Cameras and Photos (ANI210.LO04 )

(I’m too tired to come up with a suitable pun here…)

So, the funny part about this whole LO is the fact that before doing this course, I spent over a year working for a fashion company taking and editing photos for their catalogs and website.

With the full backdrop, giant face-meltingly-hot lights, eight foot tall models and a fancy-pants camera to boot.

Those were uh, interesting times.

Sadly I don’t have anything left from those days to wave around as proof that I Can Camera Competently – though I can highly recommend the giant white backdrop + camera on a tripod set-up for taking reference shots/video. (and a piece of thick clear perspex stuck on a couple of besser blocks makes for some really cool floating effects – though I don’t recommend wearing ridiculous heels while doing this)

I did however learn one *actually* useful thing from this whole sojourn (that wasn’t how to wrangle feuding models that is…) and that was about one of the handiest features fancy DSLR cameras have.

The RAW files.

Oh RAW files, how I love thee. Now, I have no idea what the hell a RAW (or in my case right now, a CR2 file) is when it comes to the technical side of things – I googled it and it still doesn’t make any sense, but frankly I’m just willing to call it magic and run with it.

Having a RAW file means you can take a totally over-exposed photo like this – one that would probably be turfed the minute you took it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.02.06 pm

(I’m not sure whether this was my photo or Ancel’s, but it’s the best example for this on the card after I remembered to turn on the RAW setting)

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.02.40 pm

and fix it by dragging a slider down.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.03.06 pm

And then make it pretty by dragging more sliders around. I don’t know if it is better now – I err heavily on the side of pretty and saturated and instagram-y – but it’s a pretty cool looking photo compared to the first.

The only problem with these files is that they are *giant*. 33MB per photo was what I got from the photos we took by the river, and I’ve seen at least 60MB ones before. I don’t know how handy they are for us as animators, and really, it’s probably better to get the exposure (or whatever) right in the first place, but if you have a good size/multiple memory cards, it might save your ass one day having them.

mangroves 03

(Of course it won’t help you if the local wildlife are jerks and won’t co-operate)

Getting everything right though sometimes isn’t the be all and end all though – I took both these photos on Thursday. The first time I screwed up the exposure completely which left it too dark, but I pretty much nailed it on the second.

mangroves 04mangroves 02

While the second photo is pretty true to life, the first picture – the screwed up one – actually has way more potential. It looks kind of like it was taken at night, and the new shoots are glowing, which could lead in all kinds of interesting directions when it comes to adding animation over the top.

I also took some video with the camera – one jerky attempt at a pan a few steps along the river (which I will not inflict upon you) – and …whatever this is.

(Now I’m going to have to add a hat to my 3D character. Thanks, me!)

I didn’t set up the camera, so I don’t know what settings it was on, but the quality on this…isn’t really what I expected it to be. The video I shot of the river outside was better, so I guess it’s a lighting thing?

I think when it comes to shooting reference, I’ll stick with my current, somewhat lower tech solution.


I already had the smartphone (technically it’s an ipod, but it’s got the same camera guts as an iphone) and the Gorilla tripod cost me $50. I can plonk it on my desk and point it at me and film whatever silly action I need ref for, with absolutely zero setup time. It might not be fabulous quality (though again, in the daylight? it’s not half bad) but with ref, you don’t really need HD quality.

(now, taking video of one’s cats doing something stupid, now that’s when you need the HD…)


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