Get Funky with Photomotion

Photomotion is a fun way to make an animation with your still-camera or DSLR. It is just as it sounds! It's motion through photographs. Usually with Photomotions, the camera is the one moving, along with it's subjects. These are a little different than stop-motions (think claymation and Tim Burton's stuff) which typically has the camera fixed and the subjects are the only things moving bit by bit.

Here is a great piece called "Walkabout" by Bill Newsinger. In the beginning, you can see exactly what shooting a photomotion is like, as he shows his walking/shooting process. He also created his own music to go with the video!

There are many more examples at the Photomotion channel!

Steps to Make a Photomotion

  1. Make a Plan.
    Think of an event or location to shoot. If it's an event, make sure there will be lots of movement and motion. If you're shooting at a special location, think of how you want the camera to move about the space. It could just be you walking around with the camera, or you could strap it to a bike and take a ride.

  2. Take lots of Photos!
    Keep shooting and shooting! Most cameras will have a burst setting, where you can set it to take a photo every few seconds. Or, just simply click the shutter yourself. You can get a good feel for it once you start shooting.

  3. Import & Edit.
    Once you're finished shooting tons of photos, you will need to get them on your computer so that you can animate them. All cameras do this a little differently, but you can more or less drag and drop them from the camera drive, into a computer folder. For more help with transferring files from a camera, check out our Vimeo 101: Editing tutorial. Once you have the photos on your computer, you're going to need to get them in your video editor. Before you import to your editing program, you may need to change some settings that will set the photo-duration in your timeline. Most of the time, you can edit the length of each photo in the program. Put them into the program in the order that you want, and each photo does not need to last the same amount of time. Change it up and try different speeds out.

  4. Add Music or Sound.
    Photomotions are often accompanied by music that fits the tempo of the shots. You could also choose a song before you start editing and cut your photos to the beat.

EFor extra credit: Add sound effects to accompany the action. This creates an interesting environment within your piece.

This photomotion by Tyna called "GIARDINI (18.12.2010)" utilizes sound and music to create very surreal environment.

Ready for a challenge?

  • Create a 1 - 3 minute photomotion video

  • part of your video must include shots from the outdoors (go outside and explore!)

  • the video must include either animals or a human being (make friends!)

Accept this challenge



Tony Challis

Tony Challis

I really enjoyed that. It's inspired me to have a go myself :)

This conversation is missing your voice. Please join Vimeo or log in.

Lesson Summary

Learn how to make videos by taking still photos and editing them together to create motion!

New to Video School? Read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Browse by Category

Submit Your Tutorial

Most of the video tutorials in our Video School lessons come from Vimeo members. If you have a tutorial you'd like to share, please submit it here.