Digital Media Design


iPad 3 – Favourite Apps – Paper 53

iPad 3

iPad 3 and Paper 53

Paper 53 (actually its the Paper App – designed by FiftyThree) is just what the doodler in me needs. I’m sure Artists will love it as well but for me it’s just the ability to quickly sketch something out on my iPad and then be able to share it instantly that makes it such a useful App.Paper 53 - Journal as Flipbook Paper 53 - Journal Paper 53 - Canvas (Lite Version)

It’s perfect for drawing storyboards and layouts and then to be able to either show these on the iPad in a flipbook style by flipping through the pages of the journal or share online (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr), email or just save it to your Camera Roll.

Animators should download for this reason alone. I’m not sure if the designers expected anyone to use their App this way but it works as a means to quickly flip through storyboards or frames from an animation quickly to see if the concept works as a sequence. There might be better Apps for animators to do this but you can download the lite version for free to try and if it works for you then you can upgrade – or not if the basics are good enough for your needs.

The lite version will have the basics to get you started but I bought the essentials upgrade which costs £4.99, which adds a range of tools. You can buy them individually but to get them all its worth paying the £4.99.

You can draw with your fingers but there are tools you can use such as a Stylus but in particular there’s the POGO Connect  a Bluetooth connected stylus that allows you to draw different line widths depending on the pressure you apply.


3D Graphics – Sweetboy the 3D Animation.

Monday 13th December 2010

Computer Graphics for Animation and Film – 3D Animation, finishing touches

In reference to my previous blog entry, I thought that the animation quality could be significantly improved upon by firstly looking again at exporting the rendered video sequences exported from Maya. With new codecs installed on my computer I exported again each 3D Graphics sequence from Maya as uncompressed AVI clips. At the same time I took the opportunity to key in more animation sequences and improving on existing ones.

Another change to the first animation, this time I imported these clips into Adobe After Effects rather than Premiere Pro for post production. The key reasons for doing this was that after doing some research I learned that it was possible to use ‘Expressions’ to loop sequences. With this programming option I would be able to turn a short 2 second clip exported from Maya into a video sequence of a length I choose just by putting in a number for the number of loops.

In addition After Effects has a more effective Chroma Key function than Premiere Pro which completely removed the background from the character without leaving some of the background pixels or removing some of the characters pixels giving a smoother edge to the character.

I also took the opportunity to add a simulated water effect as the character plunges into the pond. Initially I filmed water and then an object dropping into a basin using my Flip camera which although was relatively easy to do and gave obviously a realistic effect I thought in fact it looked too real and would not fit in with the cartoon look I was after. I then decided to make my own water splash effect entirely from within After Effects by drawing a mask directly on the area of the screen where the character drops into the water and then using the effects, Fractal and CC Glass effects to create the initial splash and the ripples and then finished this off with a splashing water sound effect.

I then exported the completed sequence as an Quicktime .mov file. Which I then imported into Premiere Pro CS5 to add opening titles, end credit and a soundtrack.

As I mentioned previously the soundtrack is my own voice after being processed in Audacity varying pitch and speed to get the characters high pitched voice and the narrators lower pitched voice. I then added a short music track to finish off.

Finally in order to reduce the file size I exported the complete sequence as an MPEG2 formatted file as this seems to work the most efficiently with the online video services YouTube and Vimeo for both quality and upload times.

The Completed Animation.

The Flip Video  – Splash


Computer Graphics for Animation and Film – Animation Storyboard

Animation Storyboard Update

Monday 6th December 2010

2nd Edit and New Animation Storyboard


Having completed the first edit for the 3D Animation I looked at how it could be improved.

I’ve already mentioned that I felt it needed a water splashing effect as the character falls into the water and so I’ve added this into the modified Storyboard.

I also realised that I needed to redo some of the animation sequences that I’d exported from Maya, in particular the sequence where the character turns to face the audience just before falling into the water. Also the animation sequence involving new water splashing effects, making changes to the arm movements and the bobbing of the character up and down in sync with the splashing water movement.

As I mentioned in a previous blog I filmed actual objects dropping into water to use for the water splashing scene but decided to go with the water effect created in After Effects as it suited the design better.


Animation Storyboard

Animation Storyboard


Maya Animation – Sweetman

Sunday 28th November 2010
Having designed the 3D character I set about keying in some basic animation sequences, walking, hand and head movements etc. and then rendered the sequences from different camera angles. This gave me a range of short animation sequences that could be edited together to form a story. The brief calls for a short animation of approx. 30 seconds delivering a message to children. Having considered a number of possibilities I’ve decided to deliver a safety message.

