Stop Frame Animation
The Animation ‘Books & Toys’
Animation Evaluation – Stop Frame Animation
With the completed animation photographed and now stored on a DVD disk in jpeg format, these images were then imported into iStopMotion ready to be processed at 6 FPS into the video sequence ready for output to a video editor. Initially the idea was to output the file in DV format for further video processing in iMovieHD. However first attempts although successful were not of the highest quality and so alternative applications were investigated for example Windows Movie Maker. Windows Movie Maker was used to produce the animation video sequence and even though there was not as much control available over the frame rate as iStopMotion offers, however it did produce a good quality sequence ready to be outputted in AVI format. The AVI format was also found to give a better quality video sequence than that produced using iStopMotion.
Started by importing the video file into Final Cut Express for video editing and adding the soundtrack, with a regard to the runtime of the video sequence this was edited to be within the 1 minute plus or minus 10 seconds which involved cutting over 30 seconds from the original sequence. The soundtrack was then imported and added, editing for the change in the length of the video sequence. Opening titles and end credits were then added.
Running the completed animation for the first time in Final Cut Express the quality appeared to be very good and so the completed video was then exported in the PAL 4:3 and MOV file format. Unfortunately after several attempts at exporting the sequence in a variety of formats the quality of the output was not as hoped and so alternative video editing applications were investigated.
Fig 1. iStopmotion Screenshot
Fig 2. Windows Movie Maker V2.6 Screenshot of animation project
Fig 3. Final Cut Express 4.0 Screenshot
Adobe’s Premiere Pro (For the PC) was used as an alternative video editing application to produce the final versions of the completed animation. This application has many of the features you can find in Final Cut Express and more. With full control over the editing process and with added features it is possible to add video special effects and also includes templates for titles. After adding the soundtrack the final edited video sequence was exported using Photo JPEG settings and PAL DV format with the soundtrack set to the 44,100 sample rate and 16 bit stereo. The resulting movie in QuickTime format that .MOV was output for burning onto DVD. By changing the frame size several versions of the movie were exported in different sizes for possible alternative viewing for example embedding within a website, for mobile devices etc.
Using this movie from Premiere Pro as the source file, this was then imported into the application Any Video Convertor (For PC) for conversion to the MP4 format for uploading to the Internet. Any Video Convertor is a free to use application which can be downloaded from http://www.download.com
Any Video Convertor is a free program but it does come with a limited number of formats compared with the pay for full version. The full version has more format choices and gives more control over the conversion process.
Animation Output – Stop Frame Animation
To output the animation iDVD was used to produce a DVD of the final version of the animation along with some of the trials and less successful versions of the animation.
The internet ready versions were also burnt onto CD using Nero and also uploaded onto YouTube and embedded into personal websites including Facebook and MySpace and on finally on http://www.clickformedia.co.uk the website produced for the Website Design Unit.
Fig 4. Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Screenshot of Animation Project
Fig 5. Anyvideo - Video format conversion app Screenshot
Fig 6. iDVD Screenshot - used for animation DVD creation
By the end of the process several versions of the animation was produced. The first version was initially too long and was subsequently edited to run within the 1 minute guideline excluding titles. To this purpose a whole sequence was removed from the original animation but as this was similar to another sequence within the animation its removal was not obvious. The final animation is actually 1 minute 12 seconds long including opening titles and end credits.
As well as the video going through a number of changes involving re-editing a number of times before the final sequence being selected and so the soundtrack also went through several iterations before the final selection was made. Initially the animation’s soundtrack was to be a music backing track only, but it was decided that by adding individual sounds for some of the toys this would add an interesting element to the overall animation. Sounds were sourced from a variety of sources including Garageband and a number of websites offering free sound clips. Some of the sounds were eventually discarded as too many sounds seemed to becom a discordant noise, each overlapping with the backing track and so on. With this in mind the revised sound clips were limited to the key characters in the animation that is the toys.
The titles for the initial versions were produced on iMovieHD and were basic white on black scrolling titles and although displaying the information were discarded for the final animation as they seemed to be fairly uninspiring and so new titles were developed using Adobe’s Premiere Pro. The new titles were chosen to emulate the subject of the animation with its bright colours and toys theme. The titles designed included some animation effects as well which also tied in well particularly in the opening sequence.
The final animation was the product of more than a dozen variations before deciding that the original brief had been fulfilled. Meeting the requirements determined in the pre-production process and true to the original concept and to which the final animation comes very close to.
In conclusion the final animation produced which involved several trials and versions, works really well with its new sound track. The only real problem from an editing and output point of view came from the initial photography which involved the shooting of the images over a two day period, where there is a noticeable change in the lighting, which is also apparent in one of the sequences at the beginning of the animation. In addition there was a small change in the position of the camera overnight which was also slightly visible at the beginning of the animation.
The processes used and applications chosen to produce the final animation were crucial in producing a good quality animation as was the choice of output format. Choosing the correct output format made the difference between a good quality animation and a poor quality and in some cases blurred video with poor quality sound. There are some changes which I’d consider vital in the future; these are to either shoot the entire animation on the same day and with good quality lighting. Or alternatively film within a totally controlled environment in which the lighting is both totally artificial and fully controllable. Finally make every effort to totally lock the camera in position making unplanned movement of the camera impossible.