Date   
Capturing Video

 

Hi Marc...
In a recent email you mentioned that you were clearing space in your home for capturing video.  It would be interesting to know what it's like when you are completed.  Many of us would like to shoot video and to learn how to do it better.
In my case:
  • I shoot my video with my Pixel 2XL.
  • I have a venetian blind that I pull down from the ceiling.  It falls to the rear of my workbench and then is draped forward and off the forward edge.  This is the backdrop.
  • I use light that streams in from the open garage door and I have one studio light that I can place where I want it.  There is a window that provides back light.
  • My studio has led shop lights overhead.  When shooting video these lights usually cause darkish horizontal bands across the video...so almost always I turn off the overhead lights.
  • I edit using Kdenlive.  This is an Open Source video editor that meets all of my needs.  There was a learning curve...but not extreme. I'm very pleased with it.
  • After shooting I upload to my YouTube channel.
Looking forward to learning the details of your video captures.

Cheers
-Jim Coffee-

Re: Capturing Video

Automata Magazine
 

Hi Jim,

I'm trying to replicate the same conditions that we used when we shot the Tinplate Girl videos (http://tinplategirl.com/category/videos/). The most important thing, we found, is decent lighting. Our shooting was done in a room that had a lot of natural light, which we decided was more of a liability than an asset, so we always closed the blinds to minimize it. It's best to have just one type of light source, not a mix of incandescent, LEDs, fluorescent, etc. Today's cameras have built-in AWB (automatic white balance), which is a wonderful thing, but they still seem to struggle with mixed light sources.

For lighting, we used plain old halogen work lights. We had two of them, set at 45 degrees on either side of the subject. We found that they made harsh shadows, especially of the speaker, who was standing in front of a blank wall. We made some diffusers out of plastic shower curtains stretched on wooden frames. These helped a lot but the shadows were still too strong. However, by adding a layer of tracing paper to the diffusers, we ended up with soft, but bright, lighting. Obviously, this is not a professional (or expensive) lighting setup but it produced results with which we were happy.

I have two cameras, both Canon Vixias of different vintages. These are perfectly adequate. For shooting the standups, the camera is mounted on a tripod. A lavalier mic is clipped to the speaker's shirt and plugged into the camera. The second camera, also tripod mounted, was used for closeups. However, this could be done with just a single camera, and the closeup clips spliced in during editing.

I use Final Cut Express to edit my videos, but just about any video-editing software should be fine for amateur work. I just use Final Cut because I'm familiar with it. It has a lot more bells and whistles that I'll ever use. I prefer clean, simple videos that just get to the point, without a lot of bling or special effects.

Welcome Paul

 

Thanks for joining the Automata forum.  We consider Automata to be "Machines that replicate human, animal, or inanimate objects’ motions, capabilities, and/or everyday tasks. These can be and cranked, motor driven, or computer controlled.”   This definition may be expanded as time flows. We welcome all Automata relevant conversation.  Please feel free to discuss creating, buying, selling, designing, techniques, solutions.  This group is actively moderated...it is the moderators objective to ensure that the group stays on topic, that members are civil, and that there is a minimum of spam.  It is to the benefit of all interested in Automata that this group be active and healthy.  

We are a new group that is just getting started.  We welcome your participation.

Cheers
Marc and Jim, the group moderators

What do you call your people?

 

When I am creating automata one of the things that I create are little humans.  When I think about these little humans, or when I am speaking with my wife or someone else about them I'm always stumbling on what to call them.  I had the discussion with my wife and some close friends over beers at the Stone Brewery here in Escondido.  The closest that we could all agree was "biped".  So I've started referring to my little people as bipeds.  I'm still not comfortable.  What do you all call your little people?
Cheers
-Jim Coffee-

Re: What do you call your people?

Automata Magazine
 

All of my little people have names, so I just call them by name — Billy Bob, Walter, Zog, Jasper, Wilbur, etc.

Re: What do you call your people?

V Bass
 

I usually call them "figures", though now that you bring it up, I can think of all sorts of other possibilities: puppets, mannekins, dancers, pawns, etc. But I like "biped" very much. It's a keeper.

