Can anyone recommend a program that is close to Dragonframe?
Stopmotion Pro (I've already forgotten why I hated it)
Framebyframe crashes after a couple of grabs.
Single framer is too basic
Monkey jam doesn't support Onion Skinning
iStopmotion is more flash than substance.
I have a copy of tvPaint for traditional animation but the stop mo side is a hack using the video input.

I realize the answer is buy Dragonframe but until I can justify the purchase I want to use something less expensive.

Any recommendations?

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I dont know why you hate stopmotion Pro?, it does the job ok. If you want something close to DragonFrame its gonna have to be DragonFrame, nothing else comes close. It sounds like you already have tried numerous other applications but to be honest you could try every other single stop motion program under the sun but if you want DF then get DF. It is indeed pricey so I can understand your reluctance to purchase but its pricey because it is well developed and used by major studios and all that functionality is available to you regardless of whether your using it for a 10 second clip or a feature length film. Hence why you will struggle to find an identical piece of software for cheaper.

I use Stop Motion Pro 8. Here's the website. You can download the trial to see if you like it. If you want to buy it, there are several different editions, depending on what you need it for. There are comparison charts on the site.

If you do decide to buy it, you could help out our mate Marc Spess and get it through his site (I don't think it is any more expensive - mine was actually cheaper) Animate Clay

Edit - Oh you don;t like SMP. I didnt see that bit. Typing on the fly.

I'll give smp another chance.
It's possible I came off the trial of Dragonframe expecting too much.
Has anyone used iStopmotion enough that would suggest purchasing it. I'm look. For something primarily on the mac side of my MacBook Pro though I am camped so PC is not out of the question
And while I keep seeing That stop motion pro has been tested on the Mac side with windows XP and Windows 7 it doesn't appear to have a DMG file. All I see is an EXE. Is this the case?

You rejected Monkeyjam because it doesn't support onionskinning. Is that really something you need? Most of us never use it, except maybe if we bump the animation table or accidentally move something and need to get it back where it was. 

Yeah I use it a lot. Granted I can flip it back and forth but I like being able to work out my spacing while posing the character instead of initially flipping
It's just something I got used to in traditional then translated to CG and now carry over to stop motion

Ok, well that's understandable. 

I'm not sure how it works with SMP - since you need to have Windows running in Bootcamp, maybe it uses the .exe file? Seems like that would work anyway. 

Sto Motion Pro runs in Windows on a Mac. There is no native OSX version. I use SMP HD Studio on my 11 year old PC, and I usually prefer it to Dragonframe, though not by much. The price is the same, $295. Cheaper editions of SMP are not comparable.
I do use Dragonframe on my Mac Pro some of the time.
A film I worked on did use Stop Motion Pro HD in Bootcamp, shooting stereo 3d, so I have seen that it works. But I didn't want to install Windows on my Mac just for that.

My very limited use of Dragonframe was an incredibly satisfying experience. Very stable, very intuitive, and all the motion capture and lighting control possibilities make it a no brainer. Rock solid app. iStopmotion is pretty damn good for the price, though.

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