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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

Digital Video

Has manual control features
The method that is most often used with animation frame capture software, is, a Camcorder connected to the Computer. Some camcorders have Interval or Time lapse features .... however ..... that will not give you real single frame animation. Again, let me repeat, most Camcorders cannot capture true "Single Frames" .... you have to connect camcorder to computer and use some software. The Camcorder does not have any video tape in it.....we are not recording the animation to video tape. The camcorder's lens and imaging ccd's merely acts as an EYE for the computer to receive the images. It is important to know, that some animation frame capture software will work only with DV Camcorders (with the FireWire connection) and other animation frame capture software will work only with the older Analog Camcorder format link2 link3 link4 (RCA plugs or S video connections), but many programs will work with both analog & digital. In addition, for the animation frame capture software to work, you will also need a compatible Video Capture Card that is installed in the PCI slot inside the computer. Video capture cards are available for DV (Digital Video) with "firewire" connection or the older AV (Analog Video) with the standard old video RCA type connections. Basic Features of Video Camcorders suitable for Stop Motion: Should have some type of Manual control of the Exposure/Shutter and Focus. Analog Video

Read 1-2

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.

Okay, after your animation is completely edited and finished (with soundtrack), you will have to consider how to distribute it and you will need to transfer the animation in your computer to another format. There are various ways to do this...... you need a CD-RW Drive & VCD Burning software so that you can "burn" (record) the finished animation onto CD's and create a VCD movie. You also can burn and make DVD's, but DVD-RW Drives (also need DVD Burning software) are much more expensive. If you want to create a VHS Tape of your animation, you will need a DV camcorder that uses MiniDV Tape.....connect camcorder to computer (firewire hook-up) then transfer animation (stored on hard drive) to DV camcorder.....after that is transferred to the miniDV tape, you unconnect DV camcorder from computer and you then connect camcorder to your VCR and make as many VHS tape copies as you want (from the miniDV tape master). If you only have an Analog Camcorder, the choices may be more limiting. As I said earlier about animation frame capture software.... with analog camcorders you will need a analog video capture card but the card must also have added features such as, both video in / out or S video connections so you can connect a computer directly to a VCR, however, these analog video capture cards (with in / out connections) are not easy to find or only available in the more expensive capture cards. Most Analog video capture cards, that are affordable, have only IN. You need to burn the video/animation (stored on your computer's hard drive) onto DVD (or VCD) to get the video "out". I will repeat: If you have a CD-RW or DVD drive in your computer and burning software, you can always burn/copy the video to VCD (lesser known to public) or the more popular DVD format. Many of the Consumer DVD Players can play VCDs (read the DVD specs for that player brand). So now, you can give your friends, VCD or DVD copies of your animation masterpieces.

Converts ANALOG Camcorders to USB.
You do not need
Capture Card

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.


Stop Motion Software OverviewChoosing a Camera for Stop MotionDigital Still Cams Overview





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