Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Testing, Testing...One, Two. One, Two...Alrighhhht....

This is where my T&P research and progress will be documented. On the internet for all to see! For my T&P this year, I am going to experimenting with input devices for Animation. Looking at different devices and methods of inputting images into a computer to use in an animation. This is my brief:

T&P Proposal
Digital

What will I be investigating?
For my Digital Techniques and Processes project I am going to investigate different methods of converting drawings into digital data. A major issue that animation companies around the world have is the input of drawings into digital animation programs and the digitalisation of hand drawn images. Not only is it a very lengthy and time consuming process, it is also very expensive and extremely inaccurate. I have wanted to research and investigate new methods of importing sketches and drawings into a digital space for a long time but have been waiting for the correct time and opportunity to try and test several ideas that I have already had.

What are the main problems I am likely to come across during my investigation?
There are many, many problems with importing images and then converting them into different types of digital data so they can be used with animation programs, but the main issues I have found are:

  • It takes a ridiculous amount of time to scan many, many images if you are working at even if you work with a low frame rate or at the standard frame rate ‘on 3’s’ (A drawing every three frames).
  • There is a loss of image quality leading to wobbly lines.
  • Converting images to vectors of other ‘digital ink’ can take a long time for a computer to process.
  • Keep the continuity of the animation becomes increasingly difficult when you start cutting and pasting. It then takes a lot time once again to reposition each drawing correctly so that the drawings ‘line up’.
  • It costs an awful lot of money and creates an extra workload to employ somebody to scan in hundreds and hundreds of drawings. You are not replacing the camera-man of the traditional animation world, instead you are creating an entirely new job – scanner/scannist/image digitiser.
  • Drawing directly into the computer is a time consuming process and is extremely inaccurate unless you have a dedicated studio or a ridiculous equipment budget. A tablet PC or even screen tablet such as the Wacom Cintiq are expensive pieces of equipment and providing hundreds or even just tens of animators could end up been a quarter of a million pound job.

How do I intend to go about solving or overcoming these problems?
During this project I will be trying and testing several new methods looking mainly for a way to ‘cheapen’ the process of image conversion and looking at different ways animators on a cheap budget can get better results without having to spend thousands and thousands of pounds. At the same time I will trying and testing new methods of importing drawings, sketches and images and converting them into ‘digital ink’. These will include investigation into conversion to vector images, pixilation and the use of ‘true images’ in computer animation. Animation has always and will always be a time consuming process, but a large part of my investigation be looking into ways I can speed up the scanning, conversion and output processes. Realistically, these are the only areas that can be sped up – there will more than likely never be a quicker way to make thousands and thousands of consecutive images that together create the illusion of movement. Slave labour and dedication are the only way to animate.

Things I will be testing include:

  • Do different levels of DPI in scans affect the outcome of conversion of images into vectors?
  • Do different types of pencil and pen affect the outcome of conversion?
  • How accurate do the drawings need to be when scanning in?
  • How does the tolerance level affect conversion of images into vectors and what is the best tolerance when using say a 2B pencil?
  • Etc.

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