“Just tap it…”

Our friends at Creative Commons reminded us a while ago that there is a #GIFItUp competition going on. So I thought I’d try something with this Salvator Rosa image from the Art Institute of Chicago:

This is kind of like the Animated Comic Book Cover assignment, in that it makes a GIF from a still image. To make it work I had to dissect the image to separate out the parts I wanted to move. Then I had to fill in the background where those parts were, so there wouldn’t be empty holes. Photoshop has a Content-Aware Fill function, where the software guesses at what should be in an area based on what’s nearby. It’s far from perfect, but it will do.

In addition to having separate layers for each part, I had to make layers for each change in position. I made a layer group for the spinning arm, and rotated the arm 30 degrees at a time. I probably should have kept the shoulder aligned better so it doesn’t dislocate, but oh well, he’s a warrior so he can take it.

Normally when I make this kind of GIF, I just have a few layers and let the GIF cycle through them. In that case, each layer is a complete image. My plan here was to make various combinations of the layers, and export each combo as a PNG. Then I would import those into one image and export it as an animated GIF. The problem was going to be: How to keep track of all the moving parts? I had already labeled each layer as a way to keep them organized. I had the bright idea to use a spreadsheet to keep track of the permutations and their order.

With this, I was able to export PNGs for each unique permutation and name them by frame number. The first column shows where frames get repeated. My layer stack in GIMP followed that column. When I exported it as an animated GIF, it moved too fast, so through trial and error I settled on a frame delay of 300 milliseconds.

It might be helped by a rhythm track. The spreadsheet is sort of arranged in beats and measures. That’s not my forte, but if someone wants to try it, I will work on combining them into a video.

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The Dark Side of the Bob

There was a Daily Create last week about what was going on just off the album cover image. I think someone had Wish You Were Here in there and that gave me the idea to have Bob setting it on fire. I had used the Bob Ross Troll Meme Generator before, so all I needed was to put a lighter in his hand. It took a bit to find the right image, and it still doesn’t look quite right but it’s close enough. Friend of ds106 Todd Conaway added an ink splatter:

so I figured this needed to be an album cover. It already looked like one. I just needed to work out some details. I googled for an image of album cover wear and found a couple good possibilities. I brought the images into the GIMP and played with the layer blending mode until it sort of looked like an old LP.

I stuck on a Nice Price sticker that used to show up on bargain LPs. I thought of a pretty obvious title, Bob Ross Sings the Songs of Pink Floyd. I even went further to come up with an appropriate track list:

Any Colour You Like
Behold the Temple of Light
Empty Spaces
Grantchester Meadows
Green Is the Colour
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
In the Beechwoods
Obscured by Clouds
Paint Box
A Pillow of Winds
Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
The Show Must Go On
Soundscape
Two Suns in the Sunset
What Shall We Do Now?

They’re in alphabetical order because I took the titles from a list of Pink Floyd songs. I didn’t find a good way to incorporate these into the design though. Maybe I should have done a back cover too.

For the title font, I had the idea to use the typographic style of the titles from Dr. Strangelove and Stop Making Sense. This might subtly indicate that the recording is a tragedy/farce, and somewhat artsy. I found something usable on the MyFonts site. I tried arranging the title text above the image, but it didn’t look right. This was actually the hardest part of the process because I tried to do it on my Macbook Air using a trackpad instead of a mouse. Wrong tool for the job. Then I went back to the sticker idea. Sometimes record companies would add stickers on top of the shrink wrap, with no regard for placement or design. So I made the title into a sticker and put it on the cover semi-haphazardly.

I think it came out okay. The Nice Price sticker looks like it’s printed on the cover rather than stuck on. I fiddled with it for a while but it didn’t improve. When I took away the worn look it didn’t look like it belonged. I thought we had an album cover design assignment in the Assignment Bank. There are a couple that come close, but don’t quite fit the bill. Maybe this should be a new WWBD? assignment.

