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  1. mdvfunes

    So this is a lovely Daily Create  for DS106!I remembered my…


    So this is a lovely Daily Create  for DS106!

    I remembered my first stop motion gif ever and how it was jumpy and so large I could not load to Tumblr properly. I decided to revisit that one (with my extra year of experience in gif making) and make it better. Used Align layers, cropped here and there, chose new colours to restrict a couple of variations and make it look more ‘arty’ …and am ‘happy as Larry’ with the result

  2. mdvfunes

    Art on the couch rides again!Inspired by John Johnston’s post…


    Art on the couch rides again!

    Inspired by John Johnston’s post last week, I dusted the #artonthecouch tag and decided to do an art critique on one of the gifs I liked the most since Western 106 started. You can view more detail about the questions  and read the original post if this is your first encounter with  #artonthecouch. You can always submit art for us to put on the couch if you want to!

    Essentially, a few of us are trying to learn how to pay attention to art in a more informed way. The questions are from Marvin Bartel and our frame for it comes from the Art Assignment:

    “But first, let’s talk about why we should critique in the first place. Because it’s the Internet, and you can anonymously say whatever you want? I’d say no. Because you like to change the minds of the person you’re critiquing? Definitely no. Critique is often most instructive for the person offering it. In looking at other people’s work, and formulating your opinion of it, you’re learning a great deal”

    and that is that. 

    Mark’s second animated gif -  #artonthecouch answers

    I had to edit gif to load on Tumblr. Please see original on Mark’s blog.

    I was really struck by Mark’s animated gif. I kept looking at it and enjoying it, I could not explain why as snakes are not my favourite creatures. I wanted to spend more time with it to explore my response to Mark’s art more deeply.

    1. What stands out the most when you first see it?

    The tail of the snake almost dancing out of the picture is what stood out for me most. 

    2. Explain the reason you notice the thing you mention in number 1.

    I was also struck by the uniformity of colour, it is as if you are not supposed to see anything moving at all and then suddenly the tail jumps out at you. The snake blends into the rocks which is what it does in real life, the gif portrays this well with colour and cropping.

    3. As you keep looking, what else seems important?

    The rhythm of breathing of the snake mirrored in frame speed and I was drawn to breathing and tongue coming out, the only thing that is a different colour. 

    4. Why does the thing you mention in number 3 seem important?

    The black tongue says ‘danger’ and stands out of the frame in a different direction to the tail, and I can see it is a forked tongue! I imagine the artist wanted to convey the sense of danger of a snake of this type.

    5. How has contrast been used?

    In a way it is the lack of contrast that gives it power, it is as if it surprises the viewer as one looks at a uniform colour and what seems like just rocks on first viewing.

    6. What leads your eye around from place to place?

    The snake and the rocks are connected by the same colour and markings this makes the viewer look and look again. Is something moving? Is it just rocks? 

    7. What tells you about the style used by this artist?

    The sharpness, close framing speaks to realism. Making me almost feel the dry heat as if I was walking on a path and had actually seen it as I walk.

    8.What seems to be hiding in this composition and why?

    As I keep looking I notice the dry grass is moving too. I had initially thought the snake was the only thing moving and the rest had been masked as if a cinemagraph. The why may be about meaning: the grass moving helps the sense of the snake hiding in the rocks or it may be about technique, this is Mark’s second gif and masking may be something he has to play with yet.

    9. Imagine the feelings and meanings this artwork represents?

    ‘DANGER! Keep out!’ What is interesting is that it catches a moment before anything happens and gives the viewer a sense of danger pending. We can run away…only if we are quick enough.  

    10. What other titles could you give this artwork?

    ’Just hanging out in the sun’ ‘Now you see me, now you don’t’ ‘The west that is’

    11. What other things interest you about this artwork?

    I wonder about masking the grass so only snake moves, would it reduce or add to sense of danger? I also wonder about panning out so we can see more of the environment, would it detract or add to the surprise that the snake is moving in the image?

    I have been making gif art for a long time now, a key thing for me is always this idea of ‘catching a moment’ - the frame selection is so precise and clean, the timing of the frames just so, this is what I see as its most powerful pull for us as viewers. Thank you, Mark.  

