15. A Practical Guide to Recording Video Animation from Computer Graphics

Full Day / Beginning

From presentations to scientific visualization to education, from the World Wide Web to multimedia desktop systems, video is playing an increasingly important role in our computing environment. Most producers of these new video applications need to increase the quality of their productions. This course provides entry-level education for the growing worldwide community of novice video producers.

Who Should Attend
People starting or planning to build a computer-based video animation recording system, including desktop video or visualization centers for industrial and presentation uses.

Robert Judd
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Jim Costigan
University of Illinois at Chicago

Ross Gaunt
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

John Mareda
Sandia National Laboratories

Andy Martinez
Los Alamos National Laboratory


8:30 am: Overview - Bob Judd

Bob will introduce the course and answer the questions: Why would one want to record computer graphics animation, for what purposes is it useful (such as analysis, insight, presentation, training, program development, entertainment), and how tools and techniques differ depending on the data source (scientific calculations, artist animation, CAD-CAM modeling, etc.).

8:40 am: Video Formats - Jim Costigan

For people new to the field, we will describe the wide variety of video formats and discuss their advantages & disadvantages. Topics include: NTSC, Y/C, Y R-Y B-Y, digital video, SMPTE time codes.

9:10 am: Basic Systems - Andy Martinez

We begin with a low-end approach, recording a computer monitor screen with a video camera, and then recording directly from the back of a monitor in real time. We will present examples of each configuration, advantages and problems of each method. Topics include: scan converters, and video recorders.

9:30 am: Basics of Video Animation Systems Part 1 - Jim Costigan

This two-part section will cover the requirements of a range of animation recording systems. Each new system will build on the previous system. With each configuration we will describe the hardware, discuss their features, advantages & disadvantages, and talk about what to look for when purchasing a device. Topics include: video frame buffers, laser video disk recorders, single frame video tape recorders, monitors, time base correctors, distribution amps, sync generators, cables, waveform monitors and vector scopes.

10:00 am: Break

10:15 am: Basics of Video Animation Systems Part 2 - Jim Costigan

10:45 am: High End Animation Systems - Jim Costigan

To maintain quality, and provide the most flexibility, studio quality systems are needed. Topics include: component video recorders, digital disc recorders, time base correctors, synchronization, video switchers, and linear editors.

11:05 am: Desktop Video Systems - Ross Gaunt

Inexpensive computer systems are taking over many functions in video production. While desktop video systems provide some otherwise hard-to-obtain capabilities, they still have many areas that need improvement. We will present an overview of various system configurations, and discuss the advantages of each. Firewire is a new IEEE standard for connection of multimedia systems. We will provide both technical details as well as practical use and interfacing to Firewire. Topics include: non-linear editing, and desktop systems. We also plan to add a live demonstration of a desktop non-linear system if arrangements can be made for a system, software and AV equipment.

12:00 noon: Break

1:30 pm: Compressed Digital Video for Low Bandwidth Systems - John Mareda

Although this topic could be a course by itself, we will present an overview of the main concerns regarding computer animation using a low bandwidth system. Due to the large size and number of frames in a computer animation, some form of file compression is often used. In order to transmit video over a network or play it from a CD-ROM, such as the one included with the course notes, the data also must be highly compressed. The amount of compression and image information loss varies between compression algorithms, and knowing the advantages & disadvantages of each is important. Tradeoffs between the popular compression technologies (JPEG, MPEG1, MPEG2, wavelet, Indeo, and Cinepak) will be described. We will also discuss the limitations of playing video over current networks, use of video over ATM, video server implementations, and information on the next generation of network protocols. Topics include: compression, animation, system requirements, and recordable CD-ROMS.

2:30 pm: Computer Generated Animation Software - John Mareda

There is a variety of software available for making animation, each having a specific use. It is important to know what software goes with what hardware, and what software is needed for a particular function. Topics include: image conversion, controller software, generating animation from vendor packages, AVS, PV-Wave, in-house software, computer animation packages such as Alias, SoftImage, and Wavefront.

3:00 pm: Break

3:15 pm: Polish - Ross Gaunt

What makes a presentation look professional. Topics include: audio, narration, music and sound libraries, copyrights, titles, transitions, flow and pacing.

3:45 pm: Pitfalls of Video - Andy Martinez

Here we cover the problems associated in converting computer graphics into video. Topics include: video color limitations, color correction, safe viewing and title areas, adjacent color problems, resolution, and making copies.

4:15 pm: HDTV - John Mareda

An update on the proposed HDTV standard. Topics include: currently available hardware/software, how does HDTV fit into the computer graphic animation process, and an example of a basic HDTV animation recording system.

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