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Posted by afdak, on 2001-09-03 19:14:46

Background slides

Hi there all! I've built a very small set (+/- 1m x 1m, being 3ft x 3ft)that is nothing more than a hill with a meadow in it. The animation requires a realistic background, so i've experimented with slides. This is what i've got now: the set will be placed in front of a screen (canvas) that is hanging from the ceiling. Behind the screen, there will be a slide projector, about 2,5m (8ft) above the floor, thus projecting slides of clouds onto -or rather through- the screen. If the projector were on the same side of the screen, some things in the set that really don't need a cloudish look, would have one. I've put the projector this high because you can see the lamp through the canvas. Will this work out, or will the screen be moving, or does the lamp of a slide projector change intensity so that the background flickers? How do I light the set to fit the background? Maybe some of you have tried something similar? I'd like to have some advice on this... thx! Jonas

Posted by MovieStuff, on 2001-09-03 22:01:16

It sounds like the canvas is being used as a scrim more than a screen. I don't know how big this canvas scrim is, but some drafting mylar would work much better as a rear projection screen. Check with drafting supply houses (if any are left in this computer age). Drafting mylar USED to come in 30 x 40 inch sheets, but I haven't seen it in a while. Beyond that, you might consider having your slide blown up into a sections on a laser printer. I've done that many times and works just great. It's cheap (about $1.00 per square foot, US) and can be lit along with the rest of the set. Just piece the sections together along natural lines of the imagery. Works great! Roger

Posted by Nick H, on 2001-09-04 01:28:53

If it's really CANVAS, you won't see anything through it! Sounds like gauze. Drafting film sounds like a better material, better than tracing paper which would react to heat and moiusture and maybe distort. Probably lighting diffusion gel, which comes in a 3 ft wide roll from Lee Filters would be good too. I've done Front Projection, not having the space to project from behind the screen, and slide projectors work fine. Only problem I had was the spring steel height adjuster on the projector which expanded as it warmed up, making the slide image rise up imperceptibly from frame to frame. I only noticed when I stopped for lunch, turned off the projector, then turned it on and resumed shooting. Took me ages to work out why the projected image dropped suddenly in the middle of the shot. So put the projector on blocks to get the right height, with it's adjustor retracted if it's like mine. You can get a set of Kodak Viewing Filters for around $20 which are meant for still photo processors making colour prints, to balance colours. They also work well as filters on the slide projector if you need to colour correct the slide to match your foreground lighting. My projector bulb was a bit yellow, and they worked a treat.

Posted by afdak, on 2001-09-04 06:36:03

It is not really canvas (the picture is almost equal in quality on both sides when you project it), although the textile is pretty thick. I've done a couple of tests with this already, and I am really happy with the results, but I didn't try to match the lighting yet, because these tests weren't shot with the cloud slides I would use in the end. The only thing I'm worried about is, that the background could do things it isn't supposed to, when animating. (so thanks for warning me about this height adjuster, Nick!) jonas

Posted by ThomasArts, on 2001-09-04 09:03:52

ANOTHER SOLUTION : Well , maybe this sounds stupid now as what I am suggesting is not very technical , but if you just want clouds as a background , why do you not just photograph what you need and have it printed in the 75cm x 51cm size or bigger ? These prints are really not cheap , but if you light them well , you'll have a really realistic and absolutely ungrainy background . I use this technique and for steady backgrounds it is ideal . With the right lighting it is a really good compositing system . SLIDES AND STOPMOTION : What about this : You could combine time lapse shots with Stopmotion , when you put your photo camera on some place , put in slide film and press the button in every five or ten minutes . So you could shoot the sky or whatever moving in timelapse and you can project the single frames , as you have it as slides . You know , you bring your puppet in position , put the slide into a projector which stands behind a rear-projection-screen from Scotchlite and shoot the frame . Now you change the slide in the order of the time-lapse cyclus , change the position , shoot the frame and so on and so on . Tell me what you think , guys , Heiß

