“Viewing Fun,” a character animation inspired by the ad lib spirit of a supervisor, a humorous must-see performance
Mr. Adachi, you were the supervisor in charge of GUI features. Could you tell us about this?
- Mr. Adachi responded to Mr. Komiyama's
challenge with unique ideas.
The main aim of the GUI is normally to make something easier to use, but since this camera's special feature is viewing, we placed our main focus on making it fun. We paid particular attention to the slideshows and came up with five varieties. To enhance viewing fun, we included a function in one of them where a panda animation is integrated into the slideshow. Ten different animation patterns appear at random. When we thought about how to produce them, we knew it would be relatively easy to produce animation where only hands or necks or bodies moved, so we set our minds to making dancing and other motions with smoother, more aggressive movements and produced the animations one frame at a time. We made 70 to 80 illustrations for each animation pattern. Making the illustrations by hand has made the movements more fluid. A penguin and a secret character with the panda playing the main part have added one more dimension to the fun.
It was essential for us to focus on offering attractive slideshow features, because our primary interest in the projector camera was its value as a communications tool. So we asked Mr. Adachi to pay most attention to finding ways in which photos could be shown or presented. I think the panda animation does an amazing job of giving life to the concept of enjoying photos.
Could you tell us about any challenges you had or any memorable episodes that occurred while you were developing the animations?
The panda choreography was extremely challenging. We thought up gestures and dances while moving our bodies or hands at our desks. The sight of us dancing while looking at our computer screens was no doubt rather bizarre to our coworkers.
The animations are very appealing. Why did you decide to use pandas?
As you know, projectors are basically used in places of low light. Under those conditions, gradations all tend to disappear in animation where a lot of color is used, so we used pandas and penguins where the black and white elements provide clear contrast. Actually, these pandas are a bit fat. The wobbling of their big bellies reflects our attention to detail in producing the movements.
I'd very much like to have a look at that. What special attention did you give to the user interface beside the effects?
To make the projector function easy to use, we had to add another button. In most compact cameras, photo-taking functions such as face recognition and scene modes are in the menu. With this model, however, the projector is a primary function, like shooting and playback, so we provided a dedicated button for it.
Establishing the projector camera concept and new ways of using a camera
Are there any specifications or functions that you added or abandoned during development?
- Each participant relates their views and
hopes regarding future possibilities
for the projector camera.
At first, besides the slideshow, we thought we could add a planetarium or card games that used the focus function. We did indeed try such novel ideas, but problems such as capacity meant we couldn't achieve what we wanted to. We would like to look into these again in the future.
We look forward to seeing what you can come up with. How about the aspect of engineering?
We added the remote control and stand at the intermediate stage. When we were making a prototype, we became concerned about camera shake while the camera was hand-held or instability if it was placed somewhere, so we felt it needed a remote control and a stand, and those items are included with the camera. Nikon cameras already come with a remote control for shooting, but this one also has projector functions. The new remote control not only provides shooting and projector functions but also lets the user move forward or back one frame at a time or zoom in and out.
How has the reaction been to the finished product?
Everyone who uses it for the first time is very surprised. It took three years to develop — a long time — due to the unique nature of the project, but after seeing people's reactions, I'm glad that we didn't give up.
It's an entirely new concept and the words “projector camera” do not communicate well yet, so when we show it to people and tell them that there's both a camera and a projector in there, they are initially very surprised. Then when we actually project some images for them, there's a lot of excitement, so we feel we've made something worthwhile.
Finally, I'd like each of you to tell us your thoughts about future prospects for the projector camera.
- The projector camera's ease of use and remarkable performance are clearly evident when images are projected onto a white table.
Now that we've finally presented the world with its first projector camera, the first thing I'd like to do is make more and more people aware of it. Since it's the first of its kind, the price is inevitably a bit high, but I would like to work hard at making it more cost-effective. And concerning the projector functions, I think it would be good to think of more ideas that allow users to enjoy their images, like Mr. Adachi has come up with so far.
I'd like to put more effort into how thumbnails are displayed on the playback screen. It's hard to see detail or movements, even on a 3.5-inch screen, which is the largest size for a compact camera. So in the future I'd like to make thumbnails for the projector.
From the standpoint of engineering, there are still plenty of issues that need to be addressed concerning performance. For example, it's hard to see images when they are projected on a large area in a bright environment, so I'd like to further improve power efficiency. This is a totally new type of camera, so we are sure to come up with more and more ideas.