5: Opposite.gif

I’m really kind of excited about this assignment because it’s something I’ve never done in photoshop before. It’s actually something I didn’t know you could do in photoshop.

The assignment is to make a 30-frame animation – essentially, some kind of .gif file that moves.

The internet loves gifs. I have so many gifs that I love, I have ones I’ve saved, ones I’ve seen, and friends who are particularly good at leaving topical gifs from their collections in response to blog posts, especially ones when I need cheering up. (Thanks Bunny!)

Previously, when I’ve needed to make a .gif, I’ve used Adobe Imageready – a program I’m not particularly versed in and don’t care for. I don’t like the interface, it’s not intuitive and I’ve never really learned how to use it. So finding out I can make them in a program that I’m comfortable in is really exciting. It also means not having to wait the seeming eternity (subjective time) for imageready to open.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do and I started my process by building a simple .gif in class that was simply a transition between black and white using the tween setting, learning what I could and couldn’t do, what would look best, etc.

So the first thing I did was make a black layer and a white layer in a normal .psd. Then I made an animation frame of white and an animation frame of black, clicked tween and told it I wanted 30 frames of the black fading into white. I set it to “forever” and now this square of white will fade to black over and over again:

I decided that I didn’t like the way the image jerked back to white to repeat the process, so I made another animation frame of white at the end and set a tween between the last black frame and the new white frame, creating a smooth transition from white to black to white again:

It’s a slow, smooth transition, but it’s outside the parameters of the assignment because it’s 60 frames of tween, each tween section getting a set of 30 frames.

So I decided to see what it would look like if I cut that tween down to 30 frames, not thinking entirely clearly at the time that it *still* didn’t fit into the parameters of the assignment because I was running on no sleep and came up with this:

Why doesn’t it fit?

Because it’s one frame of white, 15 frames of tween, 1 frame of black, 15 frames of tween, 1 frame of white. That’s a total of 33 frames. So let’s pull 3 frames out of there and see what that looks like:

Since I have to pull 3 frames out, I had to make a decision which tween set would get 14 frames and which one would get 13 (14 + 13 + 3 = 30). I don’t think it really matters all that much, so we’ll pull one frame from the second side. I could also remove the final frame of white. So we’ll do both and see which one looks better.

removed final frame of white:

So the first thing I noticed is that the number of frames can speed up or slow down an image’s transition. We can do that anyway with the transition time, but it can also make a transition feel jerkier. The first image that actually fits the parameters of the assignment doesn’t transition as cleanly as the one that’s 3 frames over. That last one, however, seems smoother -it doesn’t linger that extra millisecond on the last white frame because the second plain white frame was removed after the tween, since there’s already one at the beginning to loop back to. That wasn’t something I even considered when there wasn’t a frame limitation, but it’s important.

So, technically, I just completed the assignment. I used experimentation, I went through a process, I threw out previous versions and I learned something. Black and white are also opposites. What I didn’t do was create a particularly visually interesting or intellectually challenging piece of art.

So what other kinds of opposites are there?

I considered taking my own pictures or video (and then screencapping out frames) of a sunrise and/or sunset and making that, but I don’t have a tripod, which seems incredibly important to me. I also don’t know what else I could set my camera on to get a good shot. I live in the city and have other assignments that are due that are very time consuming, so I don’t have time to go out and take a cool shot in the mountains, as much as I would love the excuse to go somewhere where I could take a beautiful shot to composite into my .gif. And then there’s the problem of getting up early enough for a sunrise if I wanted one. Haha, I’m more likely to be able to stay up all night and catch the sunrise that way.

So I thought about using appropriated footage.

I thought of something that some of the people I know on the internet through fandoms would enjoy – The Slender Man and the Splendor Man. If you know what that is, it makes sense to talk about making an animation that is several frames of The Slender Man and then a shocking frame of the Splendor Man. Even if you don’t know what these things are, the stark contrast between the two (Splendorman being a parody of Slenderman) would probably have worked for class. I shelved it in case I couldn’t come up with anything.

Marble Hornets Entry 1
The Splendor Man

(And for those of you interested in Marble Hornets now, who weren’t previously familiar, check out their main youtube channel and start with the Introduction. (The order that videos should be watched in is the order that they were released, but there are also communications with another youtube channel totheark – the appropriate order to watch the videos is here – scroll down to the bottom where it says: “suggested viewing order”. Although if that’s the case, you might want to skip the Splendorman video until you’ve done this, because it kind of ruins the horror of Slenderman for some people.)

And then I thought about other opposites and things that interest me and videos on youtube and I thought – asleep and awake are opposites. Maybe I could look around for interesting videos of people waking up. But then I wasn’t liking anything I found.

