Who doesn’t like stop-motion movies? Seriously. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to make one of those really cool stop-motion films with little guys made out of play dough. Luckily, these days it’s not so hard anymore thanks to tools like JellyCam.
JellyCam is a small, simple and free application that runs on Adobe Air and helps you create that stop-motion video you’ve always wanted to make. You can either use your webcam to take pictures on the spot and turn them into a video, or use images you already have on your hard drive. I’m usually intimidated by things that require me to be even a bit artsy, but JellyCam is surprisingly simple and fun to use.
Before you install JellyCam you’d have to install Adobe Air. But don’t worry, the JellyCam installation will offer to install it for you so it doesn’t require any annoyance on your part.
Installation is rather quick (even if you don’t have Adobe Air to begin with), and it’s all really nice and Adobe Airish (I’m not a huge Adobe fan usually, but Adobe Air is just so slick sometimes).
After the installation is done you can run the program and immediately start making movies.
Creating A Movie
As I mentioned earlier, JellyCam is simple. This also means that there are no fancy effects, options and fireworks. It takes pictures and turns them into a movie. That’s it.
When you run it, you’ll see the “Webcam” frame on the left side, and you can start taking pictures. There are several options here – you can click the “Take Picture” (or hit the spacebar) every time you want to take a picture, or you can set it to automatically take pictures every given number of seconds. After you set the number of seconds, get ready and hit “start“.
If you choose to set the timer, after you click start you’ll get a countdown above the picture so you can see how much time you have left until the next picture. This is a really easy way to make a movie if you want to stand far away from the computer or if (like me) you have a built-in webcam in your laptop and you can barely see the screen when its pointing to the table.
You may have noticed the “Onion Skinning” option at the bottom left. This is also very handy – when you choose this option, the last picture that was taken will stay on the screen so you can arrange the next picture accordingly. As you can see in the screenshot below, the live webcam image is a bit transparent and you can see through it to the last picture in the set.
If you already have pictures you want to use for your movie, you can switch to the “Picture Importer” mode by clicking the polaroid icon on the left. You can then either drag and drop pictures into the frame or browse for pictures. You can drag and drop multiple pictures at once.
Editing, Watching & Exporting
You can watch the movie while you’re making it in the frame on the right side of the screen. It updates according to the pictures you add and you can play it after each addition. You can also control the speed (i.e. number of pictures per second), so you can get a really quick transition that really resembles a movie, or a slower one for more of a slideshow feel.
On the bottom part you can edit the order of the pictures or duplicate pictures. The changes you make will be updated immediately in the movie frame above.
When you’re done, you can save your project as a .jcam file which you can watch from within JellyCam, or export it into a .flv file. I wish there were other formats available, like an animated .gif, but you can always convert it if you really want to.
If you choose the “Watch” option from the top right, you can watch all your saved movies with one click. If you’re happy, you can create your movies from this screen as well.
And here is an example of what you can create – my masterpiece:
If you’ve ever had a dream to make a stop-motion film, hurry up and try JellyCam. It might not be the fanciest and most sophisticated tool out there, but when you can create something so quickly and easily, chances are you’ll actually do it. Then you’ll have a masterpiece like mine to show the world.
We’d love to see some examples of things you made or hear about similar tools in the comments!