Developer: CatEater
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I’d always been interested in stop-motion filming but I was deterred by the idea that I’d need a lot of expensive equipment. When I first saw Stop Motion Studio by CatEater I was intrigued, and after I played around with the app for several hours, I have to admit I am hooked.

The interface is fairly simple. It comes preloaded with a short clip that says “Welcome” so users can see what a stop-motion video looks like. Press the plus sign to start a new video and it immediately turns on the rear-facing camera. The button with the red LED is the trigger and the gear icon opens up quite a few additional options, like a delay timer and a zoom (which doesn’t zoom much). This menu bar is where different frame rates can be set, as well as SD or HD quality. Mysteriously, the “focus” option was grayed out for me.

I quickly discovered that some kind of tripod, even a makeshift one, is essential – I tried it without at first and wasn’t happy with the results. Don’t bother rigging up a full studio background though; the jittering, shadows and inconsistent speed is part of the charm of amateur stop-motion filming. Propping up the iPad up on a hinged cover will work fine, or balance it on two soup cans over the paper like I did. Many people who reviewed this app in the iTunes store complained about the lack of options for muting the sound or turning off the frame preview button, and due to an unfortunate decision on the UI designer’s part, these buttons are hidden to the far right of the menu bar. The user needs to drag the bar to the left to expose them. I’d recommend turning off the frame preview (it’s on by default) and turning on the overlay option, which displays the previous frame at a reduced opacity on top of the camera image. This makes it much easier to line up shots.

The video attached to this article took me about 40 minutes to create and was shot using the HD (720×1280) option. Rendering took about 2 minutes, and produced a 2.82 MB .mov video. Be warned that my example is a little lame: I am not a great artist, and this is my first attempt at any kind of filmmaking.

Unfortunately when I tried to email the file to myself the app froze, requiring a hard reboot of my iPad to recover. The second time I chose to save it to my Camera Roll and it cooperated, and I was able to pull it onto my laptop with iTunes. Options also exist to send the movie directly to YouTube or Facebook.

Overall, Stop Motion Studio is a fun little program that makes it ridiculously simple to do stop-motion filming and outperforms similar, more expensive apps. The trouble I ran into trying to get it off my iPad is a little worrisome, and hopefully CatEater releases a fix for this soon.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Photography, iPhone Apps and Games, Photography, Reviews

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