For hobbyists and weekend filmmakers, playing around with stop motion and timelapse image capture is an enticing way to create memorable movies. On the Mac, the most user-friendly and accessible app for these projects is iStopMotion from Boinx. Starting at US$49 for the basic Home version, iStopMotion makes it easy to animate your furniture, Legos, kitchen items or anything else you happen to have lying about.
In the 2.5 version of the product, released this week, Boinx has added one marquee feature that's going to be showing up in a lot of timelapse projects: tilt-shift. You've probably seen some spectacular videos using this effect, which simulates the fine control over focus that was traditionally available only with specialized lenses on still cameras.
When the selective focus effect of lens tilt is applied to timelapse footage, the scene appears to be acted out in miniature (check out the work of directors Sam O'Hare and Keith Loutit for great examples). It took Jim Clark weeks of effort to create 30 seconds of tilt-shift music video footage a few years ago, but now you can do something similar on a tabletop.
Boinx has also added compatibility with new Canon still camera models and a 'Send to iMovie' option in this version. In the Express and Pro versions of the app, color correction options are now included. Express, at $99, includes several additional features such as rotoscoping, a soundtrack and continuous capture; Pro, at $499, adds the option of full high-definition. Compatible cameras are listed here, and I've had good results with both an old iSight and an IPEVO p2v USB camera. You can see a video demo of 2.5 in the second half of this post.
If you're a pro animator or effects artist and iStopMotion isn't powerful enough for your needs, you may want to check out Dragon Stop Motion; it's designed for professional work, with an interface and feature set to match. The $275 app can control lighting, shoot in 3D and more; it even comes with its own USB keypad for fast access to key commands. Happy animating!