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Animating images with RC servos

March 24, 2015
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Many archival images such as old illustrations depict interesting characters, such as this unknown, little man from Het Nationaal Glasmuseum (CC BY). Such imaginative characters are tempting for animation and formats like animated GIFs are quite ideal for playing around with simple animation – have a look at some examples of public domain GIFs here.

I wanted to try out making a tangible animation, so in this quick experiment I glued the man on a piece of cardboard and animated him using a small RC hobby servo. I also added a LED light to the monocle of the gentleman, as this seemed to fit in perfectly. Arduino microcontroller was used for moving the servo horn (and the arm) back and forth, as well as for lighting up the LED. Using RC servos for such animations is easy with the Arduino servo library and there are many tutorials for getting started, such as this one. Other types of motors and purely mechanical means could also be used for adding interesting movement to archival images, and the addition of sound would definitely also be a plus!

cartoonman

servo

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Kati Hyyppä
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