Then I remembered a Marble Hornets video where Jay is sleeping. It shows him getting ready for bed and then sleeping. Those are opposites – awake and asleep, although maybe not in the order I was originally going for.

So I’ve downloaded the video, screencapped the frames, and now I’m going to try animating them together into 30 frames of asleep and awake. Pretty exciting.

Edit:

So here’s my finished product, as presented in class.

I promised to share the process I used to screencap the images, so here it is:

  • Download the video from youtube (I have an add on installed for firefox, but you can use a site like keepvid) or use a video you already have.
  • Open the video in KMPlayer (you can download it here if you don’t have it)
  • Once the video opens, pause it and hit ctrl+G. You should get a screen that looks like this:

I’ll explain the fields here:

Capture to: Where you want the files to save to. Click the little folder button and it’ll let you select a directory. You have to have already made the folder location, though, just a heads-up. The Open button after this field will open the destination location if you press it.

Prefix: The file name prefix. For instance, I used “MH19-” for mine, because I was making screencaps for Marble Hornets Entry 19. The dash was used to seperate the prefix name from the numbers that the program will automatically generate that follow the prefix.

Digits: The default is probably 4 like in the screencap. This is the number of digits that will follow your prefix. It’s important based on the number of screencaps you plan to make and the length of your video. For instance, 4 digits can number screencaps from 0001 to 9999.

Image Format: Pretty self explanatory, really. If you have any questions about it, leave me a comment and I’ll address your specific question.

What Number to Capture: Here you have options about what to capture. I think the numbers indicate the number of frames in the video, whereas second probably refers to the time in the video in seconds. I’ve never used anything but “continuously”.

How to Capture: All Frame does exactly what it says it does – captures each frame of the video. I usually select the “In 1min _ times” and set it to a number based on the length of the video and how many frames I want. Some people set it per second and just cap a small area to make fast-moving gifs, but be warned – this will generate a lot of screencaps and if you’re capping a long video, you could be dealing with a lot more than you want and a lot of file space taken up on your computer. I did that once on accident, and capped something long and ended up with 7 gigs of images. Just a warning to be aware of what you’re doing and use common sense when capping per second.

Capture size: You can set a size you want your screencaps to be, but if they’re not in the same ratio as the video, they’ll be distorted. I always use “original size”.

Then click START (not CLOSE), start the video and wait for it to finish!

Reading 5 : Making Art ch. 6

This week’s reading is chapter 6 from Making Art by Terry Barrett.

“Always changing, never twice the same” – Robert Irwin (Getty Garden, Getty Museum, Los Angeles)*

“time: The continuum of experience in which events actually (or apparently) take place.”*

“Time has dimensions of both duration and tempo. Duration refers to how long an event actually lasts. We also experience duration in relative terms: some things that take an hour seem like they take ‘forever,’ while other things that also take an hour may seem to pass ‘in no time at all.'”*

Tempo refers to the speed at which an activity takes place. Tempo, too, is a relative term: something can appear slower or faster in relation to something else. A rabbit moves more quickly than a turtle, but a turtle moves more quickly than a slug. Tempo can be measured, but can seem faster or slower than it is, depending on the state of mind we are in when we experience something.”*

Question: How can duration and tempo be represented in non-performance and non-installation works such as paintings, photographs and 3D non-moving sculptures?

Surely things like exposure can contribute to the feeling of tempo in a photograph. If a long exposure shot is taken of, say, a highway at night, cars racing by, we get a feeling of movement, often rapid and urgent. But is it “actual” tempo or implied tempo? Are these things achieved by the power of the narration in a piece? What if the piece has no narration?

I suppose this leads into the next section where we examine the concepts of actual time and implied time, as well as recorded time, scope and sequence. It is especially important to note that sequence need not follow time. Sequence is an “arrangement of events” and can be manipulated to achieve the effect the artist wishes to achieve.

I was prompted to revisit this section of response in particular when viewing Harold Edgerton’s piece “Queen of Hearts Playign Card Hit by a .30 Calibre Bullet” and reading about how the piece was captured using exposure times of less than 1/10,000 of a second – exactly the opposite of the long exposure that would indicate motion on a busy street at night. Those long blurs of light indicate motion in a different way than Edgerton does – the bullet in this piece seems frozen in time. Some people might see it as moving, but to me, it reminds me of scenes in films where people freeze time. I want to reach out and touch that bullet – move it off course, turn it around to go back through the card in the opposite direction, tilt it upward so its trajectory goes into the ceiling or downward into the floor when time resumes.

