Dragonframe stop motion software
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Frequently Asked Questions

Installation / Activation

What are the minimum system requirements for Dragonframe?

System Requirements - Mac
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8+
  • OpenGL 2.1 Capable Graphics Card
  • 1.33 GHz CPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • A supported camera
System Requirements - Windows
  • Windows XP(32-bit)/Vista/7/8.1/10
  • OpenGL 2.1 Capable Graphics Card
  • 1.33 GHz CPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • A supported camera

What computer would you recommend?

Almost any computer from the last three years should be fine.

Here are some things to look for to ensure the program runs well:
  • 4GB+ RAM : The more RAM the better.
  • SSD : A "solid-state drive" improves performance since DF reads image files from disk during playback.
  • 13"+ screen : Don't get a tiny laptop screen!
  • Decent graphics card : Read reviews of the graphics card. If there are a lot of bad reviews, stay away.

I just purchased the software. How do I activate it?

Your serial number is included in your invoice, in the Products Ordered table.

If you are currently using a trial license:
  1. Start the program and select Help : Activate License... from the menu.
  2. Enter your purchased serial number and click Activate to activate the software.

If you are not using a trial license, or it has expired, the license window will appear as soon as you start the program.
  1. Start the program. The license window will appear.
  2. Enter your purchased serial number and click Activate to activate the software.

  • Copy and paste the serial number from the e-mail we sent you. Don't enter it manually.
  • The "Registered To" field can be anything, but it must be at least three characters long.

I can't find my serial number or license key.

We can send you all serial numbers you have purchased if you know the e-mail address you bought them with.
If so, use this form to find your serial numbers:

If you don't remember your e-mail address that you purchased with or it's no longer available, you will have to open a support ticket.

Tags: serial number, license, lost, missing

I can't press the Activate button - it is grayed out

The "Activate" button will be grayed out if:
  • The serial number is not in the correct format. Make sure to copy and paste the serial number from the e-mail we sent you.
  • The "Registered To" field has less than three characters. It doesn't matter what you put here, but it has to be at least three characters long.
Make sure you are activating the correct version of the software:
  • If your serial number starts with "D2", it is a Dragon Stop Motion 2 license. You can activate any 2.x.x version.
  • If your serial number starts with "D3", it is a Dragonframe 3 license. You can activate any 3.x.x version.
  • (Note that if your license starts with "D3U", it is a DF3 upgrade. You also need a DSM 2 license in order to activate it.)

Tags: gray, grey, greyed, activate button, deactivated, button does nothing, unable to activate

Cannot activate: "Failed to get activation code."

If you try to activate the software, and get this message:

"Failed to get activation code."

you probably entered the serial number incorrectly.
Please copy and paste the serial number from the e-mail we sent you.

If you still get this error, visit our support center and open a support request.

Tags: activation failed, error during activation

Error: You have exceeded the purchased number of activations

If you try to activate your license, and you get a message that says: "You have exceeded the purchased number of activations.", then you have probably installed the software on too many machines. You are allowed to have it activated on two machines at once per serial number.

If you have the software installed on a machine that doesn't need it any more, you can deactivate a license by using "Deactivate License..." in the Help menu.

If you cannot deactivate a license, because a machine is broken or missing, you can manually deactivate the serial number yourself. Enter your registered email address on our license lookup page:


We will send you an email that shows which machines have been activated, and will give you the option to deactivate them.

If you do not have access to your registered email address, or cannot remember it, please write to us with any order information you have, and we will work with you to sort it out:


Can I transfer a license to a different machine?

Yes, you can move your license to a different computer.

In the Help menu of the application you will find "Deactivate License...". Once you deactivate the license, you may activate it on another computer.

If your original computer is no longer available, open a support ticket and we can manually deactivate it on our end.


Can I switch my license between Mac and PC/Windows machines?


The serial number you purchase is good for Mac or PC, and it doesn't matter to us how you allocate it. So if you purchased multiple licenses, you could install on any combination of Mac or Windows machines.

You can also deactivate your license on one platform and activate it on another. (Deactivate License... is an option in the Help menu.)

Tags: transfer, move, license, serial number

How do I install an older version of the software?

