Origami Animation Test Day

17th July 2015 ArticleMotion Graphics

Bexmedia travelled to Dairy Studios on Wednesday the 15th July to do a test day for a stop-frame origami animation for Darkhorse Agency. This test day was key to the entirety of the project, to ensure that any quirks in the equipment or software were sorted out before the actual shoot. As it so happens, this test day was well used, due to the problems that we first encountered with the software Dragon frame and iStopMotion, as we found out that with using these programs, you can either shoot onto the cameras Compact Flash or the computer, and not both like we had hoped to do. We had also wished to shoot in the formats JPEG onto the computer and RAW onto the camera; however, as we found that we could only pick one place for the frames to go, we chose to go with iStopMotion, for our video production, and to shoot in JPEG.


We then did a few shots with the test horse to work out the angle and the zoom for each point that we needed to use in order to make the animation flow.

Once we had figured out all the angles and how we would gradually tilt the horse back to make it look like he was falling, it was time to bring in the star horse with no labels on it to create the final test fall. The first frame that we took had the horse stood up, as pictured above, which was aligned onto the gridlines on the live view in iStopMotion. To ensure the horses position stayed consistent we used onion skinning to overlay the previous frame onto the one we were currently shooting, this ensured that the final fall animation would look as smooth as possible, with no jolting or jumps in size/position.


In order to angle the horse into the correct positions we needed for it to fall, we used spray mount, so he didn’t slip and cut up straws with double sided tape on the end to hold him up as he fell. After shooting all 12 frames for the fall, we checked whether the whole thing was consistent, with the same brightness and size. We did have to reshoot one frame but after this was done, it was compiled together into a quick draft animation to make sure that a) it worked well and we didn’t need any more frames and b) the client liked how it flowed. This was the tricky part over.

After a quick lunch break, it was time to start shooting the unfolding of the origami horse using the labelled horse and reference images as a rough guide on unfolding the horse. To make sure the frames were consistent, and didn’t jump about or change suddenly, we had to make sure the nose of the horse stayed in the same place in the top right corner of the frame while it was unfolded. We also had to ensure that the centre of the unfolded sheet of paper started to move towards the middle of the frame, as this would mean the paper was in the centre of the frame at the end. Finally, to make sure the unfolded paper fit in the frame we had to slowly zoom out on the camera each frame, to give a smooth effect for the end product, and make sure that the paper fitted in nicely at the for the end frame.

All in all, the test day went really well and the outcomes that we ended up with looked very impressive and flowed really well. The next step for us now, is to repeat this process with the other origami pieces that we have with the same level of quality. After the success of the test day the rig and the overall steps that were used to create the stop-frame animation will be replicated in order to obtain that high quality.