I haven't posted here in a while, but I've been working on a new animation that I'm unable to make progress on due to an odd issue. What happens is when I take a new frame, it never realigns with the previous frame. This only seems to happen after I take a break for an hour or resume animating the next day. This wouldn't seem much of an issue, but the shot is done from the same angle over the course of days and there is a rig involved. When I mask out the rig, the frames clearly are misaligned even with trying to nudge the frame in After Effects.

The past 3 weeks, I've attempted to isolate the cause. Here's what I've tried.

- Secured the set with multiple clamps. Made sure props are glued and pinned down.

- 4 different tables of varying sturdiness.

- 2 different table materials (wood and plastic/metal) to see if there is possibly expansion/contraction with temperature.

- 3 tripods (I even invested in a sturdy Manfrotto and Junior head). I also tried the tripods with and without a weight hanging.

- Leaving the camera on a separate table instead of a tripod.

- Turning the camera on/off through a power strip switch instead of physically touching the camera.

- Making sure the floor isn't budging (I'm working in a basement on granite flooring anyway).

My last test involved sitting the camera directly on the set. If the table or set was moving, then the camera should move with it. I took a picture, left for a while, and took another picture, there was movement still. That led me to thinking something is wrong with either the lens or the camera body. So I tested with another lens I have and there was still movement.

I don't know the inner workings of a camera well, so is there anything inside that may be causing inconsistent pictures? Or perhaps there is an entirely different cause anyone can lend insight to? Any help is appreciated.

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So if they are misaligned however you import them into the computer, the issue must lie with the physical set up. Do you weight things down with sandbags etc to prevent movement? If it still happens when you have used another table, then maybe it is to do with the camera mount. Is that secure enough?

Lots of videos on YouTube about green screens. I think the basic premise is to use the same lighting set up for the puppet and the set. I did a composite shot recently and just dropped in a little green screen where I wanted my puppet so I could animate the foreground and background separately. Lighting remained the same. Only issue was shadows. (I did each pass on different days, and had no movement. Everything was solidly fixed and weighted.)

I've weighed down the set, added clamps, and made sure to pin/glue the props down. I had tried a few tripods with and without weights till caving in and buying a Manfrotto tripod and Junior head mount. Although they didn't solve the issue, they're so sturdy that I don't want to part with them.

Your suggestion about the software actually led me to another test. I took frames using an iPad's camera with a stop motion app. The iPad was placed directly on the set (a test I've done with the DSLR's as well). I experienced no misaligned frames with the iPad. I then downloaded a trial frame grabber on my laptop and hooked it up to the new camera. I had misalignment.

I'm now thinking since the camera and tripod are new, and it was all fine with an iPad, perhaps it's the lens. However, because I had tested all 3 lenses I own, which still resulted in movement, I doubted all 3 could have an issue.

Also, thanks for the tip on green screens. I'll be looking into the guides.

Simon Tytherleigh said:

So if they are misaligned however you import them into the computer, the issue must lie with the physical set up. Do you weight things down with sandbags etc to prevent movement? If it still happens when you have used another table, then maybe it is to do with the camera mount. Is that secure enough?

Lots of videos on YouTube about green screens. I think the basic premise is to use the same lighting set up for the puppet and the set. I did a composite shot recently and just dropped in a little green screen where I wanted my puppet so I could animate the foreground and background separately. Lighting remained the same. Only issue was shadows. (I did each pass on different days, and had no movement. Everything was solidly fixed and weighted.)

You said you hooked up to the new camera, so I assume that is the Canon. Using another framegrabber eliminates anything within DF as a fault, but does not exonerate the laptop entirely. Although goodness knows how the laptop itself could be at fault. 2 camera bodies means it is not within the camera. The iPad test means it is not the set. 

It would be an extraordinary coincidence if all 3 lenses had developed an identical fault simultaneously, so it is unlikely to be the lens itself, but could possibly be the mount. Is there any way this can dislodge or move once the lens is mounted.

Are your manual lenses Pentax type? They have a screw thread, so could possibly work loose. Or is there any lever poking out of the back of the lens that could interfere with the mounting? (Ah, it would need to happen on all 3 lenses...)  You could try putting a little tape on the mount and lens body and making a mark, then see if that shifts at all.

If you are using a single mount for all the lenses, you should invest in one per lens and keep it on the lens. I know that some of the cheap mounts can be a sloppy fit, so this may be where your trouble lies...

Yes, it was the Canon I used. I actually am using a new laptop as well.

The 2 manual lenses and the digital lens are Nikon F mount. A tape marker sounds like a good idea. I will try testing it either later or tomorrow.

Prior to buying the Canon, I was using a Nikon body, so there wasn't any adapter mount.

Also, I was suggested to try turning off Image Stabilization. However, my cameras don't have that feature. Just adding this info to the thread in case someone in the future is troubleshooting a similar issue.

Just an update. I was able to get my hands on a different lens to test. Unfortunately, it didn't solve the issue.

I also did the tape marker test. While there was no visible movement between the 2 tape pieces, I still had movement on the frames captured. However, when I placed one long strip of tape across the length of the lens barrel (so the moving parts of the focus and aperture were taped together), I had the tiniest amount of movement experienced so far in tests.

I think this is as good as it'll get. I'm just going to live with the issue for now. Thank you to everyone who has chimed in and helped.

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