Stop Motion animation is a method of creating animated films by taking a picture of a static scene, and then moving things around, bit by bit, taking more pictures as you go, and then playing all the pictures back to create a movie – like a flick book.

Loads of really popular animations are made using this method – remember Morph? Or Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride! So it’s a wonderful thing for kids to get enthusiastic about and create their own little pieces of video magic. And a kids Stop Motion animation kit makes a brilliant and original gift for Christmas.

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We’ve been trying out the Hue Animation Studio kit which is a one stop shop to get kids started creating their own really professional looking stop motion animations.

The kit contains everything you need – except a computer of course! – to get going. It includes the great looking Hue HD webcam, which connects to your computer by USB. This has been cleverly designed on a flexible gooseneck  so you can position it really easily. It plugs straight in to a USB port on your computer or you can mount it on the supplied base which is heavy enough to support the camera however you twist the gooseneck.

The Hue Animation software is easy to download and install (for either PC or Mac) and you get your own license by entering a code that comes with the package. The software is designed for kids, so is simple and easy to use. It has some great features too like onion skinning (that allows you to see what has moved from frame to frame when creating your animations – perfect for when the kids knock a figure over which they will lots of times!). You can add text – so you credit your little director when they’ve finished their movie! You can also record or import sound (we recorded the kids talking through the scenes and we also pulled in music from stored wav files).

You can really get engrossed in the whole animation process with this animation kit. And the results are your own great looking animations. The adults get into it too – just be careful not to take over too much! You can use the supplied modelling clay to make your own plasticine like models to move around. We also experimented using toys with moveable limbs to make them walk or dance to the great delight of the fluxlings! We also tried our own cut out paper drawings and just moving them around backgrounds using blue tack which is great for getting some really quick, easy and effective results for younger children.

When you’ve finished your films, you can export for sharing on Youtube or with friends – or to take to school to show off your efforts. We made a movie when fluxling #1 brought home the school’s ‘take home’ bear for the weekend making the bear party with her other toys. A great hit!

This kit is a fantastic introduction to animation for kids and we are really impressed.  The camera is just great – coming in a range of colours (red, green, blue, pink, white or black) and you can also use it outside the animation package as a normal webcam for skype, or to take still photographs.

Hue Animation Studio retails at £49.95 at the moment from www.hueanimation.com.

Newly released by Hue to coincide with the Moshi Monsters film out in December, there is a Moshi Movies edition of Hue Animation Studios available with modelling clay and instructions to make your own moveable little Moshis.