It is so important now more than ever to keep yourself entertained and stimulated during lock-down. We think that stop-frame animation is a skill that anyone can pick up and enjoy. But where to start? If you’ve never tried animation before, knowing where to start can be quite daunting. However, there are so many different options for people now if they want to give stop-motion a try during lock-down. There are lots of different techniques – from claymation to papercraft, to experiment with. We’ve put together a list of software that you can use to make your own animations, whether you want to try it for fun, or are considering a career in stop-motion animation.
Starting off with a very basic and yet super effective piece of software. This free app is available on any mobile device and is perfect for anyone just starting out. It’s easy to use, has a simple interface and due to it being an app, it will save you from having to buy a camera in order to start animating. The only downside is that it does not have as many features as some of the other software we talk about on this list which is why we say it is more for those starting out or playing around with stop-motion. Whether you have kids who want to animate, or even if you’re a professional who wants to film something without the hassle of a professional set up, this app is perfect for everyone.
A slightly older piece of animation software, but one that has some pedigree behind it. Animate It! was originally a piece of software for the PC. It has since transitioned to being just an app that will cost you £1.99. This is handy as again it eliminates the need to buy a separate camera. Unfortunately, the downside currently is that the app is only available on Apple products such as iPhone or iPad, so you will need to have one of these to buy and use the app. Despite this, the software is extremely intuitive, meaning that it is perfect for beginners in animation. On top of this, there are plenty of great resources and tutorials on the Animate It! website that you can look at to get some info on how to use the software, as well as some ideas on what to animate. The most interesting of these tutorials takes you through step by step in creating your own Morph film, from modeling Morph himself to adding sound effects in post! The software is aimed mainly as a starting point for younger animators but is great fun to have a go as a family.
Zu3D is the first of the more technical pieces of software on our list. Costing a little more at £24.99, this software allows users to begin creating more complex stop-motion animation and effects. Being a PC based software, a camera is required to capture frames. This can be as simple as a webcam though, which will work perfectly. The software has a very simple, easy-to-use interface, although if you do find yourself stuck on how to do certain things, there are lots of tutorials available on the Zu3D website. This software is still perfect for a beginner or future animation director, it just has a few more options available to you if you feel that this is a career you wish to pursue. The makers of ZU3D have just launched a browser version called Cloud stop-motion which runs through your computer browser and doesn’t require a disc.
AnimaShooter through many updates has become a great choice for those who wish to invest time into becoming a stop-frame animator. A camera will again be required to use this software, but this can range from professional cameras to simple webcams. The slightly higher price is definitely worth paying, as the software is full of features that will allow you to make HD animation.
This is the industry standard for stop-motion animation and what we use at our animation studio. Dragonframe has proved itself to be the best software in the field, being used on feature-length projects such as Missing Link, Early Man and the Shaun the Sheep movies. The software has so many compatibility features, including the ability to use it with a motion control rig. These fancy pieces of equipment allow for smooth camera movements to be implemented during animating, in sync with the taking of frames. This option should only be considered if you are set on pursuing a career in stop-motion animation, as it has functions not needed by most beginners. We use Dragonframe as our primary animation software at our UK animation company because it’s so versatile.
These are just a few different stop-motion software options that you can start using to create some of your own animations. The variation between each of them should allow you to easily pick one that suits your level, allowing you to start or continue your stop-motion career! If you do decide to begin making short films during this time, why not read our blog about animating at home.