Film IT! …for teachers

MonkeyJam – A Free Animation Software

Posted on: January 16, 2010

MonkeyJam is a free software used to create stop motion animation videos. Unfortunately, it is available for Microsoft Windows only and will not run under MacOS or Linux. Click on the picture to download Monkey Jam for free:

MonkeyJam captures individual images from a digital device like a webcam or a digital camera. Photo sequences captured in MonkeyJam are saved on an exposure sheet (XPS or X-Sheet) which can be easily converted into an AVI file. MonkeyJam also allows you to import images (bmp, jpeg, png), and audio files (wav, mp3) into an exposure sheet and save them as a stop motion animation video.

MonkeyJam settings

  1. Make sure your webcam or camera is connected. Open MonkeyJam. From the File menu, select New XPS with Folders. Now you can name your animation, select the number of FPS, choose 1 Layer and choose where you would like to save your project.
  2. From the Settings menu choose Preferences
  3. Under the General tab, make sure that the FPS are set as desired.

Layer Colour allows you to change the colour of your Layer. Note: Layer colour is useful if you are working with more than one layer, however for basic stop motion animation we will need only one layer.

4. Under the Capture tab select Sto p Motion in Mode. Set Image Hold to 1. This enables you hold each image for the desired number of frames. For example, Image Hold 2 will automatically capture 2 photos of the same frame.  Capture Colour allows you to choose if you want your photos to be shot in colour or in black and white. From the Numbering options select Sequential so that the value in number of the photos captured increases by one after each one of your shots. Image Format allows you to save your photos as PNG, Jpeg or Bmp. This difference is the file size which in turn affects the quality of the photos taken. Given the fact that we will be taking a lot of photos to complete our animation Png or Jpeg are preferred over Bmp for simple classroom projects as the file sizes are much smaller.

5. When you have finished setting your preferences you can actually start capturing the photos which will make up your animation.

MonkeyJam shortcuts

 Shooting the animation

  1. Select Tools, then Capture and select Video to open the Capture window or click on the shortcut button.
  2. In the Capture window, Mode should be set to Stop Motion.
  3. Select your camera from Cameras.
  4.  Choose the resolution of the photos from Size. Usually 640×480 or 800×600 are good sizes to use for your classroom project.
  5.  The capture window should now show the view from your camera. You are now ready to start!

6. Position your model on the set in front of your webcam and click Capture.

7. Move your object and take another photo.

8. Repeat this process and continue to take photos until you have modelled the desired actions and all the necessary photos have been captured.

Viewing the animation

  1. All your images are saved into the X-sheet and the frames will be shown in the preview box.
  2. Close or minimize the capture window and in the main window select Tools, then Preview or click on the shortcut to preview your animation.

Editing the animation

 1. You can easily delete any unwanted photos from your X-Sheet. Simply select the photo from the list of photos in your Layer and press Delete. Note that this will create a blank space. You need to make sure that there are no blank spaces in your animation.

2. You can fill blank spaces by copying the previous or the next photo in your sequence.  You can right-click to copy and paste a photo in the blank space or else you can click on and drag the previous photo to fill the blank frame. This will automatically create a copy of that photo.

3. You can also delete photos directly from the Capture window while you are shooting the animation. Use the slider or the left and right arrow keys to move backward and forward in your animation.  When you find the photo you need to re-capture, make sure you have the characters in position and press the button that now says Re-Capture.  

4. Move the slider to the right in the Capture window to view the live video feed again. Re-position your objects and continue to shoot. Repeat this process until all images are captured and close the Capture window.

 Saving the animation

  1. If you are happy with your animation, select File and click on Export Avi to save your images as an AVI file and create your movie. You can also use the shortcut button.
  2. Alternatively, select File and Save XPS if you want to save the project so that you can open it again in order to continue shooting or editing your sequence.

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