Whats Running Utility

Camera Control Macros

Helium Frog is able to send commands to other programs that are open on the desktop. Some cameras now are supplied with software that enables the user to setup the camera via the USB cable and control its operation. If you have such software and it can control the shutter, you should be able to write a macro to control it from Helium Frog.

Example 1  - Helium Frog controlling a Canon DSLR via EOS Utility software

Canon cameras such as the EOS 1000 D are supplied with software called the "EOS Utility" this enables users to setup and trigger the camera remotely via a USB lead.

When the software is opened, you can see that the title bar contains " EOS 1000D" . This is the TARGET program name. To operate the shutter of the camera you simply click with the mouse on the round button. An alternative way to operate the shutter is by pressing the space bar. This is important, so to recap, we need to target the EOS 1000D program and then send a space bar keypress to the program to operate the shutter. Be aware that some program names have a space before them and this is the case with this program. The target name is actually " EOS 1000 D" and not "EOS 1000 D".

In order to determine the exact name of your software, download and run the little program attached to the link "Whats Running Utility" in the left hand menu. This program when run gives you a list of the  programs that are running on the desktop. Note down the name of your software exactly as it appears in the left box. A screenshot of this program can be seen in example 2 below.


We are now in a position to write the macro file. Open up notepad and type in the text as show in the picture to the left. Note that there is no space before or after the comma, but there is a space before the EOS, as mentioned before in this case the target name has this.  To explain, the first two lines are merely comment statements and can be omitted if you want. The next line tells the program to target the EOS program. The macro pauses for 1 second due to the inclusion of the "WAITFOR" command. The last line tells the program to send a "space bar" keystroke to the program. The number 32 represents the Ascii value for space, as mentioned in the main user guide. For your help I have already included this macro in the download.

When you have completed this macro save it only in the Macros directory which is a sub directory of the Helium Frog main directory. Macros only work from that directory. You are now ready to control the camera. On your desktop have the camera software and Helium Frog running. In Helium Frog, go to the settings window and click on  the use camera macro tickbox. Use the select button to browse and select the macro that you saved earlier. Exit the settings and begin animating. Now when you capture an image, the camera shutter releases also.

Please note that if you have your settings to capture more than one frame per shutter (ie on twos etc.), the camera will only be triggered once. I have set the program this way as most cameras will not respond quickly enough to take more than one shot. You will also not fill up your camera memory with duplicate frames.

Example 2 - Controlling Notepad from Helium Frog

This next example shows you how to control Windows Notepad! This will probably of be of no practi
cal use, but does demonstrate how to control the top menus in a program, which some camera control software has. If you have Notepad open on your desktop, and run the "Whats Running Utility" you will notice that the TARGET name will be "Untitled - Notepad". There is no leading space to worry about . (You can spot if there is a leading space easily , note that the EOS 1000 D is indented in the list).

Most top menus are accessed by pressing the Alt key and Notepad is no exception. Also note when you access the menus this way, certain letters in the menu contents have a underscore, so for example to toggle the status bar we need Alt, followed by V to open the view menu, then S to toggle the bar.

A complete macro could look something like this , note again the comments (which are optional) and also the use of ascii values to send keystrokes. The ascii values which are sometimes not listed on the internet are as follows :-

Alt Key = 18    Control Key = 17    Tab Key = 9

I have included a copy of the above macro in the download.

Some cameras do not respond well if the commands are sent to the camera software too quickly. This is particularly relevant to canon cameras when a live view window is open at the same time as Helium Frog. You can now add the command WAITFOR to pause the macro program to allow the camera to catch up. For example adding WAITFOR,2 will pause the macro for 2 seconds. You can see an example of this in the above image.

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