When my mind drifts – I feel

When I think about my wife and children I feel warmth, attachment, satisfaction. When I think about my email inbox I feel overwhelmed – always. When I think about impressive works of writing, art, film, I have feelings of admiration, at other times envy, and the best feeling is that of inspiration. These are all […]

When I think about my wife and children I feel warmth, attachment, satisfaction. When I think about my email inbox I feel overwhelmed – always. When I think about impressive works of writing, art, film, I have feelings of admiration, at other times envy, and the best feeling is that of inspiration. These are all emotional responses to situations and/or ponderings I suppose. It’s not the kind of thinking that I find goes with trying to create something, solve a problem, and/or write like I am now! For those situations in which I am using my thoughts and trying to articulate them into a particular activity that requires in my mind a fair amount of focus, I admit, I feel nothing.

spock-feelsIt’s more of a feeling of detachment really, a space that I can enter and actually lose awareness of what is going on around me. A favorite example has to be one from when I was in high school working on Geometry or Pre-Calculus homework at the kitchen table. Behind me on the stove were long string beans steaming/boiling in a bit of water – at least they were – because now the room was filling with smoke and becoming acrid. And my mother a floor above and a hallway away had noticed this first, screaming my name, yelling what’s burning! And suddenly drawn out of my problem set in my book, I felt wow, how the heck did I not notice that. What is wrong with me? Feelings of guilt, ineffectualness.

So thinking associated with doing is sensationless to me. But thinking that is contemplative, there are infinite possible feelings. Which ultimately really must be a good thing – to not just do, do, do, without pausing, reflecting, and being distracted – as that thinking can lead to light hearted thoughts, compassionate thoughts, whimsical thoughts.

Or more likely a pause in writing this blog post for example, leads to an awareness of the train passing outside my window, which leads to thoughts of the subway and then the crowds, and then maddening task of getting from one place to another in New York City. And again the email inbox! Feelings of defeat then arise, TOO MUCH ALL THE TIME!!!

 

spare-trackI’m looking forward to participating as much as I can in Gardner Campbell’s Thought Vectors in Concept Space open course. I had the pleasure of meeting Gardner once in New York City after he gave a talk at Baruch College on Digital Citizenship – A Modest Proposal for Curriculum Reform. One of my favorite ruminations of that talk was the need to support the development of adaptive capability in our students’ education, which he visualized with Gromit’s ability to build a train track in front of himself while traveling at full-speed.

The five readings that are part of the class look particularly interesting to make and I plan to post my nugget response to Vannever Bush’s As We May Think soon.

 

If You Understand Me, Just Grunt

Another GIF Fight has brought again a bunch of imaginative work created by the original Giffighters and lots of new faces mostly from the ds106 community. I still need to do a proper blog post about GIFFight, but you can read about the origin of the project on Giphy. For now I just wanted to […]

Another GIF Fight has brought again a bunch of imaginative work created by the original Giffighters and lots of new faces mostly from the ds106 community. I still need to do a proper blog post about GIFFight, but you can read about the origin of the project on Giphy. For now I just wanted to reflect on some of the great work made using the JCVD Funny or Die footage and share a tutorial of how I made my GIF for a friend who asked for help!

Jean Claude Van Damme is finally going the Schwarzenegger action hero becomes comedy actor route with a new movie and an even more interesting remix contest hosted by Funny or Die. JCVD recorded a number of short clips in front of a green screen while shooting, kicking, defusing a bomb, and delivering one liners like “They found us! I’ll cover you!” The challenge was from JCVD to the crowd to, “Make My Movie!” And there are some really great films that were made by lots of different people. I particularly liked the Vintage Van Damme Toy Commercial (c. 1997).

So with 1.1GB of pre-keyed (no background only JCVD) footage available for remix, I thought it would make for a good GIFFight. We had recently done something similar by collectively participating in the Tate’s 1840s GIF party which led to a lot of great GIFing. But this was the first time we started with video footage rather than a still image to animate. It’s a little against the rules of the GIFFight, but JCVD proved to tempting.

Tom Woodward recently drop three awesome JCVD Pink Valentines, but I think Fallin for U is my favorite. And overall I just love Rochelle Lockridge’s Oh Sheep! – GIF humor is always at it’s best when they include animals.

