Friday 4 March 2011

Lenses, Coins, and Action

After a couple of weeks' delay, I've finally made Arbitrary Stopframe 4 - but it was an uphill battle to get it filmed.

The root of the problem was a small dark speck which has been appearing frequently at the same position on various photos taken on our Nikon D80.  I decided to try and get rid of it before shooting AS4, so I took off the lens (the default zoom one that comes with the camera body), cleaned it as best I could, and then reattached it.

The camera and the lens then refused to talk to each other, making it impossible to control the aperture, and therefore impossible to set up properly for the stopmotion piece.  I detached and reattached the lens a few times, but it didn't fix the issue.

So I decided to give up on the zoom lens altogether, and instead dug out one of our alternative lenses - a fixed-length, mid-angle model with an aperture control ring (which the zoom doesn't have).  Attached this, took a test photo... and then discovered that that same darn speck showed up in exactly the same place - which meant it wasn't in the zoom lens at all, but on the image sensor.

I ummed and aahed, and then remembered that I've got a very soft paintbrush which I've never actually used for paint.  So I set up the camera in full manual mode with a 30-second exposure time (thank goodness the D80 will still take photos with no lens on it), and while it thought it was taking an arty-farty time-lapse picture I flipped it over, stuck my paintbrush into its gubbins, and flicked away the offending bit of grot, which was fortunately visible to the naked eye so I could see what I was doing.

Reattach the alternative lens, take another test photo... and the speck was gone.  That felt good.

All that remained then was to animate Doctor Murkum having a bad time with a £1 coin.  Or rather, a few £1 coins.  I've currently got thirty-something pound coins lurking around my room, but for the purposes of the animation I picked out the post-April-2008 Matthew Dent ones with the royal shield on them, because in my humble opinion they look better than the old ones.  That's the one and only reason behind the particular number of coins that appear in the clip: that's just how many 2008-design £1s I've currently got.

I've noticed that the light flickers a bit in this episode.  This is probably due the fluctuations in the natural light sneaking in through the window, as I forgot to fully close the curtains before I started animating.  Note to self for next time...

Anywho, now that I've had my nice long rant about electronics and aesthetics, here's the clip from the centre of the furore:

...and now that I've got started again, I shall try and get back to doing these clips on a weekly basis.  Watch this space!

- The Colclough

PS. unrelated: I reached a rather momentous landmark the day before yesterday: I drew my 2000th comic-strip episode!  In case you want to know, it was Fort Paradox 56, and was executed with fibre-tip pens, with dialogue added in the computer using the dreaded font Comic Sans.

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