Monday, December 20, 2010

Skyarts - Animation

Sky Arts have some interesting Animation on over Christmas.

Azur And Asmar: The Princes Quest are on later today at 5pm (sorry for the short noticce)

They are also showing a series films from the Brother's Quay.

Stille Nacht
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmejer

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Virtual Dub

This month's PCPro mentioned VirtualDub and suggested it had good facilities for stop motion.

VirtualDub is a video capture/processing utility for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows platforms (98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7), licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It lacks the editing power of a general-purpose editor such as Adobe Premiere, but is streamlined for fast linear operations over video. It has batch-processing capabilities for processing large numbers of files and can be extended with third-party video filters. VirtualDub is mainly geared toward processing AVI files, although it can read (not write) MPEG-1 and also handle sets of BMP images.

Here's a quick video to explain how you would use it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Making Stop Motion in 3D

The other evening I was lucky enough to attend a Q&A session with David Sproxton, Nick Park and Peter Lord from Aardman talking to David Rowan from Wired at the Apple Store in Covent Garden.

David Sproxton mentioned that their two new films were in 3D, one CGI and the other stop motion. This got me wondering about what were the technical issues of trying to create stereo stop motion.

The Wired article on Aardman mentions a little, such as that you end up with twice as many pictures to store, that you need to have "rigs for the cameras" and there are post production issues.

I guessed at one of the issues which is that if you were to use two cameras they would need to be very close together. The solution is to use a single camera and a rig to shuffle it along before taking a second picture, these are called "Stereoscopic Stepper Rigs"

Editing of stereo video is straightforward and there are several choices for editing software. You are obviously going to need more storage and more processing power as there is more for the editing software to do. Many people edit in 2D and then the software handles the editing of the 3D.

Post production issues are the usual ones for stop motion such as colour balance. However there is also the alignment of the two images, typical corrections include horizontal and vertical offsets, zoom discrepancies, keystone, and rotation.

Other 3D stop motion films

There was Coraline, the first stop-motion animated feature to be shot entirely in stereoscopic 3-D.

Foxed! by the Geneva Film Co is also in production.

Early stop motion in 3D

3-D Stereoscopic Film and Animation Blog


Frank Passingham: one of the few highly regarded cinematographers in the field of animated film who has the knowledge and experience of producing 3D stop-frame animated feature films. He was a DOP on Chicken Run and is currently a DOP on the new Aardman feature Pirates.

Tom Barnes: Technical Director of the new Aardman feature film Pirates.

François Garnier a leader in the field of 3D

Upcoming Master Class

As part of the Encounters festival there is a master class on "Stop-Frame In 3D" Thu 18 Nov, 2pm with Tom Barnes and Frank Passingham


Dragon Stop Motion and Stereoscopic filming

Stop Motion Pro 3D Interfacing to Mark Roberts rig

Stop Motion Pro 3d Workflow

Stereo Video Editing

Neo3D from CineForm
Freeware StereoMovie Maker
Quantel Stereo3D
Sony Vegas Pro

Other references

Paul WS Anderson "The Future of 3D Filmmaking"

Gone Phishin' with CineForm Neo3D
Creative COW Magazine : Stereoscopic 3D Issue : The 3DVX
3D Research
Interocular distances
A slide bar, a low tech alternative to a stepper rig

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain

Most animators will know Muybridge from his books, Animals in Motion or The Human Figure in Motion. He is famous for his use of clever photography that used multiple cameras in quick succession to produce the characteristic images of horses walking and running.

Horses in motion

This exhibition at Tate Britain provides a more overall view of his work. The first few rooms of the exhibit look at Muybridge's time in California and Central America. Whilst there Muybridge experimented with a range of photographic techniques. In Yosemite he produced very large prints and attempted to use multiple exposures, a technique we now called "High Dynamic Range" photography. He also successfully grafted the sky from one photo onto the landscape of another. Stereo photographs were another of his achivements but the examples and glasses provided at the Tate don't demonstrate this effect as well as I've seen elsewhere.

The panoramas of San Francisco are very impressive and as well as showing photographic achivement show the social history via the items and buildings.

The second half of the exhibit focuses on the photos of moving animals and people we more commonly associate with Muybridge.