Rochelle also summarized the work she created with the JCVD footage and gave a tutorial, which was interesting as it’s very different from mine. So I thought I’d share my as well to build a larger base of GIF remix tutorial knowledge. A lot of it is similar to how I make GIFs for Don’t Turn that Dial, which I shared on Youtube.

To open and select a portion of JCVD footage I used MPEG Streamclip. I used to use Quicktime Pro 7, but I’m starting to prefer Streamclip as it opens videos in different codecs without have to convert them first as Quicktime does.

Isolate a portion of the clip you wish to use for your GIF by advancing the playhead to start point and press ‘i’ (for the in point) and then advance to the end point and press ‘o’ (for the out point). You can use the left and right arrows to advance forward and back frame-by-frame to be very particular about your edit. And at any time you reposition the playhead and type ‘i’ or ‘o’ the in and out points change. After which, you should see the section you want dark grey in the player.

streamclip-JCVD-trim

 

Next select Edit>Trim and then Save As… with a new title. By not exporting or making any changes to the codec, the transparency alpha channel is maintained and now you have the short snippet to import to Photoshop.

Photoshop’s File>Import>Video Frames to Layers… gives you the opportunity to create your animation and reduce the number of frames you’ll use to create your animation by selecting even 2, 3, or more frames. For GIFs I’m making for Tumblr (which has strict file size constraints), I’ll generally throw away as many frames as there are seconds in the clip. So for example if it’s a three second clip I’ll set the limit to 3. This will typically give you 30 or fewer frames of animation based on film and video being between 24-30 frames-per-second.

Import Video to Layers

 

Now with the transparent background and the animation working – test GIF at the top of this post – it’s time to add a background. In this case I used a a short clip from an episode of My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic (because who wouldn’t want to see JCVD in Ponyville)! Using the same process I created a second Photoshop file with 7 frames of ponies. Now you need to do a little math to make the animated background fit the JCVD foreground which was 33 frames. I decided on 2:1 ratio or 14:7 frames, meaning the pony clip would loop 2 times for ever one loop of JCVD shooting. So this required I throw away 17 frames of JCVD which involved highlighting every other frame or so and then clicking the trash icon in the animation timeline.

To now add the frames from one Photoshop file to the next you need to highlight all the frames from the foreground clip (JCVD shooting) in the timeline. And then in the timeline menu (circled in red), select copy frames.

highlighted 14 frames in the animation timeline

In the other Photoshop file (with ponies) highlight all the frames. Then select paste frames in the timeline menu. You will be presented with options of how to paste the frames and you should select “paste over selection.”

paste over selection

 

This will place the 14 frames of JCVD of ponies on top of the seven frames of ponies and create 7 new frames of JCVD with still a blank background.

jcvd pasted over pony frames

 

This also creates 14 new layers for ever frame of JCVD in the Photoshop file. You’ll notice as you highlight frames 1-7, you see a pony layer and a JCVD layer are visible.

frames to layers in Photoshop

 

So for frames 8-14, highlight each frame and then make visible the corresponding pony layer to complete the loop. For example highlight frame 8 make visible pony layer 1, highlight frame 9 and make visible pony layer 2, etc. It’s a little tedious, but you get through it.

Also realize it’s possible to resize and reposition the entire background or entire foreground using the Edit>Free Transform or Edit>Transform. I described this in how I make GIFs for my Don’t Turn that Dial GIF project. Just highlight all the layers of the foreground, then choose Edit>Free Transform. You can then resize and reposition. This is particularly useful if the media sizes of the foreground and background don’t match. Or you just want to make JCVD bigger!

Free Transform JCVD

 

To create the rainbow effect over the burst of flames coming from the M-16, I drew in two new layers two versions of the rainbow. I then alternated between them for every other frame. But to have them stay connected to the end of the gun, I also nudge the layer using the Move Tool. Unlike Free Transform, if you adjust the position of content in a layer between frames using the Move Tool each frame records a different position of the content.  And to have the rainbow blend with the background the layer, I changed the blending mode to dissolve and/or hard light. This was the final result!

jcvd-shooting-rainbows-vomit-rainbow-bullets

Oh and I forgot painting the bullets rainbow was as you can imagine slow and tedious, done frame-by-frame, but totally worth the effort.

