Looking for free stop motion animation software? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out Heron Animation.
A free program, Heron Animation lets you take a series of pictures from a connected webcam and assemble each shot into a real moving animation.
The tool, which is written in web technologies, pitches itself as ‘perfect for beginners and more experienced animators alike’. That sort of balance is notoriously hard to achieve.
Is it the best free stop motion software? That’s for you to decide. It’s early days for this app and although it doesn’t appear to be open-source – it is free to download and use – it does boast all a decent set of features, including:
- Connect to a webcam
- Onion skin w/ difference mode
- Playback animation at any FPS
- Loop playback
- Short play (play only the few last frames)
- Delete and move the frames
- Duplicate frames
- Export video as .MP4, .MOV, .AVI
The app is also backed up with a decent set of keyboard shortcuts. These make it easy to control and monitor recording with just your Bluetooth keyboard in your lap as you painstakingly reposition your subject matter.
(Onion skinning, in case you’re not familiar with the phrase, is a feature whereby the previous image is overlain to help you ‘position your objects more accurately’. It’s a feature commonly found in stop motion apps, including the popular qStopMotion.)
Download Heron Animation
I’ll be honest: when my eyes first read ‘heron animation’ in the subject field of an e-mail my immediate thought was ‘Hah, someone has created an animation based on the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS wallpaper!’.
That wasn’t the case, but I can’t say I was disappointed to read what it is actually about.
I’ve tried doing some stop motion animation in the past and it is a time-intensive process. Any app, tool or script that helps speed things up (pun absolutely intended) is throughly welcome by me (i lack patience).
One sad feature omission is support for DSLR cameras. As of now it’s limited solely to webcams. Talking of which, a number of Linux users have experienced some issues getting the app to detect their webcam accurately.
Heron Animation is a free download and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
At the time of writing the Linux builds have a misconfigured .desktop file. To run the app you’ll need to drag the ‘Heron Animator’ binary in to the Terminal and hit enter. It should, after a brief pause load up.
As Heron Animation is under active development you should expect to encounter bugs, missing features and or crashes.
If you use Heron Animation to create something natty, please share a link to it in the comments below!