What should I use for whiteboard animation?
September 10, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

What video camera and other equipment would be good for capturing a RSA Animate style whiteboard animation? I'm on a budget, so cheaper is better.

I've been asked to help with a educational video featuring a whiteboard animation. I know I'm not going to approach the production quality of the Royal Society of Arts, I'd also like it to not suck. What camera, accessories, software or techniques would you suggest for capturing and editing sped up video of someone drawing on a dry erase board? Price is a relevant factor, so there's no need to recommend super expensive pro grade cameras- I'm aiming for pretty good, not great.

I've seen the AskMe on motion graphics - this is about capturing live action.
posted by zamboni to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You can do this with any reasonably decent video camera (any consumer camera from the last 3-4 years). The set up for filming the white board will need enough lights to light the whole area evenly and brightly (and without creating high lights in the image), and should avoid casting a shadow from the arm of the artist. Then you'll need to edit out any mistakes (if the artist needs to erase and redraw something) and speed up the video.
Of all this, I'd say the lighting and camera set up are hardest part to get right (how do you film the drawing area with the artists head or body getting the in the way), and you'll want the camera 90 degrees to the whiteboard surface or it will be distorted. For video software, you just need something to do the edits and speed up the video playback. My guess is this can be done in low-end video apps (which I don't have much experience with, I use Premiere and After Effects).
posted by doctor_negative at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2013

Oops, missed the small bit at the bottom.

To be honest, I'd look at mounting some sort of headmount/GoPro/whatever also and cutting between the two.

Come to terms with the fact that you're gonna have shadows.

thank you whoever coded the edit feature!
posted by Sphinx at 6:36 PM on September 10, 2013

It's hard to say looking at the RSA videos how many of the effects were done in post, certainly the pans and zooms. And I guess the different scenes were recorded separately then composited to give the final spread. The hand looks like it was recorded separately, clipped and then comped. Certainly a lot of work however it was done.

Doing this on a budget tho... I'd use a DSLR that can shoot full HD video (1920 x 1080) as it will allow you more leeway to crop and zoom when you're editing (even iMovies has basic Ken Burns features). You can also manually focus and lock it, normal video cameras with autofocus will tend to have trouble maintaining constant focus especially on a large white field with an artist moving around in frame.

You'll have to construct a simple but sturdy frame to mount it above the whiteboard.

WRT lighting, I've used translucent white plastic lit from underneath for still product photography before and it's a simple way to minimise shadows, I'm not sure how well it would work in this case (maybe the light washes out the drawing?) but it's worth checking out. You could use an artists light table to do some quick tests.
posted by rog at 4:17 PM on September 11, 2013

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