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Capture Station Setup - Advice Needed

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Capture Station Setup - Advice Needed


I am currently researching methods for setting up a station for the digital capture of 2D or stop motion work for an expanding art department in a midwest university. The lab is a macinttosh lab so software would be restricted to mac-compatible means. I've used Frame Thief and like its features and would like to use a digital still camera to get higher resolution images than a miniDV cam.

Has anyone had experience in this area who can lend some advice or comments?

I was thinking about setting up something similar to a traditional animation stand, but with digital components. A copy stand with either a digital still camera and/or 3-chip miniDV cam and running the signal into the hard drive while running Frame Thief.

Any suggestions on:

Type of copy stand?
Type of miniDV camera?
Type of digital still camera?
Software or additional components?


all my line tests are connected to the SLR via usb and all my final clean ups are captured at 4k via the SLR .

These are shot on a copy stand with basic desk lights.

I like this method of digitizing drawings . It is much faster than a flatbed scanner and much less expensive than investing in an Auto Document Feed scanner . (actually less expensive than a flatbed scanner , too, if the flatbed is an 11 x 17 size scanner, which is necessary to scan full 12 field or 16 field animation paper) . The ideal for speed in scanning drawings is an 11 x 17 ADF scanner , but the cost is beyond the budget of most individual animators. A basic copystand set up can get good quality images , even with a fairly inexpensive digital camera . (a really nice camera like the Canon EOS 400d that Victorthroe mentions is even better , of course)

There was a discussion about scanning recently on another section of the AWN forum and I posted a couple of reference photos regarding the copy stand set up which I thought would be useful to post here also in case anyone is reading this and wanting to make their own image capture set up with a copystand and SLR camera.

One part that is crucial in my opinion is a glass platen for putting pressure on the drawings to flatten out any creases or wrinkles on the surface of the paper and to make sure the image scans perfectly flat because sometimes even non-wrinkled paper can tend to buckle up a bit on the pegbar unless it's pressed down by the glass.

"EustaceScrubb" has left the building

i have now completely moved my 2d production onto digital slr

all my line tests are connected to the slr via usb and all my final clean ups are captured at 4k via the slr

these are shot on a copy stand with basic desk lights

the images are brought into adobe after effects as an image sequence and run through a threshhold filter...this effectively turns them black and white as if scanning in black and white

it is an instant process, there is no waiting around for the scanner.....

these images can then be brought into flipbook or photoshop for colouring

if it wasnt for the fact i still like to scan my watercolours id chuck my scanner on the bomb fire as it hogs desk space

the camer i use is a canon eos 400d

the film i am currently working on is in 1080p

and i have oodles of resolution to spare, so it is a method worthy of any project
for more movies and downloads

the fastest polygon in the west!


Cable -

A copy stand set up works well for 2D drawings or cutouts, but a tripod is better for animation of objects.

Frame Thief was written by a student here at RIT and he continues to support it after graduation. The other alternative is iStopMotion.

You probably don't need resolution higher than DVD resolution. Picking a camera is like buying a computer, it depends on what day you buy it and how much you want to spend.

Any suggestions on:

Type of copy stand?
I would suggest getting tripods as an alternative. With the copy stand it is sometimes nice to be able to raise and lower the camera, but you can also limit control to the zoom capabilities of your camera if you would prefer to put some limits on options.

Type of miniDV camera?
There are several good ones, it's mostly person preference. I would imagine a consumer camera would be fine. They are less expensive. I can only guess, but probably more cameras would be more important than expensive ones. We have even used security cameras and the little ones that you get for your computer both at the college level and for middle school students.

Type of digital still camera? ditto

Software or additional components?
Frame Thief or iStopMotion (free trial available online). You should also have lights and a way of mounting them. A super drive for burning CDs or DVDs of the work is important.

I'm from the midwest originally, where are you located?

- Marla


THanks Maria-

I taught at AiW in DC with an animator from RIT (Sonny Kharbanda). I'm in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at a technical college's digital arts program, but will be relocating to South Dakota State University in the Fall where I'll be teaching animation courses in the art dept and keeping busy during the winters.

I've used the tripod and copystand setups on my own and in past classes, so that's good to hear your views on that too. I may just adopt those basics for starters. It sounds like I may hold off on recommending the use of a digital still camera unless there's the need for higher final output resolution(HD or film).

Do you know if Framethief will be updated any more? I think it's got some ofthe most accessible and useful features for a digital animation tool.

Ciao - Cable

Cable -

Sunny was one of my grad students.

I don't know if Frame Thief (written by an RIT alum) will be updated anymore, but why don't you use one of the email addresses on the web site to ask.

Best of luck with your change of locations and new courses.

- Marla