23 August, 2010

Search to take stop-motion pictures

I've been looking for a way to take stop-motion/time-lapse pictures, specifically one that lets you overlay another picture to help you frame your new picture. Among other things, I want to try taking a picture of myself every day. It's impossible to find a camera with this function, but with the multitude of apps available for the iPhone, I thought there might be a suitable one. Here are my requirements:
  • Take full resolution pictures. Who knows when I'll be making a HD video? Putting the pictures together into a video or gif isn't that hard, I'd rather have full resolution pictures than automatically compile a video with VGA pictures.
  • Overlay (I found out this is also called onion skinning) ANY photo - the last photo you took, a photo from your iPhone, a photo downloaded from the web.
  • Full camera functions - touch to focus, use front camera, flash.

I found this app that works: Still Motion by First Street Apps. It's a time-lapse photography program that automatically takes pictures after a set interval, or you can take them manually, with the last picture as an overlay. You can work on several sets at the same time, and come back to them at any time. When you do, the last picture is available as an overlay. You can also delete photos and export videos. It has a web server function similar to this program, which is good since exporting photos to your photo reel doesn't work. It crashes sometimes, the video export doesn't work and the photos are only 320×429 pixels. It only uses the rear camera, which means you need someone to help you take pictures. With extended use, I've found that it's very unreliable at saving pictures - I cannot recommend this app.

I also found another, indirect, method. First, let me introduce this app for OS X, Afloat. It adds additional options to your windows, one of which is transparency. You can also make a window stay on top, while being able to interact with the window below it. Do you see where this is going? If you take a screenshot of Photo Booth with your photo on it, you can use that screenshot as an overlay. Afloat is free, works with any overlay, and takes photos as good as your webcam (480×640 for the iSight). However, it's not as portable as an iPhone app.

The search continues! Meanwhile, I've started taking pictures of myself everyday.

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