Saturday, May 30, 2020

Dozing at a keyboard ....

 I was seven when the circus first came to town. It was a muggy morning in July, when ideas hung like Spanish moss. 
I saw Tony as just another new kid in town, sketching caricatures of the passing parade. He fell behind when the team elephants were spooked by a firecracker and upended the lion cage, and several of his sketches flew into the wet breeze. 
I gathered up a handful as he ran ahead, trying to see what was happening while avoiding the freed lions. A mighty pachyderm, Elsie, calmed one of the lions by pressing it up against the exterior wall of the local Vauxhall dