20 April 2016

REVIEW: Stikbot Studio

Motion, captured.

Any budding film directors in your house? No, we're not talking about creepy Uncle Dave and his penchant for filming ladies' feet; we mean your kids. If your sproglets are keen to make a start in the business we call show (business), then they'll need a leg up. Using just their phone (or yours) they could bag a job at Aardman thanks to Stikbot.

Stikbot is a simple kit that contains two highly-articulated figures, and a short tripod with a clamp to securely grip a smartphone. The real magic occurs within the free Stikbot app, available for Android and iOS. The app is essentially a stop-motion animation programme, with lots of other fun add-ons. Here's a vid:

Christ that accent. Brings back toy advert memories from the 80s. Anyway...

Download the app, set up your recording space and your figures however you want them, then start capturing. Despite being aimed at children the app features a few technical fiddly bits, such as a previous capture 'ghost image' (to help you see how far you're moving your figures) and also a changeable frame-rate, exposure and zoom. In just a few minutes you can easily make something like this:

But there is more. Once filmed, you can edit your animation by adding voice recordings and also sound effects from a library in the app. This can then be saved to your phone in qualities all the way up to 720p, to be shared on social media or copied over to your computer for further tinkering.

But probably the most interesting feature of the Stikbot app is the ability to manipulate green screen scenes. As you saw in the commercial above, by setting up a simple green background the app can overlay various images onto it, allowing you to set your animations wherever your imagination can go. You can superimpose one of six stock backgrounds, or just upload one from your phone. The effect works pretty well, so long as you very brightly light the green background (and don't use green Stikbot figures or props).

So a great kit and a free app that is easy to use. This would make a wonderful present for a kid who would like to explore film making, or for anyone looking to fill half an hour each day in the office.


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