Monday, May 31, 2010

2D Glasses

I would be first in line to buy a pair.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost Madness Summed Up

I'm going to let this great link speak for me.

By the way, the creators of the show missed a great chance on the final episode. As we see the name of the show floating up at us, out of the darkness, it should have read:


Come on... genius. I credit my lovey wife for that one. Thank you, dear.

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).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TV Drama As Art

Now that Lost is done, I highly recommend you turn to The Wire as the next TV series to sink your teeth into.

It's a very different show (sorry no smoke monster, just gritty cop drama on the streets of Baltimore), and where Lost starts story lines it can't finish, (and as a result disrespects the audience deeply), The Wire delivers, throughout.

The entire series of The Wire is available to rent/buy and I can confidently say it is hands-down the finest TV drama I have ever watched.

On the topic of TV art, here's an insightful article for those of you that savour drifting blissfully into a long-term TV world...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kaj Pindal Train Film

I'm currently in production (on a co-production), with none other than Mr. Kaj Pindal, world famous animator. It's a film that features toy trains, brought to life through stop motion animation.

The concept is Kaj's, the trains are Kaj's... I'm providing some further creative insights, and my stop motion skills.

It's also a chance for us to test drive the studio's new HD set up that is running the Canon Rebel and Dragon.

The finished film will be about 3 minutes long, will be set to a lovely piece of music (a popular Danish tune from the mid 1800s), and will entertain both young and old. That's all I will say for now.

When will it be done? When it's done (I like Kaj's style towards release dates!)

I'll post updates on occasion. Here's a clip to get started:

KajPindalTrainFilm_Day1 from Chris Walsh on Vimeo.

I'll update the project occasionally, but here's a video to get it started. It was a great first day. We had recent grad (and super talented artist) Carla Veldman, Kaj himself, and our studio's technology guru Aldines Zapparoli, all grooving away.

It's a rare thing when you can get together a core group of talented and awesome people, of all ages (!) to make something exciting. And if you can listen to vintage jazz music at the same time, well... I think you've died and gone to heaven.

If only every work day could play out like this!

Exciting News For Cuppa Coffee

Great news for Cuppa Coffee Animation, and for stop motion in general.

Click here to read the press release.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Neat Home Made Amplifier

Stop motion people tend to enjoy messing and modifying and remixing things, sometimes just for fun. Other times it's to achieve something for a project. Often it's for BOTH reasons- it's fun, and it gets the job done.

Here's a very simple and elegant little thing- a way to amplify (and then distort if you want) just about any sound you can tape the unit on to.

For some reason youtube is being difficult when it comes to embedding, and is cropping clips off. Is that a way to make people have to go to the actual youtube site to watch clips properly, as a way of getting more eyes on to youtube ads, so as to generate more $ for youtube.

Or maybe I'm just cynical about giant money-making entities. Anyway:

You can see the original stop motion blog this clip comes from, by clicking here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mike Weiss-Gentle and Twisted

Mike Weiss is a Toronto animator, story board artist, and all around funny chap.

Somehow, he continues to find the time to keep making excellent independent work. His sense of timing in his animation is always frame-perfect, and his sense of humour is gentle, but delightfully twisted at the same time.

Be sure to watch all his films at this link.

Here's one every grown man has dreamt of making- a dance club mix featuring facial hair animation.


Beardimation from DeliciousNougat on Vimeo.