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Old 05-21-2020, 08:59 AM
brossa is offline
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Stop motion Gundam video - what are these visual effects?


There's a stop motion video from animator Moouyo that uses a Gundam figure to copy Michael Jackson dance moves: YouTube link. I suggest watching at 480P, which seems to be the best quality that doesn't jitter. I'm curious about the overall look of the video - it seems 'smoother' than typical stop-motion, and I'm wondering why.

It's a very well done video, with some clear post-processing effects. It seems to be rotoscoped from a dance tribute video, which might explain part of why it's so effective. Some supporting framework has been painted out of some of the frames, which makes the shadows jump around a bit and adds some blur to some edges at times. It also looks like there might have been some motion blur inserted as well, smearing out 'fast-moving' parts in individual frames. Is this enough to explain the 'smoothness' of the video? Is it at a higher framerate than typical? I notice that YouTube allows for 60 fps versions of the video, but for me those are jittery as heck. How is that possible? Does YouTube algorithmically insert interpolated frames to get the frame rate up?

TLDR: is inserted motion blur and rotoscoping enough to produce the smooth appearance of this stop-motion video, or is there something else at play?
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:04 PM
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Video editing apps do have a smoothing feature that can be incorporated between key frames. Think of a key frame as the beginning of an action, and the following key frame as its end. I remember from my days in box modelling class that smoothing can still look too uniform and robotic, and requires a little tinkering with the nodes to make the action more fluid. I'm sure 3D modelling technology has progressed vastly since then, and probably doesn't require nearly as much manual node manipulation.

This is stop motion however, and requires extra steps. My WAG is that Moouyo compiled zillions of stills into one video, and he used smoothing between each frame. Thing is, he can't use the same smoothing technique each time. Maybe he can change xyz coordinates for repeating patterns such as the moon walk glide, but otherwise he has to use a different technique for each body part, such as the wrists, shoulders, waist, ankles, knees and neck. The trick is to make a linear motion look curved, which would involve extensive 3D coordinate plotting flattened to a 2D plane.

Even body parts such as thighs have a little bit of bend and squash to them. He may have surreptitiously substituted a slightly bent body part for those stills. Being able to do that without jostling the rest of the robot out of place requires a delicate touch and a really sharp eye. Some people have a gift for it.
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:27 PM
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In any sort of interpretation, the closer the points are that you're interpolating between, the better the results will be, even if the method of interpolation itself is relatively crude. It may well be that he just did 15 or 20 frames per second, or some similar number reasonable for stop-motion, and then interpolated between those. Since the endpoints were already close together, even crude interpolation is enough to make it look smooth to us.

If it weren't for the artifacts from removing the supports, I'd have guessed that it was all CGI, without any physical action figure at all. But digitally modeling the struts, and then digitally modeling their removal, would have been way overkill.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
It may well be that he just did 15 or 20 frames per second, or some similar number reasonable for stop-motion, and then interpolated between those.
After stepping through it frame by frame, it looks like he did 15 FPS and interpolated the higher frame rates. For reference see: Beat It at 1/8 speed. Look at the movement of the arms and hands especially. There is blurring and blending on the interpolated frames along with interpolation artifacts, particularly the mangling of the hands.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:28 PM
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No matter how he did it, that is a staggering level of skill and patience.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKilez View Post
After stepping through it frame by frame, it looks like he did 15 FPS and interpolated the higher frame rates. For reference see: Beat It at 1/8 speed. Look at the movement of the arms and hands especially. There is blurring and blending on the interpolated frames along with interpolation artifacts, particularly the mangling of the hands.
Wow, I hadn't thought to do that. It really brings out the effect. I don't begrudge him the technique; I think it added something that wouldn't have been present in 24 fps movie-style stop motion. That assumes it was a conscious choice and not an artifact of uploading a 15fps video to YouTube.

Can you explain why the 60fps options for YouTube playback look so jittery to me?
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:34 PM
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It's kind of a testament to how weird our visual processing systems are that that looks smooth, at normal speed. There's a lot of fade-out, fade-in there, and a few times, the hands even swap.
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