Solving the registration issue for kids making GIFs on phones

A friend has been home-schooling her talented eight year-old granddaughter during the pandemic and asked me to help her with an art project. We met briefly, in a park, during the height of the pandemic, where I showed them how to do it, explaining the general principle of stop-motion animation, but it was a quick and uninspiring demonstration.

There was also the difficult to solve problem of how to line up the frames properly so that they’d make an effective phone gif. If the frame is not completely steady from frame to frame, the moves will be out of registration and not produce a watchable gif. I had to basically invent a rig to keep the frames steady when I launched a non-profit kids’ animation workshop almost a decade ago, but even with that rig there are technical hurdles to getting perfectly registered frames.

Now that we are all vaccinated I can go in person and work directly with the young artist, help her go wild with her eight year-old creativity. In the meantime, I promised my friend I’d send her a little kit to let the girl start making gifs herself.

The challenge remained, how to give them a foolproof way to properly register the frames so the gifs would work. Particularly for someone using a cellphone camera and without the steady little rig I’d put together over the course of months of trial and error.

I solved it late last night. Check out the gif below and see if you can see my fix.

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