Stop Motion Animation Coffee Cups

Sometimes you just have an urge to make a little stop motion film about belligerent, colourful coffee cups.

Don’t you?

I’ve had a little play with stop motion on my iPhone once or twice over the past year or so. But it was a challenge on Instagram from one of my favourite film makers, Xanthe Berkeley that finally spurred me on to make a ‘proper’ little stop frame sequence.

Xanthe was doing a promotion with the marketing agency Whalar, and Workshop Coffee. And the challenge was to tell a little story about coffee on Instagram.

Xanthe created this fabulously fun, and characteristically colourful stop frame animation to inspire people.

Obviously, I had to have a go.

I thought about it the previous evening, and the props I’d use leapt out at me – a Christmas present of coffee pot and cups from our friends Marg & Bob. I had a think about a little story I could tell, and went to sleep with jostling coffee cups on the brain.

On the day itself I gave myself a two hour deadline to set up, film, edit and post the video. In the end it took two and a half, because the photos took so long to render, but I was fine with that. The deadline did its job of focusing on getting it done, and not worrying too much about it being perfect.

The kit

I used my Nikon D600 with a 50mm f1.4 lens at about f1.8, for a lovely shallow depth of field. I manually focused and fixed the focus so there’d be no ‘focus hunting’ with autofocus once I started.

I have a little infra red remote control, so I set the camera to take shots with that. This would mean I could move my props, and take a shot quickly without having to touch the camera – so no camera movement, and a more efficient shooting process.

I was ready. Coffee and water in the pot, little cups just out of shot.

And… action

In came the little cups, jostling for position. Two of the cups have a brief high-spirited altercation, then, after a little jiggling they get in position for the coffee.

I used a black thread – cloned out in Lightroom – to pull up the coffee pot lid, and to pour the coffee.

If you don’t know, with stop motion animation, you take one photo, then move your subjects a tiny bit, then take another shot, move your subjects, another shot…

This video was made from 284 individual shots, some of which were reversed at times – so maybe about 310 frames in all, over 25 seconds, giving about 12 frames per second.

Normal video is usually 24 frames per second, or higher, but unless you’re after very smooth movement, stop motion and other animation can look great, and even a bit quirky at 12 frames per second.

Everything was going well, until…


I was tipping the coffee pot, using the black thread tied around the handle, and it decided to do a nose dive to the side, and coffee spilled EVERYWHERE!

All over the worktop.

All over the floor.

In the cutlery drawer, the pots drawer, the tea towel drawer.

I mopped up, and using the last shot I got before coffeemageddon, I got the cups and pot back in the place they were before my epic balls up.

I had a problem – so much coffee had been spilled, that only one little blue cup had coffee in it!

I needed a new ending for my little story. So the yellow and red cups, incensed that they’d not got any coffee, chased the blue cup around the worktop, right to the edge, and then out of shot.

Here’s the finished piece, edited in Final Cut Pro X (the big brother to iMovie) with a bit of music from Soundstripe, the music licensing service I use to find music for most of my projects – personal or commercial.

I was a runner up in the competition which Xanthe held, and here’s the wonderful winner, by Caro Davies.

Do let me know if you’d like to talk about making a stop motion animation video for your business. They can be very eye catching and fun – I’ve had hundreds of comments about my coffee cups video already.

You can contact me here.


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