My final unit in my History of Animation class was Stop Motion, and our final project was to create our own little stop motion film (just a few seconds worth), using a digital camera. Well-done stop motion is very time-consuming and takes a lot of patience and very thorough setup. However, you can accomplish some fun stuff just by using a tripod (or in my case, just setting up the camera and trying to keep it from moving around too much) and moving things around. I used some cat toys (which, in retrospect may not have been the best idea to keep the cats from being interested) and a Cheez-It, which I had been snacking on a box of earlier. You can use anything - food, toys, yourself, paper cutouts, office supplies, whatever. Try something - my little piece was only like 30 shots, which sounds like a lot more than it really is. I timed them out on 3's (each still frame held for 3 frames at 24 frames per second) and that was it. A cute little story that amuses me!
I haven't been trained in stop motion. In fact, I didn't think I had ever done it until I randomly had a flashback, last year, to 1st grade where my awesome teacher decided we needed to make our own stop motion movies. She brought in a camera on a tripod and we did whatever we wanted. I used some wood blocks we had in lots of shapes and colors, and just moved them around to create a pattern. Then later she had us get more complicated with a group project where we each created our own set of 2 animals for a Noah's Ark reenactment. I had totally forgotten all of this, but suddenly it came back to me, this image of the 2 giraffes I made out of paper stapled together and stuffed with cotton balls, and popsicle sticks in the legs, with brads connecting them so that we could move them back and forth with the popsicle sticks. It was really cool, and I can't believe I had forgotten about it. That was an awesome school year. The same teacher also taught us how to draw perspective, which always stuck with me (something I come to find out is not so easy for a lot of people).
Anyway, I'm just here to encourage everyone to try it. Doesn't have to be fancy. Just do something to amuse yourself. Make it simple. If you don't have the software or knowledge to put the stills together, let me know, I'll throw them into a movie for you (OK, if I have 10 million people emailing me for this, I can't guarantee I can do it for everyone!). But seriously. Have some fun. Break out of your norm. Who knows, you might just surprise and impress yourself!