Overview of Stop Motion Software & Tools *
UPDATE - It
is realized that this page has not been updated
BRIEF HISTORY: "Movie Film" was the most common image storage medium to permanently record & preserve your animation (film still used). In the early Stop Motion days, while you were animating, there was no way to see the animation inprogress. It was difficult to visually measure and judge the incremental frame by frame movements, and impossible to see your previous animated movements (as you were animating). It took much practice to master Stop Motion back then. You had to wait until the next day after the movie came back from the film lab, to see how your animation looked. With experience, one eventually developed an intuitive Zen thing where you can visualize, feel, and see the motion in your mind's eye. Before all the current technological tools, in those days, surface guage pointers were used to measure the movements of just the major parts/appendages of the puppet. The smaller puppet appendages, you still had to 'remember' or write down in exposure log sheet ahead of time, what to move. Then along came the early modified VCR devices to record & save your animation and then later, computer based software to capture and save the animated frames. Finally, Stop Motionists can SEE the frame by frame motion on the screen, while animating. A basically, simple technology, however, for the Stop Motion Art/Craft, the "live video frame grabbing technique" which provides accurate frame to frame animation visual measurment, control, & instant feedback; has made a powerful positive impact on the animation quality, creative freedom, and also, significantly increasing the animator's consistent animation results, and more production output. Some QuickTime clips where you can see how Surface Guages are used Clip 1 Clip 2
The following are not detailed reviews of the of the Stop Motion capturing/recording software-tools, but more of my general comments and I am not going to be too critical. Software here covers PCs and some Macs (not as many though). You should be thankful that there are a minority few software authors, who have made the effort to produce such programs for this unique & esoteric animation art/craft. They are also affordable and most all of them offer a trial limited demo to test their software. ALWAYS .... FIRST look at the Software's Minimum System Requirements for your computer to run the software. For PCs, most of these programs require the latest version of Windows DirectX .... free download (read DirectX ABCs) but usually, it is "already" installed in Windows. You should be aware that most of programs will save your final animation as an AVI movie file which are large ..... 360 full 720x576 bitmap frames can occupy approximately ONE Gig of Hard drive space. One usually downsizes them, converting them to compressed QuickTime or Windows Media format .... or you transfer or burn the movies onto VCD/DVD to free-up your hard drive space. Most of these programs do not work with consumer digital still cameras. You will need to use consumer DV camcorders or Webcams. If you cannot afford a DV corder, then for just "practice" animation, most USB Webcams will work. If you want higher quality Webcam, read this. Only "some" Stop Motion Software are "freeware". You should encourage these software developers by trying their products. If you like it .... then just pay the reasonable affordable cost for the program. Do not whine or complain that these are too expensive.
Instead of asking, "Which is the best program?", it would better if you just test them yourself and do not rush it. Each program has different combination of features and user interface. Play with each of programs for a few days. Most all the programs come with "Un-install". If you want to be sure, contact the software company to check if you can easily un-install. Try the programs that interests you, one at a time .... download it .... test it .... un-install it (remove it), then try the next program of your choosing.
Okay, here goes .... happy shopping .......
