Stop Motion with DSLR
Joshua Mosley ©2010

Below are settings relating to Canon Cameras, but these tips are universal. If you are doing a large project where you periodically need playback - or are matching the movement of the stopmotion to live action - you should consider using dragon.

Canon

  • Mount camera to tripod, plug-in digital cable release (or tether camera to your laptop), plug-in video feed if you are in a studio).
  • Set Mode dial on top of camera to "M"
  • If there is an autofocus switch on the lens turn it "off"
  • Turn on camera

Canon Menu

  • Quality - Its fine to shoot jpegs at around 2496 x 1664
    Red-eye - OFF
  • ISO Speed - 100-400 is best. Higher numbers than this cause more noise in the image
  • White Balance - Auto white balance will cause variation with each picture. It is best to choose a setting that matches the color temperature of the light. Choose the lightbulb icon for Tungsten, the sun for daylight, or the cloudy for outdoor cloudy, or read the manual to set a custom setting.
  • Color Space - use SRGB
  • Playback / Review Menu Review Time - 8 sec
  • Auto power off - OFF
  • File numbering - Continuous
  • Format - OK (formats the card)

General Advice for Stop-Motion Photography

  • In almost all cases, you will want auto focus and auto exposure to be set to off.
  • It is usually better to use a 100 or 200 ISO with a 10th of a second exposure and increase lights until you have a good exposure or until it gets too hot to work. Make your fstop decision based on what you need in terms of depth of field. Use exposures shorter than 2 seconds if possible.
  • Depending on what camera you use, there may be setting in the camera (especially in Nikons) that deal with how the images are processed to jpegs, that cause a variation from frame to frame. Often there is a way to disable this. If your frames flicker on playback, it is likely this is the cause
  • Using a tripod and a cable release (remote) is key, pressing the shutter with your finger will shift the camera on each frame enough to cause movement in the resulting footage.
  • The clothes you wear matter. Some animators wear black because the variation of where they are standing during the exposure is less likely to cause variation in the lighting.
  • When you transfer files, or when you are shooting tethered, keep each sequence organized by placing them in folders.
  • 10 frames a second is a good frame rate to begin working with stop motion. Every beginner shoots too few frames - making an animation that is too jumpy - and too fast on playback. Count out the seconds of the action that you will animate as you imagine it, then multiply that by 10, and this is the number of frames you need to animate.
  • When shooting a series of shots that will be edited together. Don't forget to shoot extra time at the beginning and end of the shot so that you have "handles" to edit.
  • Even when a character is standing still, there are slight variations in lighting and atmosphere that are crucial to capture, so that the fabric - or material of the animation does not seem to come to a halt on playback.

Canon Rebel if you want to shoot tethered to computer.

  • Download and install EOS Capture 1.5
    to find this you need to select your OS
  • Connect camera to computer, a 10ft usb extension cable helps with most setups.
  • Open the EOS Utility (which you may also need to install) and set the preferences so they look like this

Joshua Mosley ©2010