Getting Set up with Digital Capture Equipment
In order to animate in stop motion, you need to have the proper equipment. There are a lot of options out there to choose from as technology generally gets cheaper and better over time. The two things that are important is a camera and an application to capture the images.
The first and most obvious choice is the use of a phone or tablet. Believe it or not, this is a pretty good option for beginners, but also will give you the most hassle. The reason why is because using a phone means you have to touch the phone to capture frames, and that can lead to your phone becoming wobbly if you tap it too hard.
That being said, as long as you get a sturdy phone tripod, this isn't too horrible of a way to animate. Some of these tripods have blue tooth abilities to snap frames, and that means you don't have to touch the tripod. Another thing to keep in mind is that animating can take many hours if you plan on creating any kind of complicated shots. Having a power cable connected to your phone or digital tablet is a must.
Here are some apps that many animators have used. If you can, try apps with onion skinning. This feature allows you to compare a previous frame with a new frame and can help you achieve better animation.
When it comes to editing the videos you create in these apps, phone apps are somewhat limited. On iPhone, the most popular video editing tool is iMovie. For Android, there are many video editors that can work on any Android phone with an up to date operating system. Click here to see all the editing apps in Google Play.
The next best setup is to use webcams in combination with a PC, Mac or laptop. Webcams have an advantage of being used with more powerful software such as Stop Motion Pro and Dragonframe. You also don't have to worry about touching the webcam to capture frames. Just click frames with your mouse off to the side as you like.
Another advantage is that with webcams, you can use editing software that is more suited for more elaborate films than what you can do on a phone. You can also see what you are doing on a larger screen, which means you can animate more precise and small movements than on a smaller phone. Webcams are also affordable and some of the software that is packaged with them can allow for manually adjusting the focus, brightness, hue, image sizes and more.
The ultimate digital capture setup is to use a DSLR camera in combination with a PC, Mac or laptop. Big studios use this method primarily because the image quality and control is unmatched. Not to mention you can use telephoto lenses that allow you to animate at a distance from the camera. Having room between your camera and the puppet let's you move more freely. Sometimes macro lenses or other wide angle lenses can make it hard to reach in and move what is being filmed, so you have many more options. Of course, this brings many more costs too.
Studios will use these cameras in conjunction with specific lenses that allow for manual controls. So if you go all out, keep in mind manual lenses are at times a little hard to find. Nikon still offers this type of lens, so some film makers will use a Nikon lens to Canon DSLR body adapter to join the two together.
With these cameras (much like with phones and tablets) there is also the issue of battery life, so it's important to use AC adapters with DSLR cameras for those extra long shoots.
For capturing animation with these types of cameras, you can use anything from free software to programs such as Dragonframe and Stop Motion Pro. They are designed to capture high quality images directly to a PC or Mac, flip between frames, have exposure sheets and many high end functions built in. Editing the large files these cameras can produce are best done on powerful computers with a lot of onboard memory.