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4k Stopmotion with a DSLR

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Steven Topham
4k Stopmotion with a DSLR
on Oct 3, 2016 at 6:44:34 pm

Hi All, I have a large question with some mini questions underneath it:
As a stop-motion animator capturing stills with a Canon 70D DSLR, my footage is recorded at a resolution of 5472 x 3078. As you'll see from the attachment, my frame grabber can export the footage at that raw resolution. If I then import it into FCPX for a project under its 4k preset, then as long as my computer can handle and export that job, then I will have made a project capable of 4k projection, right?

I ask, because there is absolutely zero information online regarding 4k stop-motion with the exception of a torrent of links about how the Black Magic Cinema Cameras (BMCC) are now compatible with frame grabbers.

Mini questions:
- What general specs does a computer need to handle 4k FCPX video editing and do you guys know any tricks to minimize the RAM load that would entail?
- A BMCC will obviously have a great dynamic range. Does anyone know just how fantastic that DR is in comparison to a mid range DSLR still capture? And then, if it is a huge chasm of quality, is making 4k footage with the above laid out workflow just a waste of energy?


Thanks!


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Steven Topham
Re: 4k Stopmotion with a DSLR
on Oct 3, 2016 at 8:03:22 pm

The engineer behind DragonFrame (the framegrabber) replied to my thread on stopmotionanimation.com http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/forum/topics/4k-stop-motion-with-dragonf...

My questions are answered, but if anyone wants to weigh in on their experience of dynamic range and 4k footage through the mini questions, I'm all ears.


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Paul Golden
Re: 4k Stopmotion with a DSLR
on Oct 4, 2016 at 8:02:51 am

Hi Stephen...

Your Canon 70D, which shoots RAW, is not equivalent, but superior, to the BMPC, which also shoots RAW, but only internally. The dynamic range, being RAW, is also similar. You can't capture single frame RAW from a Black Magic camera because it does not allow single frame triggering. You can capture, via SDI and a capture device, an uncompressed 422 video signal, but not RAW. No Blackmagic cameras allow for single frame capture of RAW, except in time-lapse mode, which doesn't apply to stop motion.

Using Dragonframe software will allow you to capture the full frame of your Canon footage and then downscale it or crop it to whatever flavor of 4K you want. If you're not delivering in 4K, but in something like HD, then you can downscale it further.

I would recommend that you not try to deal with RAW stop-motion image sequences in FCPX. It does not have a native scheme for image sequences and can't take advantage of all the RAW image controls. It will show you essentially a JPEG thumbnail of

Here's the workflow I"d recommend:

1) Capture using Dragonframe to full Canon CR2 files.

2) Bring Canon CR2 image sequences into either DaVinci Resolve or Adobe After Effects. Use Resolve or AfterEffects Camera Raw to color correct and create ProRes dailies. Your dailies can be scaled or full sized, depending on what you wish. ProRes will be easier to edit with than Image Sequences

3) Edit your film in FCPX and export an XML of your approved cut.

4) Import the XML into Resolve and do a final grading on the edited material. Export ProRes and bring into After Effects or any other compositing software you plan to do cleanup and rig removal.

5) Render out final clean clips from After Effects (e.g.) and bring back to FCPX for a final conform.

The is a general suggestion as I did not specify all the technical settings required to perform this successfully. It is highly dependent on your footage (green screen, multi-pass, rigs etc.) , its EFX and cleanup requirements and your knowledge of these other programs.

My basic observation is that FCPX is not the place to deal with RAW image sequences for color correction or compositing but ProRes footage in an editorial workflow.


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Paul Golden
Re: 4k Stopmotion with a DSLR
on Oct 4, 2016 at 9:16:56 am

One other thing about dynamic range: don't get hung about it if you're lighting an indoor set!

Presumably you'll have time to adjust your lighting ratios, test shoot, and look at footage before committing to a final shot. Stop motion is rarely shot under uncontrollable conditions where dynamic range is crucial for good image acquisition.

Dynamic range is definitely more important in time-lapse or outdoor scenarios where lighting can change quickly or momentarily (clouds flying in e.g.), but I've found that if you're careful about your lighting and nothing is either clipping white (besides highlights) or super black, you can usually push or pull areas of the frame to taste.

That said, you should still capture RAW if at all possible.


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Steven Topham
Re: 4k Stopmotion with a DSLR
on Oct 4, 2016 at 5:27:29 pm

Awesome reply and workflow suggestions. Thank you so much!
I have been looking into adding AE into my workflow for a short time now and it looks like I'm due. I'll see about adding in Resolve once things get going even further.


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