Getting back into the ds106 creative mood, I was inspired recently to create not only a new animated GIF but make it a new ds106 Design Assignment. Last week, Jim Groom and I watched The Conversation, a brilliant 1974 movie from the conspiracy genre (the slow slide into craziness of Gene Hackman’s character is brilliantly executed).

But it was the menu screen for the DVD that made both of us say “HA!” in the background was a direct on shot of the tape machines that figure in the movie, and it was just all animated GIF- the only moving parts were the reels. Jim stayed up late after the movie pulling out the scene into a clean moving GIF.

I had it mind to make this a new assignment Animated The DVD Menu:

Convert a key scene from a movie into an animated GIF and include graphics elements to make it look like the menu screen of a DVD. Be creative in the kind of items that appear on the menu; make it relevant to the plot

Continuing with the use of material from Bullitt, I made my animated DVD menu:

Of course the scene that screamed for the menu was the classic chase scene (although I did pull clips from other scenes- one where Bullitt tells his bosses that Ross was dead- good shifty eyes there, and the other conversation he has with the Jacqueline Bisset character where she is distraught after seeing the kind of work Bullitt does).

But I went back to the chase scene- remembering that in the parts where the Mustang Bullitt drives is chasing the bad guys in the Charger, bouncing through the hills of San Francisco, they cars pass at least 2 times, maybe 3, the same green volkswagen (they re-used clips). The scene I used here was perfect because both cars fly past the green bug, and it makes for a great loop.

So I got the trimmed segment within MPEG Streamclip, saved as MP4. I had to convert to a Quicktime .mov file (I use Quicktime player Pro), si I could import video frames as layers in PhotoShop (In CSS 5 on the Mac, you have to run it in 32 bit mode, which can be done from the desk top by doing a Get Info on the app).

I used the option to grab every 10 frames, giving me 13 frames. In the animation palette, I knocked the interval down to 0.1 second. I then put the movie title in a top layer, as well as the menu items. They persist over the entire sequence then. The final GIF weighs in at 1.1 Mb, not too bad.

For a marker on the menu, I put in the pun symbol of a bullett found at the noun project. It’s ironic, that for a cop movie, for the lead character, guns did not come into play until the end, when Bullit fired the lethal bullet.

For menu items, I played with references to the movies:

  • PLAY MOVIE – this is obvious
  • CRASH CARS – because this is what goes on on the big sequence, and on a DVD I would want to see even more crashes and chases
  • VIEW FROM THE GREEN BUG – what did the driver of this mystery car see with as many times as it got passed by the chase cars?
  • CHARGER VS MUSTANG – for the car nuts whos till want to debate the features of the lead cars
  • INSIDE THE PINK SUITCASE – a reference to the latter scene that eventually provides the last clue for what Johnny Ross was up to

There it is! A new GIF, a new assignment. This is good medicine for the weary creative soul. Make some (GIF) art damnit!

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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