This forum is in beta mode July-August.

 

Good morning....
This forum, which is provided to encourage automata conversation, is in a sort of beta mode until the September/October issue of Automata Magazine is published.  This forum will be introduced in the September/October issue.  For the next two months at least I will be posting new messages at a rather rapid rate.  I'll be doing this to bulk up the message content of the forum and to give anyone who might come across the group a bit of a hint about what is going on.  Though I say that the group is in beta mode...understand that it is full functioning.  Any questions or problems with the group can easily be addressed to the group moderators simply by posting a message into the group.

Welcome to the Automata forum!

Jim Coffee
a forum moderator
San Diego, California

Re: This forum is in beta mode July-August.

Automata Magazine
 

Looks good. Thanks. -M


On Jul 9, 2019, at 10:48 AM, Jim Coffee <jim@...> wrote:

Good morning....
This forum, which is provided to encourage automata conversation, is in a sort of beta mode until the September/October issue of Automata Magazine is published.  This forum will be introduced in the September/October issue.  For the next two months at least I will be posting new messages at a rather rapid rate.  I'll be doing this to bulk up the message content of the forum and to give anyone who might come across the group a bit of a hint about what is going on.  Though I say that the group is in beta mode...understand that it is full functioning.  Any questions or problems with the group can easily be addressed to the group moderators simply by posting a message into the group.

Welcome to the Automata forum!

Jim Coffee
a forum moderator
San Diego, California

Searching eBay for Automata

 

I have an automatic search being performed at eBay on the term "automata".  Rarely does it return anything related to my definition of automata.  In the July/August issue of Automata Magazine there were several book reviews.  One of the books I've subsequently ordered (Making Mechanical Marvels in Wood).  The other book, and the reason for this post, is out of my price range...though it sounds very interesting. When searching eBay for Baranger: Window Displays in Motion up popped some very interesting little devices that could easily fall under the definition of automata.  Or in other words...I got more automata hits than when searching for automata.

Do you have effective automata search terms that you use on eBay?  If so, please consider sharing them (here) with us.

Cheers
-Jim Coffee-
a moderator
San Diego, California

Motorize...or not?

 

As I have built automata I have concluded that all of my future creations will be powered by both a motor and a hand crank.  Adding a motor certainly adds to the complexity of the project...not to mention the possibility of something jamming and getting wrecked.  That said, I (and others that I've shared my automata with) get more enjoyment out of my automata when I can watch them run (motor powered).  I also like to be able to crank...to feel.  But I get more pleasure out of watching.
Am curious how other automitists feel about motors?

Respectfully
-Jim Coffee-

Re: Motorize...or not?

Paul E Giles Jr
 

I'm a purist. To me there is a magic to touching that handcrank, experiencing the tactile feedback. Those little bumps in my fingers timed to the sound of the moving parts compliments the movement. Motors/electronics are impersonal. 

Re: Motorize...or not?

V Bass
 

It depends.
I agree that the touch factor is an important one for automata you might have in your personal collection. But I think many automata benefit from having a motor. Anything that's on public display is probably better if run by a motor.
I'm thinking in particular of Paul Boyer's 80 + automata, all of which are powered by clock motors. the mechanisms are mostly made of bent wire, including all the rods, cams, etc. You really don't want people walking through an exhibit grabbing hold of cranks when you can have them push a button and get a repeatable controllable motion.

Vance

Re: Motorize...or not?

 

I absolutely agree that being able to hand crank is essential.  It is through the crank handle that the health of the machine can be monitored.  It is through the crank handle that experimentation can take place.  It is through the crank handle that the creator can feel the pulse and life of h/her creation.
A recent experience:  I had taken one of my automata to a friends house...it was mid build and I wanted to share.  The lady of the house was fascinated with it...and in spite of her gentle nature and 70+ years started cranking at light speed :-).  Thankfully nothing broke or flew off.
My most recent automata is powered with both a 50 rpm gearmotor and a hand crank.  I use a one way bearing to isolate the motor from the hand crank.  So far...so good.
I agree that crank handles are important.  And I agree that the public cannot be trusted to handle things carefully (enough).
-Jim-

On Wed, 10 Jul 2019 at 21:36, V Bass <vrbass@...> wrote:
It depends.
I agree that the touch factor is an important one for automata you might have in your personal collection. But I think many automata benefit from having a motor. Anything that's on public display is probably better if run by a motor.
I'm thinking in particular of Paul Boyer's 80 + automata, all of which are powered by clock motors. the mechanisms are mostly made of bent wire, including all the rods, cams, etc. You really don't want people walking through an exhibit grabbing hold of cranks when you can have them push a button and get a repeatable controllable motion.

