Our Lightbox Suite allows you to capture images and objects and animate them with equipment and software used by the likes of Disney and Laika Studios.

A lightbox is a backlit drawing easel, the same kind of tool that's been used by animators across the globe for over a century . You'll use the Lightbox Suite if you study animation, and practice techniques like line drawing, character design and image sequencing. The suite is also open to all students within the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Lightbox Suite equipment

  • 20 lightboxes with backlit easels and circular, movable paper nooks for drawing on up to 5 layers of A4 paper
  • 3 Rostrum setups with Dragonframe software, for capturing and animating images and objects
  • 1 additional Rostrum camera setup, which is often available to use out of core teaching hours

What is a Rostrum camera?

A Rostrum camera is a specially designed camera for TV and film that can animate a still picture or object. It consists of a moving lower platform, which holds the item you want to animate, with the camera placed above it on a column.

Many visual effects can be created from this simple setup, although it is most often used to add interest to static objects. The camera can, for example, pan across a painting, and using wipes and zooms, change a still picture into a sequence suitable for television or movie productions.

The controls of the camera differ considerably from those of a regular motion picture camera. The key to its operation is one or more frame counters. These enable the camera operator to roll the film backwards and forwards through the film gate, and to know exactly which frame is being exposed at a given time.

Also key is the way the operation of the shutter is completely independent from the film transport, so a given frame may be exposed a number of different times, or not at all.

Very long exposures are also possible, so that title streaks, zooms and other special effects can be created by keeping the shutter open while moving the camera head up and down the column; rotating or moving the lower platform from side to side; or doing both at the same time.

For some of these types of effects, the artwork may be a transparency, which is back-lit by a light source below the table surface.

Dragonframe

Dragonframe is stop-motion animation software, animators have used it to make several full-length films, including Disney's Frankenweenie and Laika's Coraline, The Boxtrolls, and ParaNorman. It has also been used to shoot stop-motion scenes in live-action movies, including the holochess scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

This area offers a flexible blend of teaching and working environments with adjoining formal and informal computer areas. During term time Eldon offers extended late night opening hours, 3 times a week – so during dissertation time, you can work late.

Where to find us

Lightbox suite

Eldon Building
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth
PO1 2DJ

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