February 11, 2016 at 11:31AM

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Camera suggestions for frame-by-frame animation?

Hey.

I borrowed a DSLR (a Nikon D80) to make a frame-by-frame animation a while back and I was wondering what kinds of cameras people would suggest for this type of work in the future?

I appreciated being able to borrow this D80, but during winter I had to put it in a plastic bag on top of the tripod to give some "weatherproofing".

Also... the footage is much more jittery than I'd like because I didn't have the Nikon remote for some of this, and then when I bought one... the remote setting on the camera kept falling out if I didn't take a picture quickly enough (hard to do when animating) and so I had to go into the camera menu and reactivate the remote, which led to camera shake anyway.

Any suggestions?

Here is the animation I made by returning to the same spot on a beach through the summer, fall, winter, and spring.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ1lXIORbxE

11 Comments

Any camera that is weatherproof, has a battery that lasts a long time, and features remote control via a tablet or smart-phone. This would include cameras from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, etc...

I would also opt for a camera that can shoot RAW still photos ( which almost all of them can ) so that you have more control over color-balance and dynamic-range of your image.

Do you have any idea of your budget ?

February 11, 2016 at 1:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30786

Thanks for your reply.

I'm not quite sure of budget yet. I gather that in animation DSLRs are still heavily used. Anomalisa was shot on a Canon 7D I think.

Perhaps frame-by-frame animators use DSLRs due to the lens selection, or the ability to integrate them into systems like FrameDragon, or maybe they have a better shutter life?

But for outdoor, all-weather animating, I guess the weatherproofing, remote control of the camera and good battery life are all top priorities.

I suppose I'm like everybody else in wanting a "do it all" camera, since I would also like to shoot video too. And for some of my animation ideas I want a camera that has a good macro lens.

I think I'm at the stage of casting my net too wide and over-thinking all the options. I probably need to sit down and arrive at what my top priorities are.

Sean Bokenkamp

February 12, 2016 at 1:29AM

I currently shoot with the Panasonic GH4 which features a weather-proof body, 3+ hours of video shooting per battery ( 6+ hours with the battery grip ), RAW still-photo mode, 4K Photo mode to extract optimized still-photos from a 30 fps 4K video stream, Cine image controls, WiFi control via smart-phone or tablet, has adapters to mount almost any lens to it, and is often on sale for $1200 US or less. It's not great in low-light conditions, but it's not terrible.

February 12, 2016 at 10:57AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30786

That's a very intriguing option.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Sean Bokenkamp

February 14, 2016 at 10:14AM

If a person was going to get just one lens to cover both still and video on the GH4, what would you recommend?

I guess the potential for an announcement in April about a GH5 might also drive prices down on the GH4? At least a little bit?

February 14, 2016 at 11:08AM

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Sean Bokenkamp
Animator
354

The lens to get if you have to live with just one lens is the Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom, which has optical image stabilization so it's good for both handheld stills and video.

The current rumor is that the GH5 won't arrive until 2017, but there is supposed to be a very big GH4 firmware upgrade coming. No details yet, but I am guessing we should know by April what this new firmware does.

Guy McLoughlin

February 14, 2016 at 10:42PM

I use a canon 60D for timelapses (and hyperlapses) on a sturdy Manfrotto tripod (I also use that one for larger cameras: certainly helps to resist the wind) plus a remote with a wire. (So you'll never have to through any menu to activate a setting for wireless remote)
The only buttonI sometimes need to touch is Liveview to lift the mirror.

However I would also advice in using After Effects to stabilize footage (a bit). Even when I don't touch the camera I noticed AE helps to smooth things a little bit.

Here are some shots with and some shots without stabilizing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88Exa3H97wY

February 14, 2016 at 1:31PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9085

Thanks, Guy. The Lumix 12-35mm looks like a good lens that would cover a fairly good range. And OIS built into the lens seems pretty important with the GH4. Big GH4 firmware update? Interesting. I guess that's a way to help dissuade people from holding out for the rumor of GH5 in 2017.

Walter—you're also totally right that I need to think seriously about a better tripod. Despite the potential for OIS lenses or AE post-stabilization, it's probably a good idea for me to get as stable of a platform as I can while shooting. No use putting a nice, new camera on a beat-up, old tripod.

Do you know if there are any tripods that have some amount of "weatherproof" capabilities? Are there any tripods where the areas for collapsing the legs are sealed? Because when shooting on a windy beach the sand becomes an issue. Eventually I used some gaffer tape and covered each of the tripod legs with plastic bags. Which worked. But wasn't a very elegant solution.

Nice time-lapse in that video. Looks good.

February 15, 2016 at 1:28AM

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Sean Bokenkamp
Animator
354

You can remote shoot on Canon cameras using the EOS software, any laptop and a long USB cable. This would help with stabilisation as all settings etc can be done on the laptop without touching the camera itself.

February 15, 2016 at 12:36PM

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Jon Mills
Filmmaker
519

>>>Do you know if there are any tripods that have some amount of "weatherproof" capabilities?

There are water-proof tripods designed to be used with the legs in water...

Sirui W-2004 Waterproof Aluminum Alloy Tripod : $270
http://goo.gl/R6JaGh

February 15, 2016 at 4:16PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30786

That Sirui tripod looks like what I'm after. Thanks!

I don't suppose you know of any place in Canada that carries those?

February 16, 2016 at 11:59AM, Edited February 16, 12:01PM

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Sean Bokenkamp
Animator
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