The first of many blog posts I’ll be doing to feature some of the projects I’ve worked on in the past and some of the current projects I’m involved in. It’s usefull to know what you think of them so please leave thoughts, comments or suggestions in the comments below.
Technique: Stop Motion
Stop Motion (aka Stop Action) is a technique used to simulate motion by taking stills and stitching them together in a timeline. The results are interesting and can be manipulated in many ways. The following videos show some great examples of what’spossible :
The Idea & Project: Be creative and have high aspirations
As part of my previous role as a student representative, we set a yearlong objective to drastically improve how we communicated to the student body at the University of York. This involved utilizing all our methods of communication but when it came to video, we hadn’t really ventured beyond promotional videos, which at best had little reach and hardly gripped an audience representative to the size of a membership of 12000 students.
Several ideas were thrown around but only two concepts stuck in the minds of my colleague and I. Inspired by the videos above, we felt something of a similar nature could be done on campus and secondly we felt a video tour of some sort covering the whole campus would be a neat way to introduce future applicants, students, alumni and curious Internet browsers to the campus. Beyond those two goals and aspirations we really didn’t have many more expectations. We tried the technique with a test piece and confident the technique was fitting booked out a few hours in the diary to do the shoot. A few hours was a major under estimate of how long it would take
The Shoot: Plan and allow for more time than you need
I’ll keep this brief and instead refer to a tutorial on how to do stop motion photography. One of the key things to bear in mind is your simulating movement so you have to choose carefully the increments in distance and movements between shots as well as having an idea in your mind of how many frames per second in photos your aiming for. Depending ont he scale of the shoot, factor in more time than you need to test trial and even do more than you planned to shoot. The biggest challenge with stop motion is that you have to do it in one session to avoid adding on workload later through photo manipulation techniques. Lastly keep your idea simple but keep aspirations high, a balance of the two will bring out great results.
The Edit: Patience is a virtue
The first thing to say is be organised and be very clear and through about your image files. For this shoot we ended up with around 3000 images. They were shot at 12megapixel resolution so they needed resizing down to 1080p resolution and on top of that the size of the files made moving them in batches difficult. The solution here was to utilize photoshop actions to keep your files in one place but also to speed up the work-flow. Beyond that the only other thing is patience. You wont know what it looks like till you render it so expect to edit it a few times even after you’ve rendered the video.
The Result: Take a look
Lessons to learn: More planning
- We needed a few more images per second of video to smooth out certain parts. I’m avoiding the phrase frames per second for sake of clarity. The two are different.
- A good camera stand for your camera is paramount or if not make sure you keep it still and at the same height. You can see int he video that the camera shakes a little too much. The reason I stress a good stand is that we started with a stand but its was £20 cheap stand which made it difficult to adjust at each shot adding to the shoot time. We opted to scrap it 30 shots in and start again.
- Choose your route wisely and time it right. Depending on what your idea is, plan your scenes and routes well. We had to shoot through building sites at times. Not desirable but this project had a deadline so we couldn’t delay it. If you have the luxury to pick a good time where the view will be better, do it.
- Spend some time planning for night shots. We didn’t plan to be shooting for 13 hours and that found us shooting almost 1/3rd in low light conditions. The camera behaves very differently and as is apparent the consistency of the photos becomes an issue. We just motored on but in the future maybe a change in lens and some careful thought of the transition between daylight and night is a good fix to this issue.
Yes, I will be having another crack at this in the future, this time hoping to factor in some tilt-shift photography, inspired by Sam Ohare’s video, The Sandpit below. Meanwhile this project is at a close and it’s been nominated for the Endsleigh Insurance Technology and Innovation Award in the NUS Awards ont he 20th July … Check back to see how we fared.
A day in the life of New York City, in miniature.
Winner: Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction 2010
Nominee: Webby Awards 2011 – Best Viral, Best Music
Official Selection: AFI Fest 2010
Official Selection: Tiburon Film Festival 2011
Original Music: composed by Human (http://www.humanworldwide.com), co-written by Rosi Golan and Alex Wong.
Please view in HD and full screen for best effect. For a description of the shoot, camera, lenses and workflow, please see here: http://bit.ly/aFmaPZ