Stop Motion Tutorial Part 3

Stop Motion Software

When doing stop motion, there are three essential things you need to have: set and characters, a camera to take photos, and stop motion software to turn them into a film. There are numerous paid and opensource options to choose from when it comes to stop motion software and almost all of them are listed below. There is one thing to keep in mind, though. If you are looking to produce high quality, professional videos, you are going to have to use professional tools. If you are, however, just starting, and trying to learn stop motion, free software can be a good starting point. Stop motion software enables you to process the images you have captured frame by frame, connect them into scenes, edit them, add effects, sound etc. The better the software, the easier this process becomes. High quality, professional programs will definitely make a difference during the process. Even though we have listed almost all available options, there is really only one (in our opinion that is) best professional software which we recommend using: Dragonframe.

Dragonframe Stop Motion Software

Dragonframe is the absolute best stop motion software today. It’s used by some of the biggest studios, such as Aardman or Laika, and countless masterpieces of stop motion animation were made using it. Simply put, if you are a professional, you are using Dragonframe. Everything else (in our opinion) is second class. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t produce high quality videos without Dragonframe, but rather that using this professional tool will give you countless options and features to choose from, a simple process of creating videos, and professional support unlike any other.

Dragonframe 4 with the USB keypad controller

Dragonframe is easy to use. What you have to do is set it up with your laptop and your camera (it supports almost all DSLR cameras which are best for stop motion), tweak the settings according to your preferences and take the photographs. It comes with a keypad controller (USB or Bluetooth) with which you can take photos, move between the sequences and do one-click quick editing, and all the images are automatically visible on your screen with an additional live view. This process is called onion skin, and what it does is that you are able to see the real time image your camera is shooting, as well as the photos you have already taken at the same time. This makes moving your characters and adjusting them for the next frame amazingly simple, since you will be able to see the movement in advance, and you will be able to monitor the spacing easily.

Dragonframe also has amazing, fully customizable playback and stepping options with which you can toggle between the frames easily. Another great feature is the ability of setting camera preferences, such as ISO, white balance and shutter speed directly from the interface. This gives you a feeling of your camera being one with Dragonframe, as if they were meant to be used together. It has an integrated motion control, which means that you can program lighting and camera moves within the interface as well.

Another feature which makes this the best stop motion software is the integrated drawing tool. It allows you to sketch or mark out your animation before you start shooting which, will give you clear guidelines as to where and how your characters will be moving. The timeline is extraordinarily user friendly. A simple drag-and-drop system is easy to use; you can rearrange frames, input images etc. The audio and voice editing options are amazing and simple to use too. You can upload multiple tracks, edit them easily and create the audio you want. The dialogue track reading feature lets you assign words and phonetics for the dialogue you are creating.

dragonframe stop motion software
Dragonframe keypad controller makes taking photographs a lot easier

Dragonframe has released Dragonframe 4 this year. Compared to the older version 3, it offers easier handling and numerous additional features. The features of this stop motion software are countless, and the options it gives you as well. On the downside, Dragonframe is not open source, and getting it is a serious investment. Once again, if you plan on doing stop motion seriously, you are going to have to use pro software, and Dragonframe is the best you can get for your money. One Dragonframe 4 license costs $295. With it you get the software, a USB keypad controller (if you opt for the easier to use Bluetooth controller, it will cost $325), and the best support in the world. Some of the best stop motion films were done using this software (especially in recent years), and it has become the industry favorite. Once you start using it you will soon understand why. And the price might seem high, but when compared to software for 2D, 3D, or the software in other industries, it is very affordable. If you want to find out more about Dragonframe 4, read customer reviews and see detailed pricing click here.

Dragonframe Basics from DRAGONFRAME on Vimeo.

List of Stop Motion Software

Here are a couple of solid alternatives you can use besides Dragonframe. Once again, we would like to highlight that Dragonframe is our own personal favorite, and our opinion doesn’t have to be objectively correct. Many people use different programs, which get the job done as well, but since this is a professional stop motion tutorial, and Dragonframe is by far the number one choice in the industry, we have put it in front of the options listed below. For the same reason, the other programs are not described in detail. You can visit their official websites for more information and details on the features they offer.

Stop Motion Pro


Stop Motion Pro is the second best option when it comes to stop motion software. It’s currently only compatible with PC, but the Mac version is on its way too. All in all, a good tool for stop motion, and an affordable option for beginners. For more information and prices click here, or go to the official website.

Zu3D

Software mainly aimed to be used by children. It’s easy to use and it provides you with a lot of options for simple stop mo. It comes with a complete animation kit including software, a handbook and a camera (for $49.95), so it makes a wonderful gift for children looking to get into animation. Click here for detailed reviews, more information and prices.

AnimatorHD

This software gives you a free trial, or a demo version for free, so you can check whether you like it before purchasing. It offers live view, advanced lip sync options, and many other useful features.

iKITMovie

It offers voiceover recording, it’s compatible with all types of cameras, the onion skin feature is very useful, and it comes with more than 2000 free sound effects. It costs $69.

iStopMotion

iStopMotion 3


Great piece of software for time lapse photography and stop motion (for Mac). It offers many features such as onionskinning, time lapse, chroma key, rotoscope, flipbook printing etc. Click here for more information, reviews and prices.

AnimaShooter

You get a free 14-day trial, after that the license costs $48. It has great exporting and onionskinning and it’s compatible with HD and DSLR cameras.

Opensource (free) Stop Animation Software

qStopMotion, Monkey Jam, ToonLoop, HeliumFrog, Heron Animation

If you are just starting with stop motion, opensource software is great for practicing. We recommend trying out all of these, since they all have some unique features, pros and cons. Getting to know them will definitely make working with professional stop motion software like Dragonframe much easier, since you will have an idea of what you should be doing already. The simplest way might be using any integrated movie software you already have on your PC or Mac, such as Windows movie maker.

We hope you found this Stop Motion Software guide useful, and that it will provide a decent base knowledge for further learning.

If you liked part 3 of this stop motion tutorial please share it! Any feedback, comments or questions are greatly appreciated!

Continue to Part 4 – Puppet Animation

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