What are the best lights for stop motion?

Good lighting makes a big difference in stop motion animation. The trouble is, studio lights can be very expensive. I have tried out lots of budget-friendly options and these are my findings, including the ones I use at my workshops.

Sometimes it might not be convenient to use additional lights, such as in a classroom, so it is absolutely fine to go ahead and animate without. Creativity is the thing that matters!

If you are able to block out daylight and use at least one lamp, it will increase the quality of your final animation. Daylight varies in brightness throughout the day and can create flicker in your animation.

If you want to reduce this, the best thing you can do is to block out natural light – draw the curtains and close the blinds, and use task lamps.

Type of bulb

You can use any desk lamp you have already, the important thing is the type of bulb. Some older type of bulbs will cause flicker in your animations, including incandescent, fluorescent and halogen.

LED is best as they stay cool and produce continuous, stable light.

My Favourites

Of the many lights I have tried, I love ones from Mighty Bright. The NuFlex is my favourite. It’s well-made, a pleasure to use and, lives up to its name in being nice and bright.

It can be clipped onto the side of the tabletop studio, its flexible neck is sturdy and can withstand being fiddled about with at my workshops! The light can be used with either batteries or charged with its USB cord.

It is better if you use two, but one is bright enough.

These LED lights are also very good – they are small, but powerful. They are also rechargeable and dimmable. Available on Amazon at time of writing here.

Stands with built-in light

A very popular and budget-friendly choice is Ikea’s LÅNESPELARE ring light with phone holder.

Another option is the Canvas lamp. I have not personally tried it, but it gets consistently good reviews from video makers. They ship internationally, but it is pricey.

For a more advanced set up

This shows the standard way that photographers position three lights to make sure an object or person is well lit with no harsh shadows. The KEY light is the brightest, the FILL light fills in the shadows, and the BACK light makes your subject stand out from the background.

3 Point Lighting

Professional studio lighting can be very expensive. There are budget-friendly options out there that can still get you good results. I’m loathe to suggest it, but Amazon is a good bet. Remember to look for LED bulbs and high lumens (brightness).

Softbox continuous lighting

Pros: soft, diffused, even light

Cons: Big and bulky – you need lots of space!

LED Light panels

Pros: compact, bright, continuous light

Cons: Can create uneven, overly bright areas, i.e. ‘hots spots’


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