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The sounds of science

We listened to three audio productions this week on ds106 radio and discussed them on Discord. Here is what we heard:

ESC: Sonic Adventure in the Anthropocene
Episode One: Three Skeleton Key

From Tree to Shining Tree

CBS Radio Mystery Theater, 1224, Toy Death

I selected the ESC episode because I like the way it employs sound design, and the way it talks about what it is doing with sound. I also like the way it uses one story, an old-time radio show, to discuss a larger story, man’s impact on the environment. It’s worth listening to to hear the possibilities of what can be done with story and sound.

The Radiolab episode From Tree to Shining Tree is also a master class in audio editing. And if it doesn’t fit in with our Bob Ross theme, I don’t know what does. Both of these shows take what could be dry scientific topics and make them interesting and compelling through storytelling and sound design.

I picked the third show because I wanted something more primitive, to show how much could be done with very simple sound effects:

The sound effects were pretty minimal but highly effective. Crickets, a creaking floor, footsteps, the slam of a door – all things one could easily find on Freesound, and things which require no particular expertise to use. This show used melodramatic music to great effect as well. This might be a little trickier to accomplish, but I would bet that if one searched for open source music, one could build a good soundtrack.
I also had never read any Algernon Blackwood and was in the mood for something creepy. Apparently there is more Blackwood audio so I may have to check it out.

We had many great observations each evening. One thing I noticed is that it is easy to get so caught up in what is being said that you miss how it is being said. It might be worthwhile to go back and listen a second time, or to re-listen to Moon Graffiti, and focus specifically on how sound is used.

We were joined by @billgx and the Kansas ds106 crew, and Joe Murphy and @DrGarcia of the ds106radio crew.

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Bambi did it first

I’m sure we all know about the cinematic classic, Bambi Meets Godzilla. So I decided to make a Bob version. This was just a quickie. I grabbed some painting sounds from a Joy of Painting episode, along with the brush-beating sound to make it recognizable as Bob. The Godzilla roar is there so you know who’s stepping. I tried to get a stomp and splat sound together, but I don’t think that worked too well. Then I added a few more steps and applied a fade-out effect. Maybe I should take this and embed it in my Bobzilla mashup. But it’s a bit too obvious to invest more time in, I think.

Here are my sources:
Bob Ross – Misty Forest Oval (Season 14 Episode 12)
Godzilla Roar Comparison | Evolution of Godzilla Roars (1954-2019)
Golem stomp c and Boot stomp on mud surface from https://mixkit.co/free-sound-effects/stomp/
Dino Stomp

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The only station that takes attendance

In the back end of the ds106radio management system, you can see how many people are listening online, typically zero, and where they are located:

world map of ds106radio listener

One day Nigel was broadcasting from the South Pacific and had gathered a good audience. Jim picked up the stream after Nigel was done, and expressed concern that the South Pacific had dropped off the listener map. This inspired the slogan “ds106radio – the only station that takes attendance.” We don’t actually know who’s listening, but we can take educated guesses based on where they are on the map.

I made this bumper with Audacity. I recorded my vocal, then went looking for some bumper sound effects. I found The Cinematic Transitions by Valentina Gribanova for an intro & outro. I also wanted to add a punching the time clock noise. Freesound didn’t help, but I found Punch In Time Clock Card at Work Sound Effect FX FREE through google. It came out so-so. Maybe I should have had a sound bed under my voice. I don’t know if the time clock sound is recognizable on its own. I could have used the time clock scene from Breaking Away, perhaps obscure but kinda funny

I just realized that kid is Rorschach. Small world. “Bueller” probably would have worked better as a metaphor for attendance though.

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Looking at pictures

I just had a few thoughts looking at some of this week’s creations.

Some pictures tell a story, some pictures tell poetry  Most of my photos tend to be documentary, capturing someplace I was, something I saw, someone I was with. I suspect a lot of us do that. My photos are sometimes story-related, but not often story-telling. In the example here from Kylie, the story, or poetry, is discovered in the image more than told by it. I think that may be a defining quality of art – that the viewers can experience something more than meets the eye, and find something of themselves in the experience.

