Proof Of Concept – Anthropomorphism

My girlfriend returned from town on Friday with a handbag she had just bought as a present for a friend. The first thing I noticed about it was that it looked like a face when it was upside down. I thought “this might make a great little animation!”. As she was giving it to her friend the next morning, and this was late evening, I quickly inhaled my dinner and got to work.

I set up the same scene as the spiderman set-up, only this time I used a white background as I didn’t need to key out the background. I set up the same lights in a slightly different manner. The shade-less lamp was off to the right, while the large desk lamp was positioned in front of the scene pointing up. I suspended the small desk lamp above the scene. I was trying to create a more ominous sense lighting to compliment the creepy bag.

What I didn’t mention in the Colour Keying post is that I decided to shoot in large jpeg format as this would still produce a crisp picture without too much compression. As these are only test videos it doesn’t make sense to shoot any higher than that. Also shooting in a larger format would require a lot of disc space and processor power, both of which I don’t have. I set the camera to manual mode. I can’t remember the settings but I kept the ISO to 200 and an aperture of maybe F8 or F9. This way the images would be as sharp as possible. I also took the lens off auto-focus but I forgot to take the white balance off ‘auto’ and that’s why the colour gets slightly darker (I think) at the very end when the light changes.

Again, I shot the sequence without a storyboard and only a rough idea. I wanted the handbag’s mouth to unzip, show it feeling queasy and then have it vomit out various handbag items. I wanted to shoot it from both front and side angles but time was not on my side and I only managed to shoot from the front.

The big problem working with this type of material (real/faux leather – I never checked) is that I would use one hand to move the zip slightly and the other hand would have to counter the pulling by holding onto the side of the bag. This created unwanted movement of the material. Again this is not a huge problem here as this was only a test and I have learned that to use more rigid materials in my final animation will be more controllable.

Another problem I encountered was trying to keep objects such as the £5 note suspended in the air while I took a shot. I tried using thread to suspend it, but it just drooped and hung unbalanced. I then fashioned a pole out of toothpicks embedded in a white tack base but that didn’t work either. In the end I just angled the note to look like it was protruding out from the mouth and inserted only a couple of frames of it falling so hopefully the eye would assume it caught some air.

The shoot lasted 4 hours and I took 292 pictures to create 24 seconds of footage

I plan to add sound to it at a later date to practice syncing sound to video. I would also like to compensate for the lack of other angles by adjusting the framing throughout the animation using After Effects. Colour correction and other visual techniques may be explored during this time.

Here’s the animation so far…

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