Tag Archives: Monty Python

GIFfight: Whither George Fate Spinner

"George Wither for ds106 Spinner" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“George Wither for ds106 Spinner” animated GIF by @aforgrave

For aMUSE and GUIDE to things you doth CREATE,
Spin now and TRUST the hand of fickle FATE

Geo Wither Frontspage

The #GIFfight topic that appeared on the Twitter horizon today involves the animation of images from the Emblemes, Illustrated by Geo. Wither, A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne, Quickened with Metricall Illustrations, both Morall and Devine, and disposed into Lotteries, That Instruction, and Good Counsell may be furthered by an Honest and Pleasant Recreation, published in London in 1635 (MDCXXXV)

Wow! There were a number of variations already posted to tumblr of a marvellous skeleton from page 8 of the document.  Conversations on Twitter have raised the spectre (sorry) of riffing the image in 3D, and so that is next on my plate, now that the GIF above is finished. However, my attention was already captured by the time the 3D discussion came along, and I was already started on the ds106 spinner, based on the image from the pages at the end following the Fourth Lotterie.

Interactive, Randomized Passage Selectors in 1635

The two spinners provide a mechanism where by the reader can randomly select a passage for review and reflection.

“Turne one of the Indexes in the Figures, which are in the following Page, without casting your eyes thereupon, to observe where it stayeth until your hand ceaseth to give it motion. If it be the upper Figure, while Index you moved; than, that Number whereupon it resteth, is the number of your lot, or Blancke. 

This being known, move the other Index in like manner, and that Quarter of the said Figure whereupon the same standeth (when your hand is taken away) sheath in which of the four Bookes, or Lotteries, that Chance is to be expected, whereunto your Number doth send you, whether it be Lot, or Blanke. If it be any Number above Fifty, it is a Blancke Chance, and you are to look no further. If it be any of the other Numbers, it sends you to the Emblem answering to the same Number, in the Booke next before the same Lotterie …” 

Fancy! An interactive, randomized method for selecting passages, built in to the book! Engaging and fun!

I used a couple of font matching sites to try to find a nice font that would let me emulate the type in the old print of 1635.

sample of font uploaded to my for matching

sample of font uploaded to my for matching

The closest I could find was Oronteus Finaeus Regular and Oronteus Finaeus Small Caps by Type Innovations, but each one sells for $39 each, and so that was a bit too much to splurge. In the end, I used a font called Experiement1-Elongated Ears by Opipick and fiddled around to make the text look aged, following the directions as documented by Jeff Finley Aged Type Effect in Photoshop (w/PS Action) — I didn’t try the Photoshop Action, but might do that another time. The result was okay, not as good as I’d like, but an acceptable approximation.

I decided against using the skeleton hand from the Page 8 illustration, opting instead to download a bony hand from Google Images and using that.  It has a bit more definition and I searched specifically for one that was pointing like the Grim Reaper in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.

My scan through the second half of the text has resulted in about 15  selections ripe for GIFfing. There is certainly plenty of material there to work with. And of course, after that, there is the first half of the book!  Wow! What a great source for inspiration.

GIF-an-Anaglyph or Anaglyph-a-GIF

However, before tackling any new images, I want to explore a 3D GIF of the page 8 skeleton. My glasses are all set and ready to go.

3D glasses


No dona eis requiem: Another 1840 Tate Gallery GIF Party Submission

"1870 Rehearsing the Service: No dona eis Requiem" animated GIF by aforgrave

“1870 Rehearsing the Service: No dona eis Requiem” animated GIF by aforgrave

The original image is “Rehearsing the Service” from 1870 by Alphonse Legros, and is one of the images open for interpretation in the Tate Britain1840s GIF Party: Call for Submissions.

I had to wrap my brain around taking some kind of a different approach to get a GIF out of this image. I knew that something was in there, and it was by viewing the original image through the irreverent lense of Terry Gilliam and Monty Python that resulted in this little endeavour.

For those not familiar with the antecedent, we need look no further than the venerable You Tube: The following clip was kind enough to provide me with a subtitled transcription, which helped a lot.

Rather than going with a simple text bubble as I originally envisioned, I sourced an image via the Google (“illustrated manuscript images”) of a page from a $40,000 manuscript on the Christie’s Auction site (BOOK OF HOURS AND PRAYERBOOK, in Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM AND PAPER) and replaced the existing text with the monk’s speech using a font called GregorianFLF by Casady & Greene on

The final .psd file has on the order of 20 layers — the background (hands of both removed), a three layers for each of the left and right hands for the singer, the singers mouth, two layers for the eyes, three layers for the hands & book, a layer for the extended arms (I took a clipping from the cloak and extended it using the clone tool), a layer for the manuscript, 2 for the text, and a couple utility layers to mask out things that weren’t needed at various points.

At 256 colours, 35 final frames, and a 600 pixel width, the GIF weighs in at 568 KB — which I can live with for an enhanced Piece of Art.

Saved out at the original image width of 1536 pixels, the larger GIF is a bit more massive:

• LINK to the full-size (1536 pixels wide) version of the GIF (2.9 MB).


The Tate Gallery 1840 GIF Party submission deadline is fast approaching, February 2nd.  I’m looking forward to seeing the sharing of the submissions following the February 7th adjudication.

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