Things were different when I was a kid…
I know that is such a cliche, but as I come to write a review of StikBot Zanimation Studio it’s a phrase that keeps going over and over in my head. When I was a child animation was those little flick books that you drew and Morph on the telly. That’s as sophisticated as it got. And the though of ever managing to do something yourself that was anywhere near as good as Morph was just unimaginable.
Fast forward twenty plus years and my kids now have StikBot to take their animations to a whole new level. Now I’ve been aware of StikBot for a while, but being sent the StikBot Zanimation Studio and one of the Action Weapons Packs to review was the first time that I’ve actually been able to have a play with it properly.
The way StikBots works is that you have these cute little StikBot characters that you can manipulate into various different poses, and as they have suckers on the ends of their legs and arms, you can position them on a slightly shiny background and they can maintain their poses pretty well. You then use the free Zing Studio app (for either iOS or Android) and in it you can create your own piece of stop motion animation.
The Zanimation Studio comes with a couple of StikBot figures (the one I was sent was actually StikBot Pets so came with a traditional StikBot man and also a dog) and a “green screen” background for you to work on. Also included is the important tripod for your mobile phone so that you can hold it steady whilst taking your pictures.
The Zing Studio app is incredibly easy to use. One you’re in it all you need to do is tap one icon on the screen to take each frame of your animation. Helpfully the app also keeps on the screen a ghost image of where your StikBots were in the last picture so that you can see just how much movement they have made since the previous frame. And it’s really as simple as that to get going. It only took a couple of minutes of explaining to Little Miss C and then she was off doing it on her own.
The app also contains a series of pre-loaded backgrounds that you can then superimpose your StikBot people on to – or you can even use your own photographs as a backdrop. Once you’ve finished making your movie you are then able to either share it directly to YouTube, or save it to your camera roll and then do more editing back on a laptop or desktop, or in another movie editing app.
Little Miss C absolutely loved making her own animations with StikBot. For well over an hour she was completely absorbed in what she was doing and was trying to come up with a storyline for the StikBot characters. It was very much a first attempt and even just in that hour I could see how much her skills were improving. We’re a long way off some of the remarkable videos that you can see on the StikBot Central YouTube channel, but she’s definitely got something to aspire towards.
We also really liked the Action Weapons Pack that we were sent as it gave LMC a great range of props and inspiration for her storyline – although I’m not sure that a story in which the StikBot dog ends up with his head chopped off was quite what I had in mind, but you can’t control a child’s imagination!