So I kind of finished my first movement test for the red octopus. It is kind of jumpy. But not too bad for what it is. I will be shooting more, either tonight or tomorrow, to see if I can smooth it out a bit. Here is attempt #1.
Again, not great, but not absolutely crappy. The title is in refernace to the PDX Broadside's song Nopetopus.
So I did a little playing, and found some interesting things. No, I wouldn't recommend always using iPad apps for stop motion. Seems stupid if you have the money for the real deal compiler software and real equipment. I don't. I have had problems getting After Effects to work, Windows Movie Maker goes in and out of utility, and pretty much everything else out there requires you to be able to capture directly to computer and my point n shoot doesn't allow that.
So now that I have the iPad that was first prize for the Literary Platform Douglas Adams Animation contest, I thought I would research the feasibility of using the iPad. I do not have a Mac computer, so that has been my first hurdle to jump. Apparently they do not play well together. After several tried I finally got the pictures I took with the iPad onto my Windows machine. If I can ever get the software to work for me, that might be doable. At first I was having problems with the camera. Remember, this was made to be idiot proof, which means very little control. I learned a few things about how to get it to work right.
1. Use a LOT of light. The controls are really shitty, so if you want a clear picture you need lots and lots of light. Even if you think you have enough light, add more. The camera seems to work better with excess light than with not enough. Grainy pictures that aren't as crisp as you want them will be the result if you don't.
2. Even when using Focus Lock, double check to make sure focus hasn't changed. If you tap and hold your finger in a particular spot, it will lock focus on that spot and it is supposed to keep focus on the spot until you move it. Well, in the we-know-better-than-you vein, it doesn't always stay in focus lock. From time to time it does the face scan thing, which removes focus lock if the focus isn't focused on what it thinks is a face. This annoys me. I have not found a way to turn the face recognition off yet. That may come, but for now there doesn't seem a way around it, so you have to constantly check to make sure your focus lock is where you want it to be.
3. Keep fingers away from the lens. I know this seems a simple and obvious thing, but when you are dealing with smalls sets as I am and have to keep the camera close in, sometimes I can't help but get my hands or fingers too close to the lens, which breaks the focus lock and readjusts it to the closest thing - me. That shouldn't happen with focus lock, but it is happening just about every picture.
Ok, so now I have figured out how to get the camera to sort of work. Lets talk about the apps I tried out. Most of the animation apps were not for stop motion. They were for drawn animation. I found 3 apps that actually fit the criteria and also didn't require me to buy the full version for a Mac in order to use it. I tried out iMotion HD, StopAnimator and StoMo. I have no idea who created these apps. I am not promoting any of them particularly. I am just comparing them. Remember as I go through these that I am looking to do good quality videos. All three of these would be good if you are a kid and only want to play with stop motion. Someone who is an expert in stop motion and is very skilled at the craft may be able to do a better job than I did. But for what it is worth, here is how it all shook out.
iMotion - This one isn't too bad. It does have an onion skin option, which I like. You can also do time lapse with this app. I haven't tried it yet. Seems interesting. Doesn't do stop mo though, so I will leave that for later. First thing I noticed is you have absolutely no control over the camera. You can't set focus lock, you can't zoom in, you can't do anything. This is fine if you are working in a big set, I guess, but in these small sets it is a pain in the ass. The focus is so not consistent it makes me want to scream. Also, when exporting the video you do not get to choose the frame rate of the exported video. You can choose it in the app, but it ignores your choice when exporting.
Here's the short sample video I did:
Besides being fluttery, which seems to be my issue not the app's, it is way faster than it should be. If you slow it down to the speed it was supposed to be, you can see the focus changing. Annoying!
StopAnimator- This one also doesn't allow for any type of camera control. It also doesn't have any onion skin capability. You don't have any type of frame rate control either. The one good thing about this app is if you set some things in the camera mode, it will hold on to them - though focus lock is not one of them. But if you zoom in via camera then switch apps you can be zoomed in for this app. When watching this one, notice that even though I did not move the camera in any way nor did I set a zoom or unset a zoom, the views are very very different.
Here's this one:
This one at least stayed at a good frame rate. You can see the focus changing. It is infinitely annoying.
StoMo - This has the most controls inside the app of all of them. It keeps track of the number of frames you have taken, it allows you to shoot more than one scene and label them. It also gives you control over how dark the previous image is when using onion skinning and lets you control the fram rate. You can play it back at several frame rates to see which one works best. It is also the only one that allows you to edit individual frames. The biggest problems with this app is again you have no control over the camera and the image you get isn't exactly the image you see in the preview. It isn't always as focused as the actual picture is, so you have no idea what exactly the end result will be. It also has some lag and responsiveness issues.
Notice how much further away it looks than the other videos. I did not move the camera, play with the zoom, nor did I have any type of control over that. The frames in the app look closer to what you see in the other video than to what you see in this video. It also continuously refocuses, and as you can't really tell under the onion skinning and blurriness, I couldn't fix it. That frustrates me as well.
So, I suppose in conclusion I don't really think any of these will work for what I do. There may be more that I have missed. The search feature isn't exactly precise in the app store. There may be ways to work around these flaws. And one day I may have the patience to figure them out. For now, though, it doesn't work. I have limited energy at the moment, so I need to find one thing that I like and really concentrate on learning it. Once I settle onto what "it" is.
Oh...and none of the apps allow you to add audio. You have to find a separate application to do that. That is annoying as hell as well.
I am back playing with my stop mo today. I had a specific idea I wanted to test out, then realized I really need to make myself a camera stand I can put in the set if I am going to continue to use the cookie tin for anchoring my guys. So I built several types, and came up with one that I like. It is still in progress, but I will post pics when it is done.
So the idea I wanted to try was getting the guy to jump on the couch. I have a specific reason for that move, which I will reveal at a later date. So intstead if doing the jumping repeatedly, while testing camera holder designs I made him just jump onto the couch once. I also played around the the idea of a chest bump. I think it turned out ok, except next time I will find a way for them to go up a bit before they part. I think that would make it look more like a bump. It isn't bad, it just looks more like they are rubbing chests together, which is not the kind of film I am going for.
So here is the result of the last test. Remember I am just rushing through it, to get an idea. There are several of the actions I would have added more frames to, to make them less jerky, if it were meant to be a final product. Also, as the camera is still moving a bit due to the instability of the cardboard, it isn't exactly perfect. Does look a tad shakey cam though.
I was also paying more attention to the camera and the action than I was the set and props. Watching it again I am seeing magical moving inanimate objects (that aren't supposed to be moving on their own).
Ok...back to construction.
I've been working on set pieces for the new video. While I am waiting for the glue to dry I decided to experiment with getting the movement down. It looks pretty funny. Almost like break dancing. Here are the results:
Pretty comical. I guess it is back to the old drawing board. I went and got myself some wire today to start playing with building armatures. Maybe my next project should be a movement gage.
Eleanor is an aspiring writer, stop motion animator, crafter, musician, and anything else shiney that might cross her path. She is a geek, nerd, and all around weird person.
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