Announcing The Stopmotionista (Hey, that's me!)

As many of you noticed, a new link has been added to the main page. It leads to my new website that is all about stop motion. I also have been recently interviewed by the lovely Catherine Hall and her co-host Leo Laporte on Twit Photo about my work. Click on the thumb below to view the interview. I'm explaining how I shoot and edit my stop motions:

My new site is meant to be a resource for all things stop motion. I even put together few short videos with instructions on how to shoot short stop motion sequences. Excuse the poor sound quality and the lack of my speaking persona... I'm working on both. :)

I'd like to invite you all to share your creations with me and would love to feature them on the Stopmotionista. The site also offers a Forum -- a place to talk about anything and everything, ask questions, or give suggestions. Come and visit me there. :)


2000 Photos In 3 Minutes

A friend sends you 2000 photos from her recent vacation. Are you are going to look at every single one? Let's be honest. Who wants to see other people's vacation photos? Nobody. Except, one thousand people wanted to see mine. What did I do to make them want to do so?

Congratulations! You just looked at 2000 photos in three minutes. Phew!

I came back from business trip to France last week and had twelve thousand photos on my hard drive. I was not going to edit them all and upload them into a giant album. But I also did not want to throw them away. I decided to make them interesting enough for my friends to want to look at them.

How can you do it?

Here is my "unconference demo" from Google+ Photographer Conference and an interview for Photo Talk Plus. Written instructions are below these two videos.

Some people pointed out that this technique is not a stop motion as it does not match the definition. Some pointed out that it's more of a time lapse. I am using both teqniques in my videos and calling it time-motion or stop-lapse isn't appealing.

There are many tools and many sites explaining how to make stop motion videos. Trey Ratcliff also put together a great screencast with instructions. You can use any tools you like, as long as you follow the steps below:

1.  Take lots of very similar photos 

In order to make your stop motion "flow", take tons of photos of the same thing. Use various techniques to make every image slightly different.

  • Move camera slightly between every shot.
  • Circle around subjects, or move the camera towards or away from the subject.
  • Move your subject between every shot. If the subject is a person, let them walk towards or away from the camera. Photograph people walking, dancing, jumping, etc.

To see more techniques, check out my how to videos on

If you travel, don't forget to photograph while you are in transport. Travel videos look better if you show the whole journey, including the airports and trains.

2. Optional: Reorder and crop

In an ideal world, you don't need to reorder the photos. Chronologic videos are great and show your journey accurately. But you will often find yourself in a situation when you need to swap some photos to make the story flow better.

Cropping might be needed if you want to create a true HD video which requires an aspect ratio of 16:9. However, if you are happy with the aspect ratio of the photos straight out of the camera (4:3 or 6:4), you can skip the cropping. YouTube will then pad your final video will black stripes on the left and right.

3. Save resized images with new file names

After you reorder the photos in your favorite photo editor (Lightroom, Picasa), you need to rename them so that they keep the new order after they are sorted by the file name. If you have photos from two or more cameras, synchronize them by time and then export (save) with new names containing sequence numbers. I used Adobe Lightroom to do this.

Lightroom allows me to automatically resize all images while saving them with new names. The above video was generated from photos that were 720 pixels wide. It's decent enough for viewing on a small laptop or an iPhone. For better resolution, pick 1280x720. I did however keep the original 6:4 aspect ratio and you should see black stripes on the left and right of the frame.

This is what a renamed file sequence would look like. As you can see, it sorts nicely by file name.

4. Convert the photo sequence into a movie file 

Convert the photo sequence into a video file. I used an advanced function "Open Image Sequence" in QuickTime Player 7 do this (the license cost $30 but it's totally worth it). QuickTime will then ask you to select a frame rate. I picked 12 frames per second. After you choose the frame rate, you'll be presented with your stopmotion video. It will be silent, but it will already look cool. :) Congratulations! Pat yourself on a back, save it into a .mov file and move onto the next step!

5. Optional: Add magic

You can stop now and enjoy your silent movie or you can continue editing your video further.

