Tag Archives: animated gif

Google Says … I am Not a Number

"Google ... I am not a Number ...," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Google … I am not a Number …,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

I like Visual Assignment 1244: Illustrating Odd Autocompletes. I’ve done it a couple of times before, although I can’t find any examples in my Media Library and it’s not showing up in the Assignment Bank examples. Maybe it’s in the Assignment Bank more than once? Like maybe in the AnimatedGIFAssignments?

For this one, I didn’t necessarily illustrate the odd autocompletes, but there are a couple good ones in there.

  • “I am number four.” (Six would not say that.)
  • “I am not a robot.”
  • “I am not a nugget shirt.”

Anyway, I knew what I was expecting with this one, and Google did not disappoint. The real fun was getting that tiny little visual summary of the opening credits to animate in the search results.   (2 & 1/2 Credit Units)


This challenge is essentially driven by adding letters one at a time into the Google search bar, but taking a screen shot after each new letter so as to capture the autocomplete suggestions and hopefully capture some interesting gems. I also like to try to capture the odd text cursor, and put in a few “pauses” where the cursor blinks as if waiting for input. That’s simply done by repeating two successive frames (one with the cursor and one without) a couple of times.  A 0.5 second interval seems to be appropriate.

Image Capture Tools:  Snapz Pro X2 (left) and Skitch (right)

Image Capture Tools: Snapz Pro X2 (left) and Skitch (right)

Snapz Pro X  🙁  Skitch?

My long-standing screen capture tool of choice, Snapz Pro X, doesn’t play nice under the latest versions of Mac OS X, and unfortunately it appears support for updates is not forthcoming, which is sad. I’ve used it for over a decade.

Recently I’ve been making use of Skitch for my screen captures. My limited familiarity with Skitch has me having to pause after each snapshot and save the file out to a determined location. (Snapz Pro X and even the native OS X screen capture tool just save to a predetermined folder automatically.) Given that the save-each-capture-every-time slows things down considerably, I investigated the Skitch integration with Evernote. (Turns out Evernote bought Skitch 4 years ago.) Authenticating Skitch with your Evernote account allows for a single “Save” button, and the files go to Evernote automatically, numbered in sequence. Fortunately there was an easy Save Attachments command in Evernote that let me get the images back down out of the clouds.  The nice thing about Skitch that makes it work nicely is the  Previous Snapshot Area command, which allows you to grab successive images from the same section of the screen — something that really comes in handy when you want to layer them for animation later on. And the integration with the cloud and access on multiple platforms is a benefit when you need to share files between devices.  But I think I’ll be investigating something that I can count on locally for when I’m deep in the throes of creating. Uploading just to download don’t make no sense.

In the meantime, I think I need to find the duplicate entry of the Google autocomplete assignment. I know I’ve done it before. Or someone I know has. 


Number 6 Ain’t No Comic

"Number 6 Ain't No Comic (first attempt)," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Number 6 Ain’t No Comic (first attempt),” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Bill Smith (@byzantiumbooks, on Twitter) tackled the Visual Assignment 341: Comic Book Effect earlier today, and the actual task itself popped up on my screen this evening as I was poking around in the Visual Assignments looking for my next challenge. I know I have an iOS app on my phone (called Halftone by Juicy Bits) that effortlessly creates this effect — I wanted to approach the task from closer to first principles rather than relying on a purpose-designed app.

I’d experimented with the halftone filter in Photoshop once or twice before, to it didn’t take too long to locate it and obtain the result displayed above. Essentially, the effect creates four different coloured images of dots and offsets them to created the pixellated look that is so familiar in comic books. The eye recombines the colour layers to create the colour-blended image that results. I did a bit of research just now and determined that the dots originally used in the 50s pulp press were known as Ben Day dots — in that implementation, the dots were all the same size, resulting in a very characteristic look. With halftone, the dots vary in size or spacing (from very small on a gradient up to very large) which allows for a more continuous and even transition.

Photoshop lets you select the maximum radius of the dots, which determines how “fine” a detail your image will have. In the original 631×480 MPEG Streamclip screen image, the ratio of smallest maximum pixel radius (4 pixels) to image was too large — it was too difficult to get a fine enough detail. So I scaled the image size up (Image>Image Size) so that the relative smallest maximum pixel radius ratio would be smaller (follow?) and was able to get a finer halftone from the same image.

"Pixel Composition," animatedGIF by @aforgrave

“Pixel Composition,” animatedGIF by @aforgrave

After fiddling around with the maximum pixel radius and the image size, I took a look back at the assignment description. I noticed that there were a couple of tutorials for the assignment. One was no longer available, and the second one was done using Picnik and Chogger. However, Picnik closed up shop in 2013, and Chogger was only used to add speech bubbles. So I searched for “halftone comic book effect using Photoshop” in Google, and immediately noticed an identical image in the Google Image results to the one that sits in the thumbnail on the Comic Book Effect assignment’s page. Following that image to its source page led me directly to “Give Your Photos a Retro Comic Book Effect,” which I will now apply to the original image for comparison.

