How To

Interview with Colette Robinson, Professional Stop Motion Maker

When I was heading down to a conference in San Francisco and realized the talented and down to earth stop motion creator, Colette Robinson, was only an hour out of the city, I knew I had to reach out to see if she’d be interested in collaborating with Life Lapse. I had been following Colette’s work for some time and am always inspired by her creativity. We got on a call to chat what the collaboration could look like and without hesitation she agreed.

You see like us, Colette has a goal to inspire others, so it was a natural fit!! I rented a car downtown SF and hit up the windy roads up to Stinson Beach California. TIP: if you get car sick, highly recommend popping a gravel before you drive these roads, LOL. As you can see in the photos, Colette has a charming studio just minutes away from the beach where she does a majority of her shooting. Her passion for what she does is contagious which you will discover in the interview below & the videos.

Give us the 411 on Colette! (what do you do & where you from)

I’m a photographer specializing in stop motion animation, and I work out of my studio in Stinson Beach!

Did you go to school for photography/videography? If not, what did you study?

I had an interest in photo + video since I was young, but didn’t get accepted into my high school’s video program😭. At Indiana University, I studied Telecommunications with a focus on media marketing + audience analysis. I got my first DSLR camera for Christmas before studying abroad in Argentina, and used it on Auto the whole time! I ended up winning IU’s study abroad photo contest, which made me think it might be something I had an eye for. When I graduated and moved to LA, I went to Creative Photo Workshops weekly, and finally learned how to use my camera on Manual.

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How did you get started in stop motion?

Answer: I’ve loved magic since I was a kid. In 4th grade, I picked up my mom’s camcorder and shot 1-second segments of her cell phone... moving it between each cut. I have no idea why I decided to do this, but I remember watching it back and thinking it was MAGIC! Swipe on this post to see it 😂. I loved magic so much, that I applied to IU after hearing you can major in Magic there. (My parents convinced me out of that though.) After college I worked at a creative agency and was assigned to make creative content for the company’s Instagram account. I started making little stop motions on my iPhone, and one day someone asked me how much I charge. The rest is history!

Did you always know you wanted to be your own boss (if yes, how?) or did this come later?

Not really... I love learning from others and hate being alone! However, I’ve never been great with being told what to do and how to do it. I always treated my teachers and bosses as equals… which sometimes got me into trouble! But I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum.

How did you know it was time to take the leap and go on your own?

I didn’t land my “dream job” and couldn’t find anything that felt like the right fit. My fiancé Jesse convinced me to give myself a 6-month trial period and see what I could accomplish as a full-time creative. 8 months later I had forgotten that I was supposed to reevaluate at 6 months, and realized I had landed my dream job after all! I don’t think many people ever feel it’s the right time to go full-time on your own. It’s scary to start! It just, happens… and sort of feels meant to be.

What is your creative process when working with a new client?

When working with a new client, I love to meet in person (when possible), get a feel for the brand’s voice— and get to know who I’m working with! Next I figure out what their goals are and start brainstorming. Once we’re aligned on a concept, it’s go time. I storyboard, location scout, prop shop, schedule, and set up the lighting and shoot. I’m very communicative with my clients, often texting them photos and asking questions while I work. I most often use my Sony a7R III, 24-70 2.8 lens, and Dragonframe software. I’m going to be creating a YouTube video soon showing all of my in-studio gear where I’ll dive into what else I use! Once I’ve shot the images, I’ll bring them into Adobe Lightroom and edit. Then I export and bring into Adobe Premiere, and bring together the animation. I then add any sound/music, export, test/optimize for whichever platform it’ll be on, and deliver. It’s a long process and requires a lot of patience, but I really enjoy every step of it.

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Why should brands start using stop motion?

Stop motion is very “thumb-stopping” content. It makes people stop and wonder “how’d they do that?!” It performs great as social media ads, and brings personality and life to products.

Why is it important for you to inspire others?

