Death of the Firstborn Egyptians


The most recently-completed scene from my feature-in-progress Seder-Masochism.

written, directed, designed, animated, produced, etc. by Nina Paley
music from “Spider Suite” by The Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra
sound effects by Greg Sextro

DONATE HERE: questioncopyright.org/sedermasochism

Based on Exodus 12:
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

*****

LYRICS by David King, aka Duke of Uke:

DEATH: Falling stars you wished upon
are cinders now and now they’re gone
their residue festoons my fetid field.
Unfeeling husks of lovers past
the shells are all that ever last
I’ve taken everything that they concealed.
Whoever told you life was fair?
Look around you, everywhere
the cruelty of nature is displayed!
Why the scorn?
Why the surprise?
Everything that’s born must die
and it isn’t I who made the world that way.

What wicked little twist of fate
placed you her upon my plate
Here, where no one hears your cries?
Where was your god to steer you through
Perhaps your god’s forsaken you
Otherwise why lead you here to die?

BA (spirit of the dead): I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
away
Now I finally know

DEATH: It’s merely moments now,
moments now until
your feeble flesh bends to my will
and it will
so rest your weary head.
There’ll be no pain,
no pain at all
as everything you are dissolves
Your fate resolved
upon my silky thread.

BA: I, I know the way how
I’ll melt away now
I know the way.
I’m feeling bliss now
Dissolved to mist how
strangely I go
away
Now I finally know
(repeat)

Share/Bookmark

Burning Bush redux

Bush7loop

Hopefully an improvement on my previous Burning Bush design which I made a few years ago. The new design can do this:

Bush7loop2

Leviathan/Apep in the sea

ApepBWenlarging

I seem to have created something that looks great as an endlessly looping gif, but is hard to fit into the movie I created it for. I’m still trying to fit it in without overwhelming any scene it appears in.

How to make a Leviathan in Macromedia Flash 8

People have been asking how I made this, so I took some screen shots:

1. Basic segment shape

1. Basic segment shape

Continue reading How to make a Leviathan in Macromedia Flash 8

Leviathan Redux

Leviathan_Snake68_2

I’m adapting the Leviathan I designed a few years ago into an Apep for the “Death of the Firstborn Egyptians” scene of Seder-Masochism. It’ll look more Egyptian later, but right now I’m just happy with the movement, which I re-timed to go with the music. It has a beat every 17 frames, kind of a pain to adjust but I’m pleased with the rhythm.

Uraeus Disc

Egypt Sun Ra Wadjet

Death cycle

DeathKillCycle

I’m currently working on the “Death of the Firstborn Egyptians” chapter of Seder-Masochism. The little move above happens only once in the film, but I wanted to see it over and over, hence the gif.

09.6.2

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.

Egyptian Falcon

falcon_fast1

Another thing for Seder-Masochism.

Ancient Egypt parallax

I’ve been designing Egyptian foliage for Seder-Masochism. The ancient Egyptian graphic style is pretty flat; there’s little if any perspective to give a sense of depth.

plants3

However, animation can give a sense of depth without compromising the graphic style. Thanks to the magic of parallax, each still frame looks authentically flat, but in motion the scene looks 3-D. Nothing overlaps anything else but there’s still a foreground and background.

plants3Just one of many reasons animation is cool.

 

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.

Cattle of Egypt

I’m back to working on Seder-Masochism after a very long hiatus. Here are some biblical Egyptian cattle:

Egypt_cow2

And here they are after I AM THAT I AM gets through with them:

Egypt_cow_bones

resampling DST files

sampling_demo3

Our Quilt Plotter’s rather frustrating software automatically resamples DST files, for no explicable reason. While we struggle to communicate with its manufacturers to overcome this “feature,” I attempted to explain the problem in pictures.

1. A line, or vector file, is not a DST file yet. A DST file is comprised of many points, like so:

1. A line, or vector file, is not a DST file yet. A DST file is comprised of many points, like so:

2. This has a high sample rate, because there are many points spaced close together.

2. This has a high sample rate, because there are many points spaced close together.

3. Above is a lower sample rate, with "stitches" in black. There are fewer points and they are spaced further apart.  The machine always, always, automatically RESAMPLES DST files, which inevitably degrades line quality. Here's a resample at the same sample rate (frequency/spacing of points):

3. Above is a lower sample rate, with “stitches” in black. There are fewer points and they are spaced further apart. Here’s a resample at the same sample rate (frequency/spacing of points):

4. Every time the path is resampled, it moves further from the original line. This happens even if it's resampled at the same sample rate, as shown here.

4. Every time the path is resampled, it moves further from the original line. This happens even if it’s resampled at the same sample rate, as shown here.

5. Same sample rate, worse fidelity because of resampling.

5. Same sample rate, worse fidelity because of resampling.

6.  If we resample enough times eventually our path won't resemble the original line.

6. If we resample enough times, eventually our path won’t resemble the original line.

7. Not what we want.

7. Not what we want.

 

 

 

sampling_demo30008

THIS is what we want the machine to read. We can control all the points in the DST file in Mathematica. We just want the machine to not resample them, to keep the points in the original file we give it. Here the points are evenly spaced except at corners and curves to preserve fidelity.

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