IStopMotion, designed by Boinx Software, is one of the most popular stop motion programs utilized in a Mac format. It can capture live feed from webcams and video cameras, and offers a plug-in designed to allow uploads from digital still cameras.
The program features onionskinning, which will display up to five previously shot frames so that you can review the success of your character’s animated movements. It also features a live video overlay, where you can see older frames in addition to your live feed. This is a revolutionary tool that allows you to perfect the flow of movement on your set by predicting, with great accuracy, how your animation should progress.
A feature known as “blinking” will flash a previous frame onto the screen so that you can again compare it to the placement of any new movement poses.
IStopMotion will export your completed film through many different file formats. You can also feed the data back to your digital camera, or even burn a DVD of the completed project to share with your friends! The program costs $39.95, and does offer a 7-day trial period for you to experiment with the software before you decide to purchase it.
FrameThief is another wonderful program for stop motion filmmakers. One of the best aspects of this software is that you can find a large number of plug-ins that will allow for compatibility with many different types of equipment. You can also import existing computer files as well as files from analog, digital video and web cameras.
The program also lets you assign “hot keys”, or single keyboard keys that represent a certain function of the editing process. FrameThief’s “lightbox” feature works in much the same way as IStopMotion’s live video overlay. You can superimpose images on top of one another in an attempt to plan the movements for your next frame. The one downside to FrameThief is that it will not export your images in an .avi format and requires you to use another program to perform this task. It will, however, animate your images to a QuickTime movie.
FrameThief has an audio-sync feature that helps you match your animation to the audio tracks that you import into the program. It also has a speech recognition system for using voice commands to capture frames (if you are working alone and must be elsewhere on the set).
These two programs contain all of the necessary features to turn your stop motion frames into professional, polished films. They also work with many other software programs and will allow you to transfer files back and forth to retouch artwork or insert additional effects. Mac users may not have the most software options, but they could very well have the best.