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Stop motion explosion


Create an explosion and learn some nifty in-camera special effects!

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Our short film is made up of four story steps filmed from a fixed camera angle.

A burning fuse, a wisp of smoke, the explosion and the aftermath.

We filmed on “twos” at 24 frames per second.  The camera had the exposure locked off.

To do something similar, you need clay, pipe cleaner wire, a laser pointer, cotton wool or plastic roof insulation and thread.

We also used a little desklamp during filming (see below). 

We used replacement puppets/props to speed up filming.  Mouth shapes are from Animation Toolkit!

Having the bomb distort before it explodes helps the audience understand something big is about to happen.  We had three models of it squishing in anticipation of exploding.


The burning fuse effect is created with a laser pointer shining onto pipe cleaner wire. The laser gives a nice sparkle effect and reducing the length of the wire over successive frames the fuse burns down.


The wisp of smoke that rises required the rig removal tool (editions Action! Plus and above).  The smoke was made from cotton wool and by its nature clung to a thread. A desk lamp with a flexible head positioned the thread over several frames.


The rig removal tool (editions Action! Plus and above)  is great for removing props and supports from your animation. Even if you use a different compositing application, you can still remove rigs in SMP to preview your shot while you film. It's non destructive and completely reversible.


Our explosion was created with plastic roofing insulation. You could also use cotton wool. Tease it out to an explosive shape.


With your camera exposure locked, you can easily generate an explosion effect by holding a desk lamp above the insulation/cotton wool. This blows out the light levels and makes a bomb-like flash. Over the next 8 frames, move the lamp further away, reducing the glare.


Syncing an audio file to your visuals is easy with the SMP Audio Sync tool. You can see where the loud noise of the explosion starts in the wave form. Right click with your mouse on this point in the audio file, then scroll through your animation to the frame with the explosion. Click the Sync button to lock them together.

You can download the audio file we used here.



Play back your film. Is the timing right? Does everything match up? Perhaps you need to add a few frames, or hide some? It's easy to tweak your timing with the Stop Motion Pro Editor. Hide, duplicate and drag and drop is all possible.


Stop Motion Pro boxshot