Tutorial Exploration

  1. Start with a fresh copy of the image.
  2. Apply Image>Adjustments>Levels, (I liked setting Input to 29/1.22/94, which seemed to give a nice contrast.)
  3. Apply Filters>Artistic>Film Grain, with settings Grain:4, Highlight Area:0, Intensity:10 as suggested
  4. I then created several duplicates of the original photo layer, in preparation for step 5..
  5. Applied a different filter radius (trying maximum pixel radii of 4, 8, 12, and 16) to a each new layer.
  6. Added a light frame, black border, an orange radiant-filled top caption box and a white bottom narration box.
  7. Downloaded and installed the font Digital Strip and used it to add a caption and narration. The leading red M was created by increasing the font size, choosing font colour of red, and applying both a stroke and drop shadow effect from the fx menu.
  8. Used File>Save for Web to create a png file for each halftone variation.

Here are the various results:

“Meanwhile, in the Village PRE1” by aforgave, on Flickr.

“Meanwhile, in the Village PRE2,” by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Meanwhile, in the Village 4,” by aforgrave, on Flickr.

“Meanwhile, in the Village 8,” by aforgave, on Flickr.

“Meanwhile, in the Village 12,” by aforgave, on Flickr.

“Meanwhile, in the Village 16,” by aforgave, on Flickr.

What the Heck, Let’s Try the Halftone App

For comparison, I uploaded the original photo to my phone and experimented with the Halftone app. It was very easy to replicate the elements, albeit with slightly less control over some specifics of the finished product. Dot size and strength are easily adjusted with sliders, which allows for a rapid experimentation. The app also applies the frame, the border and makes for easy creation of the caption and narration boxes and text. It also applies a rustic antique look to the image.

“Meanwhile, in The Village (Halftone app),” by aforgave, on Flickr.

In Closing

Wow, that was quite a bit of work for 1 Credit Unit. But maybe the value obtained from the learning and the exploration is sometimes more valuable than the actual credit obtained.


Where’s Waldo? — in The Village??

"Where's Waldo? --  in The Village?? Image 1" by @aforgrave

“Where’s Waldo? — in The Village?? Image 1” by @aforgrave

I don’t know that you’ll be able to find Waldo in this image, but perhaps you can find some differences between this image and the one that follows it. Visual Assignment 1686: Find the 6 Differences invites us to adjust an image to introduce 6 pairs of differences. It reminds us to keep a copy of the original (important!) and also to make up an answer sheet. I’ll let you play first, before commenting on some of the strategies I used in making this.  One note: I couldn’t stop at 6 differences. I’ve not counted up the number — perhaps you might like to provide the number that you think are present, while keeping your own list of differences private so that others can play along.


“Where’s Waldo? — in The Village?? Image 2” by @aforgrave

This was a fun challenge for 2 Credit Units. Most of the changes were implemented using the Clone Brush tool in Photoshop, typically with a radius of about 4 pixels, but on a few instances edited with a 1 pixel brush. On a couple of occasions I used the colour replacement tool (those ones are kind of subtle). In one instance I used the Magic Wand tool to select an area, and then applied a couple of transformations — can you find out which edit I would have used those for?

Historical Synchronicity (July 14th, 2015):

As I worked on this image, magic was happening way out in space today, magic that that carries the remains of Clyde Tombaugh. I imagine that he would have had an easy solution to a problem like this. A portion of his remains are on the New Horizons spacecraft.



Gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach, which was at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday – about 7,750 miles above the surface — roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Images from closest approach are expected to be released on Wednesday, July 15. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons#solarsystem #nasabeyond #science

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

SPOILER: If you have read this far and want a Clyde Tombaugh solution, … click here.

Arrival: In a Pixel Perfect Village


“Drive” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"Come In ..."

“Come In …” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"Spotlight" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Spotlight” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"Sit Down ..." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Sit Down …” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"Rover on the Lawn" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Rover on the Lawn” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"A Still Tongue ...." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“A Still Tongue ….” animated GIF by @aforgrave

"Just a Few Questions ..." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Just a Few Questions …” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The Thin Line Between Heaven and Here

Bubbles is attributed the epigraph “[There is a] … thin line between heaven and here” in Old Cases, Season 1, Episode 4 of HBO‘s The Wire. He delivers the line at about the midpoint of the episode, and the line came just at the right moment to punctuate what I perceived as the first whack-me-over-the-head, must-be-gifted juxtaposition. That I held off on GIFfing anything (including this) until I had made my way through all 5 seasons / 60 episodes is a result of knowing that I wanted to get as far through the series (having never seen it) before the end of my summer break. We’ve been back at school for two weeks, and having finished the series, I’m ready to play.

