"Time and Time Again" Production Blog

Chronicling the production of the stop-motion animated short, "Time and Time Again" by Mike Bates. All images, characters, weird machines, etc, Copyright 2003-2007.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

 
Okay, so there has been a slow down in posts lately. Mostly due to the fact that there is a top-secret robot being animated on the set. So I wanted to take this chance to tell everybody a little bit about how my digital still camera, the Canon PowerShot S60 is working out on the project! Something that I know a lot of you have been wondering. Hopefully I'll be able to shed some light on some of the benefits and problems of the S60.

Here in a few brief paragraphs are some of the things I've run across in using a Digital Still Camera (DSC) on my own film. I'm going to try to break it up into several posts, so I can get the info out faster. Feel free to ask questions at any time! Here's a break-down of what I'll be covering:

This time 'round:
•Lenses, Manual Settings
•"Remote Capture" Software

In future post(s):
•Final Image (RAW vs. JPG)
•Frame Grabbing, Shoot Setup
•Post-Production Processing and Flicker

Lenses, Manual Settings
Most of you are already aware that Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was shot exclusively on DSCs. The cameras used for that film, from what I hear, were in the several thousand dollar range, with interchangeable lenses, so they could act as close to film cameras as possible. For my film, I decided I didn't need that much versatility, since I had been using Digital Video cameras (DV and D1), with good results. The lenses were always Zooms, so I was used to working with the simple limitations of the zoom lens. One thing I knew I did need was to have manual control over the settings (focus, exposure, etc.). Not only to have complete control over the image, but I had to be able to shut off the camera at the end of the day and be able to come back the next day, turn it on and have the settings be the same. The PowerShot line of cameras are divided into simple "Point and Shoot Digital" cameras, that do most of the exposure settings for you, which is great for everyday, on the fly shooting. But then there's the more advanced, "High-End Digital" cameras, that have more advanced lenses and features which include, very importantly, manual control for focus, zoom and exposure. Out of these advanced cameras, the S60 was the cheapest, but had everything I needed, the manual settings, and great looking image. Plus, it had the next requirement, software that allowed me to take the picture without touching the camera.



"Remote Capture" Software
I knew most cameras, digital or regular, usually had an additional accessory, the hands-free button. Sometimes it's a little remote control device, sometimes an old-school wire trigger. So I wasn't too concerned about finding a way to take the image without jostling the camera. But Canon makes great software that comes with the "High End Digital" cameras that allows you to adjust and save the manual settings, take the picture and save the image to your computer, all through a usb cable. Very cool. So far the software has worked fantastic. (Picture of the interface above.) The only sticking point is that the "manual" setting for the focus is just a "lock" feature. Which means that once the camera finds an Automatic Focus setting you like, you can lock it down, and it will stay there, no matter where the subject is moving. But it won't remember your focus setting after you've turned off the Remote Capture software. Which is not perfect, but there are work-arounds. If my Automatic Focus (AF) has been locked in the correct place and the subject has moved, and the next day I come back and the camera won't find that same focus setting because the subject has moved, I will just hold some object in front of the camera to get the camera to focus to the depth I want it at, lock it, and away we go! That is really the only "manual" setting feature that is not perfect. But it's really not that bad.

Stay tuned for more adventures in pixel-land! Click here for more info on Canon cameras.

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