I’m a fan of stop motion animation. More specifically, I’m a fan of sword fighting skeletons, and no amount of CGI progress will ever make sword fighting skeletons look better than Ray Harryhausen’s animation work in Jason and the Argonauts. Creating such effects can be a lot of fun, and with Boinx’s iStopMotion for iPad, it’s pretty easy, too, although not quite as powerful as its OS X counterpart.
What is it?
iStopMotion for iPad is exactly what its name implies; it’s an app that allows you to turn your iPad into both a stop motion camera and work station. If you have the new iPad, iStopMotion for iPad can capture images at 1080p. If you have the iPad 2, you won’t want to use the iPad camera. It works, but the iPad 2 camera is horrible. Rather, you’ll want to grab the free iStopMotion Remote Camera app which allows you to use your iPhone 4/4S, 4th gen iPod touch or second iPad camera with iStopMotion for iPad.
I recommend this regardless for your iPad version, as it allows you to use your iPad at a comfortable working angle instead of a fixed camera positioning angle (which is easier to maintain with an iPhone and a tripod, anyway).
How does it work?
It couldn’t be much easier, really. After creating your setting and choosing your subject, you simply set the focus and exposure and take your shot. Move your subject, and take another shot. iStopMotion uses transparency to show the previous layer under the next shot, so you can accurately adjust your subject’s movements. You can adjust the frame rate up to 24 frames per second, but remember that the more frames you use, the more images you’ll need for every second of movement.
That, actually, is where most of the work (and frustration) surfaces in iStopMotion for iPad. Without experience, it’ll take a while to grasp just exactly how those frames translate to real time movement. My subjects always moved much too quickly, and attempting to slow them down just made the animation too jerky. Although that’s my issue, not the software’s, I’d like to see some kind of guide that helps users understand just how much movement is needed.
You don’t need to bother with clay or LEGOs to create your movies, either. iStopMotion functions perfectly as a time lapse photography creator, as well, allowing you to set the iPad to snap images at adjustable intervals.
When done, you can add music to your creation and share the move via e-mail, YouTube or Dropbox. Movies can also be saved to the camera roll, of course, which you can then export to iMovie or other video editors for additional effects. In fact, you’ll need additional video editing software to stitch together movies that are too long for iStopMotion for iPad to handle.
Is it contagious?
iStopMotion for iPad is a lot of fun, yes. It requires plenty of patience, but both the creative process and the final results can be extremely rewarding.
There’s still room for growth here; the ability to work with audio in the initial phase, for example, would ease the process, and an audio waveform track would be especially helpful for animating lip movement. But if you get to the point where you need advanced features or higher quality output, you can always upgrade to iStopMotion for OS X.