Jeanne Kelly

Posts Tagged ‘iteration’

Submedia | Concentric Zoetrope

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2011 at 1:15 am

A concentric zoetrope is essentially a cylinder within a  cylinder. The inner cylinder consists of images facing outward. The outer cylinder is solid except for small slits cut in evenly spaced increments around its circumference, like murder holes in the siege tower. These slits are what allow you to not just see the images on the inner cylinder, but they help to create the illusion animation.

For the second construction I needed to improve on the construction. I used much more flexible material.  I also enclosed the gaps along the bottom to create a solid backdrop in case I might want to use this for a standard zoetrope in the future.

The inner cylinder is supported by pressure.  I used the same images as in the first zoetrope for the reasons I stated in the first post, I want to concentrate on the mechanics. I recalculated the size of these images to fit the smaller cylinder and printed them out on the plotter. After taping the images into shape I measured the circumference of this new cylinder and cut to precise circles from foamcore to hold the cylinder rigid.

What I found to be as crucial in a concentric search rope as in the regular ones is lighting. Whereas the first one I made did not have enough light duty to its solid ceiling the second one seemed to have first have to much. Again I found that it was crucial not to have the outside of the mechanism lit.

I think the second one was pretty successful after watching the video and that doesn’t really do the piece justice. I really do think a lot of it is the lighting. And I am going to try and make the Tron face.

Also, here are a few of the “animation” from the Museum of the Moving Image.


Submedia | Zoetropes

In Spring 2010 on January 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

For the warm up to really understanding how the Zoetropes work I’m making one or more.  I started with a simple copypaper prototype fashioned after Josh Spodek’s simple plastic one. Not so successful because the material was too flimsy and there was no smooth way to spin it quickly.  The breakdown of space and time however did work, so now it’s just a mater of better material and better images.

I was thinking about how similar zoetropes are to some animated gifs.  The example Josh showed us and the one I created after that one both had 12 images and 12 slits between them. I knew that a few of my favorite gifs have only 12 frames. I decided to rotoscope one, print it and use it as test images for the next zoetrope construction.  Most of you will recognize it. If not, then go to I Am Not An Artist and look at a few other great little animated gifs. You’ll find the original there.

Next up …

Muybridge’s Galloping Horse

Submedia | The First Zoetropes

In Spring 2010 on January 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

To truly understand how zoetropes work you have to just make one or two.   (or twenty 🙂

I started with a simple copypaper prototype fashioned after Josh Spodek’s small plastic example. Not so successfully though; the material was too flimsy and there was no smooth way to spin it quickly.  The breakdown of space and time however did work. The slots, although being slightly various in width, seem to work well. Ideally I think they should be completely uniform. So, by the end of class it seemed to be just a matter of better materials and better images.

On my subway ride home I began to think about how analogous zoetropes are to animated gifs, each containing very few frames and usually viewed in the loop.  Although the two mediums are vastly different, the images and optical effects they create are very similar.

The example Josh showed us, and the one I created in class after that (the first image above/with new and improved dots),  both had 12 images and 12 slits between them. I knew that a few of my favorite gifs also have only 12 frames. I decided to rotoscope one, print the images and use them to test the next zoetrope construction.  Some of you will recognize it. If not, then go to I Am Not An Artist to check out a few other little gems along with the original of the one above.

I have to say that usually when I’m learning a new technology, medium or skill I try to focus on learning just that. Creativity, for me  at least, can sometimes get in the way of  learning the left brain stuff. So I try to stick with something simple in concept, that way I’m less likely to get distracted by being creative. I find this method works best for me. Once I know and understand the technology then I can go crazy in the creative department, no holds barred.

Next up, Muybridge’s Galloping Horse.

I chose this series of stills to also test the zoetrope.  It’s a reference I’m familiar with and I know that it works as an animation in several formats. So my reasoning goes: if these images don’t work then it will mean that it is the fault of the mechanism more than likely, not due to poor rotoscoping or poor animation on my part. This makes a good measure against the machine.

Using the lazy susan that serves as my spice rack from my kitchen cabinet as the spinning mechanism, I could concentrate on the aspects of the outside cylinder: deciding on the slats, how many I would need, and how wide each opening needed to be. I use  black foam core I had on hand to construct the outer cylinder.

Because foamcore can’t be bent into a smooth circle I instead

cut “planks” and evenly spaced them around a circumference of the lazy susan.  I had to create a way to keep the “planks” together at the top however; they had a tendency to spread open as soon as the lazy susan was spun. Again I used materials I found on hand, straightening out paperclips and punching them through the slats to attach to an inner ring at the top.

