Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birth of a Ghost

I had never really dabbled in computer animation before, but I recently discovered Synfig, a free, open source animation program. It's a lot of fun to play with.

The first animation I created on Synfig was a very simple 8-second animation of a ball dropping on the floor and morphing into a ghost. I spent the better part of a rainy Saturday morning learning how to make Synfig do my bidding, and the remainder of the morning watching Birth of a Ghost on loop (yes, I am easily amused).

My introduction to animation was by way of flipbooks. In 1996, when the cricket World Cup was held in the Indian subcontinent, you could exchange Coke bottle-caps for cricket merchandise. My friends were into collecting trading-cards. I was by no means indifferent to trading-cards, but I saved my bottle-caps till I had enough for a flipbook, which had Saeed Anwar majestically lifting some hapless spinner over long-on.

I knew in theory how TVs worked, and I had seen a zoetrope at BITM, but until I beheld a flipbook, I don't think I had truly comprehended how a rapid display of still images can create an illusion of movement. I also realised – and this was even more interesting – that I could make my own flipbooks. But after a few months of doodling in the corner of notebook pages, I thought I had gotten over my flipbook phase.

Except I hadn't, really. My Synfig experiments got me thinking about flipbooks again, and one day during my lunch-break, I seized on a wad of post-it notes which was on my desk and re-created Birth of a Ghost on flipbook.

Here are both videos, for comparison:

If you want a hand-drawn flipbook, send me an email. I can make one and post it to you.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Isle of Dogs Cat

As Ethan Zuckerman said in a 2008 lecture: "Web 1.0 was invented to allow physicists to share research papers. Web 2.0 was created to allow people to share pictures of cute cats."

Photos on this blog of Isle of Dogs fauna have featured foxes and of course, dogs, but so far ‒ no cats. This is about to be remedied. Here is a cat, spotted on Saturday en route to the supermarket.


Shortly after spotting the cat, I discovered that Mudchute Farm, which is also on my way to the supermarket, has three llamas. This made my day.

If, as is not unlikely, Web 3.0 is created to allow people to share pictures of llamas, my llama photo will get its place in the sun.