rapidly gained recognition as a serious
tool for professional
production work. Many features listed
and this is only a general overview: 1) Controls
Digital Still Cameras and Hi-Definition
Video camcorders (with HDMI capture
card) for single frame animation &
effects 2) Provides a comprehensive set of animation &
cinematogoraphy tools to help you get the shot right 3)
Keeps your scenes, shot-takes, and
frames well-organized for post production. You can then import your
animation (shot with Dragon) to your favorite editing and/or special
effects software for post production work completion of your animation
project. If your camera is not supported, you can ask their customer
support about possible 'workaround' options. DragonFrame has been designed by professionals working in the Stop Motion Animation field. The Dragon folks
have a very responsive custom service
support including discussion
forum. Their latest DragonFrame version comes with an intuitive Keypad Controller that helps
keep 'you' FOCUSED on your frame-by-frame animation work. Available for
both Apple-Mac and
Their website DragonFrame
Stop Motion Pro .... was one of the first trailblazing software products back in 2000 year, to offer to the public, a completely dedicated & specialty Stop Motion program for the Stop Motion hobbyist, practitioner, and for pro use. It has quite a number of very specific and beneficial features for the Stop Motion specialty that can meet demands of experienced Stop Motionists. Has audio lip syncing feature. It is for PC-Windows. You can use DV camcorder (Firewire connection), USB webcams (USB connection) and Analog camcorder (if you have analog video capture card). Stop Motion Pro can control some Digital Still Cameras, too. Many other features listed at their website. They have good online support & video tutorials. A trial demo version is available for you to test it. If you decide to purchase it, you will get the full version at a reasonable cost Stop Motion Pro, They are also working on an HD version of Stop Motion Pro to capture uncompressed HD Video. It will not be a low cost set-up for everyone (very pricey HD capture card) and you will need extra computer power. Good choice maybe for the higher budgets in doing professional stop motion work and also for those just compulsively seeking, "HD Nirvana"
Animator DV frame capturing software is another excellent choice for PC-Windows users.This one looks like it is for very professional use. Has similar features as Stop Motion Pro, but it looks like Animator DV have some program versions with plenty of bells & whistles features for high end "Pro" use and can control some Canon Digital Still Cams. Some versions have audio lip syncing feature. Too many features to list. You can see the features listed here, 4 versions of Animator DV. This is possibly not for kids or beginners because of the many choices of features and it might get confusing with regards to the more intricate user interface. They have good online documentation & video tutorials. Even though the name says "DV" which is used with DV Camcorders, Animator DV is also compatible USB Webcams and Analog Camcorders (if you have analog capture card installed). I have heard that their customer support is good & responsive. They offer trial demo download of one of their high end Animator DVs for you to test it. Also, Animator DV are very generous and are now offering a FREE version of Animator Simple+. If you have any questions, Contact them and also provide them feedback W Multimedia's Animator DV
Stop MotionMaker for PC-Windows. The user interface is very user friendly. The software developer originally designed this software for children-schools-educators and they want to maintain this simple user interface concept. Do not be deceived by its simple looks. Stop Motion Maker has some strong features .... onionskin, toggling-review of stored frames, rotoscoping, delete/replace last frame, loop last frame, instant preview of animation, frame markers, time lapse, and simple chromakeying /compositing. Connection choices for USB Webcams, DV Camcorders (firewire), and Analog (if you have analog capture card) ..... has video compression and de-interlacing. Again .... the user interface is really straight forward and great for beginners, young & old and even for experienced The only Stop Motion capture software that has a flicker reduction feature. Stop Motionists or anyone that wants a good basic Stop Motion program without complexity. Free trial demo download is available. Go to Stop MotionMaker Update: New Stop Mo software Stop MotionMaker HDMI, which is capable of using High Definition camcorders.
Stop Motion Station 1.2 for PC-Windows. This one looks like a get-down-to-business animation software that is not too technically complex, however, perhaps more suited for computer literate users. For young children, there are other stop motion programs that they can perhaps begin with, then they can always later graduate to Stop Motion Station. The user interface for this program, entirely uses the keyboard. The live image & animation playback viewing is always full screen. There are no icon screen menus or mouse clicking, and so, you can FOCUS on the 'Animation'. Stop Motion Station can accept Firewire, USB, and Analog (with proper capture interface). This software has the most detailed online documentation than any of the other software listed here. It is very informative. The software author is very much involved with animation associations and so he has a true passion for the general animation medium. Customer service seems to be good. There is a free 30 trial download and it is a full version of the program so that you can really test it out. If you like, then definitely buy it .... affordable Stop Motion Station
