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Totò Animated

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For my first experiment with animated GIFs I opted for the facial gesturing of Italian comic genius Totò in Vittorio De Sica’s The Gold of Naples. I think I’m going to do a series of animated GIFs of Totò in an attempt to try and communicate through gestures alone just how brilliant this actor is. He is a rare comic genius of the physical gesture and facial expression on film that has very little exposure outside of Italy, which is a real shame. He ranks right up there with Charlie Chaplin in this regard. And the other part of his genius—and some would argue even greater part—is his ability to play with language in Italian, but that is still very hard for me to understand, no less communicate.

And while I’m very, very late to the animated GIF game in ds106, I finally got to spend most of the night playing with MPEG Streamclip* and Gimp for the Mac to see what I can come up with using free tools to create a solid animated GIF. My process followed that of a number of folks who were playing with MPEG Streamclip for ds106 already. I trimmed down my selection of the movie using this free tool, and then exported my selected as an image sequence. After that I import the sequence into GIMP and saved it as an animated GIF.

I think I got the image pretty high quality, but my issue with the MPEG Streamclip/GIMP connection is that the image is really heavy. My first attempt was 13.9 MBs, and I finally got my animation down to 5 MBs—which I included above, but it is still way too big.

I followed the general outline of Phoenix’s tutorial on this forum thread:

The Free Way
1) Get a copy of Gimp
2) Get a copy of MPEG Streamclip
3) Open your video in MPEG Streamclip
4) Narrow to the video section that you want
5) Export the video as an Image Sequence (Export Other Formats)
6) Import the Image Sequence in Gimp
7) Edit the sequence
8 ) Export as gif

During my process I made a quick Flickr set of screenshots with brief notes as a the step-by-step for using MPEG Streamclip and GIMP:

I hope to transfer these images and some more substantial text into the tech tutorials wiki shortly. But before I do, I still need to figure out how I can optimize the exported GIF from GIMP so it is not so huge–a process I think might be what Phoenix might be referring to when he says “edit the sequence.” This is something I plan on looking into shortly.

The other method I want to look into tomorrow is the “professional” approach—which basically replaces Photoshop with Gimp:

1) Get a copy of Photoshop
2) Get a copy of MPEG Streamclip
3) Open your video in MPEG Streamclip
4) Narrow to the video section that you want
5) Export as a Quicktime movie
6) In Photoshop Import > Video Frames To Layers
7) Edit each layer with your text
8) Save for Web and Devices (select GIF Dithered)

I don’t own Photoshop, but I can get access to it at UMW, so that is something that will be easy enough to try. Though it annoys me you need something so expensive and bulky.

Tom Woodward has pretty much become a professional at the animated GIF now, and I love his Battlecat

…and I noticed that even with all those colors it is just 3 MBs, so I am wondering if the Quicktime/Photoshop options is that much better at optimizing an animated GIF. For me the optimization is key, but the next step is figuring out the process “If we don’t, remember me” follows. Those animated GIFs are magic.

*MPEG Streamclip is a powerful free tool for basic video editing, trimming, format conversion, optimization, and now creating animated GIFs. I used it extensively last semester for ds106, and was so pleasantly surprised to see Jabiz using it for his animated GIFs.

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