Animating Morph

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I got asked to make a 1 minute short to promote animation to school age students with simple resources for an Instagram ad campaign and thought this would be the perfect chance to get back to basics using Plasticine, a simple set and a free stop-motion app on my phone, just to show how minimal it can be to have a go at animation.

I’d already been looking around at good apps to recommend to current students and I found that there are quite a few but settled on Stop Motion Studio from ‘Cateater’ –

It is available for Apple and Android, you can try the free version, or you can buy the pro version for £5 which gives you the extra functionality of being able to use a remote device for camera activation, and if it’s a tablet this means you can view your setup/animation on a big screen.

You can also use your headphones to take the pictures to prevent shutter shake, which I would highly advise!

animation setup

So this was my setup to start, you definitely need a camera holder, mine is from a selfie stick, but can also attach to a tripod. I purchased the pro version so you can see essentially my tablet is an external monitor and I won’t need to touch the phone at all, so my camera/phone won’t move at all, which is key for stop-motion!

I have two lights which I tested prior to animating proper to make sure they don’t flicker and the colour’s match, one is a ringlight which you can control for colour temp and brightness, and the other is a simple table lamp with a daylight bulb.

Everything is fully charged before starting and if you knew you would be taking a long time, you could plug your devices into power.

This video is a preview of the setup before I started to animate.

You can see I chose to animate a Morph character that I had made and thought it would be fun to make him a friend out of a blue Plasticine I had, to attempt a ‘tootsie slide’ tiktok dance I had seen.

Then it’s over to the animation!

It was just a simple idea, but I found the blue Plasticine a nightmare to animate, it was somehow softer, so fell over much more easily on some of the trickier aspects of the movement – be assured I will never be using it again like this!

It took me just under an hour to get the animation done, and the blue Plasticine definitely made it take longer than it should, the amount of times it just fell when the brown Plasticine held position. At one point I really did think about completely stopping and totally restarting…

so this is the result of just the animation

and here is the finished advert/promo which includes a little bit of timelapse of me working on the animation (of course the final piece is made for Instagram, so portrait rather than my usual landscape, but YouTube then puts it back to being landscape!)

Character Animator

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I love checking out new software, so when the opportunity came up to be involved with some freelance animation involving lip-sync, I decided to check out the latest version of Character Animator, part of the Adobe Suite.

I knew that it automated some aspects of animation, and after a bit of investigation, discovered that it will directly try (I say try, as the lip-sync is a bit hit and miss, but it’s very easy to swap another mouth shape in to help get the right feel to the visual) and interpret a live feed from a web cam into your drawn character, which is amazing, and gives a lovely natural feel to movement, eye blinks and head tilts/turns etc.

Then I saw that Adobe Edex is running a Character Animator short course, so I signed up, to learn from the pros, and get an insight into proper workflow etc.

So far I’m up to week 4 and it’s been really useful, especially to see how you add behaviours to folders or layers of items, which is not as straightforward as I initially thought.

Week 1 – template character


Using a template character we just needed to get the face, eye and lip sync working – which is all built into some of the template puppets. I got Einstein from here –

but you can also download other puppets from okaysamurai and the adobe Character Animator page (pic above)

Week 2 – own character

We were given the Character ‘Chloe’ (below) in photoshop with the correct layer orders and tasked with changing it slightly to our character, and then because the puppet in photoshop is dynamically linked to the scene in Character Animator, as soon as you save in photoshop, it updates the scene in Character Animator, so you can record your new person and work with it straight away.




My Alien

Week 3 – head turn

Chloe_turnGrowing our knowledge of behaviours/triggers week 3 adds a head turn task, you need to duplicate the Folder ‘Frontal’ in photoshop and make 4 extra folders with corresponding features inside to represent, left profile, left quarter, right profile, right quarter, altering the eyes and mouth, plus the head shape, as obviously you can’t see his ears when he’s looking to the right or left. (Although writing this I realise you can see an outline of the ear, it just doesn’t stick out – oops)


I also decided to add a background and use a dragger to make him point at the planets for the short video piece that we need to submit each week. Adding the background is easy, just import the image you want to use and drag it onto the layer below your puppet.

Week 4 – with sequence trigger

Once you’ve got your head around the layer/folder structure and the naming conventions, Character Animator starts to make a bit more sense and in week 4 we need to add a small animation in a new folder in photoshop that will use the cycle layers behaviour. Newer versions of CA let you choose either top to bottom, or bottom to top as making new layers in Photoshop tends to stack them above, which is the wrong way round for the animation to work, but of course, using the dynamic link you can easily re-order those layers and then your scene gets updated.

I went totally freehand and drew directly in Photoshop a small spaceship moving across the sky, and even though it’s pretty low quality, works effectively. It ended up being 11 layers, and still looks really quick. I don’t know if there is a way of slowing it down slightly, or you could just duplicate the layers.

All in all I quite like Character Animator, but it’s a real pain having to set up all the layers, all the mouth movements, and any little thing you want the character to do. Rigging can go really wrong, heads come off, it all goes wobbly, but once you’ve done all of that prep, it makes it super easy to get your character talking for you. So it’s not a quick process, it doesn’t make it any speedier to make lip sync and that was what I was really testing it for.

To conclude, as with all animation projects it will have it’s time and place and I’m enjoying the Adobe course, but it’s still a learning curve and has both pros and cons, but the natural movement of the talking is great, you can record each movement either separately or together and the triggers are really fun. I’ve even read that you can use it as an avatar for online meetings, now that’s cool!

Embedding Video into WordPress or Blogger #embedvideo #screencast #vimeo #youtube

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On the course I have been teaching at CCN we are looking at using blogs to curate all of the digital artefacts and research that the students do, but due to many technical errors of pc to mac, Internet Explorer and Blogger not playing nicely and Chrome and WordPress complaining about http errors, we’ve had a lot of problems getting content into their respective blogs.

