For People Crazy About 2D Animation!

Acme Punched! is for people crazy about 2D animation. It may be enjoyed by beginners and others, but it is aimed at animators who know already something about the process of animation and the basics of character animation. In large part, it will attempt to provide a deep look into the problem solving that goes on in my head as I work out a scene, often in step-by-step posts that I will sometimes enter in "real time", without knowing in advance what the outcome will be. Mistakes and false starts will not only be included but emphasized, so that the creative process of animation will be portrayed realistically. And, while my own bias is for 2D drawn animation, many of the effects and principles discussed here can apply to CGI 3D animation as well. I hope the blog will prove useful and instructive for all.

-Jim Bradrick

Monday, February 4, 2019

No. 179, Stop Motion as Pencil Test Software

Poor Pencil Test Images

For a long time I have been unhappy about the quality of my pencil test videos. Instead of being in easy-to-view black on white they have been a disappointing grey on grey.

This is the kind of greyed-out image I have been getting in my pencil tests.

I have determined that this is not the fault of my software, the now "legacy" Toki Line Test, but of the cameras I have been using. For the camera to connect to my Mac, it has to have a USB plug, and the two cameras I have been using have no adjustment controls; the only way I have been able to work with the contrast, brightness and other settings is through the Toki Line Test control sliders, which have been inadequate.

I have tried directly hooking up my Iphone cam but the software (and the Mac) do not recognize the phone cam as a camera source.

In my last posting to this blog, No. 178, I talked about downloading the app Stop Motion for making stop-motion animation. I wondered: could this work for my pencil tests as well? I was encouraged to note that any movies made in Stop Motion could be imported directly to You Tube or to Instagram.

I then purchased my own tripod (an inexpensive one designed for making selfies) and found that I could remove from it the phone clamp, which sported a universal camera screw mount that is used for mounting most cameras onto any tripod or other stabilizing support. Since my vertical camera stand uses that same mounting system, it was easy to now mount my Iphone in place.
The Iphone as pencil test camera.

Shooting a frame.

Now the image is sharp and in high contrast--success! The frames per second are variable, and also are the number of frames per click. There is an incremental zoom feature, too.

The only thing I don't know how to do is to show multiple layers.  That might be done by shooting the tests over a backlighted board, like the animation drawing disk itself.  But for simple tests of timing, this seems to be a very good solution.

Here is a sample test with this system. There is a little glitch at the end where the camera got bumped, but you can readily see the improvement in quality.

In time I may go back and re-shoot some of the pencil tests already posted.  At any rate my future output will be much easier to watch.

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