New Year’s App Solutions: Make a movie with Boinx iStopMotion 3

Sections: Audio / Video, Features, Hands On / First Looks, Mac Software, Originals

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In my head, I’ve been making movies since my friends and I first rented Def-Con 4 and decided we absolutely had to make our own sequel: Def-Con 4 2: Def-Con 5. Armed with an over-the-shoulder VHS camcorder and absolutely nothing else (not even a script), we went into the woods and started shooting. I remember very little about the process, other than that we had one guy (Doug) who played all of the dead bodies; after he was out of the shot, he’d get up and run to lie down elsewhere so the camera could pan across him. We kept saying how the dead bodies seemingly got more grotesque with each that we found until Doug got fed up and went home.

That’s the problem with making your own movie…people keep getting fed up and going home. The technology may be available to you now, but unless you’re still in college or just have a bunch of really bored motivated friends, it’s hard to get everyone together to write, rehearse, and act out a movie.

That’s where Boinx iStopMotion comes into play. With iStopMotion, you don’t need anyone other than yourself…although some help from one or two others dedicated to the project can certainly help. This process isn’t easy, after all, but the good news is that the majority of the work will be in the hands of yourself and Boinx’s iStopMotion 3 for OS X.

iStopMotion is an absolutely amazing program that puts the majority of the editing tools you need right on your desktop. By connecting a camera or camcorder to your Mac, the software allows you to take a shot then adjust the placement of your subjects for the next shot.

iStopMotion 3 for OS X

Onion skinning allows you to see the subject’s previous placement, so you know how far to make your adjustments for the next shot…in theory. Knowing how much to adjust the subject so it doesn’t move too quickly or too slowly (and doesn’t become too jerky) takes practice and knowledge, and it varies depending upon how many frames you want to shoot per second. More frames equals smoother animation, but fewer frames will take a lot less time. The good folks at Boinx are aware of the timing issue, and have offered a solution in the form of rotoscoping. You can simply place another movie as a guide, then map your animation to it. Want to film a LEGO mini-fig crossing a room? Film yourself crossing a room and let that be your guide.

iStopMotion handles much more than animation, however. It also provides chroma key functionality, so you can film your subject in front of a green screen (not too hard to make or too expensive to buy) then edit into another movie (or vice versa; put your live action self into your animated set).

iStopMotion 3

If you’re making a music video or just have a particular soundtrack you need to match (filming an animated segment set to pre-recorded dialogue, for example), iStopMotion’s visual sound waveform will make it easier to sync your shots with the audio.

Oh, speaking of shots, I earlier mentioned that you can use a camera or camcorder to capture your frames. You can also use your iPhone or even the iPad thanks to the free iStopMotion Remote Camera App. It adds the features you’re going to need, such as controlled focus, exposure and white balance, so you’ve suddenly got a pretty powerful and tremendously handy HD camera, depending upon your iDevice.

iStopMotion Remote Camera

The photo above also shows off iStopMotion’s time lapse photography capabilities. Not entirely appropriate for this article, but it’s there if you need it.

Again, this isn’t an easy process, but it’s very fun, and it doesn’t require a team of assistants. You don’t even need to bother with clay or stop motion armatures…take a look at what was done here with just twisty-ties:

For more inspiration, you can check out a whole theater of samples at the Boinx website.

It’s not likely I’ll ever finish Def-Con 4 2: Def-Con 5 with iStopMotion, but that movie about a USB LED light that’s inspired by a War of the Worlds DVD box to invade my computer desk? Well, that sounds just about perfect, doesn’t it?

Product [iStopMotion 3 for OS X]

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