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Camera Move Test, Lighting, Lumix FZ50 & AnimatorHD

I have been working on lighting for a while now. First of all I would like to thank Darkstrider who has been huge help about lighting and using Lumix FZ50. When I first started, I did not know much about lighting a stop motion set. Now, I have some ideas about which lights I would need, how to setup those lights and which other materials I may need to achive a good lighting. Next comes using the camera to “take” that shot correct. So, a lifelong homework… experiment different lighting setups and try the best camera settings.

Let me start with the short animation test I made: -see above-
As much frames as possible I could get with a tripod. What do you think?

Lighting:

To get this sunset like lighting the idea was: orange as key light, blue as fill light, red and blue as back light. I did not want to get an exact sunset look. Some time maybe right at the end of sunset.. little more darker and I wanted to add another light from the top right maybe as a moon light. That time of the day is too early for a moonlight but wanted to have that light there… Here is a picture of tree as a whole. You can click picture to enlarge.

Stop Motion Lighting test

And almost forget to write; I painted another background. This time a black and white sky. I will not use this in the actual film either; just for testing.

The most amateur lighting setup I have here. There are 5 lights. One regular house light on the right side as a key light. First covered with baking paper and then yellow, red (to get orange) transparent kite paper and then black crepe paper at the top to adjust the light intensity. A blue pin spot on the left as a fill light with baking paper as a diffuser and hanged on an umbrella stand. Between background painting and the tree, at the bottom; there are 2 back lights: one red pin spot with a baking paper diffuser and one regular small house light covered with baking paper and yellow kite paper. On top of these 2, there is a black crepe paper again. There is another transparent pin spot on the right back with kind of a gobo made with a black tape. I used a broken tripod to make a stand for this spot. This kind of setup can not be used to shoot the actual film for sure but worked very well for me to test some lighting ideas.

Stop Motion Lighting

So, this is what I would do for my film set in terms of lighting: I will buy some better lights. Nothing like fancy expensive ones.. Maybe a spotlight and then make some barn doors etc,.. There are some great ideas both Mike Brent gave me also I read on stopmotionanimation.com I might use these pin spots; only need to make some flicker tests. I will definitely buy color gels and also ND filters. I tried to make substitues for these but no way to adjust light as the way I need and also using materials like kite papers are dangerous.. you know those can burn easily and should never be left for long times while the lights on.

This film is going to be dark. I want a very dramatic look. I have been thinking about even shooting black&white. There are some tests below here:

Stop Motion Lighting Tests

See the black and white one on the second row. Here I tried to get a “Dore Lighting” (another great information from Darkstrider) Picture quality is not very good but I like the dramatic light change on different parts of this picture. Again, you can click picture to enlarge.

Using Lumix FZ50

This has been the first time I have really tried Lumix on animation. It works pretty well. Even though I had those funky lights I almost did not get any flicker. Just a little and I think it is because of the regular house lights I use. It took me for a while to really understand how this camera response different lightning setups. I heard people saying that Lumix does not work well under low light conditions… Nonsense!! As long as you adjust the shutter speed and F stop correct; allowing long exposure times; camera works great. The only problem I could not get over was the noisy picture quality in full size. FZ50 can shoot 10mp at 4:3 aspect ratio and 7mp in HD. When I view the 10mp picture in full size, I see the noise. But, I never need to use that 10mp one in full size. When I make the picture smaller I get a full high quality picture for my film.

The most impressing thing for me to see how “focus lock” feature works great. You know, you need to use everything manual when you shoot stop motion. I was curious to see how Lumix stays in focus in manual focus mode. You first manually adjust the focus and then hit focus luck button. Then voila.. you have a focused camera even if you turn it upside down.. kind of like what i did here to shoot.

Here are the settings of my camera during this shooting:

ISO 100
F stop 10
Shutter speed 5sn
White Balance: Tungsten

So, again thank you Darkstrider for helping me out for the right settings! Also my friend Mert here showed me how to adjust some settings and was very helpful.

Animator HD Personal:

This is the software I am using to shoot stop motion. My previous tests was without live view (with Canon) and I am suprised to see how much a frame grabber makes things easier. Lumix connected to PC with a converter sending live feed to Animator HD. Taking 2 pictures for one frame; one from AnimatorHD and another with a wired remote from camera for full resolution picture to be stored inside the card.

Camera Movement:

I shot these frames using my new tripod with a 3-way adjustable head. I knew this was not going to be smooth enough but wanted to use before I make a slider for the camera. I am not after a very smooth animation but definitely want to achieve something better than this. I also tried ease in/out but no way with this tripod. Hey I am also learning how to animate 🙂 Stop motion… a complete challenge for me; learning, learning, learning… how nice!!

So, I need to plan scenes carefully and make a camera slider.. maybe couple sliders for different parts.

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And as always, here is my little bunny woke up around 4 in the morning while I was working on lighting. Came to my room with her “kuzu” (means sheep in Turkish) in her hand and said that she wanted to make a film too 🙂 Then suddenly she decided to be an actress and here is the result…

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