If you need to install an older version of the software, you must first uninstall or remove the current version that you have.

For Windows, you can uninstall the software through the Control Panel.

For Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard):
  • Open a Terminal (Applications : Utilities : Terminal)
  • Run this command: sudo rm "/Library/Receipts/Dragon*"

For Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and newer:
  • Open a Terminal (Applications : Utilities : Terminal)
  • Run this command: sudo rm /var/db/receipts/com.dzed.*

Then you will be able to install an older version of the software.

Tags: remove software, install old version, downgrade

I can't enter license - "Must be logged in as Administrator"

If you get the error "You must be logged in as Administrator" when trying to enter your license, you may need to Repair Disk permissions using Disk Utility.
Or, if you copied the application onto a new hard drive, you should re-run the installer.

Dragonframe 3 Instructions

For Mac OS X:
If the issue persists, delete /Library/Preferences/com.dzed.Dragonframe-License.properties like this:

Open Terminal (Applications : Utilities : Terminal)

Enter this command:
sudo rm /Library/Preferences/com.dzed.Dragonframe-License.properties

It will prompt for your password.

Then re-run the installer.

Dragon Stop Motion 2 Instructions

For Mac OS X:
If the issue persists, delete /Library/Preferences/com.dzed.DragonStopMotion-License.properties like this:

Open Terminal (Applications : Utilities : Terminal)

Enter this command:
sudo rm /Library/Preferences/com.dzed.DragonStopMotion-License.properties

It will prompt for your password.

Then re-run the installer.

The program asks for me to activate it every time it runs.

If you manually copied the application instead of installing it, the program will ask you to activate it every time it runs.
You should re-run the installer.

The installation zip file only had a ".pkg" file in it.

You are probably running Windows or Linux, and you downloaded the Mac OS X installer.
If you are on Windows, make sure to get the Windows version.

Purchasing / Pricing

I purchased it on Amazon. Where's my serial number/license?

If you purchased it through us on Amazon, the serial number will be on a label on the CD jacket. It starts with "D3R01". Type it in exactly as it is, in uppercase, and with the dashes. If it doesn't work, send us your best guess and we can find it for you.

If you purchased through a different vendor, you will have to contact them directly for the license. We won't be able to find it for you.

Note: We cannot send you a serial number through email if you just purchased at Amazon. You must wait until the box arrives.

How do I convert a trial into a full version?

If you download the trial, you can buy a full license at any time and fully activate the program.

You do not need to download the software again.

When you buy the software from our site, we send you a serial number right away.
Your serial number is included in your invoice, in the Products Ordered table.

Note: If you buy it from another site, such as Amazon.com, you will have to wait for the box to arrive.

You convert the trial to a full version like this:
  1. Start the program and select Help : Activate License... from the menu.
  2. Enter your purchased serial number and click Activate to activate the software.

  • Copy and paste the serial number from the e-mail we sent you. Don't enter it manually.
  • The "Registered To" field can be anything, but it must be at least three characters long.

Is there an individual student discount?

Yes. We offer the full version of Dragonframe to students at $195, which is a $100 discount.

You must provide a valid student ID and fill out the following form:

Do you ship a CD of the software? Where is my CD?

Dragonframe is available as a download only if you buy it from our site. We do not ship a CD.

You can download the latest version from our site:

If you need to have a copy of it, you can burn it to a CD or copy it to a USB flash drive. The installer is less than 100MB for each platform.

Another option is to buy it from Amazon.com. In that case it will include a CD.

Tags: CD, disk, package, box

How quickly can I start using the software after I purchase?

As soon as your payment clears, we send you an invoice with your serial number in it.

If you have already been using the trial, you can instantly activate the full version. (You do not need to download the program again.)

If you haven't downloaded the trial, you will have to download and install the software.

Workflow / Export / Import

How do I launch Dragonframe from the command line?

You can launch Dragonframe from the command line. This includes launching a scene or take.