This is a good freeware program called MonkeyJam. It is originally designed for pencil testing use in 2D drawn animation techniques, however the program's creator, David Perry, added some useful additional features for Stop Motion. Has a film preview slider so that you can see the previously stored frames that you already shot and compare it to the "live" frame. As I said before, this is also known as frame flipping. ..... very important feature that will help you learn Stop Motion more quickly. Also, a really good feature ....you can cut, duplicate, or reshoot frames. To view animation preview, you do have to do some extra mouse clicks and maybe not as instant as others but overall, it is good program for Stop Mo use. It is compatible with PC-Windows and one of the specs requirements says that you should have the latest version of Microsoft's DirectX. You can use it with USB Webcams, DV Camcorders (firewire connection) and Analog Camcorders (if you have analog capture card installed). Updated MJ has importion feature of WAV or MP3 audio files. Waveform display with audio scrubbing (for dialog lip sync) MonkeyJam
This Stop Motion capture program MotionMage was created by the BricksinMotion people. The freeware version includes ...full camera settings, auto-averaging, color analysis, frame delay, frame-order editing, onion skin display, audio playback, AVI-JPG-GIF, & PNG import, and AVI export. You can use MotionMage with USB Webcam, DV Camcorders or the ol' Analog Camcorders (if you have analog capture card). Again, this is the free version and so resolution choice will be limited but but seems like a good starter tool for learning Stop Motion. MotionMage is written in Java and it uses the Java Media Framework for video functions. This means, it works with both PC-Windows and Unix/Linux systems. (It has not been tested on Macs yet) According to software's author, this one may be a little more tricky to set-up. If you are somewhat computer literate, it may not hurt to at least try it as it does have good useful Stop Mo features. If you have any issues or questions, I do not know how responsive they are. Check it out MotionMage1.2
This one looks like a new one (2008) which I accidentally stumbled upon, IKITmovie for PC-Windows. Does not seem to be promoted much online. It is kind of a bells and whistles Stop Motion software for beginners. To me, this program looks more focused on creating animations for the Free Video Hosting websites (like YouTube). For you High Definition obsessed, this is not for you. It appears that IKITmovie is for ease of use by beginners or in a classroom environment, and therefore, primarily works with the common and ubiquitous USB webcams with resolutions good enough for internet and mobile media. Has custom built sound engine with over 2,200 sound effects and background music. You do not need to export your movie to other software in order to complete your project. The exporting all done within IKITmovie. It has Onionskin but not sure if it has back/forth Frame Toggling to 'Live' feed. My suggestion and feedback to them, would be, that the frame rates are only from 1 to 25 frames per second. In my view, it should be able to go up to 30 fps. Their flash based tutorials are good but not fully completed or still under construction. Also, I do not see a list if IKITmovie is compatible with certain USB webcams or maybe works with most webcams. Free trial download to test it IKITmovie
Here is another one most of us probably never heard of .... I don't even know how to pronounce it ..... Animaatiokone. It is created in Finland and the software is in English. Do not be fooled my the simple interface. It seems to have good amount of basic features ..... onionskinning, timeline navigation & zooming (not sure what that is)), quick preview, you can cut, paste and duplicate frames. For PC-Windows and is compatible with USB Webcams, DV Camcorders, and Analog Camcorders (if you have analog capture card). They do offer a free 30 day trial for you to test it. Remember too, most likely, if you pay for program, you will get customer service support. Give them your honest feedback about the program, the interface, or other features you would like or be improved Animaatiokone
Anasazi Stop Motion Animator is freeware for PC-Windows. This is Old Software from some years ago. I guess, because it is Free, people tolerate its glitches. I have done quick test of Anasazi. This software is only for use with USB Webcams or Analog Camcorders (if you have analog capture card). You cannot use DV Camcorders or any Firewire type connection with Anasazi. The important features are, its onionskinning, back & forth frame toggling, looping, instant preview of your animated scene,, adding markers, you can set hot keys, and some other good features. With Anasazi you cannot delete or replace frames. One of the spec requirements is that you need Microsoft's old Video for Windows which Windows usually already has on your systen but is now superceded by the newer DirectShow as part of Windows DirectX Anasazi Update: Someone contacted me and says there is a fix for Anasazi so that it can work with DV Camcorders. It requires downloading/installing a codec, specifically, the Panasonic VFW, DV Codec. Do not ask me if it works with all DV camcorders. Just try it then let me know if your DV camcorder works with it. Also, supposedly, some are trying to do an update of Anasazi which would also run on Macs.
StopIt .... was written by someone for his own personal use but is offering it for free. It is for PC-Windows and it is a most basic and very simple Stop Motion software. There is no website for this program. He originally posted and announced his software program at the Stop Motion forum and he gives more details about the program. At the time, he was thinking about adding some features (such as rotoscoping) but there has been no update about it. StopIt appears to be user-friendly with minimal bells & whistles, however, looks good enough for good ol' practicing and learning Stop Motion. Again, it is free. If he thinks no one is using the software, it might not be available later? UPDATE 2010 New Website: StopIt.
