HUE Animation Studio Simplifies Stop-Motion Film-Making on a Budget
Blog entry originally published on Wired‘s Geek Mom portal by Sophie Brown.
For aspiring film-makers, stop motion animation is possibly the easiest way to try your hand at movie making, thanks to its simplicity and lack of required equipment. Creating stop motion is entirely possible with any camera, some household objects, and basic movie making software that almost certainly came bundled with your computer, but HUE Animation Studio for Windows and Mac sets out to simplify the process even more with its combo of easy-to-use software and flexible camera.
The HUE Animation Studio camera is a beautifully designed piece of equipment that works perfectly for creating animations and comes in a range of colors.
Its; long flexible neck allows you to position it in millions of ways, it can get right down to floor level for shooting small objects (a button on the programme allows you to flip the camera feed both horizontally and vertically to compensate) and can reach inside objects for shooting “interior” scenes.
It has clearly been designed with the animator in mind. The camera also works as a standard webcam, allowing it to replace any other equipment you may own and reducing the amount of PC accessory clutter littering your desk.
However, if you are happy to work with your current webcam, then the HUE software is also available without the camera as a standalone programme.
The software is where HUE really comes into its own. It has been designed to be as simple as possible, with children in mind, yet manages to pack a ton of functionality into the interface.
Using the program is simple. Set up the first shot in the camera and press a button on screen to capture it and that begins the animation process, gradually moving the objects you want and taking the next shot.
One very helpful feature is called “onion skin.” It reminded me of the old ghost cars from video games which raced around the track with you allowing you to see your fastest lap and know if you were beating your time trial record. With onion skin active, a ghost of your previous frame remains on screen as you set up for the next capture, showing you how far you have moved the objects in the shot which makes for a smoother scene.
As you take your shots they build into a stack of frames and you can watch back through what you have captured at any point. Frames are saved as individual JPEGs in a specified folder, this makes it simple to go in and edit the frames in Photoshop, if need be. Pre-existing videos and stills can also be dragged into the software for use in your films, the latter being automatically split into a sequence of JPEGS. This function is also of use to anyone who makes animated gifs of video clips for Tumblr blogs.
In order to test out the HUE Studio properly, I decided to make my own stop motion film. I choose to recreate a scene from one of my favorite films, Independence Day, with my son’s toys. I watched the scene and made a quick stick-man storyboard so I knew what I needed to shoot, then set about turning my office into a film studio for the night.
The camera worked perfectly. I was able to crane its’ neck inside a large toy airplane for the internal shots, and to attach it to a desk drawer for an external overhead shot of the plane “flying” across one of my husband’s black t-shirts. I broke the scene down into 11 shots and filmed each one individually, creating 11 short animated video clips. I then spliced the shots together in Sony Vegas along with some stock footage explosions and using the original audio track. Finally, I embedded the original clip inside my animated piece as a reference for anyone unfamiliar with the film and voila, one animated film created from start to finish in a little over two hours.
The possibilities for stop motion projects are endless, especially in geek households which are often filled with action figures and other inspirational items.
The software even has an option for time lapse photography with adjustable increments so you could create a short film of a board game being played or a puzzle being put together.
HUE Animation Studios has streamlined the process of stop motion animation even more, making it more simpler than ever to tell your stories on film and it manages to keep its costs down too. The camera kit which comes with a pack of Playdoh retails for $89.95 (£49.95) and the software-only download comes in at $39.95 (£24.95), a similar price point to many popular toys.
I really loved both the HUE Animation Studio’s camera and the software. I have made stop motion videos before using a DSLR and Sony Vegas, but the HUE system made the entire process so much faster and easier and produced much cleaner results, even working late at night and attempting to produce the video as fast as possible. If you’re interested in making films with your kids then I couldn’t recommend it higher.
A copy of HUE Animation Studio with a camera was provided free for this review.
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