Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Stop Frame Animation On HD

Hi there

Has anyone shot stop frame animation or single frame animation on HD? If so what camera system did you use and what experiences did you have? Is this even possible yet?

A friend of mine is producing a spot that will be mixed live action and animation and the budget is tight. He was hoping to be able to shoot the entire spot on HD.


Matthew Woolf
917 399 9565


I know the Varicam could shoot single frames . I didn't use it before but I received some comments that works well..


Rodrigo Llano

Matthew Woolf wrote

>>Has anyone shot stop frame animation or single frame animation on >>HD?


The cheapest option would be a DSLR.

Stephen Williams DoP

Last year as DP on a stop motion series, I chose to shoot the entire show using Nikon D100's. We used 12 cameras in all with few problems. I believe that shooting at the largest size the camera has to offer you will get frames that are at least six times larger than SD video. This is a great option as you have lots of lens choices as well. Nikon glass is excellent and rather cheap compared with cine lenses. The D100 also gives the option for shooting in Nef Raw, jpeg, or tiff.

The show was posted in HD using Final Cut in both NTSC and PAL 4x3 and 16x9.

John A Loos

The F900 /3 does single frame recording and if HDcam fits your work flow, it might be a good choice.

Randy Miller, DP in LA

I think wearing the heads out to record single frames isn't worth it. Record a few seconds of each frame. It will be easier to edit pulling one frame out of many than finding one frame butted up against a bunch of others on a tape. Easier to log too if you plan on logging the sequence as you shoot.

As for mixing 900 with F1, yes you can do it. Colour correction in post will get the cameras to look very similar. Start out with a monitor and white balance both and see how they look by A/Bing them on the monitor. Then find a happy medium of colour and contrast with internal controls. Use a chip chart first to get reds and blues the same (chip chart looks grey on both). Then use a face and/or something with colour to check how they match.

They may not be perfect but that is ok as I said because post will fine tune what is not perfect.

Disclaimer : My opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are my own and may not reflect yours. The use of the pronouns "you, "some", and "many" to name a few are generalizations and without a proper name attached to them are not references to anyone reading my posts.

Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.

We shot a stop-motion animation feature using the D100s as well, using camera RAW, converted to 3.5k frames & composited in Shake.

The main concerns were colour management for HD and film delivery.

David Alexander Davidson
Creative Director/Editor
Solventdreams, LLC
4222 Santa Monica blvd, la, ca 90029

>>Nikon glass is excellent and rather cheap compared with cine lenses.

I'm particularly impressed with the new 60mm f.2.8 MicroNikkor AFD, a much more modern design than the old AIS Micro. Crisp that just doesn't quit, truly superb mechanics, at a tenth of what a comparable cine lens would cost - at under $400 list it's a steal. OTOH, the D100 (I have one), fell out of the catalogue a while ago, and will soon be replaced by the just-announced 10.2 MP (Sony CCD) D200, which has a built-in intervalometer and much improved metering - finally getting away from the last N/F80 bits. Reportedly it's more like a simplified D2X.

>>The main concerns were colour management for HD and film delivery.

The colour space choices are sRGB (709) or Adobe RGB, a decent wide-gamut RGB supported by most apps. If a filmout is contemplated, I'd choose Adobe RGB.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA

The Corpse Bride was shot this way. Take a look at the Post Magazine article and I think there was also an American Cinematographer cover story on it too. They used customized digital SLR’s if I remember correctly.


Jamie Tosi
Digital Media Specialist
Santa Monica, Calif.

>>The Corpse Bride was shot this way. They used customized digital >>SLR’s if I remember correctly.

Canon DSLR with Nikon lenses-

John Babl

I worked on a rather large effects film in N. Cal last year that was shot entirely in HD. We had up to 4 crews shooing motion control with F950 cameras. Most of the time we shot to hard disc recorders that were single frame triggered from the Kuper systems. We did have to have it all synced together to keep it all looking right.

There is a mode in the FD950 that lets you do a frame merge to get longer exposure times.

There are now capture boards for the Mac and PC platforms that will do single frame captures as well as recording full speed 4:4:4 to a RAID.

There were factors in that project that required the use of the Sony HD cameras. (Like the exec producer really wanting it done that way and owing some of the cameras.)

We looked at using DSLR cameras, but they top out at 3FPS triggered and the data pipe gets clogged really fast. If you are doing single frame shooting and don't mind a couple of seconds to dump the frame to a computer then the DSLR is your best bet.

Do work out your pipeline before you start shooting, there are things you may want to do when shooting that you might miss when you get to post. My current favourite for this is the Canon 1DS MkII. Yo might also consider getting some 4G CF cards to use with it for times when tethering is a pain.

How have the other folks worked out a video tap for the DSLR cameras? That was an issue for us when we looked at them for the motion control rigs. We have in the past put tap cameras on the optical viewing systems.

Marty "The Droid" Brenneis
Industrial Magician and now "droid for hire"

My regular camera assistant shoots single frame time lapse with a Canon still camera hooked in to his Mac laptop. The stuff looks great, and he's had footage appear in at least one TV show. He actually has to downrez it to 1080, which is pretty cool.

Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | HiDef | Video

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