Frame Thief capture software is for Macs using DV Camcorders or Mac-compatible Webcams, and Mac-compatible capture cards. Has all kinds of bells & whistles and has a serious professional interface. It includes a lightbox which does the same as onionskinning and you can toggle through the frames. Another powerful feature is Frame Averaging; improves the video image even from a webcam. Has audio lip syncing feature. It also has some other features where you can have limited control of "some" digital still cameras. It is my understanding, a lot of pro's who are Mac-philes use FrameThief. This is a shareware program and you can test it for 30 days. If you like it, you then buy it. Website: FrameThief Update: I hear that FT seems to be the preferred Stop Motion capture program used by experienced Stop Motionists who use Macs, however, there are complaints that it needs to be updated, however, will you pay for newer version? FrameThief is only $40.(USD). Perhaps, the software creator, Roman Blok should receive more $$$ compensation (raise prices) incentive for him to keep FT up to date. Framethief offers no customer support, even if you buy it. They have a FAQ section that is primarily old archived postings. A bad omen and puts Framethief in the Abandon-Ware category.
AnimAide XT for Macs. This is a 'new kid on the block'. It looks like this is a full featured softwarethat can be a possible Frame Capturing choice for you Mac people. Someone contacted me and said, "very satisfied with AnimAide XT". I do not use Macs, but looking at AnimAide XT features; to me it seems similar to FrameThief. AnimAide XT compatible with DV camcorders and webcams and 'some' interface features with Digital Still Cameras. Also has an interesting 'voice syncing' feature. Their support link has an online manual for you to look over, and of course, a Free Trial Download too. Why don't you test it out? Give them feedback. Guess how much AnimAide XT costs? I cannot believe this .... it is only $40.USD! Note: Only has Onion-skinning. You cannot toggle back to previous frame. Go to AnimAide XT main page for download trial & provide feedback.
BTV-PRO is only for Macs. They have two versions, and you want to get the Pro version which is more specific to Stop Motion. Compatible with any video source .... from Mac-compatible USB Webcams, or any firewire source like DV camcorders and also Analog Camcorders if Mac has Analog Mac-compatible interface installed. BTV Pro has Stop Mo features including one onionskin layer to view previous frame, but it does not say if it has frame scrolling-flipping? IMO, the strongest feature of BTV Pro, which most programs do not have, is, Frame Averaging which will very much reduce video noise and sharpen the captured image. The other features are instant movie playback & editing (deleting/adding frames), time lapse capture, folder viewer, movie export, and DV control device to control "some" DV camcorders (rewind, play, stop, etc).through software. Also you can capture frames in variety of image formats (like FrameThief). Good online documentation. There is an email form on the website for you to ask questions. This is a shareware programs and you can test it for 15 days BTV PRO
iStopMotion is only for Macs and works with DV camcorders and Mac-compatible USB Webcams or Firewire Webcams. I think it does not work with Analog Camcorders. It has ..... onionskinning, but no frame flipping back & forth. You need to ask them for details. Their website does not clearly explain the features. Has audio lip syncing feature. You can also download a 7 day time limited demo to try it out before you pay for it. Here is a maybe, a too enthusiastic iStopMotion Review ? There is an optional iStopMotion HR version where you can use it to trigger a DV still camera and will display a window with all images and you select images for importing to view as movie. Using a DV Still Cam is not instant feedback whereas, using Webcams or DV camcorders you can see the live image and use the onionskinning and immediately playback the animation iStopMotion
I Can Animate is an animation software created in England. All you Mac people should behappy. This is only for you! It looks like it is also geared towards education market and has some good basic features. It works with DV Camcorders and Mac compatible Webcams. It has onionskinning, you do limited layering, it has time lapse capturing and something not found in many other Stop Mo programs ..... chroma-keying and some limited image retouching features .....for example, if you need to remove wires or rigs or do some kind of special effects. The user interface design appears to be easy to understand so kids or beginners can grasp it quickly. Their prices are in English pounds so you will also need to contact them to see how much it costs in US dollars I Can Animate Update: I do not see on their website if they offer a trial demo download? Their website does not say. Suppose, for some reason, it does not work in your computer configuration, (it can happen) or you do not like the interface? You might contact them and inquire about that. They do have an online basic manual (pdf file), but IMO, trial demo would be better for testing.
