My son is almost 14 years old.  He has done some stop motion on his 3Ds with his lego figures, although there is no sound.  He is asking for a real stop motion camera for Christmas. I don't even know where to begin.  He doesn't have his own personal computer but he does have one he shares with his sister (it runs Windows).  I was hoping to find a camera that was easy to use...not too delicate...and able to record onto a SD card instead of having to be attached to the computer.  The ones I see on Amazon say they need to be plugged into a computer while filming.  I don't want a camera that has to be attached to the computer while he is recording.  Is there a software program that would be good for him?  Maybe in the $50 or under range?
He is also interested in clay mation.  I don't know if there is a certain type of clay that I am supposed to buy him.
My budget is under $200 but I prefer to stay in the $100-$150 area.
Thank for ANY information,
Amanda

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I think the most indicated would be a webcam:

- It is in the price range you want.

- It will work automatic with free stopmotion software (for example MonkeyJamAnimatorDV...)

- Some Webcams have a Windows Software allowing manual features, which your son will probably want (if not now, later)

The webcam would be connected to the computer (mostly) via USB, then you start your stopmotion software. There you could look for an option to save your project onto the SD card. 
As far as i remember, monkeyjam and animatordv wont make a video out of the photos. Your son would need a second software to join the pictures and export as a video. Under Windows, it could be made using Windows Movie Maker.

I personally would recommend the logitech webcams. They have the software for manual control and some of them have a tripod mount. The Logitech C920 is the "high-end" Webcam from Logitech and costs around 70$.

This very nice Tutorial has more detailed Information about Cameras

I know of a great one http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/hd-webcam-c615 the Logitech HD Webcam C615. If you use windows, then you'll be able to have manual focusing on it through the software on windows. It works great with stop motion programs. It's the one I use, and It's really good.

The thing is, to see what you are doing, you do need a camera attached to a computer. And that is how a webcam (the cheapest suitable camera) works,  it sends it's image to a computer.  That way, you use a framegrabber program (like Stop Motion Pro, Dragonframe, Monkeyjam etc) which shows you the live view from the camera, and lets you click back to the previous frames you have already then to see how much you have moved your puppet.  I started in the old days shooting on 16mm film with no framegrabber, and trust me, you learn so much faster, and get better results and encouragement from seeing what you are doing.

An iPhone or iPad can be used for stop motion with a free or low cost app.  But they have automatic exposure, so the pictures keep getting brighter or darker as it adjusts to the animator going in front of the camera to move the puppet.  And you have to touch the device to take the photo, which is likely to move it.  But it would certainly work for practice.

Any digital camera could be put on a tripod, and you could take shots and save them to the camera's own memory card.  Then download the images to the computer later, after you are finished.  It wouldn't tie up the shared computer for hours that way.  But without seeing how the animation is going, it won't be as good.

Slightly older computers can sell for a fraction of their original price, as newer faster ones come along, so I would look at getting another computer. 


Well put Nick, well put.
StopmoNick said:

The thing is, to see what you are doing, you do need a camera attached to a computer. And that is how a webcam (the cheapest suitable camera) works,  it sends it's image to a computer.  That way, you use a framegrabber program (like Stop Motion Pro, Dragonframe, Monkeyjam etc) which shows you the live view from the camera, and lets you click back to the previous frames you have already then to see how much you have moved your puppet.  I started in the old days shooting on 16mm film with no framegrabber, and trust me, you learn so much faster, and get better results and encouragement from seeing what you are doing.

An iPhone or iPad can be used for stop motion with a free or low cost app.  But they have automatic exposure, so the pictures keep getting brighter or darker as it adjusts to the animator going in front of the camera to move the puppet.  And you have to touch the device to take the photo, which is likely to move it.  But it would certainly work for practice.

Any digital camera could be put on a tripod, and you could take shots and save them to the camera's own memory card.  Then download the images to the computer later, after you are finished.  It wouldn't tie up the shared computer for hours that way.  But without seeing how the animation is going, it won't be as good.

