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I'm interested in putting together a how-to on stop motion animation for the OLPC. I've dabbled and understand the basics, mostly from doing slave-labor for my professional-animator friend, who has also expressed interest. I am going to try to accumulate what I've found on the wiki here on the Animation page. Stay tuned for details. Specialization is for Insects 12:21, 4 October 2007 (EDT)


I am thinking the format should be a series of short videos, or a picture based tutorial. I think that visual instructions would alleviate the need for translation and allow illiterate children use the material. *But* should this be a series of videos and/or images in a wiki format? What are your suggestions? Also, where would this sort of thing end up, and how would people find it? I think that by size it would fit the 20 mb limit for the XO. I need some sort of feed back here.

The easiest approach may be to make website for it — maybe even something on this wiki, for starters. The XO ships with a web plugin capable of playing most Flash content, including Flash video (as seen on YouTube and elsewhere), so you might consider using that for any animation or video that you need to include. Web pages and video can be put together as a local content bundle for places without network connectivity. I think 20Mb may give you room for 5-10 minutes of Flash video, depending on the size, compression level, and content. I have read on the wiki that the XO can't play Flash video at the full framerate, but I didn't notice this on the demo unit I saw several months ago. —Joe 18:19, 12 October 2007 (EDT)
I am leaning towards well documented still images at the moment. I think that it would be easier to edit the pictures and make them sharper. The photos will also be a lot easier to relabel for translation. I think that flash is too proprietary. Photos would be easier to re-mix too. I'm still not sure how the wiki is going to work on the OLPC. I'm sure someone smarter than I has figured it out, but I haven't heard much about it yet. ATM it's looking like taking a bunch of stuff over to wiki-how and then including a slice of wiki-how on the OLPC is the way to go. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. Specialization is for Insects 18:37, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

Hardware Specific Questions

I need more info on the specifics of animating using an olpc camera. Using a key on the XO to release the shutter can cause a lot of shake, blur, and other problems into the animation. If it's too much of a problem, then the shutter could be released via a second machine so as not to disturb the position of the camera -XO. This would probably be a good idea anyway to help make animation a group activity. Also, I have very little idea what's going on with the Record activity, or any sort of conversion from stack of photos to video. The Record page of the wiki is kinda shy of info.

Using one laptop to trigger another one is a good idea, but I think an easier solution would be to simply wait a short time after the key is released before taking the picture. This would reduce the immediate camera shake caused by pressing a button, although it won't eliminate the camera drift caused by accidentally moving the laptop base or hinge.
Alternatively, I suppose they might try using a USB mouse, if one is available, since this may reduce vibrations on the laptop itself. Presumably the school servers will ship with mice, so the school may have a few spare ones, especially if the mice turn out to be useful for other things like this activity. A wireless mouse or presenter's slideshow ticker would be ideal, but most schools will not have one available.
Or, you could try using an alternate input trigger: take a picture shortly after a hand or colored card is waved in front of the camera, or when the microphone detects a clap or whistle. This has the disadvantage that there are no obvious alternative controls for deleting a picture or previewing the animation so far, so these manipulations could also cause the camera drift mentioned above.
In the end, though, the best solution may be to ignore the problem, since most of the students will want just enough control to experiment with stop-motion animation, not recreate The Nightmare Before Christmas. —Joe 11:35, 12 October 2007 (EDT)
I like the colored card or sound cue ideas a lot. But they would require an always on processing of environmental conditions. Animation is a pain, and there may be several minutes between each frame, and LONG gaps while something out of frame is set up. My hope is that remote shutter wont be that difficult to implement, but I am not a programmer.
Also, while I agree that we're probably going to be seeing 10 frames a second animation, using jumpy play-do, I don't want to limit what they *can* do with animation. A lot can and has been done in stop-motion with very simple equipment, but get too limited and it's very restricting. Lego is a good example of surprisingly good animation created with very stark equipment. Spite your face, the company who did the Monty Python in Lego, accomplished some very spectacular things with a consumer grade DV camera. Heck, maybe one of the kids will implement something yet un-thought-of. I mean there's a reason to give them all of these programming tools.Specialization is for Insects 12:00, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

Animation Material

These children are probably not going to have Legos, barbies, or other pre-existing toys with armatures. So attaining materials is going to be a problem. Scrap wire isn't a bad medium for armatures, not ideal, but not bad. Ardmann animation (Wallace & Grommet, Chicken Run, etc) still use wire for a lot of minor characters (bunnies and the like). Play-dow (pretty simple flour-water-cornstarch formula I think) might work and I'll be playing with that in the next couple days. Who can I talk to about the release countries and materials that I can use?

