PING PONG BALL MANIPULATION

by Victoria Foroponova

IDEE

As I decided to do Stop-Motion Animation, I first of all looked around at what people do in Stop-Motion brunch. Youtube.com...there I found a bunch of Stop-Motion films. People are really creative. Most of all, I liked the films in which an object is depicted as a small pixel. Coins, Post-it Notes, tea candles, Lego bricks and even people are used as a single pixel.

1.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VczbbiRmDik 2.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qC_-Nx2CWR4 3.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wKbJvM7VbQc 4.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oYk6bbtJytk 5.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5ODMBKdxGcY 6.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_3DtsZHfQeg

Then I discovered my own small pixel. The ping pong ball can be used best for this purpose - it is ideally round, not too small and it is available in two colors (white and orange). The pixel is thereÖone only has to tell a story with its help.

PLANNING THE FILM

I put my camera on the holder and tried to animate directly on the floor. I put a small man together out of balls. However, the man was huge compared to the whole size of the scene. There wasn't enough space to move anything around. This way, it became clear that the forms should be very simple.

After this attempt, it also became obvious that the background should be dark. The balls looked pale on a grey background. I found a dark blue towel in my bathroom, which perfectly filled the role for a background... the soft texture prevented the balls from sliding and absorbed the light very well. This way, the background became homogeneous and saturated. I spread the towel on the floor and marked the size of the future scene (the borders of what can be caught by the objective). It ended up measuring into an uneven quadrangle - a prism. That meant that my scene was somehow positioned in a perspective and if I needed to get a straight vertical line on the screen, I had to incline it on the scene into a perspective as well. Apart from that, the balls in the lower part of the scene were put closer to each other than the ones in the upper part.

For photography, I used the Canon350D camera with a Sigma 18-50mm 1:3.5- 5.6DC objective. The camera was positioned at a height of about 1,5 meters from the floor and the whole scene could fit only on the minimal focus distance of 28mm, which gives a rather big view corner and view with a perspective correspondingly. To solve this problem, I raised the holder to the maximum possible distance away from the floor, plus I placed it on a pile of books, which made it 20cm higher. This way, I could use the different Canon 50mm 1:1.8 II objective (it is usually used for taking portraits and it has a small view corner) and although it made my scene smaller, it became the proper size and got the form of a nearly right quadrangle.

The most important thing about photography is lighting.I used two table lamps and one reading lamp. I put some rather strong light bulbs into them: one was 150W and two of them were 100W. This made a good light with, in effect, no visible shadows. Apart from that, I set the scene in a place where the sun light could not shine through (the sun gives a bit stronger light than the lamps and when the day time would change, one would see the difference in lighting). I fixed the exposure manually, because in automatic mode, the background would change the color according to the position of the balls on the scene.

I connected the camera to my laptop and could take pictures simply by pushing the space button and see the result at once. And if there were any kinds of defects... my leg, for example, or a piece of the ball box or just trash...I could make a new shot at once. On the 5th day of work, I ordered a remote for the camera, which made the work even easier, especially the physical input. It was difficult to sit on my knees on the floor for an extended period of time.

I was confronted with another problem already in the process of animation. The balls were sliding constantly by every move and it was practically impossible to put a ball on the same place or make an ideal straight line. Therefore, I got the idea to make borders. I cut bands out of thick carton, stuck it with tape to the floor on the same distance from each other and then covered it all with my background towel. The result was amazing. The balls laid themselves into the right position. It was only the horizontal line that needed to be corrected. That eased the work and the quality of animation considerably. Everything looked more accurate and animation progressed faster.

The only thing left now was to make up a story. I had an idea to make a storyboard. I even formed a couple of small balls out of plasticine and tried to make different figures out of them...but it turned out to be a waste of time and I abandoned this idea. I was just thinking of a scene in my head and a form I could realize it with, but the whole transformation was happening in the process. Practically, every episode started and ended with an empty screen. It was convenient, for example, when an episode was ready and one could let the background overnight and start from the beginning in the morning. Ideas came to me at nights usually...and I would realize them in the morning... and the more I was working the more ideas I got...and I wanted to try this and that... Therefore the film ended up being longer than I had planned. I knew what music to use practically during the first days of work. I knew this melody from childhood and it fits the film perfectly.

When all the episodes were ready (or to put it better, when I decided it was high time to stop), I made up my mind to create the titles. Probably, the easiest way would have been to simply type the title and my name on the computer, but it struck me to make it in a similar style and use the very same balls for letters. I imagined that I could just write the letters with a marker on the balls, but it was a bad idea, since the balls were expensive and were still going to be used for the game. Therefore I printed the letters out with a printer and cut them out... I had to do it very carefully and use as little water based glue as possible. At the end I had to exchange the objective to make a maximal approximation to the title “the end”. For this purpose, I used a Sigma 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 objective. In order to dither the image gradually, I was changing the sharpness from one frame to the other.