  • Open a command prompt
  • Navigate to Dragonframe folder (usually C:\Program Files (x86)\DZED\Dragonframe or C:\Program Files\DZED\Dragonframe)
  • Run Dragonframe.exe

Mac OS X
  • Open a Terminal (Applications : Utilities)
  • Navigate to Dragonframe folder (usually /Applications/Dragonframe)
  • Run ./Dragonframe.app/Contents/MacOS/Dragonframe

Command Line Arguments
After the executable name you can add one or more of the options:
  • -nocrashcheck : (in DF 3.6.0+) Skips the log file check and warning at startup.
  • <path to .dgn folder> : Dragonframe will open the specified scene and prompt you to choose a take.
  • <path to Take folder> : Dragonframe will open the specified take.

Launching a specific take. Note the use of quotes around the file path. This is required if there are spaces.
Dragonframe.exe "D:/My Projects/SchoolProject/pani_003.dgn/pani_003_Take_01"

Launch a scene with take chooser, and skip the crash check.
Dragonframe.exe -nocrashcheck "D:/My Projects/SchoolProject/pani_003.dgn"

  • You can only have one running instance of Dragonframe at a time.
  • File paths on Windows can use forward or backward slashes.
  • Prior to 3.6.0, if the user closed the take chooser, a hidden Dragonframe process would remain running.

How do I review my digital stills?

You can check the focus, color, and lighting of your high-resolution digital stills using the Cinematography window. This is available under the Window menu and can also be accessed using Command-E/Ctrl-E.

You can play back proxies of your high-resolution stills in the animation window. To do this, press the button that has four diamonds in the shape of a smaller diamond. This toggles between video assist images and proxies of high-resolution images.

QuickTime export is black or distorted.

If you try to export a QuickTime, and the result is black or distorted, check the "Pre-process" image option.


Applies to versions: 1.x, 2.x, 3.0

Can I import images/stills to animate them?

Dragonframe 3.6 can import an image sequence. Look in File | Import | Image Sequence...

For older versions, the following applies:

Dragon Stop Motion can import an image as a background plate for a line-up layer.

However, if you are trying to use DSM to animate a series of stills that you shot outside of DSM, this won't work. You probably just want post production software, like After Effects or Final Cut Pro to stitch your frames together and edit them.

QuickTime Pro can take a series of sequentially named images and create a movie out of them, too.

Export to QuickTime fails with no reason.

One common reason that QuickTime exports fail is that users try to export their animation's high-res frames at full resolution with a RAM intensive codec.

For example, H.264 is not really practical for encoding images that are 4000 x 3000. It requires too much RAM. This won't work from Dragonframe, and it won't work from QuickTime Pro.

You should consider what the purpose of your export is. If you are exporting to get the full resolution frames into post-production/editing software, use a reference movie (if your data files are on the same computer) or a self-contained movie with little or no compression. You can use Apple Intermediate Codec, for example.

If you are exporting for the web or for review by others, it might make sense to use H.264 as the codec. But, in that case, you don't need a 4000 x 3000 movie, since no one will be able to play it anyways.

Problems / Issues / Bugs

Providing log files

You can send in the program's log files using "Report an Issue..." (formerly "Problem Report") in the program's Help menu.

Sometimes, though, you may need to locate the log files manually. For example, if the program was crashing on startup.

** Mac OS X **

Please open a Terminal (in Applications : Utilities).
Type this command:
open ~/Library/Logs
The Logs folder will open in the Finder.
Look for Dragonframe.txt in the folder.

If the program crashed, you may also find a file that starts with "Dragonframe_" in the DiagnosticReports folder (within the Logs folder).

** Windows **

Open a File Explorer (not Internet Explorer!) and type this in the address bar:

Look for Dragonframe.txt in the folder.

Could not start Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) Service

With Dragonframe 3.6 and newer, you may get the following message on Windows:
"Could not start Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) Service or one of its dependencies."

If that happens, please go to your Service Manager and make sure that none of these services are Disabled:
Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Shell Hardware Detection

Hands in shot / deleted images in export

You shoot some animation, then you export it, and see your hands in the shot. They aren't there when you play the animation in Dragonframe. What's going on?

Dragonframe always records a video assist and a hi-res separately--even if you are shooting video. So what's happening is that your video assist frames are fine, but then you are sticking your hand in the shot while Dragonframe is capturing the "high res" frames. You can find further explanation on page 1 of the user guide.