You might also consider experimenting with a vertically oriented camera. This would let the students animate using cut-out paper characters (possibly jointed like shadow puppets). Students could even move around bits of colored paper (or even sticks or pebbles) on a flat surface to create an interesting abstract or semi-abstract animation. And, of course, they could also experiment with more traditional 2D animation, if they have lots of paper available. —Joe 11:45, 12 October 2007 (EDT)
Um... not in my (very limited) expertize atm. When I can get a hold of an actual XO (December sometime?) I can do a lot more experimenting. This is a logical extension of course. And there would probably be a lot more information that could be pulled in from wiki-how on conventional animation. Lighting the subject (paper) in a reproducible way, for frame to frame consistancy, still remains a problem. With conventional animation. I will add this to the main page. Specialization is for Insects 12:41, 12 October 2007 (EDT)
Actually, one of the ideas going into the OLPC project is that the students may not have pencils and paper, and everything should be able to be ON the olpc. That's something to think about. is for Insects 17:53, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
True (hence the "if"), but that's no reason to rule out a paper-based activity if a school happens to have some available. Some schools will have scrap cloth where others do not; some will have wire where others do not. I think it's a good idea to consider a range of possible activities rather than to limit them to the lowest common denominator. And drawing on paper is an arguably distinct experience from drawing with the mouse or the XO's "graphics pad". I do think an XO-only animation activity is a good idea, though (and I think several people are already working on such a thing). —Joe 19:25, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
Oh absolutely. I agree that other mediums than clay(-like material) need to have how-tos made. They would take less time to write than an armatured' stop-motion creature. I'll rephrase this on the wiki page. Would you like to work on that direction of animation (pulling together wikihow articles) while I do the clay?is for Insects 14:30, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
When you say "pulling together wikihow articles", do you mean writing new ones, looking for existing ones not already on the Animation page, or reworking the ones we know about into something more appropriate for the XOs? —Joe 23:14, 20 October 2007 (EDT)

Further brainstorming

  • I think many schools will have some sort of front blackboard available and possibly individual slates, both of which could be used for animation.
  • Simple sand, mud, clay, or finger/poster paint can be animated, although it may get kind of messy; hopefully the XO can handle it.
  • The students can make time-lapse animations of a plant or a view out a window by positioning the XO in the same place at the same time each day.
  • Lacking other materials, the students can make animations of each other using pixilation; for instance they can make animations of people sliding along the ground or animations of people flying (by taking a picture at the apex of multiple jumps).

Joe 19:25, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

I really like the pixilation implementation. It provides a lot of opportunities. And I've seen ///beautiful/// things done on chalkboards with animation. That might produce a lot of fun material. I wonder if the wordpress implementation for the OLPC (reporter?) would be interested in having a tag or sub page for this. They registered olpcnews or some such. I'm going to go research that is for Insects 14:36, 16 October 2007 (EDT)

Conversation moved off of User:Sethwoodworth

The on-board camera of the OLPC (xo) needs killer applications. It has great video chat and picture taking abilities. But I think that needs an external project to be captured by the xo. I am working on creating a very simple how-to walking children through basic stop motion animation, using materials they should have in their communities. An admin from the wonderful WikiHow has offered her services on this, so the project will probably be hosted there and then ported to the OLPC.

I was just thinking of something similiar earlier today. "xoWebcam" -- Linux 'xawtv'/webcam package sugarized w/GUI. It's got frame capture capabilities built in, with total control of 'motion activated' and sequencing. Just need to find a good/lite package for putting frames into a movie format :-) --Ixo 01:29, 16 January 2008 (EST)
FYI, futzed around a bit, xawtv looks like a very likely solution, gathered some notes: User:Ixo/Project/Webcam
Perhaps expand Animation#Stop_Motion? Also, a while back I saw something about a Pippy python example which took a single picture - might be something to easily build on. MitchellNCharity 08:54, 18 February 2008 (EST)
Yes, a good pippy example 'picture?' about grabbing an image and rotating it. So all the code is there, just have to build on it a but, and sugarize it. --00:56, 19 February 2008 (EST)
re: killer applications - Did you see OpenCV? This might be exactly useful for creating killer webcam apps. It's basically a open source image recognition library developed by intel - and has all the features: Object identification, Face recognition, Motion tracking, Gesture recognition, ... Crazy-chris 18:00, 18 March 2008 (EDT)