You may have never been trained as a painter or musician, but today's tech tools make faking it easy. Here's our favourite gear for the creatively minded.
2. Move it like Wallace and Gromit
Stop-motion animation is the art of animating using real-world objects instead of drawings. People often refer to it as 'claymation', but anything and everything can be fair game for stop motion, from your collection of Smurfs to fresh produce.
The principle is easy: take a picture of something, move it a little, take another picture, repeat. Play the still frames back, and your object comes to life. (You can even use people instead of objects, which is called pixillation.)
That's the idea, anyway. If you're just starting out, you quickly discover how hard it is to keep track of exactly how you moved something in the previous frame.
Nikon to the rescue: Many of the company's budget-friendly Coolpix digital cameras such as the Coolpix S51, as well as its feature-laden (but pricier, at £530 with lens) D60 digital SLR, have a little-heralded stop-motion feature. Once activated, the camera overlays faint versions of the previous images on your LCD preview, allowing you to line up your next shot accurately.
Once you're done shooting your masterpiece, the camera will automatically assemble the images into a QuickTime file, but if you prefer more control over editing your shots, you can use the £20 QuickTime Pro for the task.
3. Don't try this at home
Are you looking to make the next indie action flick on the cheap? (Hey, don't laugh, Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi - the prequel to Desperado - was made for £3,500.) Camcorders are inexpensive, but dunk one in water for your scuba-diving fight scene, and you'll be hitting eBay for a replacement. Face it: the most exciting films are the most punishing on the equipment used to shoot them.
Much of the problem can be traced to the cameras' many moving parts and fragile recording media but for a spate of low-cost, flash-based camcorders, it's a nonissue. The £229 Sanyo Xacti CA6 is splashproof and can record on SD Card. Let the extreme cinematography begin!
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