Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Reading Between the Lines

A Christmas break from my Film & TV course has allowed me to practise more 'drawing' of human anatomy. As discussed in an earlier entry of my blog (see Stickfigures), we can limit ourselves remarkably well to lines only when drawing a human figure.

Or in 3D we can use the same concept of the stickfigure.

Click to play: Free Your Mind - Plastic Man

In an attempt to come to re-usable 'skeletons' of stickfigures I have used my drawing pen to get a side view, a threequarter view, and a front view of just the essentials.

Side view3/4 viewFront view

The above images are replications from sketches by Andrew Loomis, redrawn in Adobe Flash software by myself.

With these bare lines I will be able to draw whichever human being, either small or tall, funny or fierce, fixed or in motion. Whoopie!

The simpler the lines, the easier to animate and the faster to storyboard. The effort should go into the facial expression and body language rather than hair colour or shoe size ;o)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Depth of Field

So you have your camera at hand...

But now that you have decided not to use the automatic settings or the default lens, what choices need to be made? I will discuss one of them; depth of field.

Depth of field relates to the compression of the front-to-back distance in your image. The larger the perceived distance, the larger the depth of field. A long lens tends to give a larger depth of field. A short lens or wide lens does the opposite.

I found a useful demonstration of this on Understanding Depth of Field ...

The above image is that of table, whereas halfway into the distance the image is sharpest. Compare the sharpness of the glass in the front with that in the middle for example.

Using depth of field effectively can change the perception of the viewer, thus assisting in telling a story. Examples are pictures that at first sight look like miniatures, but are a result of what is called tilt-photography.

Example of a tilt-photograph using depth of field by The Bitter*Girls

An in-depth (no joke ;o) explanation of tilt photography is available at

16 millimeter filming

You haven't made a film, until you filmed on film.

That was the outset of my first experience with filming on 16 millimeter film in a KODAK competition.

So WHY is filming on real film so 'cool', compared to filming on video? Here's what the experts say:

For the record:
"If what you want to shoot is precious to you, try to shoot it on film. If it is to "practice", shoot it on (video)tape. Most people advise beginners to shoot on digi, to save the money. I say, if you are drawn to film, you will be looking at it again at the end of your life, and it will look the same as the day after you shot it." - cineman at

For cost-savings:
"Try to shoot on film.. It may not be as bad [in cost] as you think. You can always borrow the camera free (any major equipment house will lend cameras to students), you can do a deal with Kodak and a deal with the lab. All these people really try to help students for good sound business reasons, as well as the fact they are all nice guys. Don't forget your costs are the same once that image is on tape." - cineman at

For looks:
"Neither is better, but they are different. Most people prefer the “look” of film, for it’s grain, it’s texture and it’s tactile qualities. But if you need to shoot a lot of material (like interviews) then (digital) video might be a better option. Again, it depends on the kind of magnification that you will be subjecting the image to: if you end up viewing your film on a video/DVD player then the 8mm footage would not be as “different” as would be the case if you are final viewing on 35mm or 16mm. Don’t forget also that digital video can mean a host of things, from very low-end consumer formats to very high-end Panavision/Sony 24P." - cineman at

Being offered 10 minutes worth of film recording stock by KODAK, we've been filming on film. 10 minutes of film correspond to ca 400 feet (120 meters) of filmroll. A professional filmmaker will be charged about 12 pence per 1 foot of 16 millimeter film stock, whereas a student gets it at a discount for 8 pence.

The film is called 8, 16 or 35 millimeter depending on the width of the filmstrip.
8 millimeter film strip, each image in an aspect ratio of 4(width):3(height)16 millimeter film strip, each image in an aspect ratio of 4(width):3(height)super 16 millimeter filmstrip, each image in an aspect ratio of 16(width):9(height) called anamorphic or widescreen35 millimeter film strip, the wider the more image, hence sharpness and cost.

We filmed on 16 mill. with aspect ratio 3:4, but will end up with widescreen therefore cropping the image. In order to not loose vital information in our image, we made sure we had abundant 'space' on the top and bottom part when recording.

Cropping 3:4 to get 9:16 (widescreen)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


All art including human beings can be downsized to the plain and simple stickfigure. If drawing a storyboard for a movie, an animation for a comic book, or designing your Christmas card for Santa, you can start with a simple shape.

Stickfigure 1
This is the basic stickfigure. You can see the head, torso, arms and legs. You can't do much with this one, except practising the proportions of these body parts
Stickfigure 2
With this version you can do something more. You get to decide the proportions of the arm- and leg-parts.
Stickfigure 3
Now this must be the most advanced stickfigure there is: I bet you never saw any kid draw it this way! Added are the width of shoulders and pelvis.

Simple to Advanced Stickfigure

The basics of a good stickfigure is that it is anatomically correct. It has a head, arms, legs, and a spine in the right proportions. Only then can we as a viewer relate to its emotions and behaviour.

A wonderful example of how a simple stickfigure can tell a compelling story is shown below.

Paper Wars by Ed Skudder

I will use stickfigures for drawing storyboards and visualizing ideas I have for movies.

I hope to show you some examples during my Christmas break.

Try if you can draw Santa as a stickfigure, or perhaps your cat or next door neighbour and see what great story there is to tell.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Any Body Home

"The trick to a good pet photo is to capture the pet's personality."

- School of Photography

This can be achieved by communicating with the animal, such as simple commands to the animal.

Another way is to put it through a favourite routine like a dog catching a Frisbee. Whatever the pet, they all have their "party pieces" that keep you amused. In most cases these acts can be captured on a still image.

With this in mind I am currently planning on filming an advertisement for KODAK's new digital camera. My main actor: a turtle.

Turtle from The Aquatic Centre, Edinburgh (UK)

This fellow is 'on-rent' as he costs a mere £150 to buy. Like wine, aging pushes up the price ;o)

And here is my concept:



We see a TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, a HAND appears into view with a WHITE FEATHER, which tries to move the turtle's tail by its tickle.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with a BRASS BELL, which tries to wake the turtle up by its sound.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with LETTUCE, which tries to attract the turtle by its smell.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with KODAK's New Digital Camera, which tries to capture the turtle by its lens.

The sound of a snapshot followed by a flash!


Image of the turtle fully unfolded and looking into the camera with a smile.

KODAK ... everybody included.


As always I have done some research into the topic. Have a go at being a tickle yourself!

Click to play; courtesy Axe Feather Girl

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Face Transformer

Ever wanted to change your origin... upload your (passport)picture and play with it below...

Face Transformer Image Upload

Please select a JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) or GIF (.gif) image on your computer that you want to transform.

Please fill in the information below to register this image.

The sex of the face in this image is

The age group of the face in this image is

Please select the face below that is most similar to the face in this image:





Courtesy University of St Andrews

Saturday, December 09, 2006


So, you want to know who played Santa Claus this year. Or who stole that old lady's handbag. Better, you what to try on a pair of glasses with a moustache, although you are hardly 13 years of age ;o)

Well below is your pen palet... click the link, go ahead and put the face pieces together as you see fit!

Pen Palet
Courtesy of Artem Melnikov at