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The Best Camcorder To Use For Stop-motion Film Making

Updated on July 10, 2013
Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder
Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder | Source

What Is Stop Frame animation

Stop frame animation, stop-motion animation or sometimes clay animation is a process of using objects and making slight movement with them and taking a picture each time. At the end of this cycle the pictures are strung together to create a short film. When doing this type of animation it is imperative to have a decent camera. The best piece of camera to use for stop animation is one that allows you to adjust iris, shutter and overall sensitivity to light. One such piece of equipment that works incredibly well for its low price in the Panasonic PV-GS500.

How To Use The Digital Camera

The PV-GS500 is not simply a camera but also a camcorder which is why it may have more features than most digital cameras. When taking pictures for use in stop-animation you should follow the below Process:

  1. Make sure that the camera is set to photo.
  2. Press the menu button to bring up the settings.
  3. Adjust the lighting setting to artificial lighting.
  4. Adjust the Shutter to 1/2 second exposures.
  5. You may need to take some test pictures but depending on lighting you may want to set iris anywhere between 4.8 - 6.8 for best results.
  6. Take pictures using the remote or the wired clicker so you do not touch the camera and move it during picture taking.

Below is a short video showing the above steps so refer to the video if you have any difficulty following the steps. The above steps and settings are primarily dependent upon the lighting in the room. If following the above steps please read the next section on lighting as for optimal conditions for the pictures the settings above should match the lighting. Below the video is an example of test pictures taken for a stop animation set (in that case 4.8 appears to be the best setting.)

Iris setting 3.4 - 6.8, shutter speed 1/2 second exposures
Iris setting 3.4 - 6.8, shutter speed 1/2 second exposures | Source
Set Under Lamp Light With Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder
Set Under Lamp Light With Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder | Source

Lighting Setups

When taking pictures with the PV-GS500 camera for best picture lighting levels in stop-motion animation you should:

  • use a normal overhead lamp, preferably one with a bendable base.
  • The lamp should be placed beside the set and the light pulled over top of the set just above the view of the camera. This way it will be close enough to light up your set but far enough away to be out of the picture.
  • Also you will want to position the lamp close to the camera so it is above and to the front of your set this eliminates shadows on the set itself. Shadows happen if the lighting is directly above of too far to the back of the set.
  • As mentioned and shown in the video above the iris should be adjusted according to lighting the brighter it is the higher the iris number. Primarily if your lamp is brighter it will be somewhere between 5.6 - 6.8 if it is lower light levels it will be possible between 3.4 - 4.8, use your judgement after checking your test pictures. Again you can refer to the test pictures above this section for an example.

Although there are thousands of digital cameras and camcorders out there that can be used to create a stop-motion film the Panasonic PV-GS500 MiniDV camcorder has features that make it an ideal choice. As pictures are recorded they are stored to the SD memory card in the bottom of the camera for easy transfer to your computer to begin editing. With the remote or wired clicker you don't have to touch the camcorder once it is in place. When creating stop-motion this can mean the difference between making a great film scene and having a choppy mess. As a digital camera as well as a video camera it can record film that can appear almost as good as big budget film quality. This is because of the 3-CCD technology that records a different spectrum of colors and combines them into one video within the camera. One of a few camcorders that has that capability.


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    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Ironman1992 - many cameras can do stop motion for sure and some are great, the one I use has the best features for my use I've never used the logitech pro 9000 though. As long as it does what you need it to that's what counts :)

    • Ironman1992 profile image

      Ironman1992 5 years ago

      Voted useful. I've never tried this camera for stop motion. I just bought a logitech pro 9000, and it works very well for stop motion, but it is a web camera, which means I can not leave the computer.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      teaches12345 - thanks for reading, indeed the GS500 works very well, I was intimidated by it at first but once I started really using the features I loved it. Hard to imagine making a short film without it at this point :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      vocalcoach - glad to be of service, the camera settings are certainly what makes or breaks the phot or film for sure :)

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      KrystalD - well this is definitely the camcorder to use for stop-animation but the tips on shutter/iris can carryover to any camera that has this type of adjustments. Manual adjustments are by far the best over automatic. It adds a little character to the shots.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      kelleyward - Thanks for the bookmark and the vote. The settings I mentioned are ideal, mostly specific to the PV-GS500 but other cameras may have something similar with the shutter/iris adjusting. Thanks for reading :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is good information to have on file. Your use of the camera sure does develop some quality cartoons! Thanks for sharing how to use the camcorder to its best advantage.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      iefox5 - glad were in agreement, I've never had a problem with the Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder so far, I really enjoy making stop-motion animation with it!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      This is very useful for me. I've needed this information for using my own camera. My vote is up and useful. Thanks.

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      I am planning on exploring stop motion animation with my students and this certainly gave me some useful for mation. Voting up!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips terrektwo! I'm new to using my camera, correctly and your tips are very helpful. Bookmarking this. Voted up and shared! Kelley

    • iefox5 profile image

      iefox5 5 years ago

      Panasonic PV-GS500 Camcorder is absolutely a good choice for stop-motion film making.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Ronna Pennington - hope it helps, when you have the right camera and setup making stop-animation or claymation is easy!

    • Ronna Pennington profile image

      Ronna Pennington 5 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks for the tips. My kid and I have been wanting to try something like this!