Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pencil Testing with your iPhone or Android Smartphone - a faster alternative to scanning

A faster alternative to scanning is to capture your animation drawings with your iPhone or Android Smartphone. Modern phone cameras are quite high resolution , so the images captured can be very sharp. (the iPhone 7 has a 12MP camera for example , and similar Android phones have 12 MP or 8 MP cameras).   Use good lighting for optimum image quality.   See the document:

Image Capture Techniques for Hand Drawn Animation

(this is a booklet I put together several years ago, so the capture technology shown is dated  -- mini-dv cameras , video surveillance ccd cameras  -- but the camera stands and lighting set-ups shown are still valid if you're using an iPhone , digital camera, or webcam for capturing your drawings)

The best lighting arrangement is use 2 - to - 4 lamps arranged as shown in the diagram above , at about at 45-degree angle from the surface of the drawings. You want to adjust the lighting so you get totally flat, even illumination over the surface of the drawings, without any hotspots or shadow areas. Some plain white paper or translucent vellum (tracing paper) taped over the mouth of the lamps will provide diffusion of the light , so the light is evenly spread over the surface.

(this shows a video camera on a copy stand, but with an adapter this could also be a smartphone mounted on the copy stand, pointing straight down at the drawings  ... you can also use a Webcam such as the Logitech C-930 or C-920 to make your image captures directly into TVPaint using the Video Input panel,  but the iPhone camera will provide much higher resolution image captures than a webcam.)

This relatively new product by Modhaus , would work well for shooting pencil tests or stop motion animation with an iPhone , iPad, or Android phone or tablet  . The phone or tablet sits securely inside the "box" that is attached at variable heights to a wall . 

One of the key benefits of the wall/vertical surface mounted Rostrum Camera Stand is the absence of any visible support structure such as tripod legs. This eliminates any potential shadows or reflections, gives unhindered access to set up your shoot and allows a multitude of lighting methods. (shown in the photo are LED gooseneck lights from Ikea called JANSJO.

See this  blog post by Jim Richardson on his blog Animateducate ,  which covers the topic thoroughly: 

 You'll need to get a REMOTE CONTROL for the phone so you can fire off the shutter without physically touching the phone. (to avoid the jarring the camera).  There are many different models available. Here are a couple you could use:

 You'll also need to securely mount the iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet on a tripod or a copy stand with a tripod mount adapter . There are various models of tripod mounts you can use, such as this one:

  (check on Amazon for others : ) .

Or this:

Each drawing is placed onto a taped-down ACME pegbar and illuminated by two lights at 45% angles on either side of the stand.  Use the ultra-thin metal peg bar so it sits flush with the shooting surface .

(don't be tempted to use the cheaper white plastic peg bars, because those are 1/4" thick and will tend to make the paper buckle , instead of laying completely flat when you put it down on the peg bar.   If you have one of these 1/4" thick white plastic peg bars and can't afford to buy one of the thin metal peg bars , see further down below on how to adapt it so it will sit flush [flat] with the shooting surface) .
The iPhone's (or Android' phone's)  camera must be adjusted to make sure the focus and exposure are locked before shooting so you don't get fluctuations in the focus or exposure , which will cause flickering.  Use the remote control to capture each image, so you don't physically touch the camera when capturing.

After you have captured all the drawings, transfer the image sequence from your phone to a folder on your computer (name the folder(s) by Scene Number , so you can keep track of your original image captures )  and then import the image sequence into your animation program such as TVPaint Animation or AfterEffects or what have you ,  to arrange the drawings in layers and to time the drawings on the timeline.

Scanning will still give you the very best image quality if you are scanning final clean-up drawings for coloring , but for pencil testing purposes it is much faster to capture your drawings with your iPhone or Android phone camera  (or you can use a digital still camera mounted on a tripod or copy stand ... follow the same procedure , capturing each drawing one at a time , using a remote control shutter release , and after the entire image sequence is captured, transfer the image sequence to your computer and then import the image sequence into TVPaint or whatever animation program you are using.


A useful accessory is a hinged glass platen , to press down your drawings absolutely flat .
Plans to make one are here :


Using a white plastic peg bar  -

Many students purchase one of these inexpensive white plastic peg bars .  The advantage is they are inexpensive , but the disadvantage is that the white plastic peg bar is 1/4" thick and will tend to make the lower edges of the  paper buckle ,  instead of letting the drawing lay completely flat when you put it down on the peg bar.  You want to try to have the paper lay as flat as possible when capturing the drawings.

Here is how to make a shooting surface that allows the 1/4" thick white plastic peg bar to sit flush with the surface .  You'll need some 1/4" thick chipboard or matte board or 1/4" thick birch plywood (although the plywood is more expensive)

Use glue or double-sided tape to keep the peg bar from coming lose from the slot.

Tape down or clamp down the shooting platform to a table top under your tripod/downshooter or copy stand. 


Friday, June 15, 2012

Two useful apps for Traditional Animation

For scanning animation drawings for import into animation apps such as TVPaint Animation or ToonBoom Animate Pro / Harmony,  or Digicel Flipbook  you should seriously consider VueScan scanning software.    VueScan (for Mac, Windows, and Linux)  offers many options for image adjustment/enhancement .  Scan your drawings in VueScan, then import to TVPaint  (or ToonBoom,  or Digicel , though I think of these TVPaint is the best) .

If your are using video capture instead of scanning then get iGlasses for Mac (Mac only, not for PC Windows) .   iGlasses gives you many more options for manually adjusting the exposure, focus,  and white balance  using an HD webcam (such as the Logitech C-920) .