Thursday, April 29, 2010

The LEDs

In this episode, I'll talk a bit about how I set up the LED lighting in the pinball bells.

Here's the breadboard and arduino setup. I'll post the code for the arduino at the bottom of this post.

I used 3-color LEDs (RGB) and the pots acted as color mixers for each LED. Maybe you can tell from the board, but that means I could only have a maximum of 6 LEDs plugs in at any time.

Testing the LEDs.

The wiring was a bit of a mess, and it was tricky sliding the wire wrap through the holes I drilled in the bells. It was also a pain sticking the wires in the breadboard every time I had a new setup... but hey, no one said being an artist was easy. Having the patience of an animator definitely came into play!

Hiding the wires.

I drilled holes in the bottom of the set and had the breadboard hiding below.

On each frame, I twisted the pots for a new color for the flash lights effect.

Paul Shin sets up a shot.

Here we tested the LEDs and got the framing right. We shot JPEGs on a Canon 5D.

The Christmas lights were plugged into a dimmer so I could fade the ambient lights down and create drama when a bell was hit by the pinball.

Now as promised, the code! Please credit Joe if you repost, he was essential to helping me set this up!

LED control. 3 TLC5940s daisy chained.

6 pots are connected to Analog pins 0 - 5. Each pot controls 2 or 3
RGB LEDs connected to the TLC5940.

- joe saavedra april 2010

#include "Tlc5940.h"

int pot[] = {0,1,2,3,4,5};
int currVal[] = {0,1,2,3,4,5};
//this is laying out exactly which (set of three) pins each pot controls
// -- each set of three here will have the same color (assuming all are
// plugged in as R,G,B uniformly
int legSet1[] = {0,1,2, 18,19,20, 36,37,38};
int legSet2[] = {3,4,5, 21,22,23, 39,40,41};
int legSet3[] = {6,7,8, 24,25,26, 42,43,44};
int legSet4[] = {9,10,11, 27,28,29, 45,46,47};
int legSet5[] = {12,13,14, 30,31,32, 48,48,48}; //actually there are only 47 legs
int legSet6[] = {15,16,17, 33,34,35, 48,48,48}; //i am putting 48 as a filler so the
//arrays are all the same size.

//---- SAME AS ABOVE, BUT NEATER, 2D array, easier to access ----
int legSet[6][9] ={ {0,1,2, 18,19,20, 36,37,38} , {3,4,5, 21,22,23, 39,40,41},
{6,7,8, 24,25,26, 42,43,44} , {9,10,11, 27,28,29, 45,46,47},
{12,13,14, 30,31,32, 48,48,48} , {15,16,17, 33,34,35, 48,48,48} };
//i am putting 48 as a filler so the arrays are all the same size.

//this was just for testing
int leg[] = {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,

void setup(){

void loop(){

for(int i = 0; i<6; j="0;"> 4000){
for (int j=0; j<9;> 10 && currVal[i] < j="0;" j="1;" mapped =" map(currVal[i]," j="2;"> 1350 && currVal[i] < j="0;" j="1;" j="2;" mapped =" map(currVal[i],"> 2600 && currVal[i] < 4000){
for (int j=0; j<9; j+=3){
int mapped = map(currVal[i], 2600, 4000, 0, 3095);
Tlc.set(legSet[i][j], mapped); //red getting added
for (int j=1; j<9; j+=3){
Tlc.set(legSet[i][j], 0); //green off
for (int j=2; j<9; j+=3){
Tlc.set(legSet[i][j], 4095); //blue on

/* //test to control all three legs identically
for (int j=0; j<9; j++){
Tlc.set(legSet[i][j], currVal[i]);


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making a Mess

My place was a crafty disaster area, but the pay off was tremendous!

My art kitchen.

I made this video at a frenetic pace in order to make the deadline, and this required that I completely trash my Brooklyn apartment. Luckily, my roommate Paul was in Korea during most of production, so they only people who got to see the disgusting state of my apartment were the few kind souls who answered my plead for help.

Here you see the set up for the rocket takeoff / atmospheric entry shot. That is my roommate's door sealed off behind that sky painting! I shot it sideways because it was hard to mount that track vertically. The track used a hand crank and skateboard wheels screwed onto a wooden platform. By the way, I almost forgot to thank Nick for making this great stop-motion crank track and lending it to me for a couple weeks. I'll find out his site and post it soon.

Here you get an idea of the lighting set up I used for most of the sets. I recently became a huge fan of rope lights and xmas lights because they create an even aura of awesomeness. This set is a bad example of this because it is a bit hot around the edges.

Cleared for take off!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Project Pinbal Number 12

Hello Friends!

I just completed an epic stop-motion video for the Aniboom Sesame Street competition. In anticipation of the "how did you do it?" emails I may receive in the near future, this blog will be now focused on publishing behind the scenes information.

I chose to enter the Pinball Number 12 remake category because the original (by animator Jeffrey Hale) was my favorite part of Sesame Street when I was a kid. Everything about it pretty much rules: the visuals, the timing, the concept, and lets not forget the incredible music! This video was my humble attempt to pay tribute to one of my earliest inspirations.

The original Pinball Number 12 music was composed by Walt Kraemer and sang by the Pointer Sisters. My friend Perrin Cloutier produced the awesome cover song. Perrin plays accordion for the band Beirut and drums for Soft Landings. He is the MAN. His wonderful fiance Jessica did vocals for the track. I am incredibly indebted to them both!

There are many people that helped make this video happen, who I will attempt to list here:

Drew Anderson painted planets, paper mached, designed the fish and convinced his friend Jason Patrick Voegele to lend my a bunch of LEDs (which I should probably return soon). Find Drew at and Jason at

Yoni Brooks generously let me borrow his Canon 5D. He makes documentaries. Visit him at

Sean Donnelly helped me composite and color correct the shots. I work with him frequently at his production company, Awesome + Modest.

Rebecca Goldstein animated a couple crucial shots at crunch time, saving me a lot of stress and doing a much better job than I would have!

Walter Griffith Jr is my neighbor. He starred as the hand that pulled back the pinball plunger in the first shot of the video.

Jesse Hicks loaned me his zoom lens. Thanks Jesse!

Joe Saavedra set up the potentiometers and programmed the Arduino I used to control the 3-color LEDs on the set. See his stuff at

Paul Shin is my roommate who helped light the sets and set up the camera. He also lent me tons of equipment and let me trash the apartment with art supplies.

Michael White helped me build and paint props. He's a pro with the drill!

Stay tuned for more updates.

Love Abbey