StopMotioner Beta 3 seems to be a new program and is for Macs only. This will be a multi-featured software and quoting from their website ....."All in one: record stop-motion, add/edit audio (I assume for lip syncing), and edit video ... pan, zoom, and rotate effects .... includes tons of transitions, effects, and filters and much more features!" StopMotioner website does not clearly describe what you get when you download their software. I contacted them and they explained to me ... yes, they offer a 30 day demo trial download, restricted to 15 seconds length in movie editor mode and there is no help menus with program but you can use their online forum. They have a "carbon download" which means it is for Mac OS9 and Mac OSX. When you purchase Beta-3, it is a full version with no restrictions and it may have some bugs, but supposedly, you will get to update later if ever they come out with revised or final versions. For those that did not buy Beta-3, in the future, the final price of StopMotioner may be higher than what is currently listed. If StopMotioner wants to more effectively promote this product, they should more clearly describe it so I should not have to do it for them StopMotioner Beta 3
This animation software, Frames was created by a company called Tech4 Learning is for PC-Windows and Macs. This company focuses on creativity-educational tools & packages. They offer Stop Motion packages for curriculum type instruction, to teach a group of kids, or just to sort-of home school 'Stop Motion'; for beginners to start learning hands-on & tactile creativity expression. Tech4 Learning offers guidelines & much online documentation for teachers or home schoolers in setting up an animation curriculum. They say it does have onionskinning feature. Although, their online instructions for using Frames is not clear & a little confusing to me. They do not give any details how the cameras connect or interface with Frames. If you are not sure, they give you a free trial version for 30 days to test it. Tech4 does require you to fill out a form before you download it. It seems reasonably priced. Look it over or request details FRAMES . Also, available, are Clay Animation Kits
Here is a most bare-bones & simple Stop Motion freeware program called TrikFilm Cam. It is for PC-Windows. A very small program size that might work on old computer systems. It just captures still images but will "onionskin" last captured & stored frame with the "live" image .... you then need another program to construct-assemble as movie. I think this Stop Motion program might be applicable for the more experienced animators, accustomed to the still useful old surface guaging ways, and through experience have gained a keen visual memory and sense of timing (like a Ray Harryhausen, Jim Danforth, Barry Purves, etc) .... where they maybe do not rely as much on frame toggling, or the need to instantly preview the animation. In the old days, we could not see the finished animation shot until the next day. How spoiled you are all now! If you want to have fun and do straight-ahead animation without all the fancy frame toggling or instant playback, give this program a try. The other free programs to assemble-construct the animation as a movie, is also available at TrikFilm Cam
This program StopMoJo, just came out this month (March '05). It is very basic but has a few more beneficial Stop Motion-specific features than TrikFilm Cam. Here is their overview description of StopMoJo ...." StopMojo is a cross-platform (using Java ... for PC-Windows, Linux, and yet untested on Macs) Stop-Motion animation suite designed to aid in the creation of stop-motion animations. Currently it includes a capture program supporting capture of image files from various video capture devices, overlay of previous frames (onion skinning), and export to AVI and QUICKTIME video formats. The goal is to create a program or suite of programs to faciliate the creation of stop-motion movies. Initially, we only intend to provide software to capture individual frames (possibly exporting to various video format files) and create/edit exposure sheets (xsheets) for audio/lip sync." So it seems that StopMoJo' s goal is to eventually add some more features. It is a very basic freeware program and maybe worth your consideration. StopMoJo encourages you to give them constructive feedback StopMoJo
MORE Stop Motion Software
There are a few more Stop Motion Programs for the more obscure operating systems available for installing on the PC platform. If you are reeeeeally into computers and know how to partition your hard drive, you can possibly add different operating system. Do not ask me about these Stop Motion programs. Read their features. They do have useful and practical tools & aids for Stop Motion, but unfortunately, not accessible to most of the public who mostly have Windows and the minority remainder using Macs:
Syncing: Only a
very few of the above Stop Motion programs have dialogue
lip syncing, however, you can use separate programs to perform this
function. So just because a Stop Motion program does not have lip
syncing, IMO, it does not mean it is of lesser quality.
