Portside Pirates: an adventure in stop motion

We’ve been messing around with split-pin paper puppets this week and decided to try our hand at stop motion video. Stop motion is a great introduction to animation and an easy concept for kids to grasp. Its simple enough to put together using a stop motion app, and the kids got the hang of it very quickly. They also realised the ridiculous amount of patience required to do more than a few seconds of footage! Here’s what we did:


Miss Chu designed and made a draft split-pin puppet to act as a template.

We decided to use one of the kids’ favourite songs “Portside Pirates” as the narrative. The girls had fun playing with the pirate puppet and changing the lyrics to match her antics!


This photo was taken last year – a couple of weeks after we arrived in Singapore – at a softplay centre called Cool De Sac. The girls love the dressing-up there and always end up performing Portside Pirates on the wee stage!



We made a better version of the puppet using coloured paper so it would show up more clearly in the video. We didn’t stick on the eyes and mouth so that we could animate these too.



We played around with the puppet to get some ideas for the stop motion sequences



We photographed the sequences frame by frame on the iPad using an app called OSnap! Pro, which automatically combines them into a stop-motion video for you. OSnap! Pro allows you to copy and paste frames, reverse them, alter the frame rate, etc. and has a handy grid / onion-skinning feature to aid positioning. Tip: having a sturdy tripod helped a lot.



Tweaking the puppet frame by frame got a little tedious but the results were so fun! We decided to shoot the sequences on a blue background so we could use the blue/green screening feature in iMovie to alter the background.



Clips assembled on iMovie with background, soundtrack and subtitles.


And here it is. Enjoy the clip and Miss Chu’s silly ending! Apologies in advance if the song is a bit of an earworm…






  1. Wow! Always so impressed with your productions! (and patience!)

    • I think years of 3D rendering has made me extremely patient! (Although then again, parenting brings your patience levels right down again!)

  2. That’s fantastic! I love the way her plaits go port to starboard too!

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