In my previous post on stop-motion animation, I got a little ahead of myself and jumped straight to showing my first experiments. I want to back track a little and start with what I learnt while creating a stop-motion setup.
Today’s post is about the software choices for creating stop-frame animation.
I’m using something called frame-grabber software. Frame-grabbers help to take the guesswork out of creating a stop-motion animation. When animating without a frame-grabber, you take a picture, move the object and take another picture. You need to guess how far to move things, and remember which direction you’ve just moved them in. Sounds simple until you have multiple things moving at different speeds!
Frame-grabbers work like this:
First, you need a camera that can create a live video feed; that moving image you see on the view screen of any digital camera. (There is a lot more to say about the camera side of this, but I’ve written a separate post on which camera to use for stop-motion.)
By connecting your camera to a computer running frame-grabber software, you can see a preview of the objects that are in front of your camera. If you move an object , you can the movement on the preview image on your computer screen.
The frame-grabber allows you to compare a picture you’ve just taken with the live-feed view of the objects in their current position. This allows you to check how far you need to move the object you are animating before taking the next picture. StopMotionPro have a page with a video tutorial, if you are curious to see more.
So…there are lots of frame-grabbers to choose from. Some of them are free, some are very expensive. How to go about choosing which one is right for you? In my case, my choices were limited by the camera I bought, a Canon 100D.
- Helium Frog – a free program that I’ve seen recommended all over the place. I downloaded a trial and it looked fine. Problem is – it does not support the camera I bought. So that’s that. Here is a link to a page with information on how to check if your camera is supported.
- StopMotionPro Action! – StopMotionPro has a great reputation and I was all excited about the “Action!” – a light and cheap version – until I found that this also did not support the camera I had. The HD version supports my camera, the light version does not.
Then there is the full versions of StopMotionPro and Dragon both of which look wonderful, but both are out of my range price wise, especially with our currency. If you are on a Mac, iStopMotion is also really nice to use.
I finally settled on AnimatorHD Personal – which is perfect for me. Its affordable, the free trial does not have a time limit, so I was able to test it thoroughly (StopMotionPro only gave me a month). The support is great and my questions were answered immediately.
Something I found on my searching for information, is a great stop-motion forum where all my software and camera questions were answered: The Stopmotion Animation.com message board . They are super helpful. They also have a very handy online Stopmotion handbook where you can find answers to all kinds of questions.