How do I Record-Film Stop Motion? *
There are different ways to record-film your Stop Motion Animation. FIRST OF ALL .... you CANNOT Record-Capture and playback your animation, only using a video camcorder, digital still camera, or a webcam. The camera must be connected to a computer. Most of my comments here refer to PCs . MAC computers may have slightly different requirements but the principle is still the same. When you use the Camera connected to Computer, you will need Animation Frame Capturing Software that will enable you to do Single Frame Capture-Recording. Well designed animation capturing software will have Onionskinning or Back & Forth Frame Toggling and maybe Rotoscoping. If you want to learn animation much quicker, any one of these features will tremendously assist you .....your animation will also be more fluid (not too jerky). These features allow you to measure & guage the incremental frame-to-frame puppet movements. If you are not familiar with this, it may a little difficult to explain. Not all animation frame capturing software will have onionskinning or frame back & forth flipping. They should have at least one of those features .... ask them.
Some Stop Motionists using Digital Still Camera to capture High-Resolution still images.You should know, most of the current Stop Motion Frame Capturing programs not designed for Still Cameras. The animation software's frame capture features does not control or interface with the DSCs. As far as I know, only a few Stop Motion programs have some interface ability with some brands of Digital Still Cameras: For PCs .... Animator DV , Stop Motion Pro and Stop MotionMaker. For Macs .... iStopMotion. Then you have Dragon Stop Motion which is available for both Macs & PCs. Also, more comprehensive listing of Software.
With high resolution images, there is the issue of playing back as a movie file, which you may not be able to do on a moderately powered computer (images too large). You could reduce the image size but playing back could still be choppy. You have to download the still images from the camera to your computer's hard drive, then, reduce the image size so you can create a playable movie for editing. One option would be to edit by proxy, or, the other choice of a costlier and more powerful workstation. As you can see, there are added higher expenses and workflow production steps using Digital Still Cams. So, you have to ask the question what is your end product? Suppose you want to produce quick animations for practice, tests, or only for online viewing such as on YouTube type sites? Those producing animation with more serious intent or other distribution formats, of course, digital still camera is an option for them. There is now, also, consumer Hi-Definition Video camcorders as another option. Think about this: Suppose I want to shoot High-Resolution 'Live Action' Actors for combining with Harryhausen-esque Creature Stop Motion effects? With Digital Still Cams, you cannot shoot hi-resolution video. The above is just a synopsis and providing an overview here. Go to this link for more info .... Digital Still Cameras Overview
The lowest cost and easiet way to start is by using WebCams & Stop Motion Software. Most Webcams use USB connection (more expensive webcams use Firewire connection & requires firewire card). Also, just about all of the Stop Motion programs will work with USB Webcams. When you use USB Webcams, you do not need a video capture card in your computer. With Webcams, just remember that the resolution will not compare to the high quality image of a camcorder, however this would be a simple and very affordable way to initially get into Stop Motion and get a feel for it, practice, and doing animation tests.
Before you animate, if your puppets are talking or there is sound effects or a sound track, you will need Lip & Sound Analysing Software. Some Stop Motion Software already comes with lip syncing features .... go to Stop Motion Overview again and read the detail specs of each program. .After you capture / record your animation, then you will have to EDIT it ......this requires the use of Video Editing Software which is included with some capture cards or you $BUY$ editing programs, separately. Video editing and also Sound Editing is a whole other set of tools and many programs available. Maybe another topic about that. In the meantime, here are some sound resources/links, for special effects sounds, music, barking dogs, rain, ambient sounds, etc. etc.....Free Audio Clips - Flash Kit - Wave Central - Find Sounds - Sound Dogs.
If you are a newbie or beginner and all this sounds confusing .... well .... at least I tried to explain it. "Words" not always efficient especially with a visual, technical, art-craft medium. If you want to get more confused, you can shoot animation on Movie Film. Just research and walk before you run and take baby steps first. Start simple and just DO IT. You learn through practice and trial & error. You may have to re-read the above again & again until it hopefully starts making sense to you, then do your own research. Once again, here is this link, Overview of Stop Motion Software & Tools and you can also go to the Stop Motion Message Board if you have any questions and you might get some help.
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