Freedom River

They knew that the power of freedom would renew their hope and replenish their energy. They did not know that too much pride could blind them. They did not know that too much pride could make them arrogant. They barred from it people that looked unfamiliar or talked differently in the false belief that strangers […]

They knew that the power of freedom would renew their hope and replenish their energy.
They knew that the power of freedom would renew their hope and replenish their energy.
They did not know that too much pride could blind them.
They did not know that too much pride could blind them.
They did not know that too much pride could make them arrogant.
They did not know that too much pride could make them arrogant.
They barred from it people that looked unfamiliar or talked differently in the false belief that strangers were not deserving.
They barred from it people that looked unfamiliar or talked differently in the false belief that strangers were not deserving.
When new ideas were proposed, people ridiculed them.
When new ideas were proposed, people ridiculed them.
When some arose and took more than their share, the people did not stop them, but instead resolved to do the same.
When some arose and took more than their share, the people did not stop them, but instead resolved to do the same.
Instead of helping those that were ill and weak. They despised them and chastised them for their idleness.
Instead of helping those that were ill and weak. They despised them and chastised them for their idleness.
And even as the river grew weak and muddy, glib leaders said it was strong and clear.
And even as the river grew weak and muddy, glib leaders said it was strong and clear.
The people became confused. They did not know what to do.
The people became confused. They did not know what to do.
But others said, let us work to make the waters of freedom flow fresh and strong again.  It can become fresh by our vigilance. The life or death of the river of freedom is in our hands.
But others said, let us work to make the waters of freedom flow fresh and strong again. It can become fresh by our vigilance. The life or death of the river of freedom is in our hands.

I stumbled across this 1971 animation Freedom River on the Open Culture blog’s list of animated films you can watch online. I think I was drawn to the fact that Orson Welles narrated the short. But then I really appreciated the sad but still true cliche’s of pride, arrogance, and resistance to change that can seem to still dominate American culture. I made this set of GIFs to complement the Tumblr post of them, as here on the blog I could associate the quotes from the narration to each GIF which is pretty cool.

Dan Coleman wrote a short post about the film and mentioned the script writer’s long standing effort to get Welles to work with him, and finally it happened.

The director of the film Sam Weiss went on to work on the 1969 Hot Wheels animated series, as well as one of my all time favorites the 1980s GI Joe animated series. He had a 47 year career and taught animation at USC and UCLA. How awesome would it have been to take a class with him back in the day?

EmojiMovie!!!

So I saw a tweet from Sava which was simply a single emojicon. A vehicle which was a while-driving-safe-texting-wink to her entering the radio city. But I really didn’t know that at the time. I just saw the little car in the tweet. And I was about to reply tweet with some random emojicons, finding […]

silence

Silence of the Lambs

So I saw a tweet from Sava which was simply a single emojicon. A vehicle which was a while-driving-safe-texting-wink to her entering the radio city. But I really didn’t know that at the time. I just saw the little car in the tweet.

sava

And I was about to reply tweet with some random emojicons, finding it would be funny to respond with a bunch of arbitrary pictograms. But all of a sudden I was reminded of the four icon challenge, one of the early ds106 assignments which asked you to represent a film with four ‘iconic’ images.

So instead I called to the ds106 storytelling folk, hoping they might be interested in playing a spontaneous version of the four icon challenge via Twitter using only emojicons.

me

And I was so pleased to see the quick, righteous, and correct answer guessed by Dani Paradis (who I met at opened13). The four icon challenge was reduced to two emojis – shower head and kitchen knife = PSYCHO.

Next Dani laid down her challenge.

dani

In the midst of trying to concoct another emoji movie challenge, Lauren Davidson jumped in and rang the winning bell with E.T. Yes the emoji movie guessing game was building a little audience so cool! And Lauren was gracious enough to take the next turn.

lauren

Which Dani quickly answered, and hit the iceberg with – Titantic. Lauren followed with another challenge.

lauren2

Four ladies, the Union Jack, a microphone, and the world. Hmmmmm…. No clue. Dani? No clue either. Swoops in Eric Domond an unapologetic Spicy Girls fan with Spice World.

And from there the game enjoyed a lovely thirty minutes or so of inspired quiz show like engagement. Figuring how you might use the limited palette of emojicons to represent a movie. I think about twelve or so challenges were put out there and by the end the pictographs were getting really interesting–

Why the parenthetical?

eric

Sea Biscuit

And frying an egg in a pan plus a diamond ring?

dani2

Breakfast at Tiffany’s