Friday, April 27, 2007

Digital Still vs Digital Video

I'm a big advocate of the use of digital cameras for the purposes of stop motion animation. My main reasons being part subjective and part technical:

  • You are taking still pictures so why would you want a video camera...
  • The ability to control the aperture and exposure which allows control over your depth of field.
  • You don't have to have a computer attached (see article giving the opposing view) hence you can do outside shoots easily.
  • Resolution and image quality can be higher for the same cost
However, I've been reading up on some of the disadvantages of digital still cameras and some of the advantages of video. For example, the film "House" would have been very difficult to film using a digital still camera. The film was edited from short clips of a person jumping, the highest frame was taken from each shot and blended together in video editing software.

The key issues are:
  • Power, care needs to be taken not to drain the batteries otherwise critical settings can be lost.
  • Onion skinning, most digital cameras don't support this so you have to know how far to move the puppet which can result in jerky movements.
  • Shutter cycles, basically the parts in your camera wear out. The typical life is 100,000 shots which can easily be reached in a longer project.
  • Flickering due to different exposures for each frame, I've not actually seen this issue but it can be quite irritating apparently. See links below for why this occurs and how it can be avoided or corrected.
  • Do not work natively with most of the off shelf stop motion software tools which assume you have a live video feed.
My recommendations based on this is to make films with whatever you have. If all you have is a biscuit tin and a large amount of photographic paper then use that, if you have only a digital camera, use that, if you have a webcam then use that. By the time you've finished your first short film the technology will have changed and perhaps someone will have come up with the idea solution. Your first film is not going to be super high resolution, perfect colour and last 3 hours so I'm not really sure you need to worry. Saying that I'll make sure any second hand digital cameras I buy are not from ex-stop motion animators.

Digital Still Cams: How they work, Issues such as flickering, shutter exposure cycles, powerdown etc.

Digital Camera Shutter Life
Shutter life for my camera

Stop Motion Pro - Frame Luminence Averaging functionality

Choosing a Camera

1 comment:

Dee said...

Thanks for the info, very informative. I'm put this on my list of resources.