taking one frame at a time since 1999

I'm definitely going to participate in the Halloween themed StopmoJam 3.  
I ditched my first idea, might do it as a standalone 1 minute film one day, but not for this. And now I have something simpler and suited to the 15 sec maximum I think.  Started by making a couple of props, typical halloween decorations, to go either side of a door. So I can post pics and it won't give much away.  (Also I could change my mind and still maybe be able to use them.)

This one is just a cardboard cut-out skeleton, so it was able to be finished first. The other one is a pumpkin, and it needs a light rigged inside. I have carved some polystyrene but I need to test to see if it will let enough light through to glow. I'm pretty sure jack O Lanterns glow, not just the holes cut out but the pumpkin  skin lets some light through as well, though i live in Australia where we don't really do Halloween so I haven't seen one for a very long time.  

There's also a set - a wall and door - and 3 puppets to make, with costumes, and another prop or two, so I'm glad there is plenty of time.   

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Comment by Metalmadcat on May 20, 2021 at 7:20pm

WOW!! just wow is all I can say after having read your last two posts, Nick. 

Basically you are saying out of a 15 second mission to work for, your ideas kept on growing and developing even more sophisticated, which is marevelous and GREAT NEWS for big stopmonick fans like myself, let me just say it. I would love to see the standalone and the stopmojam version too. It would be awesome what sort of cool ideas you have under your sleeve with so many advantages, in terms of time, and also in terms of ideas to develop "under the courtain" so to speak. This is all so great and reminds me of many things I wish to come up with and then I get all these stuff in the way that affect me from moving forward (not exactly what you may be experiencing which is rather positive motives) but then, if anything, it also encourages me to think of all sort of alternatives hence new ideas and things to come up for the future ahead (the not so far away future)

I am tempted to even say that you could do all sort of things with your idea, who knows maybe some kind of spin off of your own idea or prequel to what led to what? I mean, endless possibilities but of course it is all up to you and how you wish to surprise your audience. 

Comment by StopmoNick on May 20, 2021 at 3:53am

I've finished animating the long version, which comes in at 23 seconds and could be extended to much longer if i want to build more sets.  If I cut it tight I can get it down to 20 seconds without losing the beginning or end.  I'll do the audio and titling for the standalone version, then see what I have to sacrifice to do a 15 second version.  Doing a little story in a sequence of shots, rather than a single shot of something popping up, was probably doomed from the start.  It's been fun though, and I will post it as my halloween video card just after Anthony puts the Jam online.  Probably time to start thinking of a new idea for my Jam segment. 

Comment by StopmoNick on May 17, 2021 at 4:39pm

Looks like this will run to around 20 seconds, no matter how tightly I edit. So I will do a longer, stand-alone version, and work out what to cut out to fit it into the Stopmo Jam's 15 second limit.  I will have more than 15 seconds of out-takes at this rate!

I may have to drop the first shot, where I use the black cape to fill the screen at the start - it is around 4 seconds long.  That was the only reason I had a kid with a black cape, so I could do the transition from black with it. Apart from that, the cape gets in the way of animating both the dracula boy wearing it, and reaching past it to animate the witch girl.  I already cut out something with my 3rd character - a re-creation of an effect in an old movie that was the reason I thought of the whole idea in the first place, because it just took too many frames and wasn't really necessary.  It is looking hard to squeeze the ending in too, so there is a possibility I need to come up with a whole new idea for the Jam. I couldn't do it all in one shot because as the kids get closer to the door, I can't reach them and the tiedowns underneath, also you are seeing the backs of their heads, so I cut to a side view.   So glad this isn't a last minute thing!   

Comment by Metalmadcat on May 17, 2021 at 9:07am

looking good so far. Always as inspiring to see you at work.

Comment by StopmoNick on April 18, 2021 at 9:19pm

I'm happy to report that my capture problem appears to be due to the cheap no-name AC power adapter, which I have used for a few years now.  When I first tried to do the opening shot, it would work for a few frames, then fail to capture.  If I switched the camera off, unplugged the power adapter, and let it cool for 15 minutes, I could shoot a few more frames.  I also had to close Dragonframe and re-open it, otherwise it would be trying to connect to the camera and never doing it, even though the camera was working again.  But when I finished the shot, I found that each time I had stopped, i had a frame missing from the hi res folder.  They were all there in the video feed so it played ok in DF, and it looked like the same number of frames in both folders with the last one being frame 82, but only the first 6 frames would load into TV Paint because the sequence numbering was broken -  there was no frame 7.  There were 4 more of these missing, so I loaded in each section and joined them up. But each time I could see the slight jump where the puppets moved twice as far.  

