Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Love Dance of the Parodyciums

Our latest video on Youtube - Love Dance of the Parodyciums - is presented there as a wildlife mockumentary. It is really another test of the CVSEJ-A4402 low-budget hybrid camera. A common teaching need is the stop-motion exercise where students animate objects like modelling clay puppets by taking a series of still digital photos. We wanted to do that kind of test. On Dec 23 2009 I was at the beach and I saw 2 photogenic scraps of seaweed both about 2.5 cm long. No tripod available so I made a steady mount for the A4402 with a piece of wood I found placed on a ramp of sand that I made to get it to the right angle to point down at the hand-sized interesting collection of seaweed that made up my set. I then began the classic process of move the seaweed actors a few mm then take a photo repeated many times. My quick test turned into 405 photos taken over nearly 2 hours and I admit that I got sunburned which I am always careful to avoid and has not happened to me for many years. NZ is in the southern hemisphere so Dec is summer.

Distance from camera to work was about 20cm. Focus switched to "macro".
Colour balance manually set to Sunlight. Still image resolution set to the default native 5 Megapixels.

How does the A4402 perform in this situation? I do not get a clear answer from this movie because (con) I can see focus "hunting" variations but (pro) I also feel that this setup is a difficult one for a simple autofocus system to handle. It was only later that I realised that my "dressing the set" with interesting background seaweed was a bad idea because it gave a wide zone of objects to focus on in a closeup situation where the depth of field (zone) is small. The "star" seaweeds - er "Parodyciums" were on the near edge of this zone and they were mostly slightly out of focus. I hit them with the video editor "unsharp mask" filter to make them seem to look clearer. I also added contrast-lowering overlays to give the background areas less contrast and move viewer attention more on to the Parodyciums.

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