You can use these additional programs here.
Other Lip Syncing Software (Free):
Video Editing: Here is a freeware editing software, ABC VideoRoll 2.5 looks like it has plenty of features for video editing production. It supports most popular video, sound and image formats such as QuickTime, AVI, RealMedia, AIFF, JPG, BMP, TGA, GIF. You can do some sound editing. It also features over 100 special effects and transitions, video capture, internet streaming. Installation includes interactive help file and tutorial. It is for the PC-Windows platform. It might work for you and perhaps worth trying it out. Read this detailed review. Since ABC Video Roll is provided as free, there is no support but help files are usually included within most programs ABC Video Roll 2.5
Other Editors for Windows-PC (Free):
Most of the Stop Motion Software saves as uncompressed AVI file format which are very large and can use up much hard drive space. If you want to free-up your hard drive, you either save AVI on another hard drive or output your work to mpeg format for burning onto DVDs, or you do further compression for the small QuickTime, Windows Media or Real Media players for online viewing of movie clips. Many programs available for digital media conversion and also QuickTime Pro can do some media format conversions in addition to compressing.
LunchBox DV: Before computer based animation frame capturing software, there was (and still available) the LunchBox unit. It primarily served as an accessory device to the film movie camera (or now, can be used in conjunction with Digital Still Cameras). LB function was as a reliable "animation assist" tool for frame by frame "preview" visualization to accurately guage the animation movements. The "preview" gives you an accurate indication of the final animation choreography. This latest LB incarnation, is called LunchBox DV. This is not software and not a computer workstation. It is a stand-alone portable unit which you can connect to any TV set or TV monitor. It will work with DV camcorders and the older Analog video cams or camcorders. The strongest point that is said by the manufacturer, is its user friendly features. It is basically, mostly designed as a hardware device with but with a computer-type Hard Drive storage and you access the functions via push buttons only. No software interface, no computer screen menus, no mouse clicking. After you make all your cable connections, you basically just turn-on the LunchBox, like a good ol' appliance ... on & off. I will be straight-up honest .... for the hobbyist & budget minded, LB-dv is a costlier investment (about $3500. USD) when compared to other computer based software frame capturing tools. Studios & schools though, have used the LB in their professional productions and animation instruction curriculum. More details at Animation ToolWorks
DV Camcorder & Still Cam with Animation Feature: This is the only consumerdigital camcorders that I know of, that can shoot single frames without having to be connected to computer ..... Sanyo's IDshot digital disk camera. It uses no video tape and the images are stored onto Sanyo's Magneto-Optical Disk with a large 730MB storage capacity which acts as mini hard drive in the camera .... you just use it over and over. The IDshot's animation feature is not as good as a DVcamcorder camera connected to Computer & using Stop Motion Software. It is a quirky camera, however one can do variety of workarounds for animation IDshot Tutorial. Also you should know .... IDshot still image feature is just 1.5 megapixels which for a still cam is weak compared to dedicated digital still cams. Update 04/05: The IDshot is not produced anymore but it may be available for a brief while until the suppliers get rid of their stock. IDshot was a unique product and too bad Sanyo did not continue with improved versions. IMO, Sanyo's marketing of IDshot was bad, and it was initially overpriced and some of its features & user interface were weak. Some camera vendors where you might be able to get it: Sales Store (Florida, USA) is about the only place I know where they still have new models collecting dust, but I am not sure if they carry spare optical storage discs. You can try eBay too. Online detail description about Sanyo's iDshot and IDshot & Stop Motion. Idshot certainly a rare consumer product that had built-in Stop Motion feature .... a collector's item now, maybe.
Digital Still Camera Remote Capture Software
Using above Stop Motion frame grabbing software in conjunction with Digital Still Cameras; you need TWO pieces of Software:
1) One of the above Stop Motion video frame grabber softwares
2) Digital Still Camera Remote Capture Software listed below
So, for every frame, you click TWICE; you click one frame for the video frame grabber, and click one frame for the digital still camera.
