Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blur Test

Here's a quick test, as I continue to work on the Kaj Pindal train project (see my earlier post).

Untitled from Chris Walsh on Vimeo.

It was done using Dragon software, and the Canon Rebel T1. The result certainly is interesting, and implies a lot of creative uses in stop motion. Frame blurring or motion blur is typically lacking in stop motion. That's because one moves the puppet... takes an exposure. Then you move the puppet again... take an exposure. So the puppet is in a static position when each frame is taken. There is simply no movement to blur.

In live action, there are actual frames of film that are blurs of movement, when something moves quickly. And in traditional animation, the animator actually draws blurred frames. This lends the work a real sense of life, that can be realistic, or wildly stylized. But in stop motion, it tends to not exist.

But if you have a camera that can do a timed exposure (such as the Rebel can do, when working via Dragon), you can actually move the puppet while the exposure is being taken, giving blur.

In this test, the blurring is wild and extreme. If I did further tests, I'd use the technique more sparingly to see how it looks. What's curious (for camera nerds) is that for the first few frames of the test, there is very little depth of field. That's cause I was using a rather quick exposure time, to just get the held frames shot- around 1/8th of a second, at f5.6 (ISO 200). But just as the blurring frames start, you'll notice the depth of field greatly increases (most evident in the bg train). That's cause I had switched the camera setting to a 4 second exposure, and had to stop down to approx. f22 (still at ISO 200) to maintain consistent exposure.

This massive stopping down (from 5.6 to 22) greatly increased the depth of field. So it's neat to see a principle of lenses and optics (in this case: a smaller aperature increases the depth of field)so clearly at work.

Then, once the blurring frames were done, I switched BACK to 1/8th shutter and f5.6 (so as to quickly grab the frames, since they were just held frames) and you see the depth of field go back to how shallow it was in the first frames.

There's ways to reduce this visible shift in depth of field, namely I could have shot at a much higher ISO, which would have let my timed exposures be much shorter, and my f stop change be not nearly as dramatic. Or- I could have shot ALL the frames at the one timing exposure setting (in other words, set it and forget it, instead of shifting things on the fly). But hey- it's just test 01 of potentially dozens...

I'm very much enjoying the combo of Dragon and the fully manual DSLR for stop motion. I love being able to control all these attributes, something that was very difficult if not impossible in earlier "camera/software" stop mo setups.

Dragon really makes it simple, and easy. If you know your principles of lenses and optics, you can get to work making fabu stuff... fast.

NERD NOTE: As much as this is nice to do some fancy motion blurs here in 2010, check the video below. It's from The Mascot, by Ladislas Starevich. Shot in 1934.

Watch towards the end of this clip, as the animals jump around within the box. There's blurring there (and more in later clips, if you watch). And some wonderfully convincing rear-projection live action footage, as well!

Yet another reason why for my money Starevich is pretty much the tops in terms of stop motion historical figures. He did most of his stuff on his own, essentially at the same calibre as what was happening in Hollywood at the time (can say King Kong?), and did it all on a much smaller budget. And with far more charm (in my opinion).

1 comment:

jriggity said...

very cool on all accounts man!