Candle Stop Motion: How’s It Done?

[Ollie] tipped us off about a stop motion video that uses a grid of tea candles to animate some classically pixellated game graphics. The image above is obviously a game of pong in progress. It’s interesting to watch but for us the fun is trying to decide how it’s done. Click through the break to see the video and discuss the methodology.


Perhaps the most obvious method used here is plain old stop motion animation. You light the candles, take a picture, snuff the ones you don’t need and light new ones, and repeat. There’s also the thought that the creator let the video roll, walked through his planned frames, then edited out the filler video after the fact.

To us, one thing is missing. Whenever we put out a tea candle that’s been burning for some time it tends to let off a rather vigorous column of smoke. We don’t see that in the video. Our thought is that you take a picture of all the candles before they’re lit. You then take several shots of all the candles lit. The multiple shots are so that the video shows flickering flames. From there an image processing program can be used along with a layer mask to digitally stuff the candles that you don’t need for each frame. Below is our attempt at this using The Gimp. But we want to know how you would have done it so leave us a comment.

[via College Humor]

55 thoughts on “Candle Stop Motion: How’s It Done?

  1. if you spend the time to light one at a time by itself then add some type of transparency could you then create an array of lit to not lit to create images?

    x;1 = on

    then put some time of gui interface together and control it by clicking. of course you would be able to look at just one candle and notice its flame flashes the same way everytime.

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