Price: £429.99 plus VAT
Company: Stop Motion Pro
Pros: Good compatibility with digital SLRs; high-resolution workflow; intuitive shooting; helpful support.
Cons: Basic ChromaKey and Paint tools; fairly pricey.
Most professional stop-motion animation – from commercials work to feature films – is now shot using digital SLR cameras. We tested Studio HD’s compatibility with digital SLRs using a Canon EOS 450D, which is affordable but provides top-quality images. Before the shoot it’s a good idea to set all the camera’s controls (exposure mode, focus, white balance, auto power-off and so on) to their default settings.
You’re not limited to Canon SLRs, though – you can also use webcams, video cameras and Nikon SLRs. In the Capture Settings window you dictate the working resolution. The 450D’s smallest capture preset is 2,256 x 1,504 pixels – well above HD resolution and more than adequate
for most projects.
In the main Stop Motion Pro window, you get to see the Live View feed coming straight from the digital SLR. The preview image looks good so you’re ready to shoot a few high-resolution captures.
New to version 7 is the DOP Control window. This is effectively a testing zone, where you can capture test images and scrutinise them closely using new histogram and zebra checking tools. You can set curves and also adjust the camera’s exposure settings here.
Stills from Chris Gavin’s project Txt Island. Watch the full spot here.
When you start animating, the main controls for capturing images are quick to grasp and highly intuitive. The basic principle is: move the model, shoot, move the model, shoot. Given the repetitive and physical nature of this work, learning the keyboard shortcuts soon becomes a real timesaver.
One of Stop Motion Pro’s genuinely standout features is its looping functionality. A lot of animation time is spent reviewing what has already been shot – and Stop Motion Pro offers a pleasing variety of looping options to facilitate this. Looping with the Include Live tool is especially effective.