This solution caused its own problems,  blocking out most of the light needed to see the animation.  I attempted different forms of lighting to compensate for this “ceiling” as you can see in the video below but nothing was quite successful enough in my opinion.

Another thing I discovered in constructing this first zoetrope was the slats had to be closed when the images were. Meaning no light should be allowed to breakthrough between the images. As you can see in the video, what your eye is most drawn to is the flash of light coming through the back of the zoetrope.  this is easily fixed by wrapping the outside in a sheet of black paper. For my next construction I will simply only cut the slots halfway down.

2D Composite Facial Reconstructions

In Fall 2010, Spring 2010 on January 18, 2011 at 3:27 am

The Rope Walker Gets a Makeover

After working so closely with the vintage photography these past months I started to think of them as another possible way to complete the reconstructions while working on the problems with the digital 3d reconstructions.

There is a forensic technique of creating a facial composite of an individual using a database of photographs.  This is a very general collection, meant to represent universal adverages and genaric features that can be refind and refine by making choices in a branching method until a reasonable likeness is achieved.  For instance, you would be asked by the compositor or compositing system if the person had a big nose or a small nose, high, low, narrow, wide, straight, crooked, and so on until all options have been exhausted and the image you are left with should be the best representation of the nose you have in mind.

To the right you can see a facial composite of Saint Paul created by experts of the Landeskriminalamt of North Rhine-Westphalia using historical sources as proposed by Düsseldorf historian Michael Hesemann.  The facial composite of the Apostle Paul helps to make this historical figure more accessible and real; something I want to achieve with the Hyrtl subjects.

To test this case I again turned to Mr. Zini our Rope Walker.  In his case the I decided that the most appropreate features and image would be those of his relatives, his time, and his culture.  I started my search by looking at images found through a search using his last name to determine hair and eye-color and dominant features.  I have an idea of build from his age, occupation and historical context. I looked for central and eastern european photographs of men taken from 1830 to 1870.  This would have been range of  time he my have died within. For Mr.Zini I decided to use the photograph below to create a two dimensional composite of his likeness from his skull.

I then began by importing the 3d rendering from Maya into photoshop.  There where gaps in the bone that had to be reconstructed before markers could be positioned onto the skull. I accomplished this by I first drawing over the skull to get the contours and plans mapped out.  I then painted the bone into place, only filling in where it was nessicary. As you can see I did not reconstruct his teeth. He will not be smiling so it would have been a wasted effort. I did however remove the hardware that was captured in the CT scan; it just doesn’t belong there.

Once I had Mr. Zini’s skull structurally clean I divided the features as seen below from the source image. and slowly began to sculpt them in photoshop using a wide range of tools, primarily transform warp and liquify.  It was necessary for some parts to be completely redrawn, such as the side of the head.

As always I found some of the process shots to be just as important and strong as the finished piece.  It seem inevitable that I get wrapped up in these in-between states. The glimpse beneath, the history of a thing is always distracted to me in an inspiring way.  Not to mention I think they just turned out looking kind of cool.

These are onionskins of the photo-composite technique.  So, meet Mr. Zini, The Rope Walker.  On the next 2D, which will be hand drawn, I think I’m going to go back to less but more “tailored” facial hair. Keeping the center of the left eye (his right 😉 consistent to the original you can see how the features changed in the finished reconstruction.

I “adjusted” the rest of the image to fit Mr.Zini’s figure.  He seems to be a bit of a tallish fellow as compared to his “ancestor”.  I’m very happy with this first prototype. I’ve received very favorable responses and a few request for copies. Which makes me hopeful that with a little more work these will be successful incentives on Kickstarter.

I’ve had  this 30″ x 40″ poster of  Mr. Zini hanging in my living room now for about a month and it still distracts me.  If it can have the same effect on others, then I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished a lot so far.

Prototyping the Diorama | 3D

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on January 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm


I decided to keep test the 3d images, especially I can not get the stereolithography done for the final piece.  I’ve worked in Klean Klay before, it’s the primary  material used in 3d forensic facial reconstruction.  If I’m able to get one of the Hyrtl skulls printed I’ll used this to do a true reconstruction, but it’s no good for createing the tiny diorama pieces. Too soft and not permanent.  Instead I’m testing several different material that might be a substitute for print 3d.  Remember this guy?  If you’ve been checking out the Thesis Page (the tab at the top there ^, after Home and About) then you would have seen the post on this prototype.