Progress update

Each 3D sequence is between 2 and 3 seconds long. I had already changed the background in Maya to be the brightest Green available from the colour pallet as this would make keying out the background later much easier. I then exported each sequence as an AVI video to be imported into Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 for editing. It was at this point that a problem was identified. Maya has the means to export AVI files which it says is uncompressed but Premiere was unable to play these files. I suspected the problem was with CODECs and looked at alternatives, With the right CODECs installed the files were viewable again, but the quality of the image changed depending on which CODEC was used to compress the video.
Using the Chroma Key setting in Premiere I removed the backgrounds from the 3D images and then dropped them onto a video track to make up a longer sequence. Then using the Motion option I keyed in locations against a fixed background until the 3D character seemed to have walked from one side of the screen to the other. From a time estimate I worked out that each second of animation took just over an hour.
Although I added to my workload by taking time to produce Green Scene footage it does mean that I can change the video background for anything including moving video/live footage which means my Maya produced 3D character could interact with live images.
The next stage is to produce more 3D images using the character I designed and then adding them to the sequence. Then I need to work on a voiceover soundtrack to get my safety message across.
One thing that I have really learnt from all this work with Maya is that 3D Animation is not a career choice to be made lightly. You need to be enthusiastic about this subject with the patience of a saint to spend hours/days to produce just a few seconds of video.


Maya – Creating a basic 3D Image

Friday 29th October 2010

Todays lecture covered the process for developing a basic 3D image using Maya.

The idea is to create a image using Polygons and then by using the Extrude function create a basic 3D image/characterisation which could then be used in an animation process to produce a film sequence.

I first downloaded from the internet an image which I would use as a guide/template and imported this into Maya. I then created a cube which I placed centrally on the grid. This was then sub divided to give more faces, I then selected the faces to the left of the Y axis line and deleted these effectively cutting the cube in half. Then in turn selecting faces, vertices etc. I used the extrude function to extend my original cube polygon to produce one side of a figure that is a head, body an arm and a leg. Once I had these i then used the Mirror Geometry function using the –X option to Mirror the side I had created and this had the effect of creating a complete 3D character now with two arms and two legs.

This all sounds very simple but there are many stages and clicks required even to produce such a simple design. There was also a problem initially using the Mirror function this did not appear to work correctly until the History was deleted first before applying the Mirror, without doing this the Mirror appeared to begin from the last action made which in my case was the extrusion used to create the foot.


Computer Graphics for Film and Animation – 3D Graphics Research.

Friday 22nd October 2010

Researched the internet for 3D Graphics examples for inspiration for my own 3D Graphics design. I identified several amazing animations which I’ve added below, one a standalone short animation, a soon to be released game and the final one a good example of the current level of what’s possible in 3D Graphics.Smile

Bertie Bassett Advert

Not a 3D Graphic but a puppet in this TV advertisement but this inspired my idea for my own 3D character with it’s relatively simple construction out of individual components which are all default shapes in the Maya Polygon library.


Stop Frame Animation – Editing & Output

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.

iStopmotion Screenshot

Fig 1. iStopmotion Screenshot

Fig 2. - Windows Movie Maker V2.6 Screenshot of animation project

Fig 2. Windows Movie Maker V2.6 Screenshot of animation project

Final Cut Express 4.0 Screenshot

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

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 the website produced for the Website Design Unit.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Screenshot of Animation Project

Fig 4. Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Screenshot of Animation Project

Anyvideo - Video format conversion app Screenshot

Fig 5. Anyvideo - Video format conversion app Screenshot

iDVD Screenshot - used for animation DVD creation

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.


Stop Frame Animation – Animation Research

  • Access to HE. Media Studies. CJC3FH001A
  • Unit Title: Stop Frame Animation Unit Code: KJ2/3/SO/006
  • Course Tutor: Dan Gray

Stop Frame Animation – Research

Stop Frame Animation (Stop Action) is a process where a series of pictures taken either with a stills camera or video camera, usually of inanimate objects one frame at a time and then the object is painstakingly moved in small increments so that when these individual shot frames are viewed sequentially a simulation of continuous movement is observed. The more pictures (Frames) per second the smoother the action.

From Clay models to people, Stop Frame Animation can bring movement to a usually stationary or an inanimate object or makes what seems to be an impossible movement on film possible.

Looking at the different types of animation we can see that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of the forms of animation and to the material chosen or indeed everyday object, which we have decided to animate.


Animation using clay models (or Claymation) is very popular.

