Sunday, December 21, 2008

Animated dollies


I've always loved the idea of making animations, even started a course at university once. But after I quickly realised that the labour intensive and precise process invoved did not agree with me, I dropped out after two days.
Playing with my photos of my dolls one day recently, I realised that I could very easily create little animations using my picture storing and editing program (Picasa), the scroll tool on my mouse, the film setting on my camera, a little bit of sticky tape, a piece of cardboard. I also use "Windows Movie Maker" (which my 8 year old daughter put me onto). You don't actually need the "Movie Maker" program but it is handy for some cute final editing.

My animations are stop motion animations which simply means they are a sequence of lots of still photos strung together to make a movie. Conventionally I believe you can take these photos over to your movie editing program (like "Windows Movie Maker") and turn them into an animated short film (or long if you wish I guess!) I'm actually not sure how to do this or how long it takes as this is not what I do!

I take about 50 photos of my paper dolls by moving them about sequentially like a puppet for each shot. I have so far kept the idea very simple, like a dancing doll twirling around and around in "The Amazing Tumbling Tina". Just because I am still experimenting and learning.

Here is my tricky 'cheats' technique...
I put these photos into Picasa and edit them as I wish, usually not much...sometimes I might add some text to a certain photo in my "Paint" program, as in "Away" the still shown here...sometimes not.
I have a cute lightweight plastic vintage frame which fits beautifully around the image on the computer screen. I sticky tape this to the computer; at the top so as to not wreck the screen!. I also like the idea of making a kitchy frame out of cardboard for this.
I set my daughters music box on my lap ready to go. I grab my mouse in one hand and my camera on film setting in the other. Start the music, push the "film" button, scroll the mouse toggle, trying to keep the camera still, (but I do like some shakiness). The litte doll dances to the music; Amazing! :D ...Sometimes I scroll the toggle back and forth to get some repetition and boogie-ing happening, this is fun!!
Now I take the little movie over to "Movie Maker" and edit you get to play very professional and add titles and credits. But you could do this manually by taking a photo of your handmade title and credits...Windows Movie Maker is fun though...You can do all sorts of things like overlay different sound tracks play with visual effects, I don't do too much here. I do love the 'movie ageing' feature as this hides many mistakes and enhances the crude, low tech jumpiness of my animations.

If you use this technique, don't expect a polished slick result, remember you are filming your computer screen so it's not going to be high resolution quality. But I think it works if you embrace the scratchiness and roughness of the process and it's a lot of fun.
You can see my little animations over at my flickr pages
I'd love to see some films anyone makes using this technique.. : )
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