Moving Objects

Posted by on October 31, 2011
Posted in: animation, projects
Cross-traffic video clip

This brief animation highlights one drawback of a right side cycle-track facility. This was one of several options considered for the North Williams Ave Traffic Safety Operations project.

 

Security Camera video clip

One of twelve animated clips created to help jurors understand an incident that occurred on a light rail train. The colored dots on the floor plan diagram show "people of interest" as they move around in the security camera field of view.
 

Hot Pursuit video clip

This satellite view of a car chase is one of the most creative use of Google Maps I have ever seen. Honest Studio created this clip for a collaborative film project called Psst! Pass it on. If you are curious, my other favorite Google Maps mashup is a music video for Arcade Fire's The Wilderness Downtown.
In last month's newsletter, we covered two simple techniques for adding motion to a presentation: Flipbook and Fly-thru animations. These are great for describing an object or scene from different perspectives. Sometimes this isn’t enough, though, and it’s better to see objects moving within the scene.

 

Motion Graphics
The simplest method of animating objects is to superimpose 2d graphics over an existing video clip. This two step process can be accomplished with software tools that add titles, shapes and annotations. You’ve seen this before on TV– think weather or sports broadcasts. There are limits to how much can be shown using 2d motion, but we have used the approach successfully for several projects:

 

• Water flow in a sewer system diversion shaft
• Windmill blades in a wind farm visualization
• People of interest in security camera footage
 

3d Animation
A more in-depth approach is to render a single video clip that includes moving objects. It is fairly simple to make objects look good when they are still. Adding realistic movement can be tricky, though, particularly for organic objects such as water or people. A woman walking doesn’t glide along the sidewalk, she is lifting and placing each foot, bending her knees, swaying her arms, snapping her fingers.

 

In order to maintain visual consistency and keep a reasonable budget, we use techniques that can work with limited detail. One option is to view the action from a distance, where the lack of realism is less noticeable. We tested this approach using Google SketchUp to illustrate traffic at an intersection in Portland. The bicycle riders are represented by simple gray figures that are not pedaling. However, with the camera far above from the street, viewers focus on the big picture rather than cyclist details.

 

Video animation can be a compelling way to deliver your message, in presentations and via the internet. Is it a good fit for your project? Call us at 503.465.4533 to discuss.

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