A few people have asked about the animation talk I gave recently at the Science Museum, so I though it would be good to share a bit of it here.
One of the areas I covered in the talk was the use of digital SLR stills cameras as a means of capturing stop motion animation , and specifically what to do with those captured RAW files once you have taken them.
To start, here is a very simple image that shows the work-flow.
Due to the fact a stop motion film is in effect just a series of single frame shots strung together sequentially, you only need a camera that can take one frame at a time.
In this respect Digital Stills cameras are ideal because thats exactly what they are designed for.
On Corpse Bride we captured very high resolution RAW images. RAW image files differ somewhat from say a JPEG image. To put it in to laymans terms, when you take a Jpg photo on your digital camera, the camera more or less tells the image these are your parameters, when you (the picture) are viewed or printed you are going to look like this! The camera then compresses that information and locks it as a .Jpeg image.
That isn't the case with a RAW image file. No information is locked. When the camera takes a photo in RAW it saves all the avalable information the bamera's sensor sees, and saves a suggestion of that image based on the cameras present settings.
But because this is only a suggestion, it means that there is a lot more latitude in the image to change the exposure, tone, and colour setting after the image has been taken.
You still have to expose that image correctly of course, but there is room afterward to compensate much like you can with 35mm film negative.
The exciting thing about this method of capturing animation is that is available to everyone. All you need is a digital camera and some software such as Adobe Photoshop CS and After Effects, then it's away you go. You too can make a stop motion movie.
For the talk, I animated my little mummy character and captured the animation as RAW files straight from my camera to a folder on my laptops hard drive.
Be sure to make a new folder on your hard drive for each new shot you animate, and please be aware that RAW images are large files, so plenty of hard disc space will be needed to animate this way!
Once I had finished animating I then opened a program called Adobe Bridge that comes with Photoshop CS2. (if you use a mac, try Adobe Light Room)
This image shows Adobe Bridge, its a great tool that can be used to batch manage your RAW files.
Highlight all the images that make up your shot then double click to open the files. Bridge will ask do you want to open all files? Yes you do.
Photoshops Raw converter panel should now open which looks like the image below.
All the images in your animated shot are now displayed down the left had side of the screen.
You can go to any image in the sequence and click on it and that image will be displayed in the center window. Press the select all button on the top left corner of the program.
Now when you make any adjustments to the image it will apply those changes to all the images.
So perhaps you would like to play with the exposure settings, or alter the colour temperature the images where taken at. Maybe you want to lift the shadow area of the image to see more into the blacks, or do the opposite and crush the blacks down.
You can add more sharpening, contrast, or tint the images and even batch crop them. All this can be done here.
Now if your happy you can save them...
So now you can save out your tweaked files to a new folder, and change the images to Tiff's, Jpg's or .PSD's
From there you open up After Effects, Premiere Pro or Quicktime Pro and import your converted files as an image sequence, and make them into a viewable .avi or .mov file.