Thursday, December 1, 2011

A new Animation Pencil Test capture station: SIMPLICITY CAM 5e HD DOCUMENT SCANNER

UPDATE: 

The version of the Recordex Simplicity Cam referred to in the post below (model 5e) is no longer available , but they have similar models available.   Recently in working with this camera again I found some ways to improve the overall image capture quality , so I'll share the process in this document:

Improving Image Capture Quality with Recordex Simplicity Cam 

The main thing is to use Recordex's proprietary software XSightHD to capture the images , then import the captured images into TVPaint or whatever animation application you may be using.

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Original post from a few years ago: 

As seen on the TVPaint Community User Forum :

This relatively new image capture station , the Simplicity Cam 5e HD Document Scanner by Recordex-USA  --




This unit is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS .

Capture resolution up to 2560 x 1944 (which is actually higher than 2K Film res. of 2048 x 1556). However, to get this resolution your computer's screen resolution needs to be increased to maximum.   If your computer screen resolution is lower you may not get this max. resolution.

Manual control of White Balance and Exposure. (NOTE: not anymore with the most recent update of the XSightHD software .  Unfortunately they removed manual White Balance and Manual Exposure as an option.   Hopefully they'll add it back in a future update of the XSightHD software. )

Max. capture  area of   12.75" x 17.25"  (so this will capture the usable drawing area on 12 Field [12"w x 9"h ]  and 16 Field  [16" w x 12.75" h]  animation paper.)   

Image capture is much faster than scanning on a Flatbed scanner .  (Image quality is better with scanner, but the image quality from the Simplicity Cam is good enough resolution for a pencil test)
NOTE: the base of the unit will need to be bolted down to a table top or a board so it can't be knocked over or jarred out of position (the base is weighted, but it needs to be completely locked down for animation) .

See this document :  Lock-down_Simplicity_Cam 

Add a thin tape down peg bar to the shooting stage to hold your drawings in registration as they are captured, 


 OR  if you have TVPaint Animation you can use the Peg Holes Registration FX in TVPaint to register the drawings post-capture , so you could potentially capture your images much faster by laying the drawings down flat on the shooting stage under the camera without a peg bar , but because the black backing of the shooting stage will show through the peg holes that will cause the peg hole shapes to be captured , so then when the images have all been captured into TVPaint you can run the Peg Holes Registration FX on the captured images to automatically align all the drawings in perfect registration  (Some other  pencil test softwares have similar types of automatic peg-hole shape alignment . Check with the Support Dept. of the software you use to see if this is an option .   I can tell you that the Peg Hole Registration in TVPaint Animation is easy to use and is very accurate.)
You will need to add a set of lights as the built-in LED light that comes with it is not generally bright enough .   But the lights you need for Pencil Testing are inexpensive clamp-on "shop lamps"  which you can purchase at any hardware store.   Use 150 watt equivalent spiral "Cool Bulb" fluorescent lights , which remain cool enough to tape a piece of  plain white paper over the lamps so you will get very bright, but diffused light spread over the shooting area so your drawings are captured without hotspots in the middle or shadows at the edges which can happen when pencil testing without adequate lighting.

This kind of lighting set up shown below with inexpensive shop lamps will work fine :
On the Mac use it with CamTwist Studio for extra control over the captured images (control Brightness/Contrast/White Balance , and also Zoom-in/Zoom-out of the camera) .  On Windows use the software that comes with the camera for Windows : XSight HD camera viewer software.

** UPDATE : use the XSightHD software for both Windows AND Mac for best quality image captures with Recordex Simplicity Cam.   ** 

The Simplicity Cam 5e unit is confirmed to work for capturing high-res. b & w line art animation drawings into TVPaint Animation  with both Windows and Mac OS.   (given that it is an HD USB camera it should potentially work with any other kind of pencil test software such as Digicel Flipbook  or Toki Line Test.  But check the technical specs first with the Support Dept. from whatever software you are using)

More information here:

  http://www.recordexusa.com/page152.html

http://www.recordexusa.com/simplicitycam.html

The manufacturer Recordex-USA does not sell directly to the public, but they have a list of resellers available on their website:    http://www.recordexusa.com/shop-recordex.html