The next thing you probably want to do is to add sound. Pick an upbeat song to match the fast frame rate of the video. I found this amazing song by We Like Monsters and it matched my video perfectly! You can find free tracks at and

After you select a song, you'll realize that the length of the song does not match the length of the movie. It seems like you'd need to trim one or the other. It's easier to shorten few long movie sequences in order to make the movie match the song length. I used iMovie for this job.

iMovie also lets you insert a sequence with animated globe which enhances travel videos with facts about where you traveled from and where you traveled to. Just click on the globe icon on the bottom right of your iMovie app.

6. Upload to YouTube

Upload your movie to YouTube with the highest possible resolution. It might take longer, but you wouldn't need to be frustrated with poor quality once you watch it on YouTube.

7. Tell them

Tell all your friends about your new video. While you're at it, you can also share this blog post with them to show them how you did it. Trust me, they'll be asking.

Make sure to check out my main stopmotion site and if you feel crafty, also check out my "HOW TO" series to learn how to make other creative things.

And don't forget to send me links to your creations. I can't wait to see them!




Welcome To Tijuana Tequila Sex Marijuana

Peter: "You're going to Tijuana? Don't go. Seriously. Don't go."

Dana: "But I'm from there. My parents live there."

Peter: "Ok, but be careful."

And off we went. Dana and I. Towards the home of the legendary Ceasar's Salad.

Dana told me that Tijuana is just like LA. Judging from the amount of prostitutes, I'd say it was more like Amsterdam.

For those who are not into sex, there is plenty of other stuff to do. For example shopping!

The "Obleas" candy is amazing! Two thin wafers filled with caramel.

When walking around downtown Tijuana, we've seen this kid playing with bottles.

We later drove to get some ice cream (in a store owned by Placido's Domingo's son) and checked out the famous "Minarete", which is just a glorified name for a fancy chimney.

And of course, the trip to Tijuana would not be complete without taking a photo of the zonkey (zebra donkey) on the street corner.


Architecture Photo Walk

Today's "Photo SF" #3 photo walk led us to the Embarcadero Center. Not only is it close to Google office, it's also full of interesting architectural elements to photograph -- such as this staircase. I'm pretty sure you've seen this staircase on a million of photos already. Here is a millionth and one:

Embarcadero Hyatt lobby:

Just outside:

The Photo SF crew

Back in the lobby:

A statue that creeped out pretty much everyone on the group.

The Embarcadero Hyatt:

Bubbles in the lobby fountain.

Hyatt hotel rooms:


No Monkeys At The Monkey Ranch?

When Brad mentioned we were going to Alan Cooper's Monkey Ranch, the little girl in me screamed "Yupeeeee, I'm gonna play with monkeys!". To my great disappointment, there were no monkeys. Well, there was one -- a cat called "Monkey". She was less of a monkey and more of a panther or a dog.

Alan is remodeling one of the barns into a workshop/classroom space. The barn boasts with a couple of shit pumps from its early years. We came up with this brilliant idea -- once the space is remodeled, the shit pumps can be used to serve soft serve ice cream. A chocolate flavor perhaps, with some corn in it for texture.

Alan is a creative hands on guy. He made some of the wooden bowls we used during the picnic.

The tall barn was another interesting space that is begging for some areal artist to hang from the ceiling. 

I loved the look of this mobile home parked at the nearby lot.

On the left: Sue, the Monkey mom. On the right: Bloominating flowers (Al's words).

This baby cow had no interest to play with Brad. However, it was quite intrigued by Monkey, perhaps because Monkey looks like a toy cow.

This is Monkey. She has this ranch on the lockdown.

Alan is protecting Monkey from yet another bovine.

Monkey took us for a stroll around her ranch.

One match or we'll stay cold!

This is Sue with uncle Joe. When Joe saw the little disco-ball like reflections off my sequined sleeves, he got a flashback to a concert he attended in Chicago in 1942. 

Fresh eggs from a neighbor's farm.

Ready for a picnic!

Goodbye Monkey Ranch! See you in the summer!