Modern Stop Motion Animation
By James Grahame
Super 8 movie cameras are exceedingly good at messing around with the fabric of the space time continuum. Most of them are capable of filming at a wide variety of speeds, making slow motion and time lapse sequences a piece of cake to shoot. All but the cheapest models offer a single-frame mode that's perfect for stop motion animation. The idea of dragging long strips of photosensitive plastic past a piece of glass might seem quaint these days, but modern consumer camcorders can't shoot at variable frame rates and while many can capture single frames, they can't automatically stitch them together to create an animation. You'll need an "old fashioned" $20 Super 8 camera for that.
There is hope for stop motion animators who want to shoot with digital equipment, thanks to modern digital still camera technology and some clever software. Programs like Stop Motion Pro are capable of controlling a wide variety of digital cameras, including some affordable point-and-shoot models. The program costs anywhere from $70 to $595, depending on the features you require. The basic package is suitable for hobbyists, while the more costly versions add uncompressed image storage, unlimited resolution and multi-monitor output.
Of course, there are literally dozens of programs that do similar things for both the PC and Macintosh. If you're a stop motion animator, feel free to share your favorites in the comments.