Dragonframe gives you three cues to know when shooting is finished:
  • The "READY TO CAPTURE" sign at the top disappears while it is busy, and reappears when it is ready.
  • The progress bar will appear in the middle of the screen while it is busy.
  • When it is done capturing an image, there is a small beep afterward.

Now, when you export a movie or image sequence, you can choose the source. If you want to make one from your video assist frames, it will look how it did in the animation window. This allows you to preview your high-res playback as you animate.

You can also review your hi-res images at any point in the Cinematography workspace.

Also, in the Animation workspace, you can toggle between the video assist frames and the final capture images by pressing the button with four small diamonds in the shape of a larger diamond.

One reason there is a separate "high-res" capture source for video is that you can add frame averaging (video sources only), which greatly reduces video noise, and you can save your images in TIFF format instead of JPEG. Also, with very high-resolution cameras (such as 1920x1080 HD or 1600x1200 video cameras) the video assist will be stored at a lower resolution, and the high-resolution captures will be full size.

Tags: Hand in shot, Deleted images showing in Export, Export frames don't match

Exported animation shaky or jittery, but my animation is fine

Any time there is a difference between what you see in the Animation workspace vs. what you see in an export, it's important that you understand the difference between "video assist" (which is what you see in the Animation workspace) and "high-res" images (which is what you usually are exporting). If you are not sure about the difference, read the "Big Picture" section of the User Guide.

In this specific case, the problem is almost certainly that you have "Image Stabilization" engaged on your camera lens. Ironically, the way image stabilization engages every time the camera shoots can pull the lens into different positions, causing the shakiness in the high-res captures. Then the image stabilization relaxes during live view, and the lens settles back into a consistent position.

Note that our camera setup instructions for Canon cameras tell you to turn off Image Stabilization.

"The driver for your graphics card is too old..."

Windows Only:

Dragonframe 3.5 uses OpenGL v2.1 to provide high-performance graphics processing.

If the driver for your graphics card does not support OpenGL 2.1, Dragonframe will give you a message like this:
  • "The driver for your graphics card is too old and must be updated."
  • "Dragonframe requires OpenGL 2.1. Your graphics/driver card is using OpenGL 1.4."

If this is the case, there is a good chance you can resolve the problem by updating the driver for your graphics card.

Generally, the Device Manager's option to check for driver updates will NOT work. It always says your graphics card driver is up to date.

One option is to check your computer manufacturer's website for drivers specific to your model.

Alternatively, you may need to visit the graphics card maker to get the latest driver:

For Intel Integrated Graphics cards, please find your latest driver here:

For nVidia graphics cards, you can find the drivers here:

For ATI/AMD graphics cards, the drivers are here:

Also, if you have a laptop with both an integrated and discrete graphics cards, see if you have the option of always using the discrete card with Dragonframe. In general they perform much better than the Intel integrated cards.

Mac : "Dragonframe cannot be opened because of a problem"

We've had a handful of reports where OS X shows this error dialog when the user tries to open Dragonframe:

If you look at the report, it says something like this:
Dyld Error Message:
Library not loaded: @executable_path/../Frameworks/libavcodec.dylib
Referenced from: /Applications/Dragonframe/Dragonframe.app/Contents/MacOS/Dragonframe
Reason: Incompatible library version: Dragonframe requires version 55.0.0 or later, but libavcodec.dylib provides version 52.0.0

The issue is caused by some other program setting a global library path, which is a very bad thing.
There may be more than one program that does this, but we've found that older versions of an application called "Tracker" does this. If you installed Tracker version 4.84 or older, you should uninstall it and then install version 4.85 or newer to resolve the issue.

If you've never installed tracker, look for "DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH" in your environment plist file:

Open a Terminal (Applications : Utilities) and type:
sudo open ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist

It will ask for your password. This is your machine password that you use to log in. It does not show it to you as you type.

In the editor that opens, remove anything that says "DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH".

Note: This might require XCode. If you don't have it, you may alternatively need to just remove this file, like this:
sudo rm ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist

No live view or images in Cinematograpy workspace

If you can see live view in the Animation workspace, but don't see any images in the Cinematography workspace, then you probably have an outdated graphics card driver.

