17th April 2006, I took my canon EOS 10D camera, put it on a tripod and connected it to my computer with a USB cable. Using one of Canon’s tools that came with the camera I was able to take a photograph at a regular interval, the best interval I could get however was only about one shot every 45 seconds due to it always downloading each frame over the USB. Still it was fine and a starting point. I pointed the camera out the window overlooking Westgate-on-Sea and over the next hour or so captured the setting sun in my very first stop motion movie, which I eloquently named.. Movie001.
Once I had made my first movie I was pretty much hooked, now six years later I have made almost 300 movies using a variety of equipment and tools. It didn’t take me long to realize that doing stop motion with my EOS 10D although it produced good images was taking too long and I learnt later wears the camera out quite quickly. So I switched to a cheaper camera, Canon’s Powershot A510 which I could also connect to the computer with a USB cable, with this camera I managed to get the download time to something a bit better about 10-15 seconds.
There is still a problem with 10-15 second intervals, it is simply that a lot can happen in that time and unless the subject your photographing is really slow moving you end up with a very jarring movie. So my next camera I used was a web camera, in my case it happened to be Sony’s Playstation2 Eye-toy, the quality of the camera was way better than any other web camera at the time. The great news about using a web camera was that the interval between frames could be dropped down to 30 frames a second if I wanted, although I found 1 frame a second to be fantastic.
The drawback now of course was that the quality of the image was terrible, exposure wasn’t great and I still needed to be attached to the computer in order to make a movie. If I wanted to put the camera in some of the places I wanted to I would need a camera that was independent of the computer. Enter the Ricoh R6, this camera has great resolution, good exposure and a wonderful feature to take a picture at set intervals, thus removing the need for a computer to be attached. The bad news is the best interval it can do is one image every 5 seconds and the battery runs out after 2-3 hours, but you know what for £100 I can live with those restrictions. I’m sure by the time that I get to my 1000th movie I will be able to justify buying a more expensive camera.
The one tool that has remained consistent throughout my various experiments and processes has been the software I use to build the movies from the photographs. The tool in question is AVI constructor which costs about $20, I am using version 6.4 although just looking at the site they are up to version 7.8.1.
The video codec I use is XVID, it keeps the fine details in the playback which can be really useful if you are trying to capture insects moving along the floor or sheep moving on the hillside in the distance.
My current ambitions for stop motion are to see about buying a camera that can go down to at least one frame per second. I’ve seen some amazing stop motion being done on Vimeo with cameras mounted on moving tracks and it would be quite cool to experiment with that sort of rig when I get the time to build one of course.
At present the movies I have put together are all raw no editing, no music, no credits, no effects, just 100% stop motion!
As with everything I write please feel free to email me if you have any questions and I hope you enjoy my Stop motion gallery.
Movies can be accessed either through the links below or the links to the right in the panel.