Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Bug Me a Little!

Wanted to test Jeff Gatesman's instructions* to me while it was still fresh in my mind. Took the week to put final pre-shot touches to the bug party, set up the camera on Dick Kaneshiro's Smooth Mover, used a small LED as a moving keylight and started getting a feel for how the bug puppets would like to move.

They are NOT fully fledged stop motion puppets and are not meant to be. The whole bug party sequence is meant as an appetizer for other more meaningful scenes with main characters. And in the clip, I just fiddled with no video assist, no preview, no Lunchbox, no onion skin software, just the camera. I didn't measure the pan and am using the random key light to add an atmosphere layer to the scene.

I've crammed myself in this room with the full main set up and the foreground pieces for the bug party for over a year in an attempt to force me to start to shoot. Didn't work at all. And ironically, I might move the bug party set component to another table so I can get further back. The test above is too close up. I'd like the viewer further back as if peeking at the goings on. Plus, I think it will look more interesting/convincing if these little puppets are just animated without a lot of detail. It's all in the concept in this case.

Tomorrow I'd like to show you the set up and how it finally got down to brass tacks.
All I can say is. It was so much FUN FUN FUN!... we're off to the races.
Jeff's instructions worked flawlessly and I understood everything. I even used Adobe Premiere Pro for the first time and found it the easiest editing software I used yet. Even easier than using the newish Photoshop animation features that I thought might be better for me.

 Pure gold.

*I have shared Jeff's suggested workflow with you, fellow animators, in the Underground for those who may like to check the approach out for themselves.


  1. Nice to see you gettin' the party started! I've done a lot of animation, and I still find it really hard to make myself start a shot when I haven't done it for a while. Many cups of coffee, dishes washed, errands suddenly remembered, before I get down to it.
    I like all the bug action, but not the jumpy camera moves - if you are shooting at a high resolution, like on a DSLR, you could add the move in post, and if it didn't quite work you can change it as often as you like while keeping the same original footage. For that you would need to get the camera further back, as you plan to do, so there is more covered in the shot.

    1. Having your input is a crazy privilege, Nick! Thank you so much. The camera movement was not smooth, it's true. It was a risk to post the clip and have people think it was going to be how the whole film would look. It really was just a few frames taken for me to see whether I could follow the workflow proposed.

      I was hoping to shoot the party scene by having the camera slowly pan across its face with insets of the insects cut in to close ups as needed. The set is 3 feet across from the band stand on the left to the busboy bug's puddle on the right.

      So far I'm using Premiere to edit the clips after assembling them in Lightroom. I have yet to look into cropping in to achieve a pan in post, if that's what you were mentioning. But it might be something I could figure out how to do.

      Meanwhile, I thought I'd shoot a bit further and try making the incremental movements more smooth, like I did in an earlier Time Frog camera test.

      OH! And man, are you ever right about the lag in getting down to shooting! You said it so well. Everything in my art supplies and house is completely organized! (except the junk drawer) Very grateful that you made it seem perfectly normal. Thank you!

  2. Shelley, this is MAGIC. I'm so impressed by the way you fearlessly tackle the multiple skills needed to bring your dream to fruition. I just hit my forehead on the keyboard, bowing down.

    1. HA! Oh, Maggie, thank you so much! fearless = desperate.


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