Keep the Beat

Location: J.A. Studio - Los Angeles, CA

Here is an idea that took a little while to coordinate and a long while to actually accomplish. The idea is always the easy part! Special thanks to Joey for helping set this up and borrowing his camera to get a second angle (below).

These are the sorts of projects where it helps to have a light designed for drawing! Animation is one of the main reasons I started making my Night-Writer product. After the 20th frame, no matter how much experience you have in animating, the mind and body begin to get fatigued. Muscles begin to cramp and it makes finishing the project more difficult to achieve. Luckily a hand cramp is not something I have at this point, thanks to the ergonomic design of my Night-Writer tool.

 So, how does one animate this sort of thing?

Step one for me is usually sketching out some expressive stick-figures for each frame in the animation. It doesn't have to look pretty, but the movements have to appear natural:

Doing this type of work is almost identical to drawing a flip-book. I will say it's a little tougher with light because you can't see what you've illustrated and it has to be life-sized in order to interact with life-sized props. 

For stationary animations it's easier in the sense that we're not moving around the camera each frame or moving around the character. To do more dynamic animations like on my 'licensing page', I often use markers to move each piece of the scene one step at a time, sometimes its just the character that moves, other times it's both the character and the camera moving for every frame.

What song do you think this skeleton is drumming to? 

Here's a full time-lapse of the drawing process:

Light-Walker

Location: Badwater Basin - Death Valley, CA / Settings: F5.6, ISO 50, 110 seconds per frame

Here we are at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, CA - night just fell, and you can see how windy it is by the amount of dust blowing in the distance behind our spectral light-skeleton above.

My goal was to make the skeleton walk - and have the light reflected on the puddles below. To do this, it requires a bit of pre-planning. I had my friend Craig shoot a few reference images at our campsite earlier that day - I glanced at these for every new frame to get the motion correct:

It's a bit jerky, but I think the overall goal was met - I was happy to get the hell out of those 40mph winds!

Here's a view of what Badwater Basin looked like just the day before - the winds blew nearly all that water away in less than 24 hours:

For a look at some more finished animation work, check out the Video section.

Flow

Location: Rainbow Basin

flow

Today's post is short and sweet - it's all about FLOW when using the Night-Writer light-pen (or any LED light for that matter).

I captured a quick time-lapse of myself drawing an Allosaurus Light Fossil the last time I was out to illustrate this quick pointer - making complicated figures (like a dinosaur skeleton) is a process of building out simple shapes to form a larger figure - following the flow from start to finish and never back-tracking.

I always start with the skull and make my way down the dinosaur's body, branching off in fragments for the arms and legs, then ending at the tail (as you can see in the animated .gif above).

By side-stepping and drawing one piece at a time, I'm able to think about what comes next rather than stopping in the middle and going back to where I was - thus throwing off concentration and making it nearly impossible to find the same spot again.

 

 

Fire-buds

Location: Giant Rock - Landers, CA / Settings: 11 shots at F2.8, ISO 3200, 13 seconds

firebuds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto Tripod, and Remote Shutter-release.

For this quick gif I set up the camera in a half-circle space around the fire and shot 11 images - moving the camera and tripod a foot or two each shot and combined the shots using the animation window in photoshop.

animation tip

Just a couple of friends telling stories around a campfire with the universe above twinkling on to oblivion. Have fun out there!