The Village 106

I’ve resigned myself to Prisoner106, this looks so far like an interesting twitter account and lovely webpage. No schedule or anything else I’ve seen which give us free range to explore the village.


I decided to go all in for £17.90!

Given I want to watch this on my commute I am afraid the first thing I did was rip a few episodes to m4v files. HandBrake: Open Source Video Transcoder works well, it prompted for another install to remove drm and I just followed through with that. I don’t feel that makes me a bad person.

After watching the first episode I was compelled to knock out a few quick gifs.

patient-sing the-prisoner-ep-wobble-2rover-jim

I used the usual method, open in MPEG Streamclip. Set in and out points. Press cmd-t. Export to image sequence. Open the first image in FireWorks (CS3). Drag the other files into the FW window. Open he Frames window. Select all the layers and choose distribute to frames from the frames window menu. Mess around. Export to MP3.

Taking Command

I’ve started exploring episode 1 from the terminal, relying and developing techniques that I’ve posted about here. I am getting quite interested in the fun that can be had through random and unexpected results and the ability to generate different files & views at a cracking rate. Instead of working hard to produce a single artifact this will allow me t oexplore the

A lot of this relies on various command line applications that I’ve installed over the years in a fairly messy way. I tend to try things that, if they go wrong, leave me googling like mad.

I am just going to note what I’ve played with so far and not give details of installing the software for now. Much can be installed on a mac via Homebrew.



A complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video.

First I split the video into images (How to extract images from a Video using FFmpeg | Linuxers helped)

ffmpeg -i the-prisoner-ep-1.m4v -r 1 -f image2 images/image-%4d.jpg
I now have 2938 jpgs to play with.


Recently I’ve been interested in averaging images so into the image folder, make an average folder and:
ls *.jpg | xargs -n 10 sh -c 'convert "$0" "$@" -average average/"$0" '
Which gives me 294 files, each an average of 10 of the original jpgs.

I googled most of that code, the average command is part of ImageMagick.

To my mind these look rather lovely losing the clean 60’s lines of the original for something rather more dreamy and dark:


Duplicate the folder move, in the terminal into the new one and:
sips --resampleWidth 240 *.jpg Gives some thumbnails:
Averages which I’ll perhaps figure out what to do with later.

Next up I moved on to supercuts and gifboard, but I’ll leave the reporting of that to another post.

Update: adding tags AnimatedGIFAssignments & AnimatedGIFAssignments1744 for the new ds106 Assignments: Animating #Prisoner106

A Touch of Don

Apologies for the large size of this gif 1.5MB, but 52 frames!
Apologies for the large size of this gif 1.5MB, but 52 frames!

The offshoot of ds106 that is #giffight has given me a lot of fun. Every so often the giffight tumble posts an image with the invite for anyone to use it to create an animated gif from. You post it to tumblr tagged giffight or tweet and it is added to the gifight tumblr.

The latest iteration came out of MBS — Started another Tumblr – Don Draper is Zen I’m… celebrating the end of Mad Men by placing a meditation Don Draper over an animated background Michael provided a nice psd file with Don Drifting into the OM.

I made a few and then saw this tweet:

Which got me thinking

At first I was thinking of some sort of server size thing using Gifsicle,
ImageMagick or GD – Manual and the like. These both need resources that I don’t have access to (unless the raspberry pi) and skills I don’t have.

I then wondered about the various JavaScript Gif mashup I’ve made (squares for example) and if I could do that. I also recalled bookmarking a new (to me) JavaScript library for creating animated Gifs, gif.js. It seemed faster than the one I’d used before.

After much testing and playing around I’ve managed to get to a place where I’ve got a webpage that makes Don Zen Gifs that you can add an image as a background, or generate some random stuff as a background and get a gif. The interface is a bit rough at the moment. Don’s Gif Zen

277kB a wee bit better
277kB a wee bit better

The gif.js library does all of the hard work. I could not get some of the functions to work and had to kludge around them. I can see them working on the Canvas example page but I failed to get them to work here.
Basically what my pages does is let you upload an image, it displays that on a canvas element then loops through the Don frames adding them over the background. I should have been able to export that to the gif, but this failed so I create hidden png images and pass them to the gif encoder.

The alternative buttons just generate randomish backgrounds in the same way as I did for squares.

The great thing about the JavaScript approach is it needs no really amount of resources on the server. All the work is done on the end users browser. That means it is quite slow on a mobile.
I’ve tested on Chrome, Firefox and Safari on mac and it seems to all work fine there now (I had some early problems in Safari & firefox) Chrome & Safari seem faster than FF. It also works on mobile Safari on my iPhone. I quickly tested IE9, a fail and 10, works on Windows using virtualbox but would be interest to hear for others.

Finally I’ve used the same idea to take the ds106 Assignments: Dancing Jim all over the world from a 2 and a half star assignment to a 1 star one.

Dance Jim Dance


Free the Groom

Now this is weird.


Given we can’t waste time I dug out a processing script I’d used before. I can’t recall where I got the original, or what changes I made, but it looks like I simplified it a lot and exported a series of frames to gifs. Stitched these together in FireWorks.

But is Gif Art?


I’ve come across a couple of interesting projects this week involving animated gifs.
1840s GIF party: call for submissions | Tate and
The GIF the Portrait Project.

So far I’ve giffed a few images from the the Take 1840 exhibition. I then to find animating gifs as an end in itself, it is interesting that the both these projects seem to be thinking them as art.(there are some amazing examples at Tate Collectives tumblr).

I’ve also been reading The Academic GIF where Jim Groom is talking about how to:

integrate animated GIFs into a curriculum centred around film analysis.

The Tate challenge has become a ds106 Assignment, which already has some submissions, Tom Woodward producing beautifully subtle and a much more dramatic version of the same painting. Alan Levine puts both subtlety and humour in the same gif.

GIF FIGHT!! has a Special 1840 Edition which is filling up.

For the tate gifs I’ve changed tactics a little. I’ve been using photoshop to split the images into layers before switching to Fireworks for animation. Photoshop has superior selection tools.

I an unsure if anything I’ve done is Art but it is interesting in lots of different ways, from visual puns and jokes through problem solving. I wonder if gifs could become part of an arts curriculum in schools?