What's In Your LunchBox?
Maybe There's Something To This
Hmmm...this is a lot of positive talk and since frame accuracy is monumental in animation, I'd really be interested in the LunchBox. Then again, it's another piece of hardware I'd have to learn and teach others. Lord knows I hate wasting my time dorking around with equipment. What really stinks is getting one of my tech-heads in to tweak it all the time. It probably won't be compatible with all the other things (read expensive things) that we already use in house, and, if it's like computers, it'll need to be upgraded every 3-6 months. If this is the case, I think I'll resort to brown-bagging my lunch.
No Geeks Necessary
In most cases, computers as framegrabbers offer more complications than solutions. Many frustrations stem from the complexity of learning the computer, the software and it's constant upgrades. But one of the things Gary Schwartz likes most about the LunchBox is that the system requires no techno-geeks. "Computers are too complex and the technology upgrades are so frequent that the learning curve keeps you from mastering the tools. It seems that computers are taking the focus off the art. The Video LunchBox has a minimum learning curve with no upgrade manuals. Everything is in the box, just plug it in."
All you need, I was told, is a monitor and a camera, and a VCR, if you eventually want to save your animation by recording it to tape. When you get the system there's a two minute tutorial included. `What can you possibly learn in two minutes?' I thought.
But Reiner agrees with Schwartz, "We used computers to create animation, but they are more difficult to explain and the playback features are more tedious. The elegance of the design for the LunchBox makes it the best educational tool for animation available today".
It's That Easy?
Okay, so I can presumably do it all myself. This sounds promising so I'll try it out. Here I go, opening up the box. Let's see what we have in here. Here's the actual LunchBox and man, is it lightweight. What else have we got in here? Two BNC cables for the camera and the monitor, a power cord, and a few loose leaf documents. That can't be it! Where's the 500 page manual rewritten from a foreign language that no one, button-pusher friendly beginner included, can comprehend? Where's the step-by-step CD-Rom with the ever-annoying and frustrating actor/sales person instructors? Maybe there's another package with an encyclopedia of instructional materials...Wait! Here's a one-sided 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper with a 15 step tutorial. Only 15 steps?! That can't be it. Knowing me, it'll take me five hours and it'll be in 200 pieces.
Now that I'm all heated up, I decided rather than further discouraging myself, I'd go back to my interviews and see what they had to say.
Potato Farmers Can Animate
After many stories, a common theme was revealed. Just about anyone can learn to animate: from professional animators and art students, to seven-year-olds, to even potato farmers?
Gary Schwartz has taken the Video LunchBox to places that animation could never go before. "The system is light enough to carry into a rural country town, plug it into a socket, and play it. It's that simple. I took it out to a potato farm and taught the farmers how to make animation all in one day."
The system can do time-lapse animation as well. Karl Staven revealed that the two recent projects include pixilation in a school hallway which was then digitized and composited with animation created in Softimage
The enthusiasm that working with the Video LunchBox generates is most evident as Jason Reiner describes his experience at the Aquarium. "I teach stop frame animation drop-in workshops at the museum on Saturdays. During that time, kids and their families can drop by the lab and walk out of the museum with their own animated short, complete with sound and music. The look on a seven-year-old's face when you hand them their tape that they made in under an hour is so incredible! They can't wait to show their friends and family members what they have created".
Maybe There's Something To This