Daily iPad App: Boinx iStopMotion brings stop motion animation to iOS

Boinx Software is one of my favorite Apple development companies. I use their Boinx TV app to produce TUAW TV Live every week, and all of our onsite video from Macworld Expo 2011 went through Boinx TV. Their Fotomagico software has been a slideshow favorite for years, and their You Gotta See This! iOS app does a cool job of creating photo collages on the iPhone. Now the company is moving the powerful iStopMotion Mac app to the iPad, and has created a new iPhone app (iStopCamera) to act as a remote camera for iStopMotion for iPad.

iStopMotion for iPad (US$4.99) is an app that is designed to get younger iPad users into the thrill of making animated movies through the magic of stop motion animation. When the app is launched, a pair of clay figures are animated to show you how to use iStopMotion. The "star" of the tutorial, a little yellow figure with spiky hair, will be named in a user contest coming up shortly. The app itself is available on Thursday, December 15 -- TUAW was given a preview of both iStopMotion for iPad and the companion iStopCamera app.

You can either use the front or back camera on an iPad 2, or use a free companion app -- iStopCamera -- on another iOS device to send frame photos to the iPad on which you're creating your masterpiece. I found it ridiculously easy to link my iPhone 4S camera to the iStopMotion app via Wi-Fi and then use the app to snap each frame by tapping a button on the iPad app screen.


The app defaults to a frame rate of 12 frames per second. For a 16-second animation like the one I produced, that means you're looking at 192 frames. In between each frame, I moved one of the objects just a little bit. iStopMotion shows you the location of the objects in the last frame, and then you can see where the new locations are going to be. There's a setting to add a grid to the screen for more accurate movement.

If you'd rather make a time-lapse movie by shooting frames at regular intervals, there's a mode for that as well. You can have the app take a picture at any interval between 1 second and one hour.

How easy is iStopMotion for iPad to use? The 16-second animation was made after just watching the intro video with the "claymation" figures, and I think it went pretty well. At any point, you can tap a play button to view your animation up to the last frame, and when you're done, you flip back to the gallery to name your animation and share it.

Sharing can be done via email, the Photo library on your iPad, or YouTube, and in a number of resolutions. I chose to keep mine at 1280 x720 pixels. iStopMotion for iPad doesn't offer any way to add audio to your animation, so I chose to export it to the Photo library, import it onto my Mac through iPhoto, then export the file to my Mac desktop. Next, I imported the movie into Garage Band and added an audio stinger from the standard Garage Band set. The result isn't perfect, but considering it's a first attempt, I think it's pretty darned good!

Once again, Boinx has done an excellent job of taking something that could be rather difficult to accomplish and making it easy to do. iStopMotion for iPad isn't just good for kids -- I can think of situations where I'd like to put together fun little stop motion animations for TUAW or special occasions, and with this app it's a piece of cake.

Is anything missing from this first version of iStopMotion for iPad? Yeah, I'd like to see a simple way of adding titles and credits to an animation (sure, I can export the video and then bring it into iMovie for iPad, but wouldn't it be cool to do it in one app?), and it would also be nice to have a way of adding a soundtrack and effects to an animation. But heck, this is version 1.0, so I'm sure we're going to see some additions in a future update.

All in all, iStopMotion for iPad is a lot of fun for $4.99. If you've ever had the desire to make stop motion animations and you own an iPad, be sure to buy the app when it arrives on the App Store on December 15. In the meantime, you can watch my little animation to see how well the app works and look at the screenshots of the app in action.