Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Stop Action Animation Video

This blog is all about learning photography and I have no problem showing "first attempts" even though I feel it is not my best work.

I took a series of about 200 pictures from a hill above the Reno Balloon Race and created a stop action video of the mass ascension. Click on the picture to go to the video.

Using Photoshop I created an action that adjusted levels, brightened, added contrast and resized the 200 pictures. I then imported them into Windows Movie Maker, configured a few things like setting each frame to display for 1/8 of a second and I experimented with several different quality settings. The Windows program was very easy to work with and is free as opposed to buying and learning Premiere. I have not looked at other video programs.

One improvement for this video would be to not move the camera between shots. The jumpiness is a bit annoying. The exposure changes too. I believe I left the mode at aperture priority as the sun was going in and out due to the clouds and it gets a little dark at the end. Setting the exposure and using manual might have helped. Not every frame is in focus either, at least in the beginning. I noticed that the auto focus changed as the balloons moved. After a few frames, I focused and then turned off the AF.

Another helpful hint would be to set the camera to take the pictures at a specific frequency. I had rented a D90 and could not easily figure this out when I needed to. I took the shots manually, counting to 10 when not much was happening and more frequent when the balloons were rising.

And there is no music! Maybe Yakkity Sax would fit.

All in all, it was a fun project that can still be improved on. And the lessons learned are most important!

Update: I neglected to include a useful web tutorial on stop action animation that was a big help to getting started:

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