A lighting controller for a stop motion animation scenario


The scenario.

Feather Pillow [1] – or in portuguese, Almofada de Penas –  is an animated stop motion film that shows a new perspective of classic Latino American stories. They needed to justify the set illumination by using small lighting points. Also, they wanted total freedom of  changing the light intensity and color hue. They tried using common lights but the scenario started to melt, so they asked me for a solution.

So I choosed to use high bright RGB LEDS (smd 5050), an Arduino Mega and some auxiliary current drive circuits to build this lighting system. The arduino communicate through the USB serial interface, and interprete commands using a simple serial command parser/interpreter. The system supports 4 RGB channels, and 4 leds in each channel, leading to 16 led points.


scenario illumination study done by Marcos D’Elboux (photography director) and Joseph Specker Nys (director).




Arduino sketch






Goofs and fails

Not gonna lie: this project was a little disaster. Simple specs that turned out complicated for various reasons. One was my inability to use 74595 ICs as GPIO expanders [2]. Then, I decided to buy dedicated PWM expanders [3], to later notice that it only works as current sinks, but the LEDs were already soldered in the other way. We and the directors negotiated to implement fewer output channels (from 9 to 4 RGB LEDs channels).

Also, a GUI in processing would take time that the project couldn’t afford, so we limited to a easy serial interface.


References and external links

[1] Almofada de penas  tumblr / facebook 

[2] Arduino  I/O expander using 74595 ( Arduino library / adafruit tutorial

[3] TLC5940 PWM output expander datasheet;