At last though we have found combinations that work, but I needed to make a few screen casts about embedding videos into their blogs, and they’re quite useful, so thought I would share.

Embedding Youtube into WordPress

Embedding a Vimeo video in WordPress

Embedding Video from Vimeo in Blogger

Embedding a Youtube video into Blogger

The future of drawing

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this is amazing, watch this fantastic Disney animator take his traditional lines into a VR 3D space and draw like he’s dancing… prepare to be blown away…

WoW – exhibition open! #NUAnews #Aurasma

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I have officially passed my MA and the exhibition of my work is open and free to view!

Getting feedback from those interacting with my installation at the private view last night the overriding reaction was WoW! I can’t ask better than that…

Come down to NUA and experience my Augmented Reality binoculars and interact with my sculpture.

I will be there Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning.


Opening times

  • Friday 5 September
    11am – 7pm (last entry 6.30pm)
  • Saturday 6 September
    11am – 6pm (last entry 5.30pm)
  • Sunday 7 September
    11am – 4pm (last entry 3.30pm)
  • Monday 8 September
    11am – 7pm (last entry 6.30pm)
  • Tuesday 9 September
    11am – 7pm (last entry 6.30pm)
  • Wednesday 10 September
    11am – 7pm (last entry 6.30pm)

Screen Print test

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Screen Print test

So I had the idea to screen print 3 images onto various cloth, dyeing them differing shades of green, and using the devore method (where the material is eaten away through chemical reaction leaving the base mesh behind), layer up a woodland scene to animate my Great Bustard within, somehow.


I have set up everything ready for next week in the screen print room, with much too-ing and fro-ing to get my vouchers to pay for the acetate, and also the frames and material. But the images I am using are these…Image

this is the backlayer, or background,

Imagethe midlayer

Imageand at the very front a combination of leaves and thistles, all taken whilst up in Nottingham.

I really like the strong visual shapes created from transforming it into black and white that have appeared and which looked fantastic on the acetate – in readiness for screen printing next week.

Research into practice report

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So this is my Research into Practice report completed for NUCA / NUA on my MA into Moving Image and Sound.

Blimey – the pressure is on

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An email arrived from the course leader with all of the requirements for the report and really got me thinking about the amount of work that lies ahead, I feel a bit set adrift from college and my tutors as NUCA shuts down for christmas.
After getting into top gear for the poster I feel as though I had no time to ask questions about the report which is so much more important than the poster…
Hoping all will come together…

Results from the peer review!

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Although I was intrepid about the poster presentation and found it hard to formulise my thoughts, I was hopeful of getting some good feedback from my peers.
I know its very much a hoop we have to jump through for the Learning Outcomes and is awkward and puts stress on us to get it all sorted, but I also hoped that it would clarify some of the background needed for my 2,000 word report.
It has definitely helped me, and given my longer project almost an introduction.
My pasteboard on my inDesign project has a lot of pictures and quotes that will go into my final essay.
Want to know the comments?
Photo attached with all the lovely post it notes that were stuck to my poster, and most people really like my idea, but I would like to ask the person who wrote, context, findings what they mean…

Very cool ides! appeals to a large audience and has the potential to create great experiences.
Spot on with your question.
What does this tell us about the broader field of enquiry.
Brilliant idea, well explained, clearly illustrated.
Very clear research question and presentation, love the “sensorama machine”
Looks excellent to me, very clearly thought out.
Great Bustard idea sounds great. Good application, good historical context- what about contemporary.
I quite understand what you’re trying to do, I look forward to the outcome.
Really good idea, I like the history of augmented reality and why they exist.
This is really an untapped art form, you can do so much with it, good idea.
Interesting and well researched methodology/ideas, clear poster.
Knock back strength of ground(maybe background) imagery to read more clearly, very professional.
Untapped technology in art space.
Inventive approach.
Fun but with academic rigour.
Context, Findings…

Poster Girl

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Poster presentation day is tomorrow and after the ups downs and moments of indecision, I have completed it. I’m not entirely sure it has all of the content exactly as was requested and although a pain to produce – literally, the printers large format printer was broken up until 10am this morning and I was in a tiz to know whether I’d actually get the thing printed –  I think it has helped me formulate a lot of stuff and get it into focus.

So here it is.

Layering Realities: Using Augmented Reality and new technology to give a virtual vital spark to lifeless exhibits.

Using a mixture of digital and textural animation, coupled with sound and new visual recognition techniques, can I provide the viewer with an informative, immersive, personal illusionary experience using their smartphone or tablet?

By using the ‘magic’ of today’s technology I hope to give people the chance to interact with a long-forgotten and once extinct (to the UK) animal – the Great Bustard.
Using 3D digital animation composited with a material screen to give feel and texture to the finished piece, together with creating a lifelike soundscape of it’s environment, I want to bring the Great Bustard out of its’ dry and dusty show cabinet in the local museum and get people to connect and interact with it in a new way.

My research started with a traditional search in the library, but, it soon became apparent that this quickly moving technology needed a more immediate and responsive set of research tools as I reached present day research.
Visual Art History Books
Digital Art/Kinetic Art Books
Internet Sources
Social Networking

To create an all encompassing visual feast that actually involves the viewer with the experience is something that many artists have tried to do.
Panoramas in the 1800’s were said to make the onlooker sick and dizzy with the reality that overcame them on viewing these vast paintings, so intense were the feelings they evoked.
Morton Heilig’s Sensorama was touted as the new way to experience film, with it’s vibrating seat and wind blowing machine all built into an individual booth.
Todays technology, has the potential to engage, inform and really give us an exciting layer of information over our own, and I intend to fully test it’s capabilities.

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