The Stopmotion Explosion Mailbag - Answers to Your Questions

Posted by Nate Eckerson on

Happy New Year!

Over the past few days I've been emailing back and forth with Stopmotion Explosion animators, answering questions. I'd like to share some of my answers, in hopes that you might find them useful in your own animating adventures.

Q: (A Mac user) What's this Macam application? I can't animate with it, and it doesn't recognize the camera..
A: Macam is used to connect non-OS X compatible cameras to the animation application. However, if you're using the Animation kit, you don't need to use Macam, since the camera already has plug-n-play OS X support.

Instead, you want to be animating with the FrameByFrame app. The fastest way to get started with FrameByFrame is to visit the Downloads page, input the password from the book, and download the app installer.

Q: (A Windows user) I can't get the camera to work in SMA. However, I can see an image in AMCAP. What's happening?
A: Windows Vista, 7 & 8 have an irritating tendency to automatically install (wrong!) drivers when the camera is plugged into the computer for the first time. This is usually avoidable if you install the software CD before plugging the camera into your computer. Otherwise, do the following.

Test the camera by plugging it into your computer and launching AMCAP (this application is located on your desktop, or can be found by running a quick search via the Start Menu). Make sure no other applications are running. If you can see an image in AMCAP, then exit, and launch SMA. If you don't see an image there, do the following:

  1. Unplug the camera
  2. Insert the software CD
  3. Run the installer again.
  4. When the camera driver installer pops up, make sure to install it again.
  5. Restart, and then launch SMA.

98.7% of the time, this fixes the problem. If you don't see an image after following the instructions above, contact me.

Q: The camera focus ring seems stiff when I try to turn it. Is it broken?
A: You're focusing the camera correctly. The "stiffness" you're experiencing is lubricant on the focus ring, preventing the camera from loosing focus easily if the camera is jiggled. If you twist the ring left and right a few times, it should loosen up. There is a lot of room inside the camera for the focus ring to turn, so don't be afraid of breaking it

Q: I've made an amazing movie, and I want to add some sounds! How do I do this?
A: The process of adding sound effects to movies is covered in Chapter 12. Editing video can take some time to learn, but the end result is well worth it.

If you insert the CD into your computer drive, you'll find a folder labeled Sound Effects. These can be added to your film using Windows Movie Maker, or you can follow the instructions in Chapter 11 for recording your own sounds.

I also really like the sound effects on - these are usually very high quality, and there is a large selection to choose from.

I prefer using Windows Movie Maker 2.6 for editing, since it has more features than newer versions. You can download this version from HERE.

Got a question of your own? Contact me via the support page!