Posted by MovieStuff, on 2001-09-04 07:54:13

It is worth mentioning that you should use a glass mounted slide and not plastic or cardboard mounts that have no glass to hold the film flat. Non glass mounted slides will buckle and warp slightly as the slide heats up and that will cause your film to go out of focus. Projectors normally come with a "curved field" lens to help compensate for this problem, but they really don't work very well when you have the projector on for long periods. If you use glass mounted slides, then you'll also need a flat field lens, since the slide will no longer curve from the heat and will hold its shape. The combination of the glass mounted slide and the flat field lens will mean that your slide stays in focus, even if you turn the projector off and turn it back on days later. You can tell if a Kodak lens is flat field because it will say "FF" on the front. However, the best projection lens is made by Navitar. They're on ebay all the time cheap. They used to sell for hundreds of dollars and are a really nice pieces of glass. I once duct taped one to a still camera body and shot a picture with it for fun. Came out very sharp. Roger

Posted by afdak, on 2001-09-04 08:04:48

I had hesitated on posting this message, but now that I know what problems I might have encountered, I'm glad i did! Thanks!

Posted by afdak, on 2001-09-04 09:41:38

Isn't 75cm x 51cm too small? I mean, I'll shoot this with a digital still camera, and I think I need at least 2m x 1,5m of background, because I don't want to use the digital zoom on the camera. The time-lapse idea sounds real good. We actually thought about shooting the film outside, with real clouds. But this would mean we had to finish it in one day (inherent to the storyboard), plus you cannot afford to make any mistake at all. But this has been done, I don't know the title, but there is a stopmo film with two frogs sitting at a Norwegian-looking beach. Making time lapse slides is an interesting idea, but would be kindof expensive, no? I mean, if there's a shot of 5 seconds, this would mean at least 60 slides just for this shot, right? Considering we don't have any money at all :-( This is not a professional film, we do it for fun BUT we want to get it as good as possible. Thanks for the advice ! Jonas

Posted by ThomasArts, on 2001-09-04 10:22:03

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Sep-04-01 AT 09:05 AM (PST)[/font][p]Isn't 75cm x 51cm too small? - - - Well , depending on what scene you plan to do . For a wide shot it will be too small , but for closeups , I see no real problem . And , this is the biggest size most photoshops have available . Hey , I even worked with usual DIN A3 backgrounds and I got it somehow . I'd not recommend to plan to have all parts of the set in one shot . But it is always the same : if you shoot something small and you want it to look big , you'll have to work out an unusual solution . If you want to let something which does not move look like moving really , you'll need stopmotion , which is one of these solutions , you know . I'd really have to know what your film shall look like . I just can tell you what I'd do it like . With a bigger budget , I'd say that you do the photo , print it and have it painted in a fitting size . There is always this money thing . If , if , if ... this is not the way to think . It is much more : "what can I do with the budget I have" and I think that your money would be spent best for a photo background . But , this is just what I think . If you use slides , you'll need a 35mm still camera , slide film , a projector , a room that is big enough and a usable screen material , which isn't cheap as well . If you use the way I was suggesting , you could use your digital camera which you yet have , put the picture onto a diskette , go to someone who has a A2 printer or bigger and you print it out there . Even more modern photoshops carry such printers for public use and one print will cost you a few cents or you search someone from your friends and you owe him a drink from then on and so you do not have any bigger costs . Like that you save quite much money . But , I do not know your definite budget . This is just a minimalist solution . The way I'd go if I had a really minuscule budget . Just an idea . Best , Thomas PS : Do you know A. L. Webber's song "And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)" ? - This is pretty much like what it is funding a movie , only that there is nothing rolling in .

Posted by afdak, on 2001-09-04 11:42:30

Mmm... dilemma. I do have all the ingredients for the slide solution (big room, projector, slides are being shot, screen's not perfect -who is?- but seems OK). So, this is what I'll try: 1. Finish the bl#*dy storyboard (should've been done long time ago) 2. Finish the puppet 3. Do a little test with the slide projector solution. In cell and cutout animation, there is the "puppet-show" effect (don't know if this is correct English, the dictionary told me so), where there isn't enough variation between Medium-Shot, Long-Shot, Close-Up, etc... As I find this effect very disturbing, I was very cautious when I did the storyboard. I think that, if I use printed backgrounds of A2 or a bit bigger, I would have to change so much that the story itself (in which a couple of wide establishing shots are essential) would become impossible to understand. But if the slide projection experiment fails, prints it will be. Thanks! Jonas P.S.: don't know that song. Guess I'd better look for it by the time I'll have to find money for my graduation film... Or no, I'll just rob some banks ;-)