Leon is looking for you, Sandy Brown Jensen! No, he is not going to “clean” you, but hopefully make you appreciate maybe a little these animated GIFs. This is for today’s ds106 Daily Create:

The last time we have an animated GIF assignment, Sandy emailed me and said “Nooooo! I ain’t gonna do it! And you can quote me on that!” She has not found her GIF passion, can you help her see the animated light?

Sandy has been consistent in her disdain for the GIF. Thats okay, because she creates some awesome digital stories. And this is a bit of a tease at her, and I know she is a good sport (right Sandy?). I am not sure the ones I did tonight will nudge her meter, but I really enjoyed sitting down for the first time in a while and breaking down some movie scenes into small bits.

A few weeks ago I picked up a DVD copy of Luc Bresson’s The Professional from our library. I always liked this movie, it’s play on the story of a mafia hit man who comes the character to identify with. Léon is a “cleaner” the guy who always gets the job done for Tony (mafia to the T, Danny Aiello). His simple, organized life, killing, tensing his plant, and drinking milk out a carton, is changed when he takes in Mathilda, his 12 year old neighbor who’s family is gunned down by a crew of corrupt and vicious DEA cops- lead by Frank Stansfield, push to the edge in a nutso performance by Gary Oldman.

I love way Oldman shows us this twisted man, with those contortions he makes when he takes a hit of his drug right before the killing.


Besides the acting Oldman does, I noticed in this viewing how much Bresson uses that centered framing, and the over head shot makes it even more manic.

The GIFs I did tonight were ripped from clips I found on YouTube- one actually a movie video put to a Beck song, a clip of the fall scene and the family shooting, and the door scene where Leon lets Mathilda in. I use pwnYouTube bookmarklet to download the mp4 versions. The good thing about these clips is the were HD, so I got really large sized videos, which make for a batter GIF when you resize down.

I used MPEG StreamCLip (it’s been a while) to trim the clips and save as MP4, and used a NameChanger app to rename all of them to .mov files (since Photoshop only imports those). Trimmed, the clips were only a few seconds, so when I imported them into PhotoShop, I did some as every 4, 6, o6 6 frames. I typically try and first delete redundant frames (after resizing to 500px). I did not do too much except fiddle with timing of frames- I start by making them all 0.1 seconds, and then look for places I might slow one or two frames to 0.2 or o.35 seconds.

That top GIF is the one I put in for the daily create, the whole scene where Leon is watching through his peep hole (the whole idea he is pro enough to have a lock knob he pulls out to surveil). But its really his moment to choose to change up his routine, to open his door in many ways, and risk his professional life to help his neighbor. Maybe it is a statement to wonder about, because in many fields, not just hit men, we aspire to this high level of being a professional, but what cost does it make to be that skilled? What do we give up to hone our craft?

Mathilda has come up to the killing of her family, knowing full well what happened and she walks right past her house like she does not live there.


I noticed in this recent watchings (I watched it twice), how much Bresson uses the one point camera perspective, not just these hallway sequences, and it reminded me of the compilation of Kubrick’s use of this odd camera angle

The thing about the GIF above was in the short scene there was actually a cut about halfway through Natalie Portman’s character walking down the hall (in terror)- it cut to the bad cop by the doorway. When I trimmed that out in MPWG StreamCLip, her walk was continuous — which says to be it was one shot and the cut was edited in.

I lost count of how many there were of these in this movie. Even the shot of Gary Oldman above is sort of a one point perspective shot.

Anyhow, the MacGuffin moment for Leon is his twitching in decision to open the door and let Mathilda in– because it changes everything for everyone


Going into it frame by frame, I can see how much energy Jean Reno is putting into Leon here, even that awkward ear scratching, as he is trying to decide whether to “get involved”. If he does not open the door… no movie.

Of course he does, the door is a huge symbol of Leon’s world, which he has erected it as professionally (and lifelessly) as his cleaning jobs.

After watching the library copy of the DVD, I read online about how much was cut out of the American release of the movie that I watched, some 34 minutes. I could guess it had to do with the relationship between Leon and Mathilda, so I went in eBay and ordered a copy of the Director’s cut full version (I think it was like $5):

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

It is a horrible slashing they did, not only do we not see the (yes awkward) relationship between Leon and Mathilda (don’t worry not consummated), but the parts where she learns his craft “on the job” (nope we cannot have images of kids being part of violent acts), and even that she got to meet Tony before the end of the movie. It totally breaks the plot, that editing out of 34 minutes.


This was Natalie Portman’s debut, and what a role it was. Is she child? woman? In this scene above, she has snuck back into her family’s apartment to get some items (including the stuffed animal she clutches), and it to me, shows this cnflict in her character.

And one more for the GIF pile, in a scene near the end, Stansfield emerges from the shadows with a gun, and the camera work moves a shallow depth of field focus from his face to the gun end, so he is blurred. I got that sequence down to about 8 frames, then in Photoshop copied frames 1-7, pasted it after the last frame, and then reverse them, to give the loop effect. That is one way to try and get a smoother cycle, since it loops back on the first frame.


Well, I doubt this will charm Sandy- I chose a pretty violent movie with some dark themes… but _____it! I loved this process of GIFfing, not as much for the final products, but the process. I like trying to find a scene than might lend itself to the GIF, and then stripping it down to a short clip in MPEG StreamCLip, and even more my going to a few frames in Photoshop. In reducing it,m I find myself getting closer to the scene, and studying it for things I may not see watching in full motion.

Have fun Sandy, can;t wait to see what GIFs you make in Headless ds106!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Thou and thy giffified friends are delightfully mad, mad, mad, I tell you! i love the frothing frenzy of animated jerks, twitches, babies, birds, killers, chillers and ditherers. We R 4 Life!
    More later but of all the unlikely places, I am being carried off to Duluth for the day…

  2. I know I did some gifs for The Professional at some point. I think they were eaten by a stupid plugin I had that deleted unattached media in WP. Sad, as I wanted to compare our choices but I do love what you put up.

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