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Few things in life are as magical as watching inanimate objects come to life--something about it brings out the kid in everyone. iStopMotion 3 for Mac is likely to rekindle that interest in a big way, particularly for those old enough to remember classics like the original King Kong in constant rotation on TV.
We've previously reviewed the cheaper iPad app ($9.99), which has the same basic feature set. But on the Mac side, the all-new version 3 offers some compelling advantages, not the least of which is the ability to export finished animations to iMovie or Final Cut Pro X, where you can begin assembling individual shots immediately.
Like the iPad version, iStopMotion 3 for Mac captures incoming video one frame at a time, using “onion skinning” to show what the previous frame looked like before you snap the next one. By default, the Mac edition uses the built-in FaceTime camera on your Mac, but it's capable of tapping into any video or digital still camera, as well as any other device capable of using OS X capturing.
With iStopMotion 3 for Mac, even Darth Vader can go walking on the moon.
One of the best ways to do this is with the free, universal iOS companion app iStopMotion Remote Camera, which allows the Mac app to use a Wi-Fi connected, camera-equipped iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as the eyes for your animated creation. We opened the app on our iPhone 4S and it was instantly recognized by the Mac software, ready to begin wirelessly shooting in up to 1080p HD quality.
This lets you shoot frames with the onscreen button on the iOS device, or on the Mac itself, by clicking the mouse or pressing the space bar. Having these options is a huge benefit, because stop-motion animation requires capturing hundreds of frames, tweaking your objects slightly between each frame until you have a completed scene.
The Mac version also offers a more powerful toolset than on the iPad, complete with a tilt-shift filter for making objects in a scene appear miniature. And Rotoscope mode lets you use any QuickTime movie as a guide to make your scene's movements more natural, a perfect way to learn the art of stop-motion animation. You can even import a prerecorded soundtrack of music or voiceover, and edit your film to fit it, with full control over every frame along the way.
We had some initial problems getting started, with the application hanging at launch, or even crashing entirely, on our Retina MacBook Pro. We hope to see that addressed in an update soon. But the app is optimized for Apple’s high-resolution screen and has full support for OS X Mountain Lion.
The bottom line. While iStopMotion for iPad is plenty for novice users to start out with, the Mac version is a must-have for artists with greater ambitions. The extensive tools coupled with a larger, more comfortable workspace can make short work of even the largest animated or time-lapse projects.
Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later
Supports wide variety of video and digital still cameras, including built-in FaceTime. Easy sharing or export to video editing apps. Chroma keying allows users to animate objects over almost any background they can imagine.
Random hangs or crashes upon startup using MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Some presets default to non-standard frame rates for U.S. users, such as 25fps for 1080p HD movies. Grab handle for mousing through frames is too small to accurately select.