Tag Archives: animation

Mr. Stickman saves the day

Hello wonderful readers!

I initially had the grandiose plan of a stop motion animation with some adorably awesome characters to introduce you to for today’s post – grandiose both due to lack of time and also finding there are a few kinks to work out. After a little trial and error, it became quite clear that the actual stop motion I’d envisioned is for a future post. This prophetic moment was not very helpful since it now left me with no animation and no post.

Ah, but it appears my sentimental pack rat tendencies have come to the rescue. Once upon a time when I was just starting to tinker with animation, I had three packs of tracing paper at my disposal, a webcam, and my trusty Compaq desktop to may my very first test of sorts. The webcam is no longer usable, my trusty Compaq has long since bitten the dust, but I still have those three packs of tracing paper and the original video I made of that first animation.


This pic was taken today but shows the three tracing paper pads that proudly withhold some of the first scribblings I ever did.


I used each page underneath to match up what my next drawing should be and placed a white sheet of paper under the tracing paper as I took a picture with the webcam.


In a way, I used the tracing paper pads as a flip book. Pics here show the left page both before (top) I turned it and after (bottom) for my little guy’s swaying back and forth.


Small problemo in just posting that ancient animation though – my original video was saved as a Windows Media Video File which doesn’t talk too well with WordPress. So, I did a little tickering to get it transformed into a GIF and…partially succeeded. No matter how much I tried to resize and whatnot, the full video was just simply too beefy to become a single GIF without getting memory complaints from my conversion program. I know part of this is may be because I wasn’t just taking pictures of each page when I made that animation, I also captured video of me turning pages and setting things up for the next shot. Rather than go all or nothing, I finally succumbed to just splitting the final GIF into two portions – which is what you see below. The top GIF (which starts with the title “Sticks” and plays until I start tracing over Mr. Stickman with a sharpy) is the first portion and the bottom GIF (which starts with Mr. Stickman holding two red sticks for his house and ends shortly after he starts building it) is the second portion. Unfortunately, Mr. Stickman does not finish his house because this animation stops on the last page of tracing paper I had available at that time (150 pages in total) but I may revisit one day and help him finish.






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Filed under Animations

Persistence of vison…phi phenomenon? Can’t a girl just eat some soup?

One of my favorite takeaways from learning about animation was persistence of vision. Persistence of vision says that when light strikes the retina of our lovely eyes, our equally lovely brains hold onto that light (and the image of whatever those retinas happen to be staring at) for a split second. As a result, the single frames of a movie or each individual page of a flip book are retained by the retina long enough to give the optical illusion of continuous movement. Simply put, our ability to enjoy watching an animation or film is all thanks to the sly trickery of our eyes and brains. I always loved this theory, though admittedly that’s partly because it sounds so darn cool. Sadly however, I’ve found that persistence of vision is considered by some to just be part of the answer or even totally disproved. Not to say that everything I just said above is totally untrue but an equally bold sounding theory, the phi phenomenon, is the one that a lot of folks give the credit to. The phi phenomenon says that when we look at a still image (again like that single frame of a movie or those pages in the flip book), our minds trick us in to seeing continuous motion if that same image is shown rapidly with other images. So there’s still some sly trickery going on…it’s just our minds more so than our eyes. That’s comforting right?

If you search on the Internet for a hot minute, you’ll find a plethora of info on both theories and I’m not sure that I’ve explained either all that well in one paragraph. I’ve included Wikipedia links for both in the italicized words above that go into in WAY more detail. I’m not the only one trying to make sense of which to go with either apparently as, in my own Internet searching, I stumbled upon a quick post about the two from another WordPress blogger – check out a fellow named Danwen’s break down of the two here.

But don’t worry dear persistence of vision, you’ll always have a special place in my heart….because you’re the one I first learned about in school.

Regardless of what name you give for the reason individual pictures can meld themselves into a character’s movement, what a wonderful thing that it happens! And of course the more pictures one has, the more fluid the movement. But what if you just start with, say, just eight pictures? Such was the case with a very short and simple animation idea that I had on started a long while back. With just eight drawings I sketched out on index cards of a girl eating soup, I decided to put this character finally to life since the only life it’s really had is my email avatar. So I scanned those eight pictures into the computer…


Six of the eight original images drawn on index cards.

 …and did a little tweaking in Photoshop. The last picture was turned into a few separate ones, so I ended up with nineteen individual images all together.


Adding a little color and such….

