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Animated GIF Adventure

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I will start out by saying that this was a taxing assignment.  It really took the wind out of me.  Not only did I have problems ripping the DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey (more on this in a moment), my perfectionist side kicked in and I ended up spending hours getting the GIF exactly where I wanted it (I’m still not ultimately happy, but it should do).

A little background: I’ve been giving in to the pleasures and ease of Windows 7 a bit too much lately, which really limited my resources for ripping the DVD. Sure, I could have restarted the computer and booted into Ubuntu, but why close out my Minecraft window?  So this made things at least somewhat difficult.  More difficult was the MPEG streamer software that the tutorial had us use. It’s so clunky and I hate the user interface. It’s also horribly slow.  Just a lot of general distaste for this software.

My favorite movie of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was my obvious pick for the animated GIF assignment Jim Groom gave us. I have a lot of favorite scenes in that movie, but most don’t lend themselves well to a GIF. For instance, I originally wanted to use the Blue Danube sequence with the ship spiraling in space, but the moving backdrop of the stars just didn’t seem right to me.  I eventually settled on the scene in which Dave tries to re-enter the Jupiter-bound spaceship, only to have his progress blocked by the HAL-9000 piloting the craft.  Dave commands the computer, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”  He receives no response, and repeatedly attempts to confirm that HAL can read his transmissions.  Eventually, HAL acknowledges Dave’s messages, and, upon further prompting to open the doors, denies Dave with the famous line, “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.”

I originally tried preserving the full quality of the film by rendering the images at 24 fps, resulting in a rather large (over 8MB!) and slow animation, which you can view here.  Then, I reduced the frames per second by two-thirds, giving me an 8 fps animation which ran much more smoothly. This second edit can be seen here.

The following is the edit I finally chose for my GIF. It runs at 8 fps and encompasses less than 3 seconds of film.

I love the unwavering determination in Dave’s eyes.  I love how definitive his command to HAL is.  Even though Dave is denied, he knows he still has dominion over HAL, and he eventually overtakes the machine.  I’m happiest with this version, although I’m still not entirely pleased with the jump from the end of the loop to the beginning being so… rough.

“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

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