I guess you can take #ds106 out of the 80s, but you can’t take the 80s out of #ds106  It fascinates me when people identify with songs from olden times. It seems like the scale of cultural memory has expanded greatly over the past quarter century, as so much of the past, like Bob Ross, remains part of the present on the web.

Some assignments blur the boundaries  It’s part writing, part image editing, and part design. We will be talking more about design in a couple weeks. There are a number of choices made here. What typeface to use? What color should the type be? How should it be arranged? Taking different options might change the message.

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What’s hard about this

I’ve never seen Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, but it is on my watchlist. And seeing that it is a spiritual kin to Godzilla, it fits perfectly with our Bob Ross theme.

I had the idea to populate a Ross landscape with a shark and octopus, because I though it might be amusing to add monsters to one of his serene mountain lakes and streams. I searched for a fin, some tentacles, and Bob Ross paintings, and grabbed ones that I thought would be easy to put together. As it turns out, I should have thought this through more.

I used the polygon select tool in GIMP to grab the fin and copied and pasted it into its own layer in the Ross picture. For the tentacle, I used the magic wand tool to select the entire background, then inverted the selection to grab the tentacle. I did some scaling and rotating and moved them to where I wanted them. I went into the painting layer with the polygon select tool to copy the bushes and that little outcropping and paste them on a new layer, which I then moved on top of the tentacle layer. And voila! It doesn’t look right. And it’s not just the illogic of the scale of creatures to setting.

Bob often reminds us to pay attention to the light source, especially when he’s making mountains. That’s really the problem here. The mountains are lit from the right, the fin is lit from the left, and the tentacle is sort of lit all over. I could’ve flipped the fin so the shark was heading into the light. That might have helped. But I really should have looked for a different tentacle. Maybe I could have adjusted the contrast to make the shadows darker, and applied one of the artsy filters to make it look more illustrative and less photographic. It’s one thing to slap one image on top of another. It’s a bit more difficult to make it look like it belongs there.

[update] I recreated it, and I think it’s a little better. I used a watercolor filter on the tentacle, which doesn’t quite fit, but the other filters were either too much or not enough.

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“Nature points out the folly of man”

Our friend Thomas noticed the Godzilla trend that seems to be coming up in ds106. It was unexpected, but I wholeheartedly approve. So I had this idea that felt like it might work.

I had previously found a transcription of The Joy of Painting theme on Musescore and copied the melody in my Musescore program so I could attempt to learn to play it on mandolin, as seen briefly in Week 3. Could I mash this up with Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla? I found a transcription of the Godzilla bass line in Songsterr. I had to google how to make a double staff in Musescore, because I barely know what I’m doing with any of this. I did know enough to transpose the Bob theme into the key of A. So I copied the theme into the treble clef and put the Godzilla riff in the bass clef. I can’t play piano, but the software can do it for me, and, as I discovered, can also export to mp3:

I thought it seemed to work. I could also export to midi, so I used that to bring it into Logic, another software I barely know. I thought I might be able to change it to something other than piano:

I think I should have pumped up the bass on that one. While this exercise is completely goofy, I now have a Bobzilla. So I got that going for me.

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One more post of GIFfing

I thought I should get the rest of my Bob GIFs out there before I forget about them. I did two earlier posts as part of this set, all of which  are sequels to an even earlier set. This image has some problems, but I like the way it came out anyway:

These two are variations on the same theme, with a speed adjustment:


I think the background above works. The guy below seems to agree:

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Story cubed

The other week on Twitter, constant source of ds106 inspiration Amy Burvall shared this video:

I had blogged about Guernica before, in an attempt to analyze it as a story. This video brings more depth to the painting, by analyzing the imagery and telling the backstory. The poetry in the lyrics does a lot of work to make the story concise yet detailed. In a way, we have a story cubed: the painting is a story, and there is a story behind that story, and the song presents a story that brings those together and extends it.

I love the way the video literally dissects the painting, separating out elements and applying a Ken Burns effect to it. I’ve played a little with this kind of technique in the past but never to this extent. It’s a great example of using art to make more art.

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