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July 10, 2006

a stopmo play day

by sven at 8:00 am

I've been long overdue to do some actual animating. So yesterday I declared a "stopmo play day," and did some serious fooling around...

click on image to play clip (356 KB)

I'm out of practice. So, rather than leap into something really complicated, I decided to start simple and add levels of sophistication with each successive clip. For the first one, I clamped a piece of masonite to the livingroom coffee table, taped on a piece of butcher paper, and started animating a piece of clay. I used my digital still camera and its remote capture software -- no framegrabber.

Previously I've shot 24 fps on ones. Today I was shooting 15 fps, which is the same as shooting 30 fps (NTSC) on twos. It was interesting to discover that my clips weren't overly fast today, as they tended to be when I shot 24 fps. Fewer frames per seond means you don't accidentally squeeze too much into a second.

click on image to play clip (506 KB)

For the second clip, I switched to using my digital video camera in combination with FrameThief (a framegrabber). I've resisted using the DV cam because the picture quality isn't quite as good as what a still cam can produce... But I have to remind myself that a TV screen is going to trash the picture quality anyway. The benefits of using a framegrabber outweigh the loss of quality. [Still cams are notoriously difficult to get working with a framegrabber.]

The motion is much improved by the use of the framegrabber... One problem that came up on both of the clay clips, though, is that I didn't have the horizontal piece of paper adequately locked down. In the first clip it slid sideways. In the second clip, the stickiness and tipping weight of the clay would lift the paper up off of the table.

click on image to play clip (424 KB)

My first try animating the new brass armature! For the most part, it performed excellently. It did tip over once, though, when I had Percy doing an extreme lean. It's forgivable: he has a very heavy head. Still, for an armature to tip over -- that's a significant failure.

For this clip, I moved into the garage, where I can completely control the light. It was so hot, though -- I had to set up a fan to keep the laptop computer from overheating. My shadow shows up a couple of times in frame. Since Percy is way over on the right side of the screen, and the computer was to the left, I got sloppy about standing far enough away when I'd hit the shutter release key.

In terms of the motion itself, I'm fairly pleased. Percy is supposed to be looking up at a bird or a plane (or..?) -- and he loses his balance. Then he looks over his shoulder to see if anyone saw him. I see a number of moments that could be improved -- but this was pretty much improvised, so I'm not going to hold the clip to a high standard.

click on image to play clip (230 KB)

For the final clip I did, I set up a theatrical light with a gel, and put in the "cave wall" backdrop I did a while back. Percy's supposed to be looking back at someone behind him, and then waving as if to say "follow me." I don't think I got the angle of the hand right... But I did animate the shadow following Percy off screen, which I think looks cool.

The DV cam automatically adjusted for brightness, which messed up the shot. I've had more troubles with this camera's automatic settings... >:-( ...There's also some blur that's a result of the compression process. These issues aside, I feel pretty good about the clip. Everything is slowly coming together -- you could almost begin to imagine me (gasp) shooting a short story.

posted by sven | July 10, 2006 8:00 AM | categories: stopmo