I want to help others unleash their creativity and turn it into something! Like I said before, I only started on my own because I couldn’t land my dream job. I can only imagine how much further I’d be if I had recognized that THIS was my dream job! I notice creativity in people around me ALL the time, but feel like very few choose to pursue it. Making art your job can have that “starving artist” stigma, and I want to inspire people to prove that stereotype wrong. Now more than ever are there ample opportunities to make a successful business out of your art.

Collaboration over competition? Why or why not?

Always. I’ve been shut down by countless people in this industry. It can be tough. But the only person I can control is myself. So I choose to be open, kind, and share with others. I’ve found that when you reach out to collaborate with someone who might be viewed as “competition”, and they say yes, magic happens. I firmly believe that there is enough room for everybody in this industry (and more!). Be competitive with yourself, but don’t compare yourself to others.


One of these videos was shot with Pro Camera Gear worth $17,000, one was shot with our Free ApP

How have you integrated Life Lapse into your process?

Over the years I’ve been striving more and more for perfection in my work. I’ve found that doing a test shoot before the real deal is just what I need to practice my animation, see what works and what doesn’t, and prepare for a seamless shoot day. I obviously don’t want to use up 500000 GB on test shoots each week— so I use Life Lapse and shoot on my phone! It’s so simple and requires WAY fewer steps than my process with the high-end gear.

Who you would recommend people to use Life Lapse?

Life Lapse is perfect for brands who don’t have budget to hire a stop motion artist, but would like unique content to showcase their product. It’s also perfect for aspiring stop motion artists, who want to learn like I did!

What is you number one tip for people when creating stop motion?

Keep consistent shadows. Wear dark colors and stand in the EXACT same place for each shot of the animation. This will avoid flickering over your scene. To create even, consistent light, cover your windows and buy a lightstand or two. (These are good, cheap ones!) This will give you full control of the light and avoid outdoor light changing from shot to shot.

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What other hacks/tool do you use?

I always use putty to stick things in place. Also, I shoot at a slow shutter speed! 1/15 of a second or slower. It helps reduce flicker.

Where can people follow you? (Your youtube, IG, email, website, etc)

Follow me on Instagram here: Instagram.com/ColetteRobinson

Check out my portfolio here: ColetteRobinson.com

Find out how we can work together, or just say hello here: helloimcolette@gmail.com

Watch my YouTube videos and tutorials here: youtube.com/channel/UCwITKcojANy8RUcWkLdoTCA

If a company is reading this and wants to hire you, what’s the best way they can reach you?

Email me at helloimcolette@gmail.com

You mentioned you can get a daylight studio light off amazon for pretty cheap, care to hook us up with some product page reco’s?.

All of my outdoor photo gear is listed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxCoF93NFRI&t=1s, subscribe to stay in the loop for the next video about my in-studio equipment!

How To Easily Create Stop Motion Videos with Life Lapse

We've all seen cute stop motion videos on the 'gram but who actually ever thinks about making their own? Well, you should! Stop-motion videos are eye-catching and with Life Lapse, they're hella easy to make! No need to be overwhelmed with using fancy DSLR camera or spending hours trying to figure out how to use expensive editing software. 

Step 1: Firstly, I recommend drawing out what you want the animation to look like, especially if there's going to be multiple sequences and high tech things happening like a grapefruit la Croix spinning to a lime la Croix, lol. This helps you stay on track & organized as you are creating. 

Step 2: Create a new project in Life Lapse. click the "+" on the top left hand side of the screen. 

Step 3: When the camera first opens up, you'll see an option for "Video Project" or "Photo Project" at the bottom. Make  sure you have "Photos Project" switched on. If you have 1 second video clips, it won't make for a very entertaining stop motion - Though I'm totally open to somebody proving me wrong on this. 

Step 4: Turn the grid on, which is on the top right hand side of the camera. This will help you make sure you objects are centred. On that note, figure out where you're doing to be posting this video. Is it for an Instagram story advertisement? Or is it for a Facebook post that you wa be square? Keep this in mind when you're shooting that it will get cropped after - if you decide to crop to square that is. 

