Golden Calf 1

snake dancer jewish4 gif

 

I’m gearing up to do the most interesting Seder-Masochism episode: the Golden Calf, wherein the stiff-necked people disobey Moses and revert to their pagan, goddess-worshipping ways. Lotta design work this month, because goddesses.

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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.

Happy Summer Solstice!

SunEdit: Happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! And Happy Winter Solstice to everyone in the Southern Hemishpere. And to those in the tropics, Happy Just Another Day Pretty Much Like All The Rest.

 

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

The Exodus

Following the Ten Plagues – particularly the Death of the Firstborn Egyptians – the Hebrews finally leave Egypt.

Music: Free To Be You And Me by the New Seekers. More about that song and my use thereof in another post.

Exodus12-28

Exodus 12:28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

Exodus12-35

Exodus 12:35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

Exodus12-37

Exodus 12:37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
:38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

Exodus13-21

Exodus 13:21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Exodus14-21

Exodus 14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

Exodus14-22

Exodus 14:22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Exodus14-23

Exodus 14:23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

Exodus14-28

Exodus 14:28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

Exodus14-30

Exodus 14:30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

…..

The last beat is the desert, where the Hebrews will spend the next 40 years:

Exodus16-3

Exodus 16:3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of theLord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

GNU & Improved GIFs

PromisedLand2460

Big ups to my friend Barry Israelewitz, who wrote a shell script for ffmpeg (based on this article shared in this comment by Paul Wise) and taught me how to use Terminal on my mac to make much better animated gifs than Flash exports directly. Currently it’s significantly more work than just exporting .gif from Flash, because I have to instead export a PNG sequence, import the frames to Quicktime 7, and export as a new .mov to use as an input file for making the gif. This may be streamlined a little bit in the future, but for now at least I can make higher quality gifs if I need to.

Below are close-up details of single frames. “Before” is here, “after” is above.

before

before

after

after

Here’s a smaller-sized (because fewer frames) animated gif for side-by-side before-and-after comparison:

before

before

after

after

Much better, no? Plus using Terminal is METAL.

Horse Quiltimation

Horse (1)

HorseQuilt2Hero2400

Algorithmic quilt fill patterns by Chris Carlson

Concept, design, reverse-applique snipping by Nina Paley

Stitchcoding & binding by Theodore Gray

Stitched by Behemoth

Based on horse photographs by Eadweard Muybridge, 1878

Same horse at half speed

Same horse at half speed

The Promised Land

PromisedLand2sm

Soon I hope to be able to make gifs that look a lot better than this. A friend is helping, but he first needs to teach me some command-line stuff which I’ve never done on my Mac. Meanwhile here’s a dithery giffy glimpse of the Promised Land that is smaller than 640×480 because WordPress has a 2MB limit for image uploads. My next modification to this scene will be adding milk and honey, and maybe some rainbows coming out of the flying unicorns’ butts.

Livestock Exodus

HeebAssGoatSheep1gif

32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.  –Exodus 12, KJV

A Bug in My Ass

ass1

So I’m animating an ass for Seder-Masochism, so the Hebrews have something to carry their stuff out of Egypt so their arms are free to let them walk  jauntily and leap around. I export a test and see this weird artifact on the upper foreleg. Flash is rendering the shape as it looks in vector editing mode. If you look carefully you’ll see the point on the upper right has a little bezier handle. Weird, right?

ass2

It’s a bug in Flash (pre-Adobe Macromedia Flash 8, the only Flash I use), the likes of which I’ve never seen before. To make the artifact go away I had to re-draw the foreleg. Below is a render sans bug.

ass3What’s great about this is it solved my problem about how to best use “ass” in a blog post title. I was considering “What an Ass” or “A Fine Ass” or “I Made Myself an Ass,” but this is much better.

 

Crossing the Red Sea

HebrewRun8

Gettin’ pumped to conquer the Promised Land!

Every country that exists originated through violent conquest. The victims of these conquests were victors and conquerors earlier. Is violent conquest legitimate? If not, then no country or nation is legitimate. If nations are legitimate, then violent conquest must be also. I ask these questions as I animate the mythical Ancient Hebrews’ quest to conquer Canaan (which was already occupied). There’s just no way to make it look good by modern humanitarian values, and I wonder why that is.

Happy Heeb

HebrewWalk2

This Hebrew is getting ready to walk right out of Egypt, bouncing along to a song that has beats every 19 frames (oy!). Here’s how he looked in an earlier scene.

Parted Sea Waves

red sea wave43

You think you’re getting closer to the Promised Land, but you aren’t.

Moses parts the Red Sea

MosesPartsSea3

There are better ways to encode animated gifs, but I don’t have access to them right now. This was exported from Macromedia Flash 8 (2005), so it’s dithered. If anyone knows of a safe, modern online .mov-to-.gif converter that uses a non-dithering encoder, or same to download for my antique (OS 10.6) Mac, let me know.

Strange Waves

red sea wave12sm

Water, like fire, is basically impossible for me to animate correctly, so I try to come up with extremely stylized ways to evoke it. Right now I’m designing water-walls for the Parting of the Red Sea. Not sure how it’s gonna work out, but here are a couple tests as I find my way.

wave2_10

These little animated gifs have dithered colors which give them blue and purple flickers absent in the original animation.