There are many advantages to using clay models for instance they can be made to scale for example a small clay model can be used where filming space is limited for example a cityscape set where tall buildings can be just a meter high.

Clay models are relatively easy to make and most importantly easy to move into position. They can be made to represent any object or person. Instead of using clay you could use a Figurine examples being a wooden artists mannequin or say an old action man. All you would need to do is replace the head and hands with clay as this will be easier to animate. These would work very well if the model needed to be clothed.

They do have some disadvantages; the most obvious is that they will look like clay models. Fine movement is not easy unless the model is made with ball joints. They also take a relatively long time to make and require maintenance as the heat/lighting dries them out.

Defining an audience for clay models in general is not possible but they do tend to target a younger age group but there are many examples of adult animations using clay. Clay animation also does not generally seem to be gender specific or target a specific ethnicity or demographic it is the subject matter which will set which audience the animation will be most suitable for.

The following example was found on the excellent video source Youtube and shows the highly recognisable Morph character, definitely one for the younger age group but still interesting for adults as its subject in this film is cheating at cards.

Animation using drawings seems to offer unlimited possibilities; if you can draw it you can animate it. An excellent example of this type of animation is the Simon’s Cat series of animations by Simon Tofield.

There are many advantages to the drawing form of animation; it’s relatively simple to do requires’ few resources and space to produce. You can draw on paper then cut around for example a figure and animate the cut out itself.

Some of the disadvantages would be you probably need to be able to draw and it’s 2 Dimensional only. Also you would need to do a lot of drawings a quick calculation based on a 5 frames per second frame rate means you would need 300 drawings. You could cut this down by photocopying the background first but it is still a large number of drawings.


Again hard to put all forms of this animation type into a given age range or demographic as the subject can be anything and it would be this that determines the audience that it would appeal to. The example chosen however appeals to all age ranges particularly if they are cat owners.

Using Lego for animation is very popular it even has its own name Brickfilming and is termed for animation done with Lego or other brick like objects. Examples can be found at ( .

There is a huge range of Lego products which include figurines’, vehicles and architecture. All of these can be combined to build models and sets for animation films which is a major advantage.

The example animation chosen from Youtube demonstrates the use of Lego in animation but it also shows how to animate in general and includes examples of the differences between frame rates that are the number of pictures taken per second of film.

Huge range of Lego products offers all kinds of possibilities for animation there are even specific products based on Films or TV series’ for example Thomas the Tank Engine, Pirates, Space etc. Lego can also be used to build the set.

Of course one of the obvious disadvantages is that the finished animation will look like Lego. Due to it’s square, sharp edge design it would be difficult to achieve a natural movement for example the movement of a tree in the wind.

The audience would tend to be younger and really most probably for younger children who actually still play with Lego but there will almost certainly be exceptions to this. For example the animation right whose subject matter is about drinking Beer.

Using people in animation could be seen to be an easy option as all actors would have to do is hold position while the shot is taken and move position themselves for the next shot following direction and so on for each subsequent shot.

Using people as animation subjects mean that they can do their own movements following the requirements of the films director. The animation will be more lifelike and can tackle real issues and stories.

It’s hard to keep people still and so continuity could be an issue but this could also add to the overall effect and therefore not be a disadvantage. Another disadvantage could be that it may be difficult to have exclusive access to an external location and so other people may get in the shot although this could also add to the effect so it maybe an advantage for some animations.

This type of animation more easily lends itself to an adult audience and reach across the whole demographic depending on subject.
Cutout Animation
Similar to Drawing but the pictures are then cut out and it is these cut outs which are then animated. Examples would be Captain Pugwash and of course the title sequences for Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

Captain Pugwash

Monty Python

Compared to say drawing animation one of the big advantages is that you draw the cutout once and then move the cutout to get the animation, you can also add movable parts to give more flexibility for instance Captain Pugwash animations had moving arms which pivoted up and down.

You still need to be able to draw and the movement is less fluid than for some types of animation.

Like drawing it’s across the board the examples chosen indicate some of the range of appeal. Captain Pugwash for instance is definitely one for the children and Monty Pythons Flying Circus is one for the Adults.

Animation appears to be one of the few Art forms that have an appeal which reaches across the board; all age groups, gender and ethnicity are all covered. It seems to be the subject matter which determines the audience more than the type of animation used be it Clay, Drawings, Lego or animating people or indeed any object. An animator will have a personal choice of which medium suites them best and this can be worked to be able to target a particular audience by choice of subject matter, style, narration and music chosen.

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