What's up everyone!?  I'm in the process of shooting a film that I really wanted to have some nice moving camera moves for. Having spent some time reading over the son of motion control thread since this new board came into existence and also having read the original on the old board a while back I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to build a motion control rig and wasn't about to spend the time necessary to learn how to do so! I also cannot afford to just buy one - that's why we all end up building them right? ;)

So, the good old dolly rig needed to be built. While I was working on other things one of my partners built an awesomely sturdy rig. This has worked really well on some shots but I wanted something more than just one axis of movement for my opening shot. I needed to pan from right to left during the long dolly move... but I wasn't sure how to make this buttery smooth like the dolly. I have an idea for the future on how to use a similar setup with turning a threaded rod, but again, I don't have time for that right now. 

Here is the system that I devised. Basically, I mounted a turntable on top of the dolly. Underneath the turntable I have paper mounted to cardboard on which I drew many lines radiating from the center.  They're not 100% mathematically correct and I couldn't make them fine enough to get the small movement that I needed, so I then placed a c-thru ruler on top of the paper but under the 'gage' that I attached to the turntable.  This way I could see how much it moved each frame.  In reality I moved it about 4 times to get from one line to the next. 

 

It's not exactly as smooth as I wanted, but that's also why I have those tracking markers on the wall. I'm going to smooth this move out in post and it should end up looking really great. It took me 2 entire days and a little trial and error to get this method worked out so I thought I'd share it with the global stop motion community and possibly save some other people a bit of time. Anyway, take a look at the shot, I'm pretty happy with the results.  :)

RE-EDIT: I figured out how to get the images to show within the post and not just attached! Thanks to Anthony's tips on the new board thread.  I guess I need to upload the video to a server and link to it to do the same with video. Oh well, that's why it's attached to this post below!! 

 

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Hey Jason!! Good to hear from one of my old StopMoShorts partners! That looks like a good design. One thing I can think of that might improve it is if you could move the camera closer to the center of the disc. Ideally it would be located on the nodal point, so when you turn it it doesn't swing in a wide arc but sits on the same spot. But pulling it back a little would also mean your marks could be farther apart I think - you could turn the unit farther and the camera wouldn't move as far as it does now. Might not make much difference in that regard, I'm not sure, but it could be helpful, and make incremental moves somewhat more accurate. 

Thanks for posting this - good low-tech camera gear is always appreciated! 

Hey Mike!  That's a GREAT idea to improve on this setup. The reason that the camera is where it is is just because of the bolt keeping it attached to the wood. However, if you just drill a little bit on either the turntable or wood the camera is mounted on you'd be able to slide that bolt in and keep the camera flat. I wish I'd thought of that before shooting!  There's always next time, I've already moved on by a few shots and have some deadlines to hit so the shot stays as is (with some post-production work). 

unrelated to this: How's it going?!?!  Obviously I've been really busy and not around here too much, but good to see you're still helping out with the stop motion education for the masses!

I'm actually spending less time around here these days, and my main focus has moved away from stopmotion (Gasp! ) and toward painting, my *other* love. I decided it's time to get serious about learning to paint - something I've tried to do many times but with little success. I've done some deep research, bought a lot of books and watched a lot of demos and tutorials, and I've been making a serious sustained effort that's led to a huge breakthrough for me - mostly thanks to the Wacom tablet I finally bought. I've spent about the last year blowing the thick dust off my old drawing skills and transitioning toward painting, and now that Im getting some good results on the tablet - using the same techniques I plan to use in oils (underpainting) I'm gearing up to switch over to real paint on canvas. Exciting times for me. 

Here's a little taste - this isn't finished yet, but it's my latest piece -- done so far with an extremely limited palette (burnt + raw sienna, black and white) but I'm starting to add a few select colors to punch it up a bit:

If you click it it'll magically transport you to my new blog (actually I created it a year ago, but it's been a private journal until yesterday) where you can see more. 

Here, just for some contrast, here's a very different one I completed a couple weeks ago:

(Yep - this one's also a linky-link to my blog)

Good luck with the painting, then, Strider.  I did a bit of it myself years ago and the pull is still there so I can empathise.  Only so many hours in the day, however, and I can't fit everything in.  

Cheers

Thanks Dennis!! I know, life does like to get in the way, doesn't it? 

Mike, those look great! Painting definitely pays off faster than stop motion, I totally get it.  That's awesome dude.  Keep sharing it too. 

I'm just finishing the stop motion film I started in 2009 now... Locked the edit officially yesterday and am having the sound mixed this upcoming week.  I totally get the draw!!

The opening shot in this thread is my next film... I couldn't even wait to have one done before starting the next, hah! The next will be done soon though, it's been mostly shot while the 1st was in post. 

Hey Jason!
Finishing a film? Great!
I'm just starting to shoot a film I started making stuff for in 2009, so that's actually pretty good.
Nice work on the painting Mike!

Nick, how long is the film you're just starting to shoot? Go get it done man, I hope it doesn't take another 4 years to complete!!

This first one getting finished for me is just over 4 minutes, so it's about a minute a year.  The next one should be done in maybe a month or two and is 2:37... I didn't have to do everything on the latest one though!

I'm good at starting stuff, not so great finishing. Ha. I keep falling back to drawing and inking my comic book when I get frustrated with how slow the stop motion project is going. At some point in the near future I'll have two awesome projects complete! Sometimes having a professional art job makes your hobby art jobs harder to commit to. Wish that wasn't the case.

Jason, I don't know how long my Poe film will be. I got into the propsmaking, not the writing, because that's the fun bit! Eventually I started shooting and figured I would start to see where I'm going with it, but it isn't working yet. I can always leave a couple of technical problems until the last minute and know that when I have to, I will find a way through or around, but that approach doesn't seem to work so well with basic story structure. (My two shots of Poe look good though, I should have a couple of shots for my showreel if nothing else.)
When I do know what I am doing, I should be able to churn out a minute per month, or a little better if puppets and sets are already made.

I'm quite intrigued about your Poe project. The props and sets you've shown us are quite evocative. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Looking forward to it Nick! I do seem to recall some talk about a Poe film many years ago... 

Starting without making sure the story was locked is part of what took me 4 years to complete a film.  Mostly it was life - like moving 3 times, getting married, etc. Stuff that takes priority over animating.  Then there were re-edits, reshoots, new shots, shots cut etc. I've learned not to rush to the fun stuff again and make sure the story structure is solid before I animate 1 frame in the future.   

Jack, yeah I get it! BUT if you're feeling at least somewhat artistically fulfilled by your day job then you're ahead of so many others. 4 years to complete a film sounds really long, but if it's in your "free time" I actually think it's quite fast, depending on length, etc. All that matters is that you enjoy the process or result and that you finish it! 

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