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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!