  3. mdvfunes

    I have had so much fun with these!I promised my mate Kevin…


    I have had so much fun with these!

    I promised my mate Kevin (@mr45144) to create a series of (non) motivational posters with his wonderful new neighbours. He has been taking amazing photos of these creatures and I cannot but smile and relax when I see them. These images are not about drive, try hard and success. They are about lives dedicated to idleness and relaxation. It is like each images says ‘Relax! Chill! Life is good just as it is without you interfering.’ It was that sense of ease that gave me the idea of #llamainspirations ‘the motivational posters for those who want to be just lazy’. 

    So I set out today to search for fonts. I found some perfect ones that cost a fortune. Not that. I kept googling got all my bits to make the posters in Photoshop. I then spent time with the photos to find the right words to go with the image. I have the psd file and the photos, I can take requests for (non)motivational quotes if you want your very own. Just leave me a comment.

  4. mdvfunes

    DS106 tales is up and running….scared. An assignment went…


    DS106 tales is up and running….scared. 

    An assignment went up about DS106 as a Stine book and I had never heard of Goosebumps! I confess I love horror as a genre, for reasons to explain another time. So, I went to mother google for answers. 

    As I think this may be an assignment UMW students do when course formally starts at the university, I am outlining my process in detail in this post. I personally prefer how-I-did-it-posts that offer clear bullets (bullet points that is), so I am doing that here. As bullets in this case imply an order, below is a numbered list of what I did and another one about what I would change. Start self-assessing your work early, boys and ghouls, best way to learn. If I could press rewind and redo: What would I change? Makes it easier for others to make improvement suggestions too!

    What I did

    1. Find out what these books are on Wikepedia

    2. Google ‘Goosebumps book covers’ to get an idea of design assignment is after. I was taken by the notion of ‘creating an appropriate title’. I have not read the books so had to go with parsing lots of titles to get feel for it

    3. I learnt there are many series to choose from, that Stine book covers are a thing and many people collect them and love them

    4. Found a cover that suited my purposes. Now, find a high resolution file. This took some searching but Neil came through! A true fan

    5. Find font. Here one could go mad as clearly fonts had to be extreme horror. I was also searching for legibility as my purpose was to use the cover as a poster for an actual radio show. I settled for Gypsy Curse but there are so many free fonts to choose from. Just google ‘horror free font’ and be damned 

    6. Install font in your editor. 

    7. Load up all the images you want to use for the creative edit as layers in one file in your editor. I use Photoshop. #EZPZ here: File

    8. Make sure you know where files come from for correct attribution: My main image came from Neil, the bullets came from jjgifs in his other blog.


    9. Now time to play boys and ghouls!

    10. This is where the screencast would be if I was doing a tutorial. I played for a long time with Photoshop. Main tools used: Clone stamp tool to clear from original image what I did not want. Healing brush tool to tidy up. Blending option multiply to blend bullets into main background. Skew tool (used badly) to make bullet stack blend more into image. And a word of advise: always find you pink guides! Guides to align everything exist in most editor, find them. They are a life saver. 

    11. Now play with fonts. I used Gypsy Curse but applied several options using the cmdT option with text selected. I also used blending options to highlight text like the time for the show. For legibility I decided to use Village plain (homage to a previous DS106 run) on URL and times. Little squiggle that divides names did not exist in Village plain. Copy/paste hopefully blended the fonts a little better when added to time information.

    12. Bob is your uncle

    What I would do differently

    1. I need to learn how to use that Skew tool properly - I cannot get the bullets to appear as if they are lying on the rock

    2. Multiply was okay to blend but there must be a way to make the bullets show up more clearly

    3. I spent a long time thinking about the title. The curse of DS106 Horror Show got me last night and I lost all my work. I thought of a title this morning, but I am convinced the one last night was better…the serious design point is that it mattered that in the assignment we are pointed to think about that - it is the thing that pulls the cover together

    4. I decided early on not to do the back cover, I think it should be possible to create a poster with both sides of cover and I would have more space to say what is coming in the new season of the show….this has taken long enough for now

    Finally, our new season of #106spell starts on September 6th, make sure you listen!

