Sunday, May 27, 2012

ReAnimating Analog Animation

So everyone’s done some form of physical animation (analog) where it's either fixed to a disk or stored in a flip book. So I figured it would be a good idea to cover some of the many different methods of reanimating for presentation on digital platforms. (For the sake of this I will not cover what the teacher did not)

Step 1, Capture of the frames.
This can be done one of 3 ways.
Method number 1: recording
In this one you physically play the medium before a camera that is recording, this is the simplest method of documenting and porting the analog animation to digital mediums however it also returns the lowest quality and least usability. For this you would set up a camera in a stationary position (tripod recommended) and start the recording. Set the focus to the point in which the analog animation will be played back and then set it in motion.

The video file the camera produces will be your documentation for digital presentation and can be trimmed and converted, however its quality is set at the capture and the analog playback.

Method Number 2: Digital stills
In this method you would take individual photographs of the frames of the animation and then line them up in a program like Photoshop or after effects. (Some other forms are covered) For this you would set up still camera on a tripod and the medium of the animation as parts that you would swap out form in front of it as you take stills of the frame by frame animation. (snap a photo, change to next frame)

The digital stills will now need to be aligned in another program for proper display, however depending on the resolution of the camera you could have a nearly limitless quality to recompile the animation with. This will also normally produce a better looking digital presentation than method number 1.

Method number 3: Scanners are your friends
We’ve all heard the horror stories of scanners flubbing up color and contras for artwork however once calibrated they are fantastic and can produce even better quality than a good digital camera for digital stills to work from. For this you will need a decent scanner and know your way around the software for it. One down side to this method is that its incapable of documenting 3 dimensional analog animation, along with you will commonly have to decompile the analog animation (flipbooks, some rotary weal animation systems too). Simply scan the frames in and store them. The digital stills will now need to be aligned in another program for proper display, however depending on the resolution and quality of the scanner you could have a nearly limitless quality to recompile the animation with. This will also normally produce a better looking digital presentation than method number 1 however its quality over method number 2 depends on your hardware and software.
Recompile methods for capture methods number 2 & 3

Difficulty: minor
Hardware requirements: MASIVE
Image Quality: MAXIMUM
Portability: Maximum
Recommendations: Photoshop x64, 8GB’s RAM, lots of time.
This method has proved to be capable of the highest quality animation possible form the different methods I’ve tested. The resolution can be whatever you want and the exporting process can send it to a video file, image stack, or animated gif or mng. (I do not recommend .gif however MNG has very little support)

Import the frames by File>Scripts>Load Files into Stack
then click Browse... and select all of the images you are using.
I recommend checking the box for "Attempt to automatically align source images" as it will try to even out any jitter in your capture.
Now hit "OK" and wait for it to finish loading the images in to layers.

Now is when you will want to use the animation timeline. To add this simply go to Window>Animation
now that that is up hit the small icon at the upper right corner of the animation pane. Image Hosted by using that menu select "convert to frame animation"
Once again using that menu now select "Make Frames From Layers"
Now select all the frames (Shift click in windows) and hit the drop down arrow on a frame. Image Hosted by
From there select a frame delay (this is the time between frame updates, 0.1 = 10fps) or set a custom time (24fps = 0.0416667)


To export as video or flash file, go File>Render Video and then set how you would like to export your video

To save as an animated image, go to File>Save for Web & Devices
Select .gif and set the color palette to 256. Form there you will have to play with the settings to get an optimal result.

To bring in to another program (like aftereffects) for compilation simply save the document as a .psd or .psb (psb supports files larger than 4GB's) and then import the file to Premier or Aftereffects. (it will import it like a video file most of the time)

Windows Movie Maker 6 and down:
Difficulty: it's so easy, a caveman can do it
Hardware requirements: medium (a 4 year old computer can do this easily)
Image Quality: eh... it can be ok, normally kind of low
Portability: lowest
Recommendations: Windows XP and up, 1GB of RAM
I used to use this method for animating as I didn’t used to have Photoshop or after effects and Final Cut X was (and still is) a crash prone pile of "what happened?" and so this was my only way. It’s 100% free for windows users and returns ok quality.

open movie maker and then go to "import media", select all of your frames and let the program mull about for a while.
Once the images are imported go to Tools>Options
Click on the tab labeled "Advanced"
Now change the picture duration to what you want your frame delay to be (windows movie maker 6 is limited to a minimum delay of 0.125 seconds, or 8fps). Also select your project dimensions of either 4:3 or 16:9 and set to NTSC if it isn’t already.

NOW! you can import the frames to the time line. Do this by shift click selecting what you want and drag your mouse to the time line and release. Now you wait...

(i never said this was speedy)

Now that the frames are in the time line you can export by clicking on "Publish Movie"
Select "This Computer" hit next, now name it and set the destination then click "next".
You have finally made it to the quality’s selection page, minimal isn’t it? For best results use the "more Settings" option and set to Windows Media DVD Quality (3.0Mbps) or the wide screen equivalent (depending on 4:3 or 16:9)
Now hit publish and it will render your video file

Alternative finishes:
These are different things you can do,
form here you can reimport the video file and hit of the effect panel for the speed up effect to double your frame rate to 16fps or higher.
You can also add some export scripts like I have for 720p and 1080p resolutions and high bitrates.

Link for the download = HD scripts for Windows Movie Maker

---Additional methods to be posted---
I’m already at twice the word count as the teacher wants anyways
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  1. Thank you for this. This is something I could look upon when I need help. I guess for future reference I now know I have multiple ways of capturing and exporting.
    You and Alex however, are going to have to brush up my Photoshop skills, because for whatever reason I have only used it a few times and can't really navigate it as much as I would like to.

    1. your welcome, i'm working on the right up for doing this in a 3rd manner that's cross platform on linux, windows, and apple.

      well ask away any questions you have with Photoshop. i know more about Photoshop than i do video editors so i may be more usfull there.

  2. A great tutorial to follow up our analog explorations - I was just going to let the flip books gather dust. I'm pretty good with Photoshop all things considered - but I didn't know how to work with animation, and I didn't know Movie Maker existed; so thanks this is useful - I hope to read other process/tutorials posts in the future.

  3. Very informative Andrew! I made my flip book capturing video and exporting stills. It worked great for me and quality wasn't an issue for that project. I wanted to do this project using the same method, but I thought it felt like cheating! Also, I've never used another program besides final cut, so I might explore these options, now that you have introduced them.

    1. play around with as many different programs as you can. some times you never know what your missing when your sticking to just one and other times it can reinforce why you like using the one you do.