Chad Gadya embroidermation finished at last!

After a little over a year and a half, and many interruptions, we finally finished our embroidermated short, Chad Gadya. While we were working on it (actually I was working, Theo was procrastinating) this other embroidered short came out, but there are differences. Thanks to Theodore Gray’s stitchcoding in Mathematica, we weren’t restricted by (invariably crappy) off-the-shelf software. This allowed us to automate beautiful iridescent stitches and preserve them from frame to frame, so the resulting animation really looks like moving embroidery.

Every single embroidered frame you see here is available for sale, signed and numbered and one-of-a-kind. Only 9 months ’til Passover!

Chad Gadya will function as a sort of “intermission” in my feature film Seder-Masochism, marking the end of the Passover meal but just the beginning of the Israelites’ trials in the desert.

Update: Theo’s post on the technical side of stitchcoding embroidermation.

“It took a while to get all this code right, but of course it’s crucial that it cover every possible case, because when you’re doing animation, it’s not about getting one frame right, it’s about having an automated process that always gets every frame right, not just once, but every time there is an iteration of the animation requiring a re-render of the frames. We must have generated tens of thousands of frames (just generated the files, not actually stitched them!) before it was all looking good.” Theodore Gray

Update 2: All the stitching files we made for this are Free (CC-BY-SA) at archive.org! Download ’em and stitch ’em out as you please. They’re PES format; wish we had something better, but all embroidery formats suck.

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Chad Gadya embroidermation progress

embroidermation

A wee taste of the progress Theo and I are making on our “Chad Gadya” embroidermation project.

goat

Frames of the animation are stitched in groups of 6, arranged in a circle on matzo covers. We currently have 516 frames on 86 matzo covers, which I painstakingly finished by hand with multiple fabric layers and labels and everything.

Matzo covers

We hired Theo’s daughter, Emma, to help. Here she is ironing away while I adjust a lining.

NinaEmmaMatzoCovers

Here I am topstitching one of the 86 covers on a treadle sewing machine.

NinaHemsCover

We have a lot of additional photography, stitchcoding and stitching to do, but we are making progress. When the film is done the matzo covers will be for sale.

Chad Gadya cycling backgrounds

Which 24-frame cycle do you like more:

ChadGadya_BG8

Cycle A, “Clouds”, or…

ChadGadya_BG3

Cycle B, “Waves”?

I personally prefer Cycle B, because I like backgrounds where everything is moving – I feel it gives it more depth. As a 2-D design the clouds look nice, but in an animated cycle their stillness bothers me. I did make a version with moving clouds, but on this 24-frame cycle they had to be very dense to repeat:

ChadGadya_BG7

Cycle C, “Repeating Clouds”. I still prefer Cycle B. The sky pattern might be a bit unconventional, but I think it’s stylish. Also I don’t like all that white in the background of A and C.

The palette is limited to 10 colors because this is destined for Embroidermation. The animated GIF doesn’t have great color fidelity; thread colors will look better and have more contrast between foreground and background.

If you have an opinion on which of these you prefer, please leave it in the comments and maybe it will help Theo and me settle our argument.

Linoleum cut printimation

Death9

These are some lousy test prints (I have no skill as a printer plus I used cheap water-based ink and cheap thin waste paper) I made of some linoleum print plates I designed and “cut” with the laser engraver at the local Fab Lab. The plates are to be part of a larger project with many artist participants, organized in Germany; I’ll write about it when it’s properly printed and officially released. My understanding is it’s about how the advent of the printing press led to the explosion of  a unique kind of illustration: the wood-cut. Since I think the internet is in many ways analogous to the printing press, I saw a parallel in its own new kind of illustration: the animated gif. So my (linoleum) “wood-cuts” were designed to end up as animated gifs.  When the project is done I will use the final, better prints to make better versions of these loops. But patience is not one of my virtues and I am excited about the test animated gifs I made from my lousy test prints, and when I make an animated gif I can’t wait to post it, so I didn’t wait, so here:

DeathCut movie1

Here’s a phenakistoscope from another print, using the same all-purpose goat in our Chad Gadya embroidermation:

GoatCutPhenakistoscope

GoatCut closeup1

Some photos of the linoleum plates themselves:

GoatLinoleum

 

The plate on the right is of the “Death” animation; on the left is my test plate, which I used to gauge the laser engraver. I also did some hand-gouging on it, confirming I’d rather use a machine.DeathLinoleum

Sheep and Goats

For your insomniac counting pleasure:

sheep+goats

Was Moses a shepherd or a goatherd? I now have both sheep and goats for Seder-Masochism. The sheep design I made a few years ago; the goat I made this week. I much prefer it to this goat design from 2012 (which was just rehashed from Agni’s mount in Sita Sings the Blues):

 

There’s also this embroidermation goat I designed for the all-embroidermated Chad Gadya section of Seder-Masochism, still to be photographed:

That’s 3 goats I’ve designed so far, for one movie. I’m only going to use the most recent 2.

Water Wheel

water wheel5

click for animated gif

Back on the Quiltimation front, I was wondering if I could arrange animated frames on a quilt in a mandala/medallion pattern, rather than left-to-right cells. This would essentially be a quilted phenakistoscope, with the animation emerging as the whole thing is rotated (we’d keep the camera and lights stable, and rotate the quilt).

water wheel6

click for animated gif

 

The saturated colors here would be lost, although I could use a few colors of thread. The elements are early Leviathan designs, and Water from Chad Gadya which is still in (very slow) progress.

 

Then came the Holy One, Blessed be He…

God5

…and smote the Angel of Death that slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Angel of Death came…

AngelODeath8

 

…and slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Slaughterer came…

 

shochet4

…and killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

 

Update: animation modified to show Shochet slicing from below. He’s still decapitating the poor beast, but it’s slightly more kosher for sticklers. Yes I know kosher slaughter involves slitting the animal’s throat, it just seems so grotesque that the cartoon shorthand of bloody decapitation expresses it best for me. But for those who consider slitting from below important, here ya go.

The Ox came…

ox5

 

…and drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Water came…

water+fire

 

…and extinguished the Fire, that burnt the Stick, that hit the Dog, that bit the Cat, that ate the Goat which my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The Fire came

flame+stick…and burned the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the Goat which my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

 

The Stick came…

stick1

 

and beat the Dog, that bit the Cat, that ate the Goat, which my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

…and bit the Cat…

dog12+cat

…that ate the Goat that my father bought for two zuzim. Chad Gadya

The dog came….

Chad Gadya dog cat

What happens next isn’t going to be pretty. Chad Gadya