Slightly older computers can sell for a fraction of their original price, as newer faster ones come along, so I would look at getting another computer. 

This is a bit further down the line, if he gets really smitten.

Look for a used laptop on eBay with the software for editing, such as Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. After Effects will enable him to do some really clever manipulation of images and special effects. Loads of free tutorials online for this. Just Google After Effects tutorials. You can add sounds into Premiere recorded directly with the computer's mic, or import sound files.

Plasticine is what you need for claymation, and wire armatures. But that's a whole topic in itself!

You may be able to rig a cell phone, but you will need some accessories
Tripod
Tripod mount for cell phone
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JNTP0AE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o...

Camera app with manual controls
This is for Android phones, I'm sure there is something similar for other phone operating systems
http://opencamera.sourceforge.net/

Remote shutter
http://www.amazon.com/Abco-Tech-Shutter-Smartphone-Compatible/dp/B0...

Caveats - I have not tested this.
I'm not sure if the remote shutter works with Open Camera. It should if it works without a software install requirement which it does with some phones.

Stop animation requires manual focus, because you don't want your camera refocusing for every shot, the potential for problems there are obvious. While you can't get true manual focus from a smart phone what open camera does is basically focus lock. You tap the screen and the camera focuses. If focus isn't good, tap it again. When focus is good, then you take pictures, the focus is locked and does not change, which is what you want. You probably want to use the exposure lock as well if your camera supports it.

You don't need to get the brands I linked to, think of this as more of a template.

I still love webcams. They have a certain look that you don't get with a DSLR, point and shoot, or video camera. It's slightly sleazy, soft around the edges, like a window into an underworld. And it is still the camera of choice for Brickfilms!

The OP mentioned her son has to share the computer with his sister, which is why I think she is looking for an alternative that doesn't require a computer for the entire process. I doubt the sister would put up with that.

She might be able to find a Sanyo IDShot. They were once horrendously expensive but nosedived in price sometime around 2004 or 2005. A bunch of us from here bought one, and they were pretty fun because the camera records and plays back animation right on it- no need for a computer, except to transfer the result. You could also play the video out of it and then record with a VCR if you wanted to get the stuff onto tape.

IDshot had all manual features and two animation playback speeds: 15 frames per second and 30 frames per second (for us masochists j/k). But yeah, all around a great camera, if you can find one. Maybe check Ebay.

Maybe you could find a cheap, used video cam (handy cams) on ebay. This way, you can view the progress through the lcd screen. I'm not sure if it is possible to control manual settings (white balance, focus etc) on some other video cams. You might want to choose a video cam with hdmi or rca so you can directly connect it to your TV or monitor and view it bigger than in the lcd screen.  You can take pictures on the video cam (stored in sd) then transfer it to the computer. 

Webcams are also good. I started off with webcams and it's really good for beginning and practicing. The problem is, you really have to connect it to the computer. 

Why will your son need manual settings/controls later on? He will be dealing with flickers, exposures, lightings and different stuff. When he makes an animation using automatic, his animations might probably not look good. There would be flickers, and different exposures flashing, bothering the scene.  

Wouldn't be the easiest (and cheapest) buy the son a webcam and the daughter a computer?

Buying another computer isn't an option.  I am teaching my children to share.  The computer also has to be used in a family room.  I don't like computers in kid's bedrooms.  I really wanted a stand-alone camera because the stop motion videos he was making with his 3DS, were made in his bedroom.  He was able to dump all of his legos on the floor and be creative.  

I looked for the Sanyo IDShot online with no success.  

I do appreciate all of the comments above.  Although I don't really want to get him a web cam, it's seems like it's the best option.  I might go with one of the box kits that are on Amazon.  Maybe this one: http://www.amazon.com/Stopmotion-Explosion-Complete-Animation-Windo...

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