  5. mdvfunes

    Just a little story about serendipitous connections on Twitter…


    Just a little story about serendipitous connections on Twitter around another daily create. I wrote about this the other day  and this is the story told for cogdogblog​ and his stories of open sharing

    Behind the scenes

    Hmmm… Don’t ask.

    It was going to be my first black background video. It was not to be. I learnt that making video with back background that do not make one look like a ghost is just plain difficult. I then tried Touchcast on the iPad. Well, I should know better. I am sure the app is cool once you learn to use it but


    So I decided the ‘easy’ way would be to create it in Animoto. I have made one other video sucessfully on Animoto, but have tried several that #bigfail. It is not a transparent platform it has many rules that are there to encourage you to upgrade and you often get stuck after you have gone to far into your project to ditch it. I refuse to collude with dishonest commercial behaviour so I ditch the project rather than be forced to pay. I have an education account, you would think they would behave transparently, they do not. 

    This time i worked out all their rules. Clip length, audio length, number of songs (1), free theme, total length of video allowed, maximum size, size of photos…. and I am not kidding!

    The damn editor still cut my soundtrack by 2 seconds. I could not get around the problem in their editor. I think it has something to do with the addition of their logo at the end but i was not going to be forced into another way of paying to test that out. I rendered the video with faulty sound track and downloaded it. 

    I then brought it into iMovie and edited it. Detach soundtrack, add new on, shift a few clips to make it flow, add titles and a little music. Bob is your uncle, as we say in the UK. Done.

    What is annoying is that it has a lot of potential. Animoto that is. If only they gave clear free options and then offered upgrades. They even try to force you to upgrade for better quality video download. If I wanted that I would have asked for that when I signed up! 

    Come back One True Media! That was a fast and easy way to produce video, and I did not mind paying them. They still went to the island of dead tools…go figure.

  6. mdvfunes

    Another poster with wisdom from @everyadage and for my…


    Another poster with wisdom from @everyadage and for my typography collection. I did not play with font and kept it Village Plain so we can use it around the village. 

    Source of image: A targeted Sociogram by Mary Northway of a first grade class, drawn by hand by Grant, one of her students, in 1952. I am writing a post about what I feel this expresses about open online learning and social networks elsewhere but here I want to talk about getting this into a shape I could use.

    I originally found this:

    As you can see not much could be done with it. Yet, I knew I wanted the contrast of Twitter bot wisdom with a human social network not an impersonal set of nodes. I had the idea that this could be ‘then and now’ not just in terms of evolution of visualisation of networks, but also ‘then and now’ as in childhood playground network and the online networks of today. 

    I searched and searched. I found a better image but not a great one and decided I would learn about how to restore and image in photoshop. There must be something the mighty photoshop could do beyond just image size, which was all I could think of doing. I searched some more. I found a tutorial about giving old pictures new life. I followed it. It was awesome. I even managed to highlight one little girl at the edge who had only two unidirectional arrows, I wanted her to be the focus for the ‘those who break’ part  of the adage. You cannot read them, but can see that each ‘node’ has a name as well as a face. How human and touching was that way of analysing interactions? 

    The poster speaks to the shadow side of online connecting - not all belong and some break and leave. Often early on. 

    I think this is worth many work units and should keep electricity on in my tree house ( I know the transporter uses up a lot of it getting back and forth to Bovine). I am so pleased with the result even though it is so subtle and in some sense changes nothing of the original image. To me, it is like it has come back to life!

  7. mdvfunes

    “A reasonable alternative is to complete a piece that…


    “A reasonable alternative is to complete a piece that incorporates two different assignments for a sum total of 4 or more Credit Units.” 

    So I did the ‘I can read movies assignment’ and ‘the one story 4 icons’ assignment in one cover. The electricity in my tree house is on for another week as I am clocking 6 Credit units and another 2 for the extra hard work to combine two assignments into one. Although to be fair, I took this on thinking it would be easier than doing two. The new number two is clever with words. A reasonable alternative, indeed. I think I should get an extra 2 Credit Units for doing the whole thing rather than just one episode, but that might be pushing it a bit. 

    Behind the scenes

    I wish I had used my notebook as I intended to keep up with all that I tried. A little like our resident artist  futzing was a key ingredient. 