Step 5: Position your camera and do not move it. It can be mounted onto a tripod or you can lean it against something. For the purposes of the video above, you'll need a tripod since you're shooting directly above the object. Amazon sells the tripod to phone mount for a couple of bucks. 

Step 6: Make sure your lighting is good. It's best if you have controlled lighting. What's controlled lighting? A lamp. What's no controlled? The sun. No, you are not mother nature, so unless you want a bunch of different exposures and flickering throughout your video, I'd highly recommend moving away from windows & the sun. 

Step 7: Time to bring the objects to Life! Position your objects & take the first photo. 

Step 8: Turn off leave on the ghosted image. Depending on what kind of stop motion you're creating you may or may not need the ghosted guideline on. For the stop motion above, I used it in the scene where I swapped out the grapefruit La Croix with the lime La Croix. It helped me make sure I put the lime one exactly where the grapefruit one was. 

Step 9: After you've taken your first photo, move your objects, take another photo, rinse & repeat. 

Step 10: Play your video and watch it come to life! From here, you can customize the size, add music, filters & change the speed. You'll notice when you play it first it the motion is very delayed, that's because the auto setting for picture projects is super slow. Click on the fast forward icon and move the slider to about 3/4 of the to the right or experiment with the speed that suits your project best. 

Step 11: Save your video by click the arrow on the very far right. 

I'd love to see your Life Lapse videos, tag with #LifeLapse so myself and the Life Lapse community can draw inspiration from you & give you some love on social media! 

- Sarah 

PS - In cased you missed it, I did an article on the difference between Instagram Story stop motion videos and Life Lapse Stop Motion videos which you can watch here:

How To Create Videos with Life Lapse


Step by Step Guide

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Create New Project

When you enter this screen at first, it will be empty. To start your first project, click on the "+" sign on the top left hand side of the screen. 

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Photos or video clips?

Do you want your video to be made up of photo clips or mini video clips? Video clips are a great option if you want lots of movement in your video! 

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If you choose video clips...

You have the option to customize the length of each clip, only at the beginning of the project. Once you select the time, each clip will be that length. The default is 1 second, if you want to change that though, tap on "1s" button. 

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Select the length of time you want each video clip to be. 

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The first photo.

For the purposes of this demo, we're going to select photo clips. 

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Name your project

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Take another photo

This is your project grid, for this individual project. To add another photo to this sequence, click on the camera icon. If you'd like to create a separate project, select the back arrow on the top left side of the screen and go back to step 1. :) 

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Sync your subject! 

This is where the fun begins. When you open the camera the second time, it will have the previous photo up as a guideline at an opacity of 50%. Using the slider highlighted in the photo, you can change the density of how much the previous image is showing up. The far left image is 0% opacity, middle is 50% and on the far right is 100%.

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Tips for Syncing.

Our best piece of advice is to align the top & bottom of your subject. Move the camera to the side of the subject (see left image), then move back or forth until it is the same height as the previous photo. Once it's the same height, move the camera until it is directly aligned with the previous photo. 

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Play your video. 

Click the play button on the bottom middle of the project screen to see your creation thus far. 

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Play with filters.

The bottom far left icon is the filter icon. This is the default screen that shows up when you go to play your video. You don't have to use the filters, if you want to get creative though, they're there. 

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Add some tunes! 

When you download Life Lapse, there's 5 songs that come free with the app. If you unlock the music collection, there's 20 to choose from. 

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Unlock music, watermark removal & unlimited projects in our store. 

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Select the size. 

Resize your video so it fits perfectly on the channel you're posting to. Sizing options are perfect for Instagram, Instagram stories, Facebook & Youtube. 

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Speed.

Currently only available on projects comprised of photos, you can change how fast you want the photos go. Currently you can go as fast as 7 frames per second, however we are updating this to 24 frames per second in the near futures so time-lapse & stop motion videos appear more realistic. 

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Save & Share! #LifeLapse

If you click on the arrow on the far right side of the player window, you can save the video. Options to upload directly to Instagram or Facebook or you can save to your camera roll.