What is Remote Capture? It is NOT a Stop Motion frame grabber program, but a tool that will allow the captured Still Images to be directly downloaded to your computer's hard drive (while camera is connected to to your computer) as you are shooting the still images. You can control some of Digital Still Cams features through the computer (keyboard or mouse). Only some digital still camera models already come with Remote Capture software; however, you can also purchase aftermarket Remote Capture software, but they only work with specific Digital Still Cams. These programs are not free but some will provide trial demo downloads for you to test. Since Remote Capture programs allow you to capture still images directly to the computer hard drive, you do not have to be concerned about camera's built-in memory card getting full .... AND .....another advantage ... you do not need to touch the camera, to shoot/click frames, thus reducing chance of possible camera shake. I also attempted to write a Digital Still Camera overview page but it is unfinished as this subject can fry my brain. I am not an expert on this convoluted subject area , so anyone is welcomed to contact me regarding any errors or corrections here. If you have any technical questions about Remote Capture & Digital Still Cams, do not ask me. You should contact the companies or software authors below about specifics of their software products:
Related Link: Stop Motion & Digital Still Cams Overview
SHOOTING STOP MOTION WITH MOVIE FILM
I am not sure if we all have been brainwashed already with the over abundance of hyperbole by the media (& self interested parties) which seems to be proclaiming, that Digital is the panacea to all of our world problems? Well, I should let you know that, before digital took over the planet, there was something called Movie Film! YES, it is a long strip of thin plastic material that you thread through a Movie Projector and you actually see the images moving on a screen . Pretty amazing, huh? How primitive, you say? Stop Motion can be shot using a "Movie Camera" ..... professional film formats are 35mm and 16mm which can be very costly especially if you are a beginner and also there is a big learning curve ...... knowing about film exposures settings, depth of field, focusing, film type selection, ad infinitum. In the "old school" days (Already?....I am not that old-!) there were no computer frame capturing tools where one can instantly playback and view the animation. We had to WAIT for the movie film to return from the processing lab so that we could then see the results of our animation or if we made made mistakes. Yes indeed, perhaps a tedious way to learn but eventually, with much practice & perserverance via the old methods, the mind almost becomes like an internal frame grabber, where we can mentally visualize and remember the movements .... much concentration is required. The great masters of Stop Motion acquired this skill.
Again, you can shoot animation on movie film. Today, the most affordable format is SUPER 8mm, which in the ancient Aztec civilizations, this movie film format was used to shoot./.document vacations, birthdays, weddings, sacrificial rites, etc. Super 8 film was used like our Video Camcorders of today. Why shoot on film? It has a softer or what is called the film look.....a feeling of distance or then-ness and maybe slightly surreal. Consumer Video has a now-ness / too immediate look ....... it is more of a hard feel & look to it. Super 8 Movie Film comes in Cartridges (50 feet of movie film) that is inserted into a Super 8 Movie Camera which has a Single Frame Trigger. The Super 8 camera IS NOT connected to a computer......all the single frame images are photographed onto the movie film. If you decide to shoot the animation on movie film, you can use a computer with frame capture software to assist your animation technique ..... just position your webcam or video camcorder as close to the Super 8 camera so that camcorder/webcam approximately sees the same image as Super 8 cam...... now move your puppet, click off a frame on the camcorder/webcam , then click off a frame on the movie camera ...... and do this for each time you animate/move the puppet. After you finish animating, you can immediately preview & see the results of your animation on the computer, while your movie film is at the lab being processed. If you do not have a frame grabber program and just want to animate using movie film ...... there are low tech ways to visually measure the incremental movements of the puppets which was .used by past masters of Stop Motion. It is slower, but works ..... the link is near bottom of this page. Also, here are some Super resource links:
ON SUPER 8MM
THE 8mm FILM FORMAT METADIRECTORY
KODAK'S SUPER 8MM FILM PRODUCTS
MOVIESTUFF SUPER8 TO DIGITAL TRANSFERS
So remember .... everything is not free! If it is a hobby, past-time, activity you enjoy .... one devotes some time, effort & money to it. How much cash do you spend on music CD's, DVD movies, monthly Cell phone bills, high speed internet .... or on any of your other habits? If you have suggestions, comments, or corrections or if you discover any new Stop Motion program-software-tools ...... please share and let me and everyone know. Also, if you have actually tried some of the above products .... give us your opinions or feedback.You are very welcomed to contact me.
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