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I Can Read Televison – Free Man

“I Can Read Television: Free Man 2” by aforgrave on Flickr

I like the “I Can Read Movies” Design Assignment 55. It’s fun to try to capture a movie (or television show) with a cover image as well as imagine the design of an old paperback book.

The Basics

  • This book cover is based on the Spacesick’s Jurassic Park rendering — I liked the black background and roughed edges for my Prisoner book.
  • I font matched the “I Can Read Movies font on with a close match Zona Pro, and used that to re do “I Can Read Movies” to “I Can Read Television.”
  • To deal with the movie-to-television switch, I sourced and licensed an icon of a Television on The Noun Project by John Caserta and updated the logo and publisher branding in the upper left corner.
  • In conjunction with the logo revision, I switched the colour scheme from yellow/black to red/black.
  • Giving the book a 6 of 1 numbering seemed appropriate.
  • The teaser beneath the title was re-written, and the title redone (using the Village font) to Free Man. I think “Free Man” perhaps communicates a wider and appropriately more open-ended set of messages for the show than just “I am a Free Man.”

The Cover Image

"MiniFilm2," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“MiniFilm2,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The trickiest part of this particular book cover was getting a silhouette image of Number Six on the beach during his “I am not a number, I am a free man!” speech. Although I somehow have a fairly good idea of the physical movements he goes through at that moment, it’s surprising how poorly lit that sequence is. I tried four times (from different sources, too) to capture frames that I could use.

I’d had a run at enhancing this sequence once already when I tackled “Google Says … I am Not a Number” last week. It might be easy to miss in the original GIF, but there is an excerpt of the whole opening scene hidden in the search results at the end. In working with the frames from the defiant speech, I had to significantly adjust both the brightness AND the contrast to get something useable.

So in working to get a silhouette of Number Six on the beach, I again went back and tried to adjust brightness and contrast.

I tried adjusting brightness and contrast manually, frame by frame, in Photoshop. Labourious work, and I wasn’t pleased with the results. I needed more frames to work with than I’d originally grabbed.

I went back into MPEG Streamclip and tried exporting at 24 frames per second rather than the 6 per second I had previously used.  Unfortunately, that didn’t give me any better silhouettes than the ones I’d had before, just more of them.

MPEG Streamclip allows you to select the colours or shades of grey in the images that you export. I tried 256 greys, as well as 16 greys, hoping that it might give me a good silhouette separate from the background. Unfortunately, that is the real problem with what has been shot — not enough light and not enough contrast.  Two few greys didn’t give enough detail. Too many greys and there wasn’t enough distinction.

MPEG Streamclip also allows you to adjust brightness and contrast during the export process. Good to know, but the first time I ramped the brightness right up (as I did in Photoshop on a frame by frame basis) I just got a whole bunch of white frames. So I had to experiment there, too.

In the end, although I am not really happy with the result, I wound up with a series of frames to which I applied a Filter (Brush: Dark Strokes) that resulted in the following animation.

"Free Man," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Free Man,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

I selected a frame from towards the end of the sequence after the throw, where Number Six stands staring back at The Village. In the interests of time, I went with that frame — inverting it to make Number Six light and then doing a free-hand tracing around the ragged silhouette in black. I then erased all but the black-outlined silhouette using the eraser tool and placed it on the black background.

You can see the original colour of the silhouette below (the lightest, front-most one, with the black outline). Still experimenting, I added a couple extra copies with decreasing transparency, rotating and offsetting them to suggest a jarred, out-of-place character, and in the end, went with the just the third (greatest opacity) silhouette only.

“I Can Read Television Free Man 1,” by aforgrave on Flickr

I may still return to the beach scene to continue to explore methods to refine the quality of that image, but for now, it is time for other things!

I am NOT 6!!!

"Many Happy Returns: I am NOT 6," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Many Happy Returns: I am NOT 6,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

When looking through the Visual Assignment bank, it seemed that the Visual Assignment 1720: Birthdays are the Worst would be most apropos for Number 6 and the episode Many Happy Returns. It asks that you “find a picture of yourself Number 6 where you he look(s) upset and use photo editing software to add a birthday hat and party decorations.”

Recalling that Mrs. Butterworth (aka Number 2) brings Number 6 a cake at the end of the episode, I quickly scanned ahead using Quicktime and copied out a single frame (Command-C, thanks, Bill!) and pasted it into Photoshop.  Somewhere along the way  I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be ideal if there were six candles on the cake?

Well, there are! Not a coincidence, I’m sure! And Number 6 doesn’t look particularly happy, either. Perfect!

To highlight that little irony, I used the Magic Wand tool to isolate each flame (one at a time) and then used Layer>New>Layer via Copy to get each flame onto its own layer. I named each of the layers candle1 through candle6 respectively.  Re-selecting just the flame (using Command-click on the thumbnail for a given candle layer, I then switched back to the original photo layer and used Edit>Fill (Use: Content Aware) to get a good start on removing the flame from the original image. A little touching up using both the Spot Healing brush tool and the Clone Stamp tool removed any artifacts so that the candle appeared unlit. After repeating this for each candle flame in the original image, all that remained was to create a series of subsequent frames in the Timeline , each one adding in one additional candle flame layer until all six candles were lit. Two seconds for the initial and final frames, 1/2 second intervals for each candle flame, and a 0 pause 5-frame transition from the end back to the start.


“Using the Timeline in Photoshop to set frame intervals.”

However, along the way (between candles 1, 2, 3, 6 — and then 4, 5) I headed off to the Internet to find a party hat for Number 6. Very quickly the hunt switched from a simple clip art party hat to one that would say “I am 6.”  After all …

A series of photographs of plush party hats caught my eye in Google images. Jumping out to the source website, I found they had hats in stock for ages 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, and 60, (as well as a crown and a traffic cone).

"I am 6, not 60," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“I am 6, not 60,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The Clone Stamp tool was used to remove the red 0 from the 60, and then, because the right side of the hat was initially a bit brighter than the left — and now more so with the space left by the removal of the  0 — I used the Colour Replace brush (sampling on the left side of the hat) to tone down the right side by painting over the right side. Voila.

Of course, Number 6 would never agree to wear such a hat in The Village, even on his own birthday, and so he marked it up a bit with some charcoal before putting it on his head.

And then, just at the final moment, I decided that Mrs. Butterworth deserved a party had to celebrate with Number 6, and because she was the reigning Number 2, she got the crown.

It seemed more appropriate selection than the traffic cone. Plus, it fit on her beehive hairdo.

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