    I started with the idea that I wanted the cover to embody the sense of ambiguity  that is the hallmark of the series. I read an amazing blog post today that spoke about the series as it “constantly offering us a seeming chance for escape, then pulling the rug out from under us.”  Nothing is as it appears. 

    The post explores a Prisoner computer game that never tells you that you can escape the game by pressing the ESC key! The tag line of my cover comes from the end of this game. You win and it tells you: To win is to lose. Sheer genius.

    The 4 icons are from our friends at the Noun Project. How awesome are they? I bought them all ‘cause I love supporting their artists.

    I have been using their icons in my Prisoner posters series as comas and full stops since this run of DS106 started. It occurred to me that may be the ones I had chosen over time would embody key themes. I was right. 

    Birds singing seem happy and free, and yet the noise may attract attention when it is not wanted.

    A prisoner in jail might seem a negative icon, yet prison is not always a bad thing. (I will not explain the photo below to avoid spoiler for participants still watching episodes).

    The fish escapes the fish bowl and is free then it dies as it lands.

    The sad ghost represents death and suffering and yet, if ‘to win is to lose’ may be to lose is to win?

    The cover is for book 1 and it contains the story of 6. Hence 6 is 1.

    I used Photoshop as usual. Started with one of the covers from the I can read movies series that was cleanest to get a clean black background with the clone tool. I started with a lot more text which disappeared as the 6/1 tension shaped my thinking. I discovered you can search google by ‘type’ of image as well as usage rights and this can find you components to use in a creative edit. The lapels from the jacket came to me that way. I pulled them out of original image roughly with quick selection tool and then added it in with screen blending option to blend in with the grainy black background. My little friend the colour dropper did its job to blend all the colours well. A little blur tool helped me along.

    For the first time ever I grouped some layers so that I could line them up properly. The little icons and its background were a group. I used the Emboss Texture blending option to create a rough look to the background.

    I feel I have got as close as I can to the essence of what makes this my favourite series of all time. It is to do with the ‘nothing is at it seems nature’ of it. The kind of story that destroys mechanisation by remembering that what makes us human are non-googlable questions such as why. Awesome.

    This constant tension is even shown in the way the prisoner dresses. The lapels of the blazer showing that we have a prisoner dressed in a suit, highlighting perhaps that we cannot tell from external cues who is the prisoner and who is the guardian. 

    Total time spent: several days to get the bits and this afternoon pulling it together. I wanted to challenge myself so I did my best to attend to small details  I might ignore in the usual run of things. Cool challenge, Number 2. 

    Be seeing you. 

  8. mdvfunes

    See the awesome one at Gfycat as usual!I decided to try an…


    See the awesome one at Gfycat as usual!

    I decided to try an assignment Michael Branson Smith submitted to the bank a while back. I have been thinking about it for a while. Could not think about the tools I would need and had to read Michael’s own example a few times to understand it. In his post he refers to the subreddit Behind the GIFs which is hilarious! We chatted about it on Twitter the other day and I thought my Homer gif might be an easy place to start creating a comic strip like this. 

    This is my result. 

    Behind the scenes

    The thinking to get to the panels I cannot fathom. Michael was going with the forks but I decided to go with Rover. I thought about actually drawing it IRL. I thought about some app or other. I thought about online generators. I went back to Photoshop thinking it would be easier. Was it hell!

    Found Rover’s photos and that part of easy. Yet they all looked different. I remembered I bought a sketching plug in in Photoshop - thought this might unify the images. Bingo. I went with black and red because black and red on Prisoner site. Then I had to get everything in on place, sizing, behind, in front, linking frames so that I could move the gif around, blah, blah, blah. There must be an easier way. Michael suggests using MS paint app, may be I should go with that next time. When I loaded the gif in it had some grey pixels - had to fix that and it looks funny if you look closely. Don’t look closely. 

  9. mdvfunes

    The village psychiatrist was inspired by our resident dreamer’s…


    The village psychiatrist was inspired by our resident dreamer’s calming morning announcement into creating her first full track of calming music. I have titled it ‘Something mental to aid sleep’.  Here at the hospital we are always concerned with the well being of our prisoners residents and this track should be safe to listen to just as you are settling into bed after soothing day of passeggiata in the village. Enjoy.

