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iStopMotion for iPad (Product Review)

April 29, 2013 Comments off

iStopMotion for iPad
Boinx Software Ltd.
$9.99 iTunes Store
App for making stop motion and time lapse videos
Related product: iStopMotion Remote Camera (Free)

I was pretty excited when asked to review iStopMotion for iPad, since I’ve been a fan of stop motion video and claymation since I was a kid. I remember watching Gumby, Davey and Goliath, and all of those holiday claymation shows and loving them. I have always wanted to make my own stopmotion movies but never knew how. Plus, it takes a LOT of patience to make them, even with a cool app like iStopMotion for iPad.

And iStopMotion for iPad is cool. I like it. The really cool part about it is that you can install iStopMotion Remote Camera for your iPhone and use it as your camera and save your photos to your iPad without having to do anything more than clicking the shutter button.

I like the onion skinning feature too. This allows you to see where you’ve been on the previous shot so that you can move your objects a small amount so that the movie doesn’t look jumpy.

Over on your iPad, iStopMotion assembles your snaps into a stop motion video for you. One word of caution here, though. Don’t assume, like I did, that iStopMotion will allow you to manipulate your movie a great deal–it doesn’t. Now, if you’re a Mac owner and you also have iStopMotion installed, you might be able to do more but all you can do with the iStopMotion for iPad app is delete the current frame, delete all frames, duplicate the current frame, or reverse the order of all the frames.

Hopefully in the future, Boinx will give us more editing features with the app. One I would love to see is the ability to export the video into individual frames. I need this feature because, like most filmmakers, I do not necessarily create in linear order. I need the ability to move frames.

I created a short video but didn’t realize the limitations so it won’t be posted here. Sorry. It was basically two hours wasted because I wasn’t aware. I guess I didn’t read the fine print.

That said, I think that if you create your movies in linear fashion, meaning you create your video from the beginning and work through to the end, then you’re fine. Unfortunately, I was going to work my magic in “Post.”

The app does exactly what it should otherwise. You can create all kinds of really cool stop motion movies, claymation animations, text-based animations and more. Don’t let my ignorance of the app cloud your decision to use it or not. I think it’s a very cool app and having the ability to shoot with the far more agile iPhone is the absolute coolest feature.

For my studio setup, I used an 18″x24″ whiteboard, an iPhone 4, an iPad 4, a tripod and phone holder, and a dimmable, fluorescent ring light.

You can share and upload your movies via the app to Dropbox, YouTube, or save to the Camera Roll.

I think to get a full appreciation out of this app and what you can do with it, you’d have to own a Mac equipped with iStopMotion or maybe iMovie, although I’m not 100 percent sure that the movies are editable in iMovie. I don’t own one, unfortunately.

So, in a very rare move, I’m offering two different review results for this app.

9/10 for Mac owners who also own iStopMotion.

6/10 for everyone else.

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Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light (Product Review)

April 11, 2013 1 comment
fprlel_1

Front view showing reflective outer ring and adjustable pitch clamp.

Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light Adorama Camera, Inc. Retail: $139.95 Adorama: $124.95 5500K 80W Bulb replacement $15.95 As an avid film and digital photographer, I know that lighting is very important. There are times when flash units just won’t do the trick. Portraits, products, stop motion video, movies and many more applications require a constant, shadow free light source. Light is everything to the camera. It is your palette and your paintbrush. The  Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light from Adorama is a well-built, carefully thought out piece of photographic equipment. It’s hard not to be excited when you light up your subject with it. The perfect white light, the even tones and no shadowing or weird color shifts are what photographers and filmmakers long for in their quest to create their masterpieces.

fprlel_2

Rear view of the light fixture showing the adjustable clamp, the light stand clamp and power cable.

The light has an adjustable dimmer/brightener on it so that you can modulate the amount of light bathing your subject. The light is very bright but not blinding to your human subjects, although they will appreciate the ability to dim and diffuse the light a bit when you place the ring close. The ring light allows you to take photographs or film through the loop or from the side. The unit as described does not ship with a light stand. For this review, I used my own ProMaster Basic LS-1, which worked perfectly with the ring light. The ring light fixture is lightweight enough to be very mobile but sturdy enough to remain still in light breezes outdoors. For inexpensive studio lighting, I don’t think you can do much better than this light setup. I love it. From still portraiture, to product photography, to videography, this is one accessory that you need to add to your list. It comes with its own thick, padded nylon carrying case and a velcro-attachable diffuser. Below you can see two photographs I made with the ring light of my daughter. No Photoshop adjustments have been made to these photos. They’ve been resized to fit better into the space here but size adjustment is the only one made.

Maria1

Cropped photo through the ring light.

These photographs were taken with my Canon T3, auto focus, no flash setting. Note the bright but soft lighting effect with this ring light. The first photo is unretouched except for cropping to remove background details. It was taken through the ring light. If you look carefully, you can see the ring light in her eyes.

Maria2

Uncropped photo through the rear of the ring light.

The positional clamp on the light allows you to use a variety of angles so that you can not only position your light distance-wise but also from above, below or straight on. For these photographs, I positioned the light slightly above the subject’s eyeline.

I’m impressed with the overall quality of light, adjustability and flexibility of this ring light. I find no flaws in its workmanship or use. I really enjoyed working with this lighting unit and I think that it’s a worthwhile, yet small, investment if you even slightly serious about photography or videography. I highly recommend this product. The price is good, the replacement bulb price is excellent and you receive free shipping on this product from Adorama. What more could you want?

Review: 10/10

Stay tuned for an upcoming review of iStopMotion Pro and a stop motion video that I’m making using this light.

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