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Picture of Raspberry Pi Stop-Motion Animation Rig

Stop-motion animation is a technique where objects are physically manipulated, and photographed frame-by-frame to create the illusion of a moving image.

Our mini stop-motion animation exhibit is made with a Raspberry Pi, which is a "tiny and affordable computer that you can use to learn programming through fun, practical projects."

The rig uses a Raspberry Pi, a pi-camera and five simple commands to create endless storytelling possibilities. It can be connected to any monitor or projector, and learners can work on their own or collaborate in pairs to create their animations.

This tool can be used for open-ended exploration, or incorporated into classroom lessons to deepen and reinforce learning. Users can create their own characters to insert themselves into history, art, or a microscopic world, using stop-motion animation and simple, everyday materials to tell a story or illustrate their understanding of a scientific concept in a playful, engaging way.

This guide is a still a rough draft! We'll keep working to develop this playful tool for exploration so that it can be used in museums, classrooms, maker spaces and your kitchen table. Feel free to remix the animation station, and please let us know what you come up with as you experiment. Check back for updates as we refine the design of the hardware and software.

Step 1: Collect the Materials (electronics)

Collect the following electronic components needed to construct the station.

Raspberry Pi 3 Complete starter kit from Canakit, which includes Raspberry Pi 3 (includes 5V 2.5A power supply, raspberry Pi 3 case, HDMI cable, 32 GB MicroSD card (preloaded with NOOBS), 2x heatsinks Full size breadboard, male to male jumper cables)

Keyboard and mouse (usb or wireless)

HDMI compatible monitor

Five arcade buttons Red, white, green, blue and yellow

Raspberry Pi Camera module V2

Adafruit flex cable for Raspberry Pi Camera -2 meters

Adafruit Pi Camera case

Gikfun proto board

Stranded wire

Canakit Breakout board and GPIO cable

Momentary switch (normally open)

5v computer fan

This has been a life-saver for me! Nearly exactly what I’ve been working toward.

I am having an issue I can’t seem to troubleshoot though. It will, at [seemingly] random times, just stop working. It will still show the camera, but not the onion skin and will not take a picture or play the movie or anything the buttons do except the exit button. I can then just restart it from the terminal again, but can’t find a common anything that would lead me in a direction to figure it out.
Nirgal385 months ago
I built one of these for our MakerSpace and it gets its first trial run on Friday. However, I've run into two glitches (one of which I think I can fix).

The one I can fix is that the picture is upside down on the build surface (the bottom of the screen is towards the camera arm... I'm going to look through the script to see if I can rotate it 180).

The other one, I'm at a loss. When I save, it prompts me for a name and it saves. Then, no matter how long I wait, if I ask it to save a second video, it crashes on me.

The frames are still there but it doesn't save a video.

I managed to save some work by using ffmpeg directly from the command line but that's not the best solution.

Could it have something to do with the fact that when I asked it to install pygame, it couldn't find it?

I get no error in the console when I run the script but this is odd and my python skills are far too limited to figure out what the problem is.

Still, all in all, a GREAT project!
wonderfulidea (author)  Nirgal384 months ago
hey there!
we noticed that same problem and believe that it has been fixed on the latest version of the software on the github page. try to delete the program and follow the install instructions again. let us know if that works for you.
One of the guys in our MakerSpace (whose Python skills are far superior to mine) was able to find what the problem was (a variable had the same name as a function call) and got it working great!

It was a HUGE hit at our First Friday Open House. We did an Animation Celebration with the Raspberry Pi Stop Motion Animation Station, flip books, thaumatropes and phenakistoscopes.

I would have liked more objects to animate because we got a lot of animations of a rubber frog, a rubber cockroach and a rubber duck.

Again, this is an awesome instructable and I'm adding it to my favorites!
Very interesting project with extremely simplified controls which is perfect for kids.
A feature that can be added is using another button for last-frame-overlay, where the previous frame is shown on top of the video feed with 30-50% transparency. This helps in aligning the characters very precisely in reference to the previous frame and makes the animation much smoother and easier.
rwooley6 months ago
I bought a simialr board on ebay to that of the protoboard, but it uses a breadboard, and i bought the breadboard cables. So i dont need to solder the wires
prampec6 months ago
Very nice project, I love it! I have also made a stop-motion recorder myself for Linux. May be worth to check it on GitHub:
LarryGB016 months ago
How about a little show and tell. A short animation video in the title would be inspiring!
wonderfulidea (author)  LarryGB016 months ago
good idea! just added one of our favorites made at Tinkerfest at Chabot Space and Science Center last year
Now i'm really motivated to build a similar animation station. Good job.
RolanG6 months ago
Kenluddite6 months ago
This is awesome! love it. There are a few steps Im in need of clarification. Is there and other build tips (videos?) user forums? Im worried I'll get stuck and have a pile of electronics I cant get working. Once you get the Rasp Pi programed - you dont need the computer anymore - correct? until I guess you want to save the movie - or can it write directly to a thumb drive? ...see- questions. Great stuff- inspired! thanks for sharing.
wonderfulidea (author)  Kenluddite6 months ago
Hi Ken,
Thanks so much for your comments and questions. It is a bit of a rough guide for now but there are some resources available:
Our github page theorecally can be a forum for comments/support on the program (hopefully more will use later).
There is lots of raspberry pi support ( or ( and other places online.

For the specific questions -
1. you don't need a separate computer at all for the project (just a monitor for the raspberry pi). it may be easier to look at the videos on a regular computer but it's not necessary.
2. to save the movies you can either load them on a thumb drive through the pi or drag/drop them into a google folder

Also just reach out if you have any questions to - we'll be happy to respond to challenges that come up!

BobW1466 months ago
Interesting although I have only minimal room for stop motion animation. Did go to college for a course in classical animation in the early 1970's! Also did a short stop motion animation on my scanner/printer a while back:
ka3ros6 months ago
Awesome project. Hours of playtime for kids. Great activity for a classroom.
And lasts for years
KiteArmy6 months ago
Great job - I love how you installed the buttons on the side. Makes operating the camera so simple. Thanks for sharing!
Gadisha6 months ago
Oh lovely! :D Just not for me. Making electronics is not my thing. But I will share with others. :)
wonderfulidea (author)  Treasure Tabby6 months ago
yay thanks! and if you want to start with a more approachable electronics project, you can try out circuit boards from Tinkering Studio: or our motion machines guide:

jessyratfink6 months ago
What a great project! It looks so simple and fun to use :)
wonderfulidea (author)  jessyratfink6 months ago
thanks! it's not so simple too make, but a great combination of woodworking/electronics/computational skills! and once its up and running students can get going fast with amazing creations!