Sunday, 21 March 2010

Editing in Premiere

At first Premiere was a great pain in the arse, but it turns out that its not so bad after all. I had all sorts of problems with it, starting with imported pictures duration and size, problems with encoding or program lagging, but now when I need to do some operations like adding motion to still images or to resize or apply changes to a bunch of pictures, Premiere is helping me. After some time working with it it turns out that its very instinctive.

Anyhow, I was trying to make the building pan shot using a still image of the building joined from a few pictures. I did not know if Premiere can do motion twining, but I was hoping that it can. And I was right. Here it is. Its still needs some work, and I need to include other shots in between, but I'm happy that it works.
video

Down the hill

Turns out that the two most difficult shots in the animation are the first two that I'm recording. The pan shot up the building and the walking cycle of the robot, when he is entering the studio. Well to be fair it wasn't simple and all jolly to do. But after a whole weekend of building the miniature of the room, playing with the lights and working out how to animate the robot, I have managed to get what I wanted... or maybe can't be bothered to do it again... anyhow I recorded it few times. First time I didn't even manage to open the door, second my girlfriend run into my room knocking of the lights and the camera from its position, but well... still love her. The next attempt did not go well cause of the robot armature. Although I like the way the robot looks, its feet are to small, so he is out of balance... Well I knew that while building the puppet, but I was not thinking that this is going to such a big problem. To deal with this I had a bar installed above the set, so that the robot was hanging on a wire at all time. I could do that as the shot is out of focus, so you could not see the wire. Last attempt is with a distorted light from the Laptop, but luckily the space with blue laptop light is just out of the shot... So boys and girls remember to wear a black top when you are animating, and double check if anything around you is reflecting light.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Robot pan shoot attempt

video
It took about 10 hours of setting up and playing with lights to do this. It took so long as there is simply no space in my room.
Setting up the building was not tough at all. The problem was to set up the miniature that we see in the window. The miniature's floor, doors and walls are in perspective. That means that nothing is square, everything is set in some strange angle... and the funny part is that the room is all turn 90degrees to the right. I couldn't make this shot vertically; I needed to set the building horizontally on its side. By this I was able to move the stenography and not the camera. This way I did not have to worry about setting up lights for the whole building, I had to set the lights only for the place which camera was pointing at. So this method had its ups and downs. The good part is that I have it all recorded.
After watching this video for the first time I thought I will have to retake the whole thing again cause of the reflections in the window, the way that the miniature stenography is appearing in the window, and finally cause of the quality of the animation. It is jumping too much; I thought I need more pictures. Luckily on my Critic at university somebody told me that I could make one picture and digitally animate it in Premiere or After Effects. That is in fact an excellent idea. I'll use the pictures I already made and stick them into one picture. This way I'll have a fluent animation and I will avoid setting up again the whole set to use the green screen. Because when I use still image I'll just remove the content of the window and paste in a new content by using After Effects. The new content will be recorded separately, and that gives me a full control of the lights and good access to the puppet that will be animated.

Robots hand

I did a hand of the robot as I decided that some bits of the animation will be made in live size.
The hand will be used to open the door, lift stuff, hold a cigarette. To animate hand doing those things I need it to have two fingers, pointing and the fuck U one. I build those two fingers with screw joints. The other fingers are made with one wire each with additional wire twisted on the bone bits of the finger so that they would not bend. I build the whole thing on a chicken wire net, as its quick and fun to role it into a tube, and its easy to add metal wire to it.
The hand is designed this way as it needs to correspond with the hand of the robot model.

I'm quite happy with what I end up with.

Armature

Joints made with self locking nuts work very well. In that case I can imagine how well the ball joints could work. The only problem with the screws is that you need to have enough space on the robot to actually use this method. Besides that, there are a few things to remember. First of all, it is import_ant to design the armature so that you could always access the screws. They tend to loosen up now and then. The joints will not work if the wire is too soft as it will bend instead of the joint. The solution is to twist the wire together. The wire that we get in result is surprisingly strong. Easy way of twisting the wire would be with a drill, but a pencil or a screw driver did me fine.
But I think I know what I'll get for my birthday...
I have noticed that for building an armature you need at least two sets of pliers and a vise would be very useful. Most of the time I work with pliers in both hands, and still my fingers are filled with small holes from bending the chicken wire.


Robot armature building stages.



Design of the robot.
It is a human looking robot. I did not wanted to get a box looking chunky creature. It's looking much more like Terminator build with junk... and without all the muscles.
Ball joints are far far too expensive, so I used screws and self locking nuts instead. I saw this method on http://www.stopmotionworks.com/articles/poormansjointarmtures.htm
I have designed the armature thinking about my script_, so that the puppet could do all the required movements, and no more than that... cause more joints means more work for me and uncalled bending when not needed.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Building scenes for Robot.


Building the Pan up scene.

This scene is a shoot of a front of a building. The camera moves from the entrance door to the stairwell up to the Robots room.

At first I wonted the build the set on a A1 peace of paper, but as I was working with the developing of this peace, I started to extend the space to get better quality. I ended up building the set that is bigger than me and that is more than 6.5 feet.

Firs I did a drawing of where the windows and the doors will be. I needed to establish the composition that I would be happy with. I double checked the composition with viewing by the camera. after that I started to put the first coat of paint. I have used Acrylic paint as I have a lot of it and they dry quickly. I needed much more realistic lucking paint If I would use gauche it could end up looking flat. I applied he second coat with a bit darker tone. I used a peace of wood and a big brush. When the paint was still wet I started to hit it with a plastic thin bag...(somerfild brand). Thanks to that I received a nice irregular texture. On the end I added a bit of darker and brighter paints, only in some random places to make it all look a bit more random.

Now I'm on the stage of building the windows. Two of them will be in perspective. That means that realistic they are twice wide as the other windows, but they look the same on the shoot as they are faced to the camera. Al dough some part of the window will be out of focus I still try to make them look nice and detailed. I use plastic for the glass. I did the window sills yesterday, all I need to do now is to make the doors and put it all on the canvas (the whole set is build on a canvas...actually what I used is a blinds that I have found in a bin, and I stretched it on few paces of wood that I have taken from a building site). I wont the door to close at the beginning of the film, but the door are flat. So what I thinking about not using any shading on the door. I will put a see through layer of tape on a glass, when shoot taken, it will look like the tape on the glass is actually the shading on the door. this way i can manipulate with the door, and get a movement of the shade.

And that bring e to the next problem. I wont to have smoke coming out from that door, one way is using green screen, the other is to use glass.