In spite of what many people seem to think, animation is not an easy thing to do. Stop motion doubly so. You have so many things to take into consideration. You have to calculate exactly what needs to go where to get the effect you want. And if you don't have the money for the professional grade high-end software that will do it for you, it is that much harder.
I have encountered many articles on the internet that, by reason or content, seem to be saying that stop motion is a medium for children. Some even go as far as to state that if an adult works in this medium it is the equivalent of drawing with crayons. This offends me greatly. I know it shouldn't, but it does. These people are obviously ignorant of what it takes to make the Coraline's and Corpse Brides. If it really were that simple, wouldn't more animation companies get on board with it? Wouldn't we be seeing more stop motion and less CGI?
Granted, stop motion has been pushed lately by educators as a great way to teach kids patience and help them understand the mechanics of motion. That does not mean that it takes a child to work in that medium. I agree, to a certain extent, that it is a great medium for teaching children. Especially those that aren't confident in their artistic skills. And, as they are children, we don't expect Aardman-esque work from them so the free and cheap alternatives for this medium are great for their purposes and makes it affordable for most educational systems.
But what is essentially being ignored by these writers is the hard work and attention to detail that is required for this medium. To make a short, choppy video that has little to no story line maybe not. But a glance at You Tube will tell a person that any type of video is that way.
If you want to make a good smooth animation, not only do you have to take into account scenery with every shot (as I have learned the hard way), you have to make sure lighting is consistent, focus is consistent, color balance is consistent. You have to watch for things like sets peeling up slowly while you shoot, floors that have bubbles you don't notice until after you have shot the scene and assembled your images, that took 4 FUCKING HOURS TO SHOOT to get 10 seconds of footage.
There really is no way to speed up the process. You go too quickly and you get fingers in shots and you miss something that needs to fixed.
And in addition to that you have to pay attention to the story line of the video, and make sure everything you are shooting actually matches what is being conveyed. It is hard. And if you want to make something that does not look like a child did it, it takes practice and talent. Just the same as any other animation or visual media. Doing it alone while just having the few written books on the subject to guide you feels nigh on impossible. But I am doing it. Slowly but surely. And eventually I will have enough working knowledge, professional equipment and possibly assistance of other people to get a video that is wow-worthy.
With how hard I have worked on this particular skill set, if it was "simple and for children", I would have already made several full length successful features. For someone who writes for professional publications and professes to know a lot about it, these writers are plainly ignorant.
This is turning into a longer post than I had intended. Oh well. I really needed to get that out. This is really the most appropriate platform I have for this kind of rant. I feel a whole lot better. Thanks. :)
OK....so what I originally came here to to was to talk myself through dialog matching. This is when you get your figures motions and movements to match the dialog you have recorded. This is very difficult when you are using free software. As at the moment I don't have puppets that allow me to manipulate the face, matching plosives and vowels won't be a problem. But as I don't have rendering software that allows me to calculate movement down to the milisecond, planning for dialog matching is hard. I tried to use After Effects. Not only was it hard to get it to work exactly, but the scenes that were rendered were pixelated and very poor quality. (See the One Tiny comparison). You'd think it would be easy. The math being, that if you render at 24 FPS, and you hold each picture for 2 frames, then you should need 12 pictures for each second of scene you shoot. Logical, right? Then if you calculate how many seconds you need for a particular movement, you should be able to figure out how many pictures you need for that movement and how many pictures to take of each stage of the movement, etc. Wrong. At least in my case. One of these days I may understand it enough to get it right when doing it manually. However, as most professional software out there do it all for you there really is no manual on how to do it correctly. Frustration, argh.
One thing that I was successful with the Douglas Adams video was getting the scenes to basically fit the dialog. This was achieved by making all those calculations, determining the overall feeling I wanted to accomplish in the scene, shooting what I wanted as it came up, then cutting the audio up into spidgetts to make longer pauses so it fit. I knew at least the minimal number of pictures I needed, and went from there. Sometimes it worked great. Others, it just kind of worked. But overall it made a successful video. As I was using Windows Movie Maker, which has fewer controls, I had to tweek the math little bit, but it was the same concept.
So the question is, can I use what I learned in that video to make a successful dialog video? As I don't have facial expressions to match the words, can I do it the same basic way? One thing I worked hard on was getting certain parts of the Douglas Adams voice over to fit certain actions. For example the scene with the tree smashing. Or the scene with the bench and the books piling up. The gold-ish guy bringing the books in matched the line "Lots and lots of them" pretty precisely. That is what I was going for. I was kind of pleased that that one worked.
Anyway, I digress. I have probably lost whatever readers I may have had at the beginning of this post. But I have achieved what I have set out to do. I vented my frustrations and talked through a concept. I believe now that yes, I can use the spidgett technique to make a dialog video work. I don't see why not.
Now I need to get to writing some killer clever dialog to match some stop mo. Heading out to get food, then writing up a storm.
If you still haven't seen my Douglas Adams tribute video (and WHY the hell not??) you can click on the big words over there to take you to it. I have recently re-read the rules, and I can't post it here until the contest is over anyway. So if you have seen my other posts or just this one and want to know what the hell I am talking about, go see it. And vote with many bookmarks for it. :)