Vance

Airbrushing is not for me

 

I recently purchased a good quality airbrush and a compressor and all the fittings.  I proceed to frustrate myself beyond belief...and I packed the stuff away.
Do any of you airbrush? 
My comfort level at this point is acrylics with a brush.
Cheers
-Jim-

Re: Airbrushing is not for me

Automata Magazine
 

Is your airbrush double action or single action? A single-action airbrush (like a Paasche H) is much easier to use for painting a plain surface where nuance is not necessary, I’ve found. —Marc


On Jul 11, 2019, at 9:10 AM, Jim Coffee <jim@...> wrote:

I recently purchased a good quality airbrush and a compressor and all the fittings.  I proceed to frustrate myself beyond belief...and I packed the stuff away.
Do any of you airbrush? 
My comfort level at this point is acrylics with a brush.
Cheers
-Jim-

Re: Airbrushing is not for me

 

Hi Marc...
Thanks for the feedback. Dual action. My problem was clogs.
-Jim Coffee-
San Diego

On Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 08:36 Automata Magazine <automatamag@...> wrote:
Is your airbrush double action or single action? A single-action airbrush (like a Paasche H) is much easier to use for painting a plain surface where nuance is not necessary, I’ve found. —Marc


On Jul 11, 2019, at 9:10 AM, Jim Coffee <jim@...> wrote:

I recently purchased a good quality airbrush and a compressor and all the fittings.  I proceed to frustrate myself beyond belief...and I packed the stuff away.
Do any of you airbrush? 
My comfort level at this point is acrylics with a brush.
Cheers
-Jim-

Re: Airbrushing is not for me

V Bass
 

Clogs are worse with acrylics, in my experience. They dry too fast compared to oil-based paints. Also, are you using an airbrush-specific acrylic? The pigment grain size makes a difference, it seems.

Vance

Re: Airbrushing is not for me

 

Good morning...
So reading between the lines here it seems that you both airbrush (and I did not sense any frustration).  Vance...you have suggested something other than acrylic.  And no, I was thinning acrylic...not using airbrush designed paints.  I believe that I need to get some airbrush specific paint and try again.  
As a side note...I just went to the Liquitex site and notice that they have rattle cans of acrylic...zillions of colors.  

I have a Dick Blick in the area.  I'm going to stop in.  Thanks for your comments.  Very helpful.
Cheers
-Jim-
San Diego

On Thu, 11 Jul 2019 at 09:43, V Bass <vrbass@...> wrote:
Clogs are worse with acrylics, in my experience. They dry too fast compared to oil-based paints. Also, are you using an airbrush-specific acrylic? The pigment grain size makes a difference, it seems.

Vance

Daniel Fulco

 

I found the Daniel Fulco article (July/August Automata Magazine) to be very inspiring.  I would love to live near this guy, to perhaps have him as a friend and mentor.  Imagine what could be learned.  Some of this stuff is intimidating...for example an 880 pound automata is outside of the norm.  I cannot imagine myself imagining and then creating an 880 pound automata...what a glorious task. I also am awed at his ability to use "mixed media".  It seems that nothing is off limits...any material or technology is within bounds.  What a strong mind this guy must have!
This is a great article...very inspiring.
Cheers
-Jim-
San Diego

A Cabaret of Mechanical Movement (a link to the video)

 

Came across this video this morning...though it was published a year ago or so.  Fun.  A quick view of lots of automata.  Some are powered...some are hand cranked.  Hand cranked automata with public access is scary to me.  It seems that the automata could be abused.
Anyway...less than four minutes long...take a look if you like automata.
-Jim-
San Diego