Since I started this website, just over a month ago, I have received a couple of emails asking me about my setup and cost-effective ways to get into stop-frame animation.
I got into making Brick Films accidentally… What started out as a small project to answer the questions my son had about moving Lego men, slowly turned into people liking what I was producing and asking me to produce more. My first animation was made with an old compact camera and a copy of iMovie HD on my iMac, which was far from ideal, and ended up in producing a jumpy, awkward animation… But it allowed me to learn a lot, and so I gathered up the gadgets that I already had in the house and done some research into how I could improve the process without forking out money that I didn’t have. The conclusion that I came to was to use my iPad 2 and one of the many stop-motion apps out there that would also allow me to connect my iPhone 4S via wireless as a remote camera.
Since then, that has been my current setup, and the pictures give you an idea of how I set-up my work space.
- iPad 2 running Cateater LLCs “Stop Motion Studio“
- iPhone 4S running Cateater LLCs “Remote Camera” app, allowing me to wirelessly connect to the iPad
- iPhone Camera Len’s pack (including a macro, fish-eye and wide angle lens)
- 2 x 48×48 stud LEGO® baseplates
- 2 x LED Desk Lamps
- 4 port USB Charging Hub to power the lights and keep the iPad/iPhone charged.
- Various Matte finish backdrops to work against
This setup is what has allowed us to produce all of our animations so far, and works quite well. It is portable and easily setup if you don’t have a permanent area to work in. The remote camera app also allows you to take each photo via the App on the iPad, rather than having to use the touch screen on the iPhone Camera, making sure there is no camera wobble with each shot. Unfortunately there are a few down sides, the main one being the auto-focus on the iPhone Camera which doesn’t always turn off when the app tells it too, causing the focus to change from frame to frame occasionally, which creates glitches in the continuos flow of the motion.
We are currently looking at improving this setup by investing in a new camera and software for the iMac that we use and have considered both Cannon and Nikon cameras with LiveView that will connect easily to Boinx Softwares iStopMotion. We’ll let you know how we get on with this as and when we do it!
Below is a quick animation that we produced whilst taking the photos for this blog to demonstrate the type of quality you can achieve with a setup similar to this. The video is at 15fps at 720HD quality and hasn’t been processed in any other software, letting you see the raw colours direct from the camera. There are a few glitches where I had issues with the auto focus playing me around, and I made a big schoolboy error and forgot to stick my baseboard firmly to the table, so it jumps at one point… Lesson learnt, always make sure your baseboard is firmly attached to the table… I normally use bluetac or sellotape.