Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Lunchbox Debacle

Hiya folks! Did ya have a good week?

I have an announcement to make, but first, I must explain the invention that is the "Lunchbox". Let me start from the beginning (an ideal place, I believe).

In Animation class here at SVA, we shoot our scenes with a little gadget called a "Lunchbox".

It's called that...well...because it looks like a lunchbox. The only difference is that instead of it storing Lunchables or Caprisun, it stores snapshots like a large memory card or a backup drive.

Here's how it works: the Lunchbox is connected to a camera (a camcorder, preferably) which shoots downward towards an animation disc. Using the Lunchbox as the control, it snaps a photograph of your animation drawings and stores them in the Lunchbox. Once all your drawings are recorded, you can play your drawings in sequence to see how they move, what we in the business call a "pencil test".

While all this tedious work is going on, the Lunchbox is also plugged into a TV, where you can see all the drawings on screen as you're shooting it. You can play a scene at normal speed (24 frames per second, or on "one's"), slower speed (12 frames per second, or "two's") or even backwards. When you're done fooling around, you record the scene onto videotape with a VCR plugged into the TV for future reference.

You see, back before the days of computers (or even VCRs), if an animator wanted to see what his scene looked like, he'd have to send all his drawings to a cameraman, who in turn had to shoot each and every drawing with a film camera. Once all the drawings were shot, the cameraman had to take the reel of undeveloped film to a photo/film lab to develop it, while the animator waits a full day to see how his/her scene looks. Now, thanks to video & computer technology, you can now do all that work in a matter of seconds instead of hours or even days time.

Now to where I come in:

This past semester, I animated numerous tests in class to hone my developing animator skills. Bouncing balls, rotating heads, walk cycles... the usual animation mumbo-jumbo. At the end of the semester, I recorded all my scenes at once on tape with the Lunchbox. Now I can bring my work home to show my friends, family, colleagues & blog visitors!

"Let me just set up the old VCR, blah-blah blah, start up the computer, mmm-hmmmm... let's see... how do I....?"


"Aw crap."

Now how do I take the footage off a VHS tape & transfer it onto my computer?

Long story short, I had to go out to Best Buy, buy a VCR-to-DVD recorder to transfer my tape footage onto a DVD. I needed to buy one of those anyway, with all our old home movies and baby tapes deteriorating over the years, it's worth the cost. Better do it before they turn to dust!

Here's where my announcement comes in... in the next week or two, I'm going to post at least some of my SVA animation tests up here on the blog! Cool, isn't it? I can't wait to show you my morph!

What morph, you ask? Find out soon!

--Oh, while your at it, think up some questions for me to answer & please post a comment or two. It's getting lonely around here!


Anonymous said...

good luck with the video to DVD transfer..
i had to do that one time for a project at school.
But i had to edit it and i had just realized you cant edit a DVD on the computer.

just a tip and somthing to think about before you start working on it. Unless you have some video program that will let you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
Meant to have commented sooner, was busy. I'm definitely looking foward to seeing your animated work.
Here's two count em two questions for your video blog, or as we 'net savy people call it a "blvideog" (it's really one question and one request) 1. Would it be possible for you to take your camera out onto campus and show us here at the blog some of the more interesting things at the school? (such as cool things to see or haunted cafeterias) Hey I guess that kind of was a question.
2. Are there any tricks to drawing non human (or animal) objects? Like tables and chairs and other things like that?
Can't wait to see you at Hofstra.

Your Fan,
David Spector

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Hey anonymous, thanks for the luck! I'm gonna do a little experimenting next weekend to see what I can do. If that doesn't work, I'll have to use a much craftier way. Rob, one of the Teacher Assistants here at SVA recommended a program that may be able to help.

David! Nice to see ya!
Unfortunately, the camera I use is a web camera, & I cannot take it around with me. You can tell how crippled I am, especially when seeing the "Drawing Steve-O" video from last week. When & if I get my hands on either a digital camera with video or a camcorder, I'll definitely do that.
As for your second question, I can answer that for you! I'll get it up here either tomorrow or by the end of this week. See you at Hofstra!