterpiece, the app will need to render the images together into a video. This will take quite a long time, so make sure you keep your phone plugged in if it's getting low on power.

Why not make your own stop-motion animation and share it on our Facebook page? You could even do an animation of all the CNET UK staff having a party!

Thanks again to everyone who's liked our Facebook page so far -- we were absolutely delighted to hit the 10,000-fan milestone. If you haven't been there yet, head on over for behind the scenes photos, excellent discussion on the hot topics from the whole team and of course our now infamous 5,000 fans song -- the soundtrack to this very video.