DSLR lenses and flicker
Canon and Nikon DSLRs give the best image quality with Stop Motion Pro, however there are some issue with lens selection that are important to consider.
Inside all lenses is an iris mechanism, which sets the amount of light that reaches the sensor. An iris looks like this:
The lenses that are supplied with modern DSLRs use automatic iris. This means the lens is normally 'wide open' to let the maximum amount of light through to the viewfinder making it easier for you to see your composition. When you click the shutter release, the lens iris 'stops down', the shutter opens, after the set exposure time, the shutter closes and the lens iris opens up again.
Unfortunately the lens does not 'stop down' to exactly the same place each time you press the shutter. For normal picture taking this is not a problem, but for animation it causes an annoying flicker.
To solve this problem, the best solution is to use older style manual iris lenses, not to use the lenses that usually come bundled with the new DSLR cameras. The lens on this page is a manual iris/aperture lens. You can tell by the aperture "f-stop" markings on the movable ring on the lens barrel. Look for this stepping ring with similarly marked increments when considering a lens.
If you are using a Canon DSLR
Adapter rings are available to mount alternative brand lenses on the camera. For example Nikon or Olympus manual lenses onto a Canon.
On Ebay use the following search terms:
For lenses, use the following search terms on Ebay:
The appropriate focal length is determined by your production requirements, 28mm or 35mm are versatile choices.
If you are using a Nikon DSLR
There are 2 main sources of manual iris lenses, either Ebay or new from Nikon.
Use the following search term on Ebay:
The appropriate focal length is determined by your production requirements, but 28mm or 35mm are versatile choices.
For close work you can also consider simple screw on macro lens filters.
The adapter rings and lenses may also be available from you local camera shop.
Basic lens theory
The lower the f-stop number, the more light is let into the camera. This means to get the right exposure a faster shutter speed will be required. Use the DOP control tool in Stop Motion Pro to evaluate this.
The lower the f-stop number is, the less distance is in focus, this is refered to as "depth-of-field ". A shallow depth of field is created when a low f-stop number is used. If you want more depth in focus, use a higher number f-stop, and a slower shutter speed.
Flickering of the animation in playback can be caused by a range of issues. Besides the aperture issue mentioned above, other sources of flicker include:
- Animators /people on set wearing reflective clothes and standing in different places during capture. Solution is to wear dark clothes, capture from the same position each time. Also consider ways to minimise light spilling on areas not in shot.
- Voltage variations - if you are working near an industrial area or the power supply is variable (or if a fridge turns on and off or a washing machine activates on the same power circut) you will get flickering lights. This is very hard to control. UPS (uninteruptable power supplies) can smooth out fluctuations to an extent, however it is difficult to eliminate flicker without having a totally dedicated power supply.
- Turn screen off during capture to reduce ambient light (in Stop Motion Pro, choose View > blank screen during capture). Some studios mask the monitors with cardboard when taking an exposure.
- Use a higher f-stop. Some cameras seem to have less flicker with higher f-stop values.
- Remove flicker in post production with a software anti-flicker tool there is a discussion forum on Vimeo regarding this issue, which is common for timelapse photograpy.
Can you plug your camera (video or digi still) into a TV and see live video? If so you may be able to use a video converter. There are many available that convert analogue video to a digital USB signal. If you purchase one of these devices, we recommend you test it thoroughly with the free trial of Eclipse before purchase. Given the large number of these devices we are not making any direct recommendations.
We have some USB video grabbers that have been tested and work well with Eclipse from our Amazon shop. These are compatible with video cameras with RCA type connectors. They work with Eclipse and Eclipse SD.
Firewire cameras work with Eclipse. Many cameras have manual control over the exposure, focus and white balance, which is important in achieving a smooth result.
Camcorders with tape (often refered to as miniDV cameras) have a special connector on them for using with a PC called firewire, iLink or IEEE.
These video cameras can easily be identified by the type of socket on the camera. The image shows a video camera four pin firewire socket. This type of connector is required to connect a firewire capable camera to your PC. You will need a firewire socket on your PC, either a four pin or six pin socket and a lead to connect the camera to the PC.
Always turn cameras off when connecting to or disconnecting from a PC when using firewire. This is important because the DV connection can be damaged if the camera is on when unplugged. If you do not have a firewire lead or connection on your PC you can purchase one from any computer shop. Any generic firewire card or PCIMA card (for laptops) should work.
USB video grabber
The Stop Motion Pro recommended USB Video grabber
The USB video grabber will work with PAL and NTSC cameras. It captures a maximum of 720 x 576 resolution. It is perfect if you have an older video camera with manual controls for zoom, focus and exposure.
The USB video grabber also has an S-Video input.
Please note - our items have been tested and work with Eclipse on all versions of Windows.
Other brands or copies from other suppliers are not guaranteed to work. Please test with the free trial of Eclipse before purchase if possible.
Import images from any source - for example shoot animation outside with any camera then import the images into Eclipse.
Once images are imported, you can use tools like rig removal, paint and build multitrack audio soundscapes.
Compatible file types:
File | Import images (jpg, bmp, tif, png)
File | Import video (mov, avi, mp4)
If files are larger size or a different aspect ratio to the project settings, the images are automatically scaled and cropped for optimum fit. It is possible to set any image dimensions you choose using the "Custom" setting from the Size dropdown. (Eclipse SD has a maximum of 800 x 600).
It is possible to import files into existing projects at any time.
Directory scan mode works by scanning a directory / folder on your computer. When a new image is added to that directory (jpg, png or bmp) it is automatically added to the Eclipse project. This way you can preview your animation as you capture it even with cameras and devices not directly controlled by Eclipse.
Fujifilm, Olympus, Sony, Hasselblad (Phocus) and Pentax offer cameras with tethering (remote control of cameras and image download capability). Use the recommended compatible software to control the camera and save images to a directory. Scanners can also be set to save to a specific directory.
Setting up Eclipse to scan a directory:
In Eclipse create a new project, select Directory scan as the Camera type.
Select a standard size (the images will be scaled to fit and then cropped), or set a custom size to match the captured image exactly.
Click on the directory / folder icon and locate the folder that the tethering software is saving the captured images to.
That's it, start capturing images in your tethering software and return to Eclipse when you want to preview the animation.
Eclipse SD has a maximum resolution of 800 x 600.
Eclipse is unlimited.
Functions that require a live view do not work in this mode (onionskinning, chromakey and play/loop to live).
Multitrack audio, rig removal, paint and frame editing are fully functional in this mode.
Blackmagic Design compatibility
When connected and drivers installed the Decklink option will appear in the Camera > Video/Webcam drop down menu.
Remember to lock exposure, focus and whitebalance when filming stop motion animation with a video camera to reduce flicker.
Eclipse SD will capture at 625/25 PAL, 525/29.97 NTSC.
Eclipse will capture frames at the full HD range of these devices.
A wide range of cameras and capture cards can be used with Eclipse.
For those new to animation:
WebcamsFor a robust, easy solution, we strongly recommend a good quality webcam from Microsoft or Logitech.
For high end students, professionals and studios:
Canon DSLR'sWe recommend Canon DSLRs with a mains power adaptor.
Nikon DSLR'sWe also recommend Nikon DSLRs using a mains power adaptor.