Grenfell Campus Intro Digital Imaging 2011

Class website for VART 2600/2601: Introductory Digital Imaging at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2011-2012

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Posts tagged “Loops”

Class 4 Notes (Video Loops)

During this class we looked at some examples of video artists working with loops:

Martin Arnold is best known for Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998), a frenetic remix of film from old Andy Hardy movies in which a few frames of film are sampled, replayed and stretched into extended sequences. There are some clips of this project on YouTube: 1 (above), 2, 3. Passage À L’Acte uses a similar technique.

In works such as La Ronde and Momentum, Montreal artist Bettina Hoffman creates video loops where a camera continuously arcs around a group of people who are perfectly still. This mechanism allows the viewer to examine these awkwardly frozen social situations in minute detail, working out relationships between the characters in each scene and imagining what has happened or is about to happen.

Think about how both of these video artists use loops and repetition to focus our attention on otherwise ordinary moments, creating a sense of tension and unease, and drawing attention to the conventions and constraints of cinema.

We also looked at Marco Brambilla’s Civilization and Continue. Many of Brambilla’s video projects make use of loops. Brambilla directed the 1993 Hollywood blockbuster Demolition Man before turning his attention to video and installation art.

“The cinema of Hollywood is a cinema of exclusion, reduction and denial, a cinema of repression. In consequence we should not only consider what is shown, but also that which is not shown. There is always something behind that which is being represented, which was not represented. And it is exactly that which is most interesting to consider.” – Martin Arnold

Cinema­graph Tutorial

Tilen Sepic - vir wall

Photography website Photojojo has a great tutorial about how to make your own cinemagraphs, the “photos that move” that we looked at last week. Even if you aren’t working with photos for your animation project, you might find the tutorial useful – it includes details about how to import a video file into Photoshop, using a layer mask as part of your animation, and working with GIF’s limited colour palette.

The cinemagraph above is by Tilen Sepic – check out the blog youhavetostartsomewhere for more.

Class 3 Notes (Animation Examples)

Class 3 was a work class for our loop project. Here are a couple of looping animated GIFs I made as examples for class. The first is hand-drawn, while the second uses photographs:

Types of Loops

M.C. Escher - Möbius Strip II (Red Ants)

A few different types of loops:

Infinite Loops
An infinite loop is “a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops endlessly, either due to the loop having no terminating condition or having one that can never be met.” Here is an example video of someone creating a simple infinite loop using the BASIC programming language.

Feedback Loops
A feedback loop is “a circular causal process whereby some proportion of a system’s output is returned (fed back) to the input. This is often used to control the dynamic behavior of the system… A control system usually has input and output to the system; when the output of the system is fed back into the system as part of its input, it is called the feedback.” Here is a video of someone creating a video feedback loop by pointing a video camera at the screen it is connected to. We demonstrated this in class using a webcam.

Strange Loops
“A strange loop arises when, by moving up or down through a hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started. Strange loops may involve self-reference and paradox. The concept of a strange loop was proposed and extensively discussed by Douglas Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach, and is further elaborated in Hofstadter’s book I Am a Strange Loop, which appeared in 2007.” You might think of the work of M.C. Escher as visualizing strange loops. Another example is Duane Michals’s photo series Things Are Queer.

Class 2 Notes (More Loops)

A phenakistoscope disc.

This class continued our exploration of the loop as a form for artmaking. We talked a little about the importance of loops in early motion picture technology, including the work of Eadweard Muybridge, and optical toys such as zoetropes and thaumatropes. Loops are also important in computer programming. We also looked at some more examples of the loop as a form in new media art and animation:

We also learned a little more about working with animation in Photoshop, including working with photographic sources. Some things to remember:

  • It’s easy to get mixed up when working with both layers and animation frames, particularly when trying to add layers to an existing animation. I’d suggest creating and organizing your artwork on different layers before starting to add frames and animate your work. Remember, if you want two elements of your artwork to move independently of each other, they need to be drawn on different layers.
  • We looked at using Tween to have Photoshop generate the “in-between” frames of your animation. If you are going to use Tween to generate part of your animation, I’d suggest doing this first after drawing your layers, before you start tweaking individual animation frames.
  • Each Layer will either be visible or hidden in each frame of your animation. Each layer can also have a different position or opacity in each frame, which means that you can create an animation using just a few layers.
  • Did Photoshop unexpectedly apply a change to all your animation frames? Keep an eye on the “Propagate Frame 1″ and “New Layers Visible in All Frames” settings.
  • You can adjust the thumbnail size on the Layers and Animation palettes to make it easier to see what is on each layer or frame.
  • To create an animated GIF file, use the Save for Web & Devices menu option, and choose GIF format.
  • Save your work often! Also, remember to backup your work on your flash drive.

Animated GIFs

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an image format that is useful for compressing images to small sizes by limiting the number of colours. GIF is an older format, and is gradually being replaced by PNG. However, unlike PNGs, GIFs can be used to create animated images. Animated GIFs can be created in Photoshop or other software. They are popular as a way of presenting animation on the web in a way that does not require video or any specialized plugins.

Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg - "Shave and a haircut..." Cinemagraph

Note that when you open an animated GIF file in Mac OS X, the Preview software will display each frame as a separate image instead of playing the animation. To properly preview an animated GIF file on your computer, try dragging the file to a web browser such as Safari, Firefox or Chrome.

During our first class, we looked at some examples of innovative animated GIFs:

Kelli Marshall has written an interesting essay about animated GIFs and the history of cinema: Animated GIFs, Cinemagraphs, and Our Return to Early Cinema.

Class 1 Notes (Loops)

Zbigniew Rybczyński - Tango

Last semester, we learned a lot about how to use Photoshop and other digital imaging software to create and manipulate digital images. In Introductory Digital Imaging II, we’ll learn to apply these skills to time-based and interactive media such as animation, video, and web-based art.

We will also spend more time discussing what makes digital art different from other kinds of art, including forms and structures that are especially appropriate to digital artmaking. One of these structures is the loop, which is important not only in cinema and video, but also in computer programming. For Assignment 1, we’ll use Photoshop to create a looping animation.

During our first class, we looked at some examples of the loop as a structure in new media art:

In this class there was also an introduction to creating animation in Photoshop, using the Animation palette. Photoshop lets you create frame-by-frame animation by drawing the parts of your animation in different layers, and then adjusting the visibility of your layers to control what is shown in each frame of the animation. Each layer can also have a different position and opacity in each animation frame. We’ll look at this in more detail in our next class.

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