I want to shoot 2-D stop motion movies with an overhead camera rig.

I want to be able to do the following:


I want to be able to see what my camera sees on my laptop. How can I make this happen? The camera I plan to use is the Nikon D3300.


While viewing my live camera on my laptop, I want to be able to see the previous shot in "onion skin" mode. So basically, a low opacity version of the previous shot as the background of the next shot.

Would I need to use expensive software, or is there a low-cost solution for this type of thing?

  • You need to start with a camera that is capable of tethered shooting. I'm not sure the Nikon D3x00 series of cameras have this capability. Please see the [tethered] tag for more photo.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/tethered
    – Michael C
    Jul 18, 2016 at 0:09
  • Also the [tethering] tag photo.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/tethering
    – Michael C
    Jul 18, 2016 at 0:15
  • Thanks @MichaelClark! Not to be pushy, but would you know anything about onion skinning software? Anything that costs less than Dragonframe would be ideal.
    – Jose B
    Jul 18, 2016 at 21:54
  • Hate to tell you, but there is always "A way". It may include writing your own software from the ground up and not be feasible, but you ask whether there is A way - and as a programmer, yes, there is one. You do not even need very expensive software - likely just one or two years of programming.
    – TomTom
    Mar 16, 2018 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


I want to shoot 2-D stop motion movies with an overhead camera rig.

Specifically for pencil and paper animation (with the ability to shoot 3D Stop Motion animation) there's MonkeyJam.

For 3D Stop Motion (in order of complexity/cost):

  • qStopMotion - Super simple, Linux/Windows. Free.

  • stopmotionpro - Audio, Onionskinning, Chromakey, Rotoscope, Looping, etc. Pay or Subscription.

  • Stop Motion Studio - Onion, Grid, Edit, Auto, Zoom, Title, Upload Social Media. Free + In-app purchases.

  • iKitMovie - Many features. $100.

  • The Helium Frog Animator - Many features, Lip Sync. Free.

  • AnimatorHD - Lots of features. 4 versions from $30 to $300.

  • DragonFrame - Includes professional features like DMX lighting control and camera motion control. Full version with Controller $300, DMX Controls add $250 to $3K.

For what you're doing a dedicated work area with a good table and a Rostrum camera are a must.

What would really be helpful is to find software that will subtract the color of your hands from your view, making your hands see-through so you can see the prior frame and a floating pencil over the last drawing; I did not spot such a feature on any available software, perhaps Green Screen and rubber gloves could accomplish this.

  • Actually my hand won't be in any frame. But I do need onion skinning. As for the camera I'll start with the Nikon D5600. There's open source software and subscription software that works with the 5600.
    – Jose B
    Feb 15, 2018 at 2:38

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