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.
The PC will continually loop the playback of the stored frames followed by a glimpse of the current Live View frame. With this feature, the animator can concentrate on animating the model, instead of fiddling around with the playback controls.
When you capture and review your frames, most of the time you’re seeing the lower-resolution images grabbed from the camera’s Live View feed. But whenever a frame is captured, Studio HD is simultaneously saving the images as uncompressed TIFF or Raw files at the full resolution specified in the Capture Settings.
You can toggle between the Live View sequence and a downsampled representation of the Captured Fames sequence at any time. If you need to remove unwanted frames or improve the timing of your scene, open the Editor to cut, copy, paste, hide and re-order the captured frames. Hiding allows you to remove one or more frames from the sequence in a reassuringly non-destructive way.
The Editor window presents thumbnails of all of the captured frames in a grid view. This display may seem confusing from time to time, but the tools offer the necessary functionality to make any timing changes that are required.
Version 7 introduces a new sidebar interface which offers a stack of tabbed panels through which you can access all of the application’s tools and settings more easily.
Under the Tools tab are nine buttons leading to some of Studio HD’s additional functions; Audio Sync, Frame Painter, Rotoscope, Slate, Timeline, Chroma Key, Rig Removal, DOP Control and Notes.
For the most part, these tools perform as you might expect but a couple of them – namely Frame Painter and Chroma Key – are pretty basic, particularly considering that this is aimed at professionals. Expect to perform any advanced keying, matting or painting work using a compositing tool such as After Effects.
The new Rig Removal tool allows the user to nominate a captured frame as a clean plate and offers a cloning brush for the removal of the unwanted rigs. Again, this is a fairly basic tool – but it’s effective enough for simpler wire-removal tasks and a welcome addition to the package.
When your shot is finished, you can export the images either as movie files or frame sequences, and most of the popular formats are available. There are numerous output options to choose from, encompassing everything from direct YouTube upload to uncompressed Raw files.
With version 7, Stop Motion Pro Studio HD feels robust, while its core tools for shooting and testing animation are effective. It has good communication with the Canon camera, and the integration of the Live View is highly usable.
A couple of the minor tools could be more developed, but for the business of effective animation capture Stop Motion Pro delivers.