Question: When we seek to achieve an effect – such as the capturing of movement, what steps must we take to help the viewer see things the way we want them to be seen? Viewers bring their own life experiences with them, their own baggage and opinions and feelings and outlooks. These things cause them to react to work in a certain way. How to we reach past that or use that potential personal experience to help the viewer see things the way we want them to? And if they don’t, what does that mean? Are we a failure as an artist or did they interpret the work in a way that brings a new, equally or perhaps more important meaning to the piece that resonates more with the viewer because of their life experiences.

Question: In what ways have you manipulated sequence in your work, perhaps taking it out of time or placed items in an order that might not be what is perceived as the usual order of things to make a statement? If not your own work, then what examples of it have you seen? Do they stand out to you? Maybe you saw or chose a method that isn’t exactly odd, but is a choice that makes a statement, nevertheless, such as the example cited of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Order by casualty is not strange or even necessarily out of time, but it is a choice that says something about the information being presented.

The Following piece by Acconci is interesting and reminds me of a Christopher Nolan film of the same name that I have seen part of, but not all of. (netflix instant view link for Following.) It struck me as a very intriguing concept, but twice I have started it and other factors in my life have intervened in my ability to finish it.

When speaking of “Bunny,” the Barrett states “By its implication of eternal time, the film invites interpretations of a serious topic through cartoon characters.” The way the statement is made makes it seem as though Barrett finds this to be unusual. I disagree. Many animated pieces, especially Japanese animation (colloquially referred to as “anime”) often touches on extremely serious topics – whether through movies or full series that cover these topics. Many people see this as a genre apart from or different to “cartoons” while other people see all animation as cartoons. “Bunny” is a different sort of animation altogether, showing a more 3-Dimensional representation reminiscent of something like stop-motion or claymation (as inferred by the screen caps) than many other pieces of work that are often referred to as “cartoons”. In the Western World, there are cartoons that also cover these same topics. Although many of us see Disney works as “animated films,” how are they different from “cartoons”? And many times morals and situations that cause people to evaluate serious topics. Even Looney Toons was political in its day and made many comments on serious topics in its early days, disguised as humor.

It’s interesting to me that Barrett should reference 24 as an example of tempo – particularly rapid tempo. For me, this was an example of subjective tempo. Although the series is meant to feel fast, due to the way it is shot, and the intensity of the situations, I never made it past the first season. It felt slow to me – perhaps the fact that after 24 episodes – 24 hours, I had only assimilated one day of Jack Bauer’s life. To me, I felt like I wanted that day’s worth of my life back. I felt unsatisfied and although so many things happened in that one day, I felt cheated somehow. So much of it felt extraneous as they tried to cram more and more into that one day and I just felt as though it took “forever” to get through it. Reaching the end of the season was a relief and that feeling of stretched out time with little reward has kept me from ever being interested in watching subsequent seasons of the show.

Question: Looking at the Robert Capa photograph of the solider approaching the beach of Normandy, how would you feel if it were clearer? Would the feeling that you get from it change? Would it have a different emotion? Does time change that feeling?

To me, it feels old, in part because of the blurring, something that marks a period of time that has passed. But at its time of capture, it was not old. Would I have felt differently about it had I viewed it then?

“The Way Things Go” by Fischli & Weiss piques my interest as a piece of controlled chaos.

*excerpts taken from Making Art by Terry Barrett.

“reading” 4 questions

I haven’t posted my finished images of the palm here, but I do need to get to the questions for the next “reading,” which, instead of being a reading, is a couple of videos we needed to watch.

My first question isn’t particularly related to the type of question we’re supposed to ask, probably, but I wonder how people felt about watching videos versus doing a reading. I like the readings better for a lot of reasons – they’re portable, can be printed out, can have sections highlighted with spelling or whatever for further research and can be done in any environment. Videos cause more problems – I need to be somewhere where I can process the audio as well as the visual, which means being alone, having headphones available, being connected to the internet and various other limitations. That having been said, it’s interesting to be able to view things that move and show, rather than just reading words.

That having been said, I wonder how people’s views and opinions differ about installation art versus other art forms, digital or otherwise. I think a lot of people look at installations and think “oh, that’s cool” but if they aren’t familiar with the installation as an art form, may have trouble processing it as art. And in those situations, I wonder, how do people feel about their art being viewed as something that isn’t necessarily considered by some to be “art” but rather an interesting or cool “thing”.

And we come into the realm of “several artists” creating a piece. Although it isn’t necessarily appropriation, how do people feel about the pictures they take being incorporated into a larger piece? Do you expect your name somewhere? Credit? Generalized credit that others participated or assisted in the project? As an artist where does your need for individual recognition end and the fact that you’ve helped to create a larger whole begin?