The Teasels in Thirty Minutes a Week

Paul Seward and Jo Wheeler’s idea for a fantasy series was born over dinner at their mutual place of employment. They came up with rules for their goal – they were to produce a series from what they could find around their workplace in just a half hour each Wednesday, using only an iPhone and an iPad. They named their series “Dungeon Hunted.” Their first production was a full-length trailer for the upcoming series, starring themselves as characters. They experimented with a green screen to create realistic yet fantastical backgrounds and situations, and after composing the theme music with GarageBand, they began brainstorming other components of the series.

“Teasels were one item I found looking around the fields,” Paul says. “Myself and Jo decided this could be a creature from our series.”

A teasel is a type of prickly flower that is usually purple, dark pink or lavender. Paul and Jo’s teasels took the form of a character named Winifred Weatherteas. After handcrafting her home, a mini castle in the desert, Paul and Jo were ready to begin telling Winifred’s story.

That was when they discovered a big problem – making their little friends come to life.

“After a lot of research, we decided to use stop motion,” Paul says. “After trying loads of apps and then deleting, we found iStopMotion for the iPad. We tried it and loved it, and we used the iPhone for our remote camera, all still within the rules we set ourselves.”

iStopMotion helped bring Winifred to life in her first-ever film appearance Paul and Jo received a great response to their prickly little character.

“It made people laugh!” says Paul. “Already, she has a lot of admirers asking when the next episode is coming out, bearing in mind we are doing short clips of our friends to introduce them slowly to lead on to what is now going to be their own series.”

Paul and Jo plan to continue the story of the Teasels characters with full episodes, introducing new characters with a connecting narrative. Recently, they introduced Oswald and his toy umbrella to the Teasels family in the video above. Throughout the creation of the series, Paul and Jo have discovered more iStopMotion features to help them expand.

“We have found the remote camera option, where we can link the iPad up to the iPhone, incredibly useful,” Paul says. “It has been brilliant in that when we have set up the camera, we don’t have to worry about any unwanted movement as we take our shots. The other aspect of this app that has also stood out for us is the ‘ghost.’ This has helped when we have lost connection with the remote camera, and in reconnecting have had movement, which we were able to correct using the ghost overlay.”

The two are constantly coming up with new stop motion ideas, even those that are completely unrelated to “Dungeon Hunted.” They feel that they have progressed and developed their knowledge of the app, sparking their interest in using stop motion throughout all of “Dungeon Hunted.”

“Since starting this project and experimenting with different apps, we have found that our creativity overall has grown and branched out into lots of different areas,” says Paul. “Without the app and an outlet for our ideas to be used in, we would not have achieved the many other randomly creative projects we get up to over our lunchtimes at work.”

Paul suggests taking into consideration the lighting of the piece you are animating, and to take your time when moving your objects and characters. He and Jo have found that taking shots at a higher frame per second, usually the industry standard 24, and then slowing them down if necessary creates a more seamless movement during playback. Their videos are great examples of how flawless and realistic stop motion animation can be with the right planning! Try taking a half hour out of your week to work on your iStopMotion ideas like Paul and Jo do. It’s the perfect way to get used to using the app, and if you set your own rules, your creative spark may surprise you!