We have seen this with ATI graphics cards with older drivers. Nothing shows up in the Cinematography workspace. If you update to the latest drivers, the problem will go away.

For more information on updating your driver, go here:
The driver for your graphics card is too old...

Dragonframe Windows crash at startup

If Dragonframe crashes after creating/opening a scene, most likely you have an outdated graphics card driver.

For Intel Integrated Graphics cards, please find your latest driver here:

Also, if you have a laptop with both an integrated and discrete graphics cards, see if you have the option of always using the discrete card with Dragonframe. In general they perform much better than the Intel integrated cards.

Audio File - Supported Audio Formats

Dragonframe 3.5 accepts most standard audio formats including WAV, AIFF, MP3 and others.


For earlier versions, the supported audio file formats are:
  • WAV or AIFF
  • 8 or 16 bit per channel
  • 1 or 2 channels (mono or stereo)

If you are on the Mac, you can get a free program called "Audacity". Open your file with it, and then save it as a WAV file. It will be compatible with Dragon Stop Motion and Dragonframe.

You can also use iTunes to convert the file.
Open the file in iTunes, then follow the instructions here:

Basically, you go to the iTunes Preferences, select "Import Settings...", and choose Import Using "WAV Encoder".
Then select your audio track in iTunes, go to the Advanced menu and select "Create Wav version".
You should be able to import that version into Dragon Stop Motion or Dragonframe.

I have a numeric keypad that's not working properly.

If you are using a numeric keypad to control Dragonframe, make sure that Num Lock is On. Otherwise the key commands will be interpreted incorrectly.

Program crash due to duplicate fonts (Mac OSX)

We have some reports of the program crashing when attempting to access font information on Mac OSX.

To resolve the issue:
  1. Launch the Font Book application in the Applications folder.
  2. Select Trebuchet MS in the Font list.
  3. Select Edit -> Resolve Duplicates.
  4. Restart Dragon Stop Motion.


Snow Leopard (10.6-10.6.2) known issues

Dragonframe 3.5+ for Mac requires OS X 10.6.8 or newer.


The following applies to earlier versions of the software:

There is an issue in Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) versions 10.6.0-10.6.2. The issue is fixed in 10.6.3.

Camera communication can fail in a way that freezes/hangs Dragon Stop Motion. This will happen after 30 minutes to two hours of use, with live view DSLRs and PowerShots. Video cameras and USB cameras are not affected.

Apple has fixed the issue in 10.6.3. Please update to 10.6.3 or newer using System Preferences : Software Update.

Free Trial

What's the purpose of the trial?

The goal of the free trial is for you to test it with your camera, and to familiarize yourself with how the software works.

We have a list of supported cameras, along with setup instructions and troubleshooting for camera issues.

How do I get a free trial?

The free trial is available here:

You will enter your email address, and our system will send you a special trial serial number (license key), along with further instructions.

I didn't receive my trial code. Where is it?

If you don't have your trial code after 10-15 minutes, it probably got sent to your Spam/Junk or Promotions folder.

Hotmail accounts almost always send our messages to Spam.
Google/Gmail accounts usually send them to Promotions.

The message comes from from: DZED Systems LLC <[email protected]> with subject Dragonframe Software Trial.

What are the limitations of the trial?

The trial is for you to test the software with your camera and get used to how it works.

It has the following limitations:
  • You can shoot up to 50 frames per take.
  • Images will have a subtle watermark that cannot be removed.
  • Camera RAW formats are not supported.

Otherwise the software is fully functional.

Can I remove the watermark from the images I shoot?

The free trial places a watermark (semi-transparent Dragonframe logo) over all of the images you shoot.

You cannot remove this watermark.

Can I remove the watermark if I buy the software?

The free trial places a watermark (semi-transparent Dragonframe logo) over all of the images you shoot.

The watermark cannot be removed from images you shot with the trial.

When you buy the software, any new images you capture will not be watermarked. But you cannot un-watermark images you shot during the trial period.

Can I start a project with the free trial?

The free trial is only for you to test your camera and get used to how the software works.

Because the trial places a watermark on your captured images that cannot be removed, it is not suitable for starting a production.