I ordered a new AC adapter, identical to the old one and only A$22 (about US $15) and it arrived yesterday, so I re-did the shot.  

No interruptions this time, but it took 96 frames to get to the cut point.   It was smoother, but took longer to get the cape away from the camera and reveal the scene.   I may need to re-shoot again if I am struggling to keep within the 15 seconds, but I'll move on to the second and third shots first and see how I go.  I may end up with 2 versions, the short Jam entry and a 30 second Director's Cut!  Here is the setup for the black frame at the start - taken with an iPhone so it does not look much like the lighting in the actual shot:   


Comment by Anthony Scott on April 11, 2021 at 7:22am

Hi Nick, at the Studio if we're shooting at f/16-22 the camera team will install a bash light which is controlled using DMX in DF. I've never set it up myself but it seems straightforward in this video where Jamie is explaining it. It's an older version, DF3 but same principle: The DMX box from DF is required

I was looking to see if there is a way to do this manually by pausing or delaying the time between the low res exposure and high res and found this in the DF Manual. You would just need to manually turn the bash light on and off.

One last thing, though it can make your live feed appear more grainy, you could experiment with the Video Assist Levels in the Animation Window. I use this to boost the Live image slightly. Sometimes Stacking the image helps. See below.

Comment by StopmoNick on April 11, 2021 at 12:01am

I've made the other trick-or-treater now - giving him a black cape was essential, since a close-up on that is how I am going to start with a black screen.  Don't know if I'll do that to end the scene though, might just fade to black or have a shrinking circle with black around the edges.  The waistcoat was from a Sideshow Collectables Wyatt Earp action figure, and is a bit roughly sewn.  I got it for the coat ages ago, but found his Duster coat was not quite the same as the Frock coat I needed, the collar is different. The white shirt is originally for a 1:6 scale Alfred, Batman's butler, and is better made. They are a bit big on this kid, but I figured he would have to improvise for his Halloween costume and they might be his dad's.  I made the trousers from a thin black fabric.  Previously the puppet was Sinbad Boy in my Harryhausen90 birthday tribute.  Not quite the same style as Little Red/Witch Girl, her head is bigger and face more simplified, but I'll use them anyway.  I'm nearly ready to start shooting, but my EOS 7D camera keeps failing to capture a frame in Dragonframe. It works, then it doesn't, I shut everything down, it takes a couple of frames, then it doesn't...  Previously that has been because the hard drive is full, but there is 220 Gb of free space. It did the same saving to a different hard drive, also with plenty of room on it.  Changing to a new (but not Canon) USB cable hasn't fixed it, seemed to work at first then failed to capture again, so it may be the cheap AC power adapter is starting to fail after 7 or 8 years of use.  Or the 2008 computer is failing, or who knows what?  My older EOS 40d worked (though I only took 2 frames), but there is a big difference in live view brightness, a good 2 stops, using the same 24mm lens at the same f-16 aperture. The final image is the same brightness, it's just the live view that I use to animate by that is very different between the two cameras.  I never realised before, this is the first time it is critical.  With the 40d I can't see anything at f-16, and not much at f-11, I have to go to f-8.  The 7d gives me a good view at f-16 and a usable one at f-22, and I need the depth of field for this shot.  I can't just use bigger lights, even if i had them, or they would overpower the little light inside the jack-o-lantern which can't be increased. It took some tweaking to get the right balance between all the lights.

If it turns out to be the camera, like maybe damage to the socket where the USB cable plugs in, I might have to consider the mirrorless Canon RP and firmware, plus lens adapters and AC power adapter. 

Oh well, it's great that there is plenty of time on this Jam, I should be able to sort out the issues well before the due date.  And the time of year feels halloweeny, it is autumn here, and I am harvesting actual pumpkins at the same time that I am making polystyrene model pumpkins.

Comment by Anthony Scott on March 15, 2021 at 5:31am

Thanks for posting your puppet photo Nick, you are leading the way! My Jam is still just bubbling away in my thoughts. So many ideas.

Comment by StopmoNick on March 14, 2021 at 6:35pm

I've got my first puppet ready.  I was able to re-use Little Red Riding Hood (from my 1 minute film Wolf Moon) by making a costume and a couple of props.  The other trick or Treater will probably be another recycled puppet, from 11 years ago, and will also need a new costume made.

The hat is from a pack of craft felt sheets I got to make a coat with.  It came in black, white, and 3 shades of grey.  I found that they were not all the same thickness, the black was a bit too thick and stiff for the coat, but was just right for the witch's hat.  

Comment by Shelley Noble on February 26, 2021 at 8:54pm

So looking forward to your clip in this, Nick!

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