Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stopmotion: slow blur!

     As I filmed water, I knew I needed a whole bunch of angles and takes just to give myself enough material to edit down later. One of the shots I tried that didn't make the cut was a slow blur into frame. In animation you can film on the twos (12 frames of movement for 24 frames per second). This can be used to acheive a slow motion effect. Sometimes you can animate on the threes! Well, I thought it would be cool to very very slowly come into focus over a few seconds, but it's easier said than done when each second is whipping by at 24 frames. I'm adjusting the focus ring on my camera by hand, keep in mind. 
     I tried on the twos and it went by way too fast. It was also a fast stop. Nothing smooth about it. I skipped the threes and (stupidly) tried to move it just once every 5 frames! That produced a transition that would start and stop very abruptly. 
     The video above is this done correctly. I had used the notches that were already in the focus ring on the camera to judge the distance to move it. But what I needed to do, and what I DID do above, is measure the start and stop distance (one inch exactly). I divided that by 3 seconds of filming, which is 72 frames. Then I divided that in half, because I knew I could get away with filming on the twos. So in one inch I needed 36 marks. I went into Photoshop and made 36 lines that were equi-distant to each other and then scaled it down to 1 inch and printed it! I taped it to my camera and VIOLA!!! 

Here's the setup. I used a post-it note because it's an opaque sticker that's easily cut and readily available!

Stopmotion: Water!

Here's the next one! Water! Maria, my lovely wife, was kind enough to read a poem so this piece could have a little more going on than just visuals. 

I'm really enjoying the Adobe creative suite. It's really thought out and jives well together. I can't wait to start putting keyed out green armature stands in my stopmotion stuff! 

I really wanted to mask out the background and add in sky. I could have done that in a second in After effects had I only filmed this in front of a key green background. The clear water makes that very difficult now, unfortunately. I think the drywall background is killing this piece. But I just remind myself, it's an experiment. Using shrink wrap for water works great! I really like how the bubbles look too. They're just a series of hot glue on cut out acetate. I learned that water, ironically, can be chaotic and still read as water. Fire, on the other hand, needs to flow and move gracefully. I would have thought the opposite true. 

Stopmotion: I'm Still here!

  I've had more time, working from home, to get stop motion stuff cranked out. I did two more fire tests, started learning Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects and made a nice little video of all three fires together with explanations. Hopefully the video above loads. It's only 1 minute or so long, but it's a 79mb file! That just seems big to me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Stopmotion: FIRE!!!

Well, I managed to finish my Dasos intro on time. All the sound effects are there and at some point I'll post it. For now, I hate it. It really looks like someone's first attempt at stop motion. I learned alot and now I want to move on to 2020 being the year of little tests and experiments! To start with, February can be FIRE month!! Here's a rotation around a camp fire using 12 different fire pieces. It's a pretty intense fire. I'd like to have a dark blue background and maybe some foreground grass rotating with the dirt. It'll be fun to play with over the next few weeks. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Stopmotion: Dasos Intro filming complete!

Well, I did it! I actually managed to get this 'finished' by christmas! Of course, I still want to add music, sound effects, my logo in the beginning, the title at the end..... but the hardest part is over!!!! I learned A LOT from making this! The plan now is to take the entire next year doing little stopmotion studies. I want to learn how to photoshop stuff out of the movies frame by frame so I can remove rigs and stuff just like the professionals. 

Some of the lessons.

- No windows!!!    All the lighting fluctuations are from the sun popping in and out of the clouds outside despite the sun blocking curtain in place. If you have a window, you have to physically cover it with cardboard or something solid. 

- LED lights only!!!   My little highlight flashlight for the tree and fence kept burning through batteries. About six batteries in total. That's another reason for the lighting being as crazy as it is. My LED flashlight? Never used up it original batteries. Ideally, don't have any lights on batteries. Just use LEDs with color filters to get the warmth you want. 

- Step-able camera rig.  My next camera rig will have gears and some measurable way of advancing the camera along the axis. Every single pan or boom or zoom is jumpy and not great looking. I did it all by hand and I just eyed it all. Not a great strategy over the course of hundreds of frames.  

- Dont go magnet to magnet. The mouths all used tiny neodinium magnets. This, overall, worked just fine, but I had them attach bare magnet in the mouth to bare magnet in the head. In hind sight, I'm just making changing out the mouth physically harder than it needs to be and I changed out the mouth about a thousand times during this whole thing.

- Keep it simple. Until I learn how to do post process editing frame by frame, I need to stick to simple wire armatures. Picture hanging wire seems to be the best balance between strength and flexibility so far. I also need to learn how to make good armatures. The metal ball and socket thing looks great and should work fantastically, but in reality (for me) all the joints fall loose and theirs no way to access the screws during shooting to tighten them.

I'm going to make a plan for next year. Maybe I'll have one goal for each month. I want to buy an SLA printer and make custom muzzle mouths. I don't plan on doing too much animation with humans to be honest. I want to try and animate fire, smoke and water. I need to get better with movement in general. I'll probably be learning that for the rest of my life. I want to make a head with movable eyes and (hopefully) eyelids that also are movable inside. So much to do! So exciting!!!!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Stopmotion: What I've got so far.

 This is the first time I'm seeing everything I've done so far together. I'm amazed at how well the fog/cloud transition worked. It's perfect! 

Unfortunately, that's the only positive I can take away from this. It looks so much more clunky and amateurish than I had imagined it to look. He's so damn jittery when he talks. There's nothing smooth about any of it. I guess it looks exactly like what it is: someone's first attempt at stop motion. At least the set and the lighting is top notch.

The next shot is the longest, but also one of the easiest. He just pulls three letters out of the bag and smiles at the camera. I'll probably cut to a different angle for the third letter. 

After that the very final shot is the exit shot out to the mountains again, which I've already filmed. 

Once this is all done, I'm looking forward to spending the next year doing little test animations and experiments. I want to flush out some furry characters I've been wanting to do. A old green fox witch is one of them. Plus, I'd like to animate characters that don't just sound like me but louder.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Stopmotion: Scene 3 Take 1

It took 5 hours, but this is the first take of scene 3. I'm actually really happy with it. I think it could be a bit smoother, but honestly I don't know if I want to do it all over again. We'll see in a few days. It's been wonderful having the whole week off. I'm making weeks of progress in only a few days! 

So, I burned through more flashlight batteries on my filament bulb flashlight. That's why the tree gets slightly brighter about half way through. I also realised I couldn't have him sit completely upright because I framed the tree directly above him. I refuse to have tangents like that!!!! It all reads well, though. I'm confident that I can cut on the action at the end of him opening the bag and that will transition smoothly into him looking into the tunnel of mail. 

.... I hope.