ds106 is ramping up, and Michael Branson Smith is going deeper in thought with the idea of the animated GIF:
Iâ€™m a big lover of the animated GIF having created dozens as bits of reflection on cinematic moments, film posters and comic book covers. These animations are all fabulous homages to stories I love.
But Iâ€™ve also really enjoyed discovering how the animated GIF became an extension of traditional photography using subtle bits of animation. Theyâ€™re perfect loops of moments in time, animated still lives. Amazingâ€¦
Watch her hair and dress flow endlessly, while her eyes hold a perfect stare. Donâ€™t blink. Yes itâ€™s an amazing piece of craftsmanship, definitely a smooth Photoshopper behind this animated loop. I credit their ability, but it doesnâ€™t inspire me.
This is what I believe the cinem(gram)graph needs to celebrate â€“ this impishness, raucousness. I love the impossible people are discovering in this medium.
So never mind the endless perfect moment, loop a portal into the impossible.
He’s right on- I was looking at the gallery of some of the premiere people who have raised the craft to a new level .. and while gorgeous and perfect… they feel cold. Lifeless. Stepford-ish. Waifs with wispy hair and sleeves fluttering.
I’m giving Michael’s ideas dome more though into how to go about this. I still enjoy the approach of making a GIF from a series of photos (most of the so called tutorials suggest doing it from video, but that is too easy IMHO, almost as cheap as using some app). The real craft of GIFfing to me is making it minimal- minimal number of frames, minimal color palettes, making them small1.
On yesterday’s visit to the Virginia Natural Bridge, everyone there as trying to get the whole natural thing to fill their camera, or those poses of “look at me and Aunt Belinda in front of George Washington’s initials”.
I was looking at the watercolor-like reflections of the arch in the water, and it told me of motion:
This was done in the way IO have done photo gifs before; I had 4 photos, but in looping, it looked stuttery at the repeat point. So in the photoshop animation frame I copied frame 3 (use the menu on the top tight corner), clicked on the last frame, and clicked paste- this gave me the option to paste it after the last frame. I then copies frame 2 and did the same. So now I had this series:
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 3 – 2
which would be a full reversal in animated form.
It’s kind of pretty, but not really far into the impossible. But its only 257kb (dropping the colors form 128 to 32 chopped it down from 500+k)
For my next trick, I decided to see what I could animate from this single photo, a sad clown from the last putt of an abandoned miniature golf course:
Now one thing I could have played with might be a ghostly ball rolling up the rame and into the magic hole – I just thought of that, maybe I will do it.
But I then thought of animating just the eye- so I lasso-ed a selection pasted into a new frame, and used the Puppet Transform tool (never used before) to squeeze the eye down. That was okay, the eye sort of blinked, but so what?
What would make it work as the tear- I did not even see it until I zoomed in, so I made two more copies and moved it down the cheek.
This one is only 127kb since the 2 layers of movement are just small bits, not full frames. GIFs compress well when there is not a lot of small pixel to pixel changes.
This was really just an experiment, but now I am revved to think about how I can generate animation from single frames or photos. Copying bits of layers, using the magic brush and this Puppet Transform tool has me inspired.
More impossible2, bring it on.
1 I’ve had Steve Martin on my mind since Gardner Campbell and I snorted the whole drive in to Virginia Tech while listening to his classic old stuff. I saw him in like 1979 at Merriwether Post Pavilion
2 “to shove a Cadillac up your nose” ibid
3 I am totally ripping off Tom Woodward on the use of snarky footnotes.