Once you decide that the software meets your needs, you should purchase the software before starting on a project.

Camera / Lens

What camera should I get?

We recommend Canon EOS DSLRs, particularly the ones listed on our supported cameras page.
Get the Canon EOS 5D Mark II or 5D Mark III if you have a larger budget.
If you want a full-frame camera at a lower price, look at the Canon EOS 6D.
If you have a limited budget, you can look for used Digital Rebels (or 450D/1000D) on Amazon.

Why do you recommend Canon EOS cameras?

The Canon EOS cameras have a large live view with exposure simulation.
They also have smooth mechanics during capture.
We have a comparison with Nikon cameras here.

I need help with my camera!

We have a fairly extensive setup and troubleshooting guide that includes links to setup intructions for each camera Dragonframe supports.
If you are still having trouble, send in a Problem Report through the program's Help menu.

I plugged an HDMI cable into my camera and my computer. Why isn't that working?

Unplug it right now!
The HDMI port on your computer is an output only—for sending the screen to a monitor or HDTV.
Any of the supported still cameras should be connected via USB.

Why isn't my camera supported? It has a USB port!

Most digital still cameras have USB ports, and can be used with a computer to download images from the camera.
However, that is the extent of the common functionality.

Most cameras do not have any type of tethered shooting capabilities, where the computer can change settings and trigger the camera to capture an image. And cameras that have tethered capabilities (such as Canon and Nikon supported models) have very different interfaces.

We try to support as many cameras as we can reasonably do.

What lens do you recommend?

This is where a basic photography class could be helpful. I could go on for days about lenses / angles of view etc.

Here is a simple rule to help you out: if you are shooting miniatures—imagine there is a tiny crew of people shooting your film. Where would they put their little camera? If you are shooting an interior—put the center of the lens about where it could fit in that room. Then pick the focal length that shows what you need for the shot.

This is just a starting point. Get books on cinematography. Watch great films. Hope this helps!

DMX / Lighting

What DMX dimmer pack should I get?

If you are looking for a decent, inexpensive dimmer pack, check out the 4-channel models from Elation, such as American DJ DP-415.

We do not recommend Optima dimmer packs. They have random flickering.

Note that standard dimmer packs, such as these, are for incandescent lights. Do not try to use them for other lights, especially not lights that have their own transformers.

Can I use a microphone cable for DMX?

You should not use a microphone cable for DMX, even though they have the same XLR connectors.
They are not built to the same specifications.
Here is an explanation.

What DMX dimmer pack do I need for this LED light I want to use?

We have no idea. You almost certainly do not want to use a standard dimmer pack that uses current modulation (PWM).

Usually LED lights, if they can be dimmable, have their own system to do it. Some LED panels have DMX input directly on them, so you would just plug the DMX cable into it.

The best thing to do is talk to the manufacturer or read the documentation.

Do I need to buy the DDMX-S2 in order to control lights?

If you want to program lighting from within Dragonframe, you must have either the DDMX-S2 or the DMC-16.

Motion Control

What motion control gear can I use with Dragonframe?

We try to maintain a list of compatible hardware on our motion control page.

Will Dragonframe work with this motion control rig I bought (or found or am interested in)?

We try to maintain a list of compatible hardware on our motion control page.

There is no standard protocol for operating with motion control hardware, so unless it's on our list, or Dragonframe support is listed on the manufacturer's page, it's not going to work.

The third party manufacturer must integrate their system with Dragonframe in order for it work.

Why won't Dragonframe do real-time motion control with eMotimo/Dynamic Perception/other?

The real-time protocol is very complicated, and is not something we can share with third party vendors, or expect them to implement.

Only the DMC-16 can provide real-time motion control with Dragonframe. (Note that DitoGear hardware can be run through the DMC-16 via special adapters they sell.)

On the other hand, shoot-move-shoot motion control is sufficient for almost all stop-motion animation.

I hooked up an Arduino Motor Shield and it's not working!

Our DFMoco sketch for Arduino is not compatible with motor shields.

The comments at the beginning of the sketch specify which output pins it uses for step and direction. You will have to make your own connection to motor drivers.
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