This was my first attempt at sculpy. I’d never worked in the material before and found it difficult at beat to get any significant detail at the small scale I have to work in. You can see more photos of those below at 11/04.

I then attended a puppet show at HERE Art Center called “the Fortune Teller”

I loved the look of the puppets and of course immediately wanted to make a puppet show.  That’ll  be next on the list. 🙂  I was able to go back stage after the show and see the construction close up.  I asked a lot of questions and decide to give “cell-u-clay” a try.  That was the material used to create the puppets. I felt the scale might still be a bit tight for the material, but I tried it anyway.

Sketching the Cabinet

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on January 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I thought I post some of the sketches and ideas for the cabinet that will house the diorama, camera, lights, and all the guts of the simulacrum.

These are not complete, but just sketches.  I’m not a arcitect or draftsman, I’m not sure how to draw them as blueprints.  Luckily I know of a few folks who have been kind enough to help out in this department. I’ve also briefly discussed this with with Jim Rogers, the master cabinet maker (and my brother-in-law 😉 who’s going to be building this for me if I’m able to come up with the funding.  He’s not asking for much and in return I’m willing to give him some space to add his own creative touch.

I’ve played around with the idea of using a planetary gear on the bottom of the diorama table.  I think this is going to be the most stable.  And from the testing I can see right away that the sketches below don’t leave enough room between the camera and the closest focal point within the scenes. That has to be redesigned to accommodate about a foot of clearance. I’ll update when I have something substacial to post.  Until then, I’m sure you can get a good idea the direction I’m head from the previous posts, the Thesis page (^tab at the top) and these drawings.

Think steampunk, that should help.  😉

Testing the Follow Focus

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on January 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The follow focus on the simulacrum is being built with a help of a friend and photographer Louis Lucci.  We set it a few times now and ran some test and took the measurements for the cabinet based on the dementions of the rig and the diorama table together.  I’ve tried a few different mounts and while I think the Skil mount is best for movement, it will not support the weight of the follow focus.

The video is recorded directly through the camera and streamed live into the living room.  No great feat, but no small accomplishment either.

The ruler allows me to get a better idea about placement and focus when setting up the dioramas. This also lets me see how much space has to exists between the camera and the diorama.  Right now the measurement looks to be around one to two and half feet from lens to the closest focal point in the scene, close to what I expected.

This second video is the documentation of that test.  Louis and I are taking the measurements and also getting an idea how the scene changes when view in a different way.

I had a real heart wrenching moment the second time we set up the entire rig.

I had returned to my family home in Virginia over the holiday to pick up some of my mother’s camera equipment to use in the project. My mother was a photographer and my best friend. She died on May 1st, 2005 at the age of 66; too young with too much undone.  I decided to take back a two tripods, a few lens and filters with some other odds and ends to use in the prototyping.  I carefully separated out the things I’d used and backed them up to return to New York with me.  The one thing I took that was particularly special to me was her 50 mm lens.  This one has a lot of very fond memories attached to it for me.

Louis had been setting everything up while I was in another room working on the diorama.  When I finally saw it all put together with my mom’s lens, I just cried.

I’m just so happy to be using it and I knew she would be thrilled with what I was doing and would have been right beside me helping if she could. In a way it made me feel like I was still able to include her and at the same time it made me sad that she couldn’t be here.  I miss you mom ad this one’s for you all the way.

and a side note:

This 90° gear is found inside the main compartment of the follow focus. It’s pretty substantial and it’s actually just what I need for the crank to shaft in the final build as well.

Prototyping the Mechanism

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on January 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Geometry and Gears

I had not used this particular set of tools in a long time and it felt good to get them out and work with geometry again. I got this set during my second year in college and it has more then past the test of time, that extension are is perfect for this job.

The first few prototypes for the turntable’s gearing where pretty unsuccessful.  My biggest problem is simply making something sturdy enough. I was given a great book for beginners in gears and simple analog mechanical movements.  This helped with understanding the basics and getting started with figuring out the ratio.  I also had to start thinking about the placement and accessibility of the handle and how each user is going to experience the function.

Coat-hangers, cardboard and foam-core don’t seem to cut it, they’re all too flimsy to last longer then a few turns and even those struggle to move the diorama.  Nothing I’ve put together so far moves very smoothly, but that’s the point of prototyping, right?  I like the 1:1 ration for rith now, it’s more intuitive to “scroll” through the scenes at this 1:1 movement.

