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Henry Cohn

Digital cameras/camcorders that can take stop motion films without using computer software?

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Are there any good image quality digital cameras that can do stop motion without the $200 middle man of crap computer software? I just don't understand why most film-shooting cameras can do it but not modern digital ones.

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And yes, you need software to batch convert a bunch of still frames into some sort of video codec. Software and a still camera is ultimately going to be cheaper than a specialized digital cinema movie camera with single frame capability.

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Are there any good image quality digital cameras that can do stop motion without the $200 middle man of crap computer software? I just don't understand why most film-shooting cameras can do it but not modern digital ones.

The mechanics of film cameras result in individual full frames, at any frame rate. People do replicate this with digital still cameras, but the exposure times are usually too short which results in more rigid motion. With a film camera, it's easy to use longer exposure times for smoother motion blur. Maybe you can do this with DSLR? i just haven't seen anyone figure it out yet. But if your content simply just stop motion of still objects, it's not as much of an issue. I have seen some really cool stop motion art projects done with cheap pocket digital cameras.

Edited by Anthony Schilling
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software tools are used for stop motion animations especially because of the ability to overlay the previously taken frame with the frame you are currently working on, so you can see how much there is movement between the frames and how much you need to move the subject and camera for the current frame to get desired motion effect. and yes, almost all stop motion is made with stills cameras nowadays

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aapo lettinen, I understand that onion skinning is important for some stop motion animation, but for traditional cel animation it isn't necessary because you see previously taken frames on a lightbox. Which is why a camera that films stop motion could be very useful, plus onion skinning could be done on the monitor.

 

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QuickTime 7 Pro is pretty easy to use for compiling still frames into video. What I have done in the past is shoot RAW stills, import into Lightroom, color and export as sequentially numbered tiffs or jpgs into a single folder. Then open up QT and import an image sequence, clicking on the first frame of the sequence in the folder. Immediately export as Prores HQ or whatever you like. Pretty easy!

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QuickTime is just a wrapper, so as long as you use a high quality codec, image quality should be fine. Like Satsuki recommends, if you use any flavor of Pro Res, you should be fine. You could even use Apple's Animation codec which is lossless.

 

Keep in mind, most big budget stop-motion films these days use DSLR's. Henry Selick has been using them on his projects.

 

You may not want to rule out shooting on 16mm (especially if you're doing cell animation, where lighting is fairly straight forward). Shooting ratios are essentially 1:1, and you can cheaply pick up a used Bolex (any model would do), or better yet, an old Mauer camera which are pin registered.

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