I put all the pictures together with the help of the Sony Vegas 8.0 software (free trial version http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com) and added the sound using the same program as well. I had to cut the sound track a bit, because the length of the original track 'Hot Butter Popcorn' is 2:16, but the length of the film is a bit over 4 minutes. I cut out the repeating parts of the track and put them in the middle. After that I had to synchronize everything with the music. And that’s it. ))) Two weeks, 2000 pictures, 500 ping pong balls and a lot of experience...

FEEDBACK

I put my creation on internet. To be honest I did not expect any reactions or success... I just wanted to show it to my friends and relatives... however, the comments were storming... people liked it. Up-to-date (9/01/2008), the film has been watched by 100,076 people on youtube and 55,175 on yahoo video. The video was especially popular on Japanese web sites. The comments vary from exclamations such as super/classy/wow to criticisms that someone just had nothing better to do. In general, the comments agreed on the assumption that this film was time consuming and that the music fit the video very well . People were also asking how it all was made. Some wrote that it was a trick and it was all made by a computer... they were baffled and asked how the balls would lie so straight.
Here are some of them:

This was hypnotizing! 5/5 stars 09/16/2007by jacquelynv I could watch for hours! I wonder how long it took to make.
Wow 4/5 stars 09/16/2007by disneyfreak4743 It was pretty cool, but sombody obviously has ALOT of time on their hands XD. (I liked the pacman, snake, and breakout scenes.)
Amazing Allegory 5/5 stars 09/19/2007by hillgraf It obviously takes serious talent to be able to produce a mini-movie like that!! I hope to see more of your work in the future. Hopefully on TV. Remember, this is how the Simpson s started out. You clearly have the talent to go that far. Outrageous!!! Let us see a preview of your next work  beer pong is so much more entertaining and doesn t require so many balls 2/5 stars 10/02/2007by riartfineimages i wouldn t have realized i d fallen asleep if i hadn t hit my head so hard on the desk as i watched that video. i think it would have been more entertaining had we seen some more creative things done with the ping pong balls like (being thrown into beer filled dixie cups) or maybe if it hadn t been a 3 minute video of ping pong balls making boring patterns and faces. the pacman part was predictable but the only entertaining part in my opinion.
May I give a 6? 5/5 stars 10/02/2007by zxyggrhyn An animation piece where everybody go speechless. Great job! The hardwork must pay off immediately! Producers? Anyone? That was awesome! #
Ping Pong Ball Manipulation 5/5 stars 10/02/2007by jill_arwen That was excellent! I really appreciate all the hard, hard work you must have put into it -- it must have taken a long, long time. Very creative, a lot of fun to watch -- congratulations!!!
So cool 10/24/2007by mpong_imail This is the coolest thing to do with pingpong!
Spellcaster94 (3 days ago) Show Hide Marked as spam 0 Poor comment Good comment Reply | Remove | Block User | Spam pretty cool how you managed to make it so smooth with your hand flicking the ping pong balls. It was also awesome how you didn't accidentaly move any ping pong balls by accident, even though your hands were so close to them. 5/5.
katuni08 (3 weeks ago) How did u keep them in place? was that cloth in the background or something? I added it to my Playlists, by the way!
da_mOd Party-Maker Registriert seit: 31.07.07 Re: Ping Pong StopMotion-Animation die frau hat eindeutig zu viel zeit oO so was hinrrissiges...
3er am 21.10.07 - 18:49 Uhr was für einen sinn hat das?

Many people said that I must have spent a lot of time on it... of course, I knew that I could do everything much easier and faster, but I also knew that I can do it well and there wouldn't be any more chances for me to do stop motion in my life... and these thoughts played the determinant role in my decision... time input was absolutely unimportant... all I cared about was the result. In the end, I accomplished what I had wanted. I am highly satisfied with my work and do not regret the time I put into it. After all, I spent this time doing something I enjoy)) I am glad to have attended the seminar "Trickfilms im Zeitalter der Digitalisierung"... there I gained a good practical experience thanks to Marco Rosenberg, and learned a lot of new things about the world of animation. And I certainly have found a new hobby.

DOWNLOADS

Video - Ping Pong Ball Manipulation(best quality) 31 mb

Windows Media Player Format RAR Archiv

Video - Ping Pong Ball Manipulation (good quality) 10 mb

Windows Media Player Format RAR Archiv

Video - Ping Pong Ball Manipulation (good quality) 23 mb

AVI Format

To download click on the file with your right mouse button(or hold the mouse button down if you are using a Mac), and select Save to Disk or Save Target As...

Youtube     -    Vimeo

Google +



© oblako 2007-2013