I also decided to allow the gears to work in both directions.  This allows the viewer to “rewind” the narrative.  They can return to what they have already seen or actually view the entire thing in revere. This is one less restriction to the narrative.

There is no question that I’m going to need the construction to be much more substantial.  Not only to support the weight of the diorama itself, but to support the force required to also turn the thing smoothly and effortlessly.  In the second or third iteration of the gears I replace all the cardboard shafts with wooden ones.  This improved the stability and tremendously, but it also added to the weigh.

My next step here is to laser cut the gears in MDF or black plexiglass.  The weight of these will be supported by the wooden cabinet that will eventually contain all the guts of the simulacrum.

Prototyping the Diorama

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on January 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

2D Construction

I haven’t posted anything on the diorama construction since the 11/16 update (a few post below). So lets catch up. I’ve been constructing the 2d diorama by altering period photography, drawings, paintings.  I decided to concentrate on the 2d for testing until the problems with the maya mesh can be worked out.

I’ve cut out most all of the images and details that I need to get started on the completion of Zini’s scenes and possible one each of his connections. I also started to “modify” the images to reflect the narrative.

These are most of Veronica’s pieces, our child murder. Below you can see pieces form Zini’s and also a few images that will be used for the Wounded Heart, visually he’s become the Boy with the Charlie Brown Heart.

After some camera tests with the original images I decided the scale had to be greatly reduced. This opens up working with the images in photoshop and printing the smaller size as I need, increasing detail while reducing size. I can also print on card stock for a bit more rigidity. I decided to use these wooden skewers to hold each piece of the diorama in place. Because the mock up is made of foam core it this has made it easy to move the different pieces around and yet keep them stable and in place each time.  Granted this is leave a few extra holes in the bottom of the platform, but that’s fine for this prototype.  It’s all about the placement and the interpretation now, the details of the visuals will be refines as I go.

I started with the scene where we learn about the relationship between Gerilarmo and Veronica.  This is a particularly difficult scene because it encompasses so much time.

I don’t want to “explain” what exactly is happening and what every detail means. As in real life, what you see is not always what you believe and stories are always up for interpretation.  I goal is to  create a mood and enough signs and symbols for the curious to interpret the circumstances of each character.  Their mind will begin to fill in the blanks, building the narrative like a rumor.

I’m treating the college pieces a bit theatrically.  I need them to hold a ton of quickly readable info and this piece is a small theater, so i worked in strong exaggerated expressions on the secondary characters.

The Charlie Brown Heart was a pleasant accident.  I was trying out different ways to show a broken heart and this one really appealed to me.  Charlie Brown is such a classically downtrodden and pathetic character, but he never gives up and we love him for it.  I liked the thought of Julius Farkus as Charlie Brown all grown up, and finally giving up.

Zini in Osirix and Maya

In Fall 2010, Thesis Research on December 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

So I finally got a good working render from OsiriX and opened it in Maya, and just as I’d thought, it was a mesh mess to an extreme degree.

Maya can’t seem to automatically fix the Nonmanifold Geometry.  Nonmanifold Geometry is, simply put, a mesh that could not exist in the real world. Maya refuses to convert to subdivisions, booleans won’t work and smooth operations can lead to strange results.

There are three different types of nonmanifold Geometry (actually four since lamina faces are technically also nonmanifold):

• Three or more faces share the same edge on an object
• Two or more faces share the same vertex, yet they share no edge
• Two or more adjacent faces have opposite normal directions

I can’t clean they geometry up myself in the state it’s in. Opposite normal directions can’t be seen because I can’t even seen all the faces.
I’m not sure at this point if it can be any other way.  I need to fix the geometry completely if I ever want to print these.  As of right now however, I need to just concentrate on the reconstructions, even if that means creating a 2 dimensionally likeness first for each of the eight subjects in the narrative.  I just have to get the ball rolling.Click on the image below to take you to a link that will then take you to a video of a fly through I put together in OsiriX. There has got to be work around for posting videos to wordpress without having to click, click, click to actually see it.  I’ll work in this friends.

Here are a few screen captures of the OsiriX interface.  It’s pretty intuitive if you’ve ever used a 3D program before, but it does take some processing power. I’ll have to get it onto a computer at Parsons to save myself some headaches.

The visuals of the build are interesting as well. Click on the image below to take you to a link that will then take you to a video to watch OsiriX in action stitching the layer back together.