I’ve always been interested in making films and have been lucky enough to have made a few reasonably successful ones in my career to date. All of these have been live action but, being a massive fan of Terry Gilliam and the surreal links he created for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, I’ve always wanted to give animation a go. Thanks to Honestech, I’ve recently had that opportunity. They sent me a copy of Stopmotion Studio 4.0 to put through its paces and I think it’s fair to say that the whole family has enjoyed using it!
The software installed very quickly and I was soon trying it out, ably assisted – if that’s the word – by Dylan and hindered – which is definitely the word – by Xander. As you can see from the image below, the interface is clear and intuitive and has obviously been created with a family audience in mind. As with most video editing packages I’ve used, there are three key areas – the main section in which you can flick between the live view of your project or play it back, a timeline of all the frames below it and all the important settings to the right.
It didn’t take us long to get underway with some early attempts at animation and, again, this is dead simple. You can use a webcam to capture frames as well as certain digital SLR cameras. You can use your laptop’s built-in camera too, of course, but as this is invariably trained on your face and little else, there’s a limited amount you could do with it unless you’re amazing at keeping still.
Speaking of which, there are some handy features to help you keep track of your subjects. The grid setting allows you to get a more precise idea of where on the screen they are while the onionskin tool uses a superimposed transparency to indicate how far things have moved from the previous frame.
Other handy tools include Chroma Key, which enables you to recreate a green screen effect, Rotoscope which helps create more flowing movement by superimposing still images as guides and Audio which, of course, allows you to add sound and music to your productions. Once they’re finished, it’s easy to export them to your computer or straight to YouTube or Facebook.
We’ve already made a few short films with it – see above for my 60-frame short called Sole Mates – and, while there’s still plenty of room for improvement, we’re pleased with what we’ve achieved and that’s testament to how good the software is. As all parents know, kids can lose interest in things quickly – as can I, for that matter! – so quick results are required with software of this nature and I’m happy to say that it delivers!
I know that Dylan’s going to have a lot of fun making short videos with his toys over the summer and I’ve got a fair few ideas for animated shorts myself too. I may even enter one of them in the local arts festival film competition. Oh yes! Anything that nurtures creativity for young and not so young gets a big thumbs up from me, so I’m very happy to recommend it.
Stopmotion Studio 4.0 has an RRP of £59.99. Alternatively, you could win a copy by entering my giveaway below. Please note that it is only available for PC. Good luck!