Basic Animation 2D - Dragonframe

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Getting ready

  1. Sign the Logbook.
  2. Set up the lab for shooting:
    1. Secure the pegbar to the animation stand with some paper tape and position your artwork.
    2. Turn on the power strip for the camera and lights.
    3. Turn on the lights for the stand.
    4. Turn on the camera.
    5. Set camera to Manual mode (M).
    6. Set the lens to auto-focus (AF)
  3. Set up Dragonframe
    1. Power up the computer and log in.
    2. Launch Dragonframe from the Dock.
    3. Select Create New Scene from the dialog box, or open a previously created scene with Open Scene.
    4. Name your production, 5 characters maximum.
    5. Set the Frame Rate and click OK.
    6. In the new window that opens browse to your desktop.
    7. Click New Folder and give it a name and hit Create.
    8. Select that folder and click Save.

Configuring Dragonframe

  1. If you do not see the live camera feed from the animation stand press command R to refresh the live camera feed.
    • a red outline will appear around the window signifying that live view is enabled.
  2. Set the frames per second for playback speed:
    • 1's = 30fps
    • 2's = 15fps
    • 3's = 10fps

Image Rotation

  • The cameras are mounted upside down in the 2D Labs.
  • Dragonframe has a setting to rotate the image.
  • This should be enabled by default in the 2D labs
    • If the image appears upside down:
      • click the Rotate icon in the tool bar.
      • or in the menu bar go to View > Orientation > Rotate

Set the Aspect Ratio for the project

  1. In the Animation window, click on the Guide Layers tab.
  2. Select Aspect Ratio Mask and choose 16:9 (rectangular), 4:3 (square) depending on the requirements for your assignment.
  3. Adjust the mask opacity as needed.
  4. Select Aspect Ratio Lines and select Outline and/or Crosshairs as needed.
  5. In the Aspect Ratio Mask section set the Aspect Ratio to match the 16:9 or 4:3 setting above.

Adding Grids and Overlays

Add a Grid

  1. Next to Composition Guides click the + to add a grid.
  2. Adjust the horizontal and vertical sections as needed.
  3. Adjust the opacity as needed.

Add a Broadcast Safe Overlay

  1. Next to Composition Guides click the + add a broadcast safe overlay
  2. Choose either 16:9 or 4:3.
  3. Select Action Safe and/or Title Safe.
  4. Adjust the opacity as needed.
Alt text
A: TV-Safe Overlay B: Grid Overlay C: Opacity

Set Up Artwork

  1. Arrange your artwork on the table.
    • Adjust the framing by moving the camera up or down the column, and position the table using the cranks.
    • Check framing so that the artwork overfills the screen and make sure any content, and titles, fall within the boundaries of the Action/Title Safe reference guides.
  2. Turn off overhead lights.
  3. Check for reflections.
    1. Adjust polarizing filter on camera by hand.

Cinematography Window

In Dragonframe, click on the camera icon Camera icon dragonframe.png on the top right of the screen to enter the Cinematography window.

Camera Settings

On the Camera

  • Set to Manual Mode ("M").
  • Set lens to Auto Focus ("AF").

Cinematography window

While still in the Cinematography window confirm the camera settings are:

    • Picture Style - NEUTRAL
    • Image Quality - LARGE FINE JPEG
    • White Balance - TUNGSTEN
    • External Flash - OFF
    • Stretch - NONE
    • Exposure Preview offset - 0
  1. Set the ISO dial to be 100


  1. Set the focus by first placing one of focus guides on the table.
  2. Set camera lens to either MF manual focus or AF autofocus. Focusing - Dragonframe
  3. Click the focus check button.
  4. Position the rectangle to where you want to focus.
  5. Double click in the rectangle box to zoom in.
    1. For manual focus slowly turn the focus ring on the lens until everything is sharp.
    2. For auto focus click the focus buttons in Dragonframe until everything is sharp.
  6. To zoom out, double click the rectangle box.
  7. When using the multi-plane, rotate the outer polarizing filter until there is a reduction in glare. Make sure you don't touch the lens with your bare fingers.

F-Stop and Shutter Speed

  1. Adjust the f-stop (aperture) and shutter speed dials by clicking and dragging to the right or left to adjust exposure.
  2. Drag the line (depth of field slider) between the f-stop and shutter speed setting to adjust both at once.
  3. Take a test shot after each adjustment to confirm the exposure. The Test Shot button is located underneath the camera settings of Cinematography.
  4. When the image is in focus, and exposed properly (not too dark, not too bright), click on the animate button to return to the Animation screen.

Setting Exposure

  1. Set the ISO to 100
  2. Set the f-stop to 2.2
  3. Adjust the shutter speed for the desired exposure.
  4. Focus.
  5. Take a test shot.

Depth of Field

  • Depth of field is the zone of a photograph that is in focus
  • A smaller f-stop has a narrower depth of field.
  • A larger f-stop has a wider depth of field.
  • When shooting flat artwork use the smallest f-stop possible. (2.2)
  • When shooting 3d objects or using the multiplane adjust the f-stop to get the desired range of depth of field.
    • Then adjust the shutter speed to get the desired exposure.
    • Always shoot a test shot to get an accurate preview of the depth of field.
  • Use the depth of field slider - the line between the shutter speed and f-stop to change the depth of field while keeping the exposure the same.

Test Shots

  • After changing any camera settings take a new test shot.
  • Test shots will look better than the live view images.
    1. They will have better focus, exposure and depth of field.
  • Click on a test shot to look at it in the view pane.
  • The camera settings will be viewable in the top right corner of the Cinematography window.
  • Click the camera icon below the view pane to return to live view.

Animation Window

Recording Animation

  • To begin capturing frames press the enter key on the numeric keypad.
  • This will take a moment to transfer the still image file from the camera to the Dragonframe software.
  • Do not capture frames too quickly - this will cause Dragonframe to crash and may corrupt your last captured frame. Please encourage yourself to practice patiences when working on animation in the Dragonframe software.

Playback Animation

  • Activate the high-res button on the remote to set the playback source to preview the hi-res stills instead of the lo-res video assist images.
  • To playback your captured frames press 0 on the numeric keypad,
  • or use key 1 and 2 to step through frame by frame.
  • Press the home button on the keyboard to go to the first frame.

Onion Skininning

Onion skinning is a technique used in animation that allows an animator to see several frames at once. Check the Onionskin article for more detail