This post is also an entry into the Animated GIF Assignment 1352, Summarize a Wire Episode in GIFs. I haven’t necessarily done a complete summary so much as tried to interpret the epigraph as portrayed in the context of the episode.  In scanning the previous offerings for this assignment, I was pleased to see that, aside from one GIF, it appears that no one has yet summarized this episode. And so, onward! 

Partway into the episode, Bubbles hitches a ride home with MucNulty (on his way out into the suburbs to his son’s soccer game), who thus takes Bubbles on a detour .

"Leave-it-to-Beaver Land" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Leave-it-to-Beaver Land” animated GIF by @aforgrave

McNulty meets with his ex-wife at the soccer game (she shirks back from shaking Bubbles’ hand and pulls her coat closely about her protectively), and Bubbles takes in the surroundings.

"The Thin Line Between Heaven ...." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“The Thin Line Between Heaven ….” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The lush, green grass and uniforms of the kids playing the organized soccer game in the bright day time sunlight with spectators galore set us up for the immediately subsequent scene when McNulty’s car pulls up after dark back in the inner city. There, kids play on the pavement/dirt lot beside a dimly-lit back alleyway. One adult stands, plastic shopping bag in hand, as the kids circle round. The stark contrast in the scene cut had me immediately playing back the transition to check the parallel.

"... And Here" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“… And Here” animated GIF by @aforgrave

It is then that Bubbles delivers his line, having just seen how close the two worlds are physically — and yet how distant that suburban reality is for those caught in the city.

"Bubbles: [There's a] thin line between Heaven and here." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Bubbles: [There’s a] thin line between Heaven and here.” animated GIF by @aforgrave

 Bubbles has no options but to return to his world, and McNulty ponders.

"Bubbles is Home" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Bubbles is Home” animated GIF by @aforgrave

There are a number of other nice moments in the episode which speak to the notion of a thin line between two worlds.

Avon Barksdale lives a life influenced by, but isolated from the street. Stringer Bell runs the day-to-day dirty work, and Avon has everything done for him by his lieutenants (they are always opening and closing the door to his office for him). In this scene from Old Cases, I found this emphasized by the way that Stringer  sets-up Avon for a jump shot in the gym. All Avon has to do is grab the perfect set-up (from a standing start) and dunk the ball. Minimal preparation, but all the glory.

"Stringer Setup for Avon" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Stringer Setup for Avon” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The scene where Herc and Carver go to roust the missing Bodie and encounter his mom also presented a nice contrast between the constant and stark representations of Bodie’s outdoor street life, and the indoor home world of his mother.  Granted, her living room has little of the brightness of the living rooms of the police and politicos (are they brighter the higher up they go?), but a wholesome warmth is there.

"Brodie's Mom" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Brodie’s Mom” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Herc realizes the contrast between the brash approach he and Carver naturally brought with them from the street to her front door, and the welcome she provided when she asks him if he “would like to sit down.” Her nature calms the Herc(ulean) cop, and he softens noticeably. The difference between being rude and being polite is only a choice away.

"Polite Moment" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Polite Moment” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Back outside, Carver asks him, “What were you doing in there?”
“Talking,” Herc replies.
“Talking.” Carver is stunned.

Meanwhile, back at the station, Polk is considering the fine line between the drudgery of his job as police, and the short-term pain of intentionally throwing himself down the stairs so that he can retire on a disability pension like his partner Mahon, previously injured by Bodie. Either the sudden arrival of McNulty and Kima, or more likely his lack of fortitude, scuttles his plan.

"Contemplating Retirement," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Contemplating Retirement,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Then we arrive at one of my most long-anticipated #wire106 GIF moments, capturing Lester Freeman building his furniture miniatures. Initially a bit of an enigma (we wonder how it is that he is allowed to just sit around making furniture miniatures when there is work to be done?), we first see Lester’s skills at work as he susses out a photo of Avon Barksdale in the previous episode The Buys, episode 3, and then runs down the pager number of D’Angelo here in Old Cases, episode 4.

"13 Years, 4 Months" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“13 Years, 4 Months” animated GIF by @aforgrave

By this time, McNulty realizes that Freamon not an oddity, but is rather “real Po-lice.” We see some foreshadowing of McNulty’s future when we later learn of the bizarre rationale behind Lester’s 13 year, 4 month exile to the Pawn detail. The dedication and ability of McNulty and Freamon in solving crimes contrasts wonderfully with the slack and ineffective efforts of Mahon and Polk. And the very thin line between being real police and kowtowing to the politically-motivated, stat-driven bosses is clearly evident when Freamon offers his sage advice to Jimmy near the end of the episode.

"Do Yourself a Favour" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Do Yourself a Favour” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Jimmy, however, does not succeed in avoiding the question — he has already been asked the question by Jay, and he has already answered that he would hate the diesel fumes of the Marine Unit. (Spoiler: As we see at the end of Season 1,  that is where he ends up.)

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