Few things can be cuter than Claymation and other stop-motion videos. There’s just something inexplicably adorable about them – whether they’re made with Legos, toys, paints or playdough. Stop-Motion is an Android app that is meant to give you the right tools to make stop-motion videos using your phone’s built-in camera. Sounds like a lot of fun, right?
Find out how I fared with stop-motion videos with this do-it-yourself app.
Based on the YouTube videos posted on the developer’s website, it’s possible to make high-quality stop-motion videos with virtually anything using your Android phone. Having watched though a couple of them, I decided to give stop-motion video making a trying using my younger brother’s old toys.
As soon as I opened up the app, I quickly realized that this was going to be a long and complicated process. On the main screen, you can adjust the playback rate (i.e the number of frames/second) and the picture quality. In the Lite version, you can only film in the lowest possible 176x144 quality, but with the full-version you can make movies in HD quality (2048x1536). The app lets you know how much space you have remaining on your 114MB, so you should select your resolution accordingly.
To start filming (or rather taking a series of consecutive pictures) press the Ready! Button – and off you go! Honestly, you feel like you’re being thrown off a cliff as you have no idea how the thing actually works. The app is too bare and simple to even figure out. There are no explanations included in the app on how to make stop-motion films – it’s wholly up to you to make the best of things.
You know you can start filming when a viewfinder with a square grid appears in the middle of the screen. Tap the screen to take a picture or rater capture a frame – as they say in the stop-motion world (clearly, not a very booming industry). And that’s all there is to it. Literally.
Take as many frames as you need by tapping the screen and then press Save to convert the whole thing into one single .mov file for playback.
So basically all the app really does is stitch the pictures together i.e. animates them. After you’re done, the .mov file is stored under the My Stop-Motions tab on the main menu. There you can watch them, edit them (meaning change their name and/or playback speed) and share them via Youtube, Bluetooth, Email and MMS.
I find it extremely hard to believe that the developers were successful at making this cool video with Stop-Motion:
Stability is key for stop-motion animation – something that’s very hard to do with a portable device. My hand kept on shaking, which made the frames impreciseand the animations very difficult to watch. Without a tripod (which, by the way, don’t exist for smartphones) it’s impossible to make a steady animation. What’s even more annoying is the fact that you have to tap the screen every time you wish to make a shot. Instead of this, it would make sense to have an automatic timer that would take pictures at certain intervals allowing you to hold the phone more stably with your two hands. Moreover, once you’re in the process of filming – you can’t save your progress and come back to it later. What a disaster!
Bottom Line: Having a stop-motion app is a great idea, but it takes a little more effort to make it actually user-friendly. Stop-Motion takes a great concept and fails to make it accessible and practical for people. Obviously, I full understand that stop-motion videos are time-consuming and complicated, but an Android app should make the entire process a bit more straight-forward. It’s not rocket science – all it takes is a couple of additional features such as shutter timer and more editing options.
Screen & Controls
The layout and design is abysmal. Frankly, it looks like a two year old put the whole thing together. Being minimalistic is one thing, but why does it have to be so bleak and ugly?
Yeah, all of the buttons work fine, but I didn’t like the controls choice. Adding a shutter button would be a good idea as well as making the whole thing more intuitive.
Another recommendation on my behalf for Stop-Motion: please, oh please integrate a how-to guide to making stop-motion films into the app.
Finally, the picture quality in the lower resolution has some weird lines that go across it. No idea where they’re coming from.
Speed & Stability
Surprisingly, Stop-Motion was both fast and reliable, although it may take some time to stitch the film together with HD quality pictures.
Stop-Motion can be downloaded for $1.99 from the Google Market. The price doesn’t match the product in all honesty unless they make some serious improvements.
For those of you wanting to give stop-motion videos a try, you can also download Stop-Motion-Lite for free from the App Center where you’ll only be able to make videos in the lowest possible resolution.