And with the help of Easy GIF Animator (this one seems to work best so far when it comes to posting on WordPress), I ended up with a very short little animation. Now this animation is admittedly not the best it could be and is also a test to see just what can happen with a few pictures – but at least the girl who only existed on index cards can finally start eating her soup! And it’s friendly soup too – you’ll see.



Filed under The Dry Erase Board

Why I don’t do 3D Animation…

Hello dear ones, hope everyone has had a great weekend so far! (If not, tomorrow/today is Sunday so you still  have one more day to make it awesome).

As recent readers know, we are done with the Once Upon A Time snippets and so the regular weekly adventures of our favorite aspiring magician, zombie inventor/uncle, and the whole rest of that character cast have ended. As I sit here with an adorable kitty in my lap and another at my feet (both of which are making typing very difficult but who can resist two purring balls of happiness wanting to cuddle up with you?), I am trying to make the second post following that “the end”.  I’m also trying to get this post completed by midnight so it will actually be a Saturday post. If I fail, I shall blame it on the cats. They’re cute, they can take it on a little blame.


One of our cats, Chloe, preparing to “assist” me with working on the computer. Yes, that rainbow butterfly cat is my actual desktop – it gives me warm fuzzies.

Future posts will include additional bits for what I call the dry erase board but also stories and animations, the latter of which I’m hoping to have another sample of soon. That being said, I will admittedly throw out there that it will not exactly be Pixar material, so Finding Nemo caliber of skill will not be present but it should be…interesting. From previous experience in both school and life afterwards, I have found that pretty much any animated character I create shall always see its destiny as being cute, sort of creepy, or a combination of both.

Did I say school? Yes, I actually have a degree in animation (Digital Effects and Animation Technology to be exact…sort of wish the degree didn’t have DEAT has an abbreviation, but ah well). I’m both proud and somewhat amazed that I managed to possess that degree. You see, I got into this whole thing because I dug stop motion animation (think Wallace and Grommit) and pursued what I knew was computer animation focused because well, lets face it, not many folks are really all that into stop motion it seems. And I had a hoot learning it, even though my brain is a sieve that lets all important info pour on through and my memory even in these still somewhat early years is dependent upon post-it-notes.


Oh Calvin and Hobbes, if only it truly worked that way.

So I don’t remember a whole lot of that great learning unfortunately. And while I was all jazzed about my little bouncy ball moving across the computer screen, the kids next to me had dragons and Warcraft wannabe characters primping around that could have easily smashed my little bouncy ball. So, I knew even before getting the official degree that I probably wouldn’t be getting a lot of places drooling over my demo reel – and I was actually okay with that. One of my editing partners later became my husband (who still likes to joke with me that I did the old school way of finding a good husband by going to college) and I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences I had. But it’s high time I started telling stories with all that not-so-cheap training again. What you will likely see however will most likely be stop motion and maybe some 2D because, to be honest, 3D computer animation just isn’t what really excites me and probably more importantly, it’s not what I’m the greatest at. Let me introduce you to Bobble Head: bobblehead_end

Yes, this somewhat frightening image about is my creation. He’s a bobble head because I tried to model a person and could never get the proportions right – sooo, I deemed he was meant to be bobble head guy. In the actual animation, he rides along on his little tricycle onto the balance beam and falls off halfway. The blindingly lime green ball catches his fall and he safely lands back on his tricycle, and the still image above is him receiving applause from the crowd. I managed to get an “A” on this project but here’s what the instructor didn’t know – that’s not at all how Mr. Bobble Head was supposed to end his stunt. I had more, a lot more planned…but I also am very, very, very terrible at rigging. Anyone who knows anything about actually making characters move in 3D animation will probably know what I mean – if not, just know that it involves making the character move the way you need it to for natural looking motion. Except there was nothing natural about Mr. Bobble Head’s motion at all. As soon as I moved him even one frame further along from where he stands safely in that photo, his skeleton literally popped out of his body and the entire rest of the body became a golden mass of computer animated horror. I couldn’t make Mr. Bobble Head see such a fate (not likely have gotten a passing grade if I had) and so, instead, he nearly fell to his death halfway through and then got rescued by a strategically placed ball that the circus crew apparently left there.

So again, we’re going to probably stick with stop motion and 2D animation for what shows up on this blog in upcoming posts. Even though it may still not be the most amazing animations ever, at least I shall rest easy knowing that none of the characters experienced their skeleton ripping out of their body. That’s just a bad day that no one should have to experience.

Annnd, it’s after midnight…hmmm. Well, happy Sunday everyone! (Darn cats).

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Filed under The Dry Erase Board