Animation in RSA Animate Whiteboard Style

Last week someone asked, via twitter, for an animation in the style that RSA Animate uses for their popular video’s. They are made by Andrew Park of Cognitive Media, by the way.

RSA Animate is a great series of videos. The videos show a first person view on a whiteboard as the illustrations are being made. The RSA uses these videos to illustrate the thesis of their speakers. The videos are very popular because the are fun and informative at the same time.

To get a reasonable idea of the challenges, time to draw, factor of replay speed, etcetera, I drew some random chosen image. By lack of a whiteboard, I used a black marker and white paper. First, I tried an Apple FireWire iSight webcam, but soon I found the resolution and video quality to be to low.

Next, I tried an iPhone 3GS that I taped to an improvised holder. That video looked much better, so I did a first test. I used Final Cut Pro to speed it up.

Because the resolution and scale were not kept in tact, I made a second version in the iPhone’s native 640 x 480 resolution, and speeded it up once more, to a total of 20 times the original speed:

I think this is already close to the quality I need. The image is poor lighted now, but that can be improved with one or two bright lamps and some tinkering in the video editor. Or by using a better the video camera. Clearly, RSA Animate tinkers a lot with the video as well and it’s not even that intrusive.

I uploaded 640×480 but youTube resamples it to fit a 640×360 frame, so 480×360 on youTube and 425×344 on external sites like mine. However, since it’s in Flash, you can easily tinker with the size of the video:

If I made another test with better lighting, next step is to decide if I need a better camera. Also, the iPhone’s camera software does a lot of active white balance. So much that you can see the white background changing color. With a ‘real’ camera, I can disable such automatic white balance and avoid this.

If you are interested in a RSA style video animation, please contact me.

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