    Behind the scenes

    I have been meaning to learn how to use the new Garageband for a while. So after several tutorials and muttering that the old one was better, I managed to stay with it and learn. It looks like it will even teach you how to play an instrument now. But that is for another day. 

    Today I just decided to make on track. I had forgotten how much I like to edit sound. Up here, down here, left a bit right a bit….much fun.

    Credits to: Ms Talky Tina with material from the archives, to  Riccardo Colombo for a lovely background to all my craziness from Jamendo. The rest is my own bits an bobs and GarageBand’s own amazing new sound effects and loops. I had like 10 tracks mixing and blending. Rest well after you listen, if you dare. And I note that Ms Tina did actually put a coma in. Who is N1? You are, number 6. Mystery solved as Ms Tina knows the truth. 

    And you know what would help us great deal? If both village committees got together and we had to practice the same type of thing each week. This week design in fairy tales and then audio with the prisoners. This shrink is pooped. 

  10. mdvfunes

    Dear Committee,Urgent! You need to take action immediately. It…


    Dear Committee,

    Urgent! You need to take action immediately. It seems that my video notes about the research have been stolen. I managed to take down the video in You Tube and for now our other location is safe. Somebody infiltrated the hospital secure ward and stole my materials. 

    I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive my mistake and not choose to terminate me.


    Behind the scenes

    It all started with me setting out to do the daily create. We were meant to explore boundaries in a video.  I thought about it all day and decided I wanted to focus on social boundaries. What happens when these collapse and we end up airing our dirty linen in public without intending to? I remembered about the idea of context collapse as described by Michael Wesch amongst others. 

    Re-read the paper and it also explored what happens one step beyond contexts collapsing for us in our virtual lives. We imagine and prototype of ‘the public’ but this overwhelms us. So we hide  in an ‘ideal private’ that is context free as we broadcast ourselves to the world (potentially). All that is left is the echo of ego in the mind. 

    Context collapse takes on a new dimension in which the collapse of infinite possible contexts, what we might call a virtual “ideal type” of “the public,” itself collapses with the individual’s construction of an ideal private outside of all contexts. The scene exemplifies what Anthony Elliot and Charles Lemert (2005) describe in The New Individualism as the “disappearance of context” in which “we have replaced the old contexts of tradition and custom with a focus on our individual selves” (p. 13).

    Mike’s  paper is about You Tube Vlogging and how it can be used to develop self awareness. I figured I could turn this inside out by using to tell the story of Dr M who is looking to find ways to ‘get residents to give information’ in the fictional village of The Prisoner.

    It was of interest to me that in the prisoner the psychological torture is always about deleting contexts. A sense of claustrophobia develops as you watch as the psyche turns inwards. In that case physical and mental. In the case our online lives, contexts collapse via social media. Is there a way that context collapse may affect our mental health? This led me to the idea of spiritual narcism.

    Spiritual narcissism is the feeling or thought that 1) I´m a spiritually advanced being, enlightened, third tier etc. and 2) because of that I deserve love and respect.

    In the series, N6 has only himself. Can he trust himself? Does this drive him mad? I am reminded of the idea of being an ‘un-mutual’ in one of the episodes. Compliance in that case is forced by the threat of complete isolation. As N6 walks around the village, everyone turns away. It made me wonder if this ‘idealised private context’ we create when we engage in open online activity is to some extent driven by our fear of becoming ‘un-mutual’. Feeling suitably dystopian after #prisoner106 work today. 

    The daily create turned into a whole day’s exploration. Boundaries and what they mean have always interested me. Perhaps I should have kept to physical spaces….my front porch?

    I cannot even start to offer information about the making of the video. Nothing worked as planned. I was going to be a ‘quick’ iMovie pull together a few fun things to take the story forward and explore boundaries. Let me just say it was not that. I ended up having to find and relearn the old iMovie. There was ScreenFlow, there was Audacity, there was Quicktime, there was and a stiff neck from sitting here all day making this ‘quick’ daily create. In the end, I was reminded of the simplicity and ease of the old iMovie as well as had much fun thinking about human boundaries collapsing, us becoming overwhelmed by the whole of life being accessible online and that driving us mad.

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