Muybridge in one of his own photos

His early work focuses on horses and in some cases the photographs were of such poor quality that he employed artists to trace the outlines. However these were sufficient for basic analysis of foot movements and show the arcs that animators should be used to seeing. As well as moving pictures of horses Muybridge took still images to aid an artist with foreshortening. As he got more practiced at taking photographs of movement he also developped more advanced and faster camera shutters. His topics also grew in sophistication with acrobats, and athletes employed as models. His photographs of everyday people including himself in the nude cause controversy. However not all were critical with artists such as Edgar Degas for one taking inspiration for his leaping horse sculpture.

So that people could see these photographs in action, Muybridge invented the Zoopraxiscope which was effectively a projector version of the Phenakistiscope.

The Zoopraxiscope from Kingston Museum and Heritage Service

The Zoopraxiscope used a disc of tiny 15mm slides with a counter rotating disc of slots to project the moving images. This is one of the earliest examples of projected motion picures.

The Muybridge exhibition is at the Tate until 16th Jan 2011 and gives a great insight into the works of this pioneering photograph and aid to all animators.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sintel - The latest from the Blender Foundation

Sintel is the latest release from the Blender Foundation. They've come a long way since 2005 when I watched the Elephants Dream, the first film from the foundation. The plot of the film has received some critisim but I felt it held together well and was quite watchable something I did not feel was the situation with the Elephant's Dream.

The technical challenges the team have taken on for this film are numerous, massive landscapes, snow, sand, fire, humans and animals are all done very proficiently. There were a couple of times I though the camera movement was not very natural but the photography was also very good.

All in all a very watchable short film and I wish the film all the best in the up comming festivals that it's showing at.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Toystory gets 3 honors in IGN’S Third Annual Summer Movie Awards

To celebrate the best of the summer box office, IGN recently released its 3rd annual “Summer Movie Awards” and “Toy Story 3” fittingly took home three of the honors.

Beating out Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko character in “Iron Man 2,” Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear won for Favorite Villain, while Tom Hanks’ Woody received the award for Favorite Hero.

To top it all Toy Story 3 won Best Animated Movie, Despicable Me and Shrek Forever After runners up for the Best Animated Movie.

Scene from Despicable Me

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Animator/director Nick Hilligoss

I discovered Australian animator/director Nick Hilligoss some years back because of his archive of stop-motion and model making.

Nick has made many films over the years and has won some awards. It is not too surprising that a lot of the films contain animals when you hear that Nick works for the Natual History department of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Shots from Nick's films:
Once upon Australia
Turtle world
Good riddance

His latest project is also stop-motion with a fantasy theme with caves and dragons. Nick gives us a sneak preview with videos of how he built the dragons' head and the cave. The techniques although very impressive use simple materials and tools so could be reproduced by anyone with a kitchen table or small workshop

Nick's examples and tutorials of set building, puppet making, camera and lighting rigs can be viewed at

More of Nick's films, a bio on Nick from ABC and on Stopmotionworks.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Carrara 8

Even though I've not yet moved to Carrara 7, those people over at DAZ3D have been working on a new version 8.

Carrara 8:

* Multi Threading
* FBX Export Updates
* COLLADA import/export Updates
* Multi Leaf Objects
* God Rays
* Barn Doors for Spotlights
* Puppeteer Animation Tool

Carrara 8 Pro:

* 64-bit versions for Mac and PC
* Edit Figure in Vertex Modeler without the need to Zero Figure
* Network Rendering Improvements
* Negative Lights
* IES Lighting
* Normal Maps
* Bullet Physics Engine - Rigid Body and Dynamic Cloth

There are also a few videos to demonstrate the features

Daz3D are also giving away a few copy as a prize in their Bullet Physics Competition

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funding opportunity for film makers

Some news via Short and Sweet.

IdeasTap has launched Ideas Fund Shorts, £40,000-worth of funding to help young people realise their short film projects. Eight awards of £5,000 are being offered to anyone aged between 16-25 to create a five minute short film. Recognising the lack of funding for young people within the arts, and the endless application forms and hassle to secure what funding there is, IdeasTap created the Ideas Fund to make it easier for young people to get their creative projects off the ground. Along with the website,, IdeasTap is dedicated to providing opportunities for up-and-coming creative talent. Alongside the launch of Ideas Fund Shorts, IdeasTap is also launching the second round of Ideas Fund Innovators; ten awards of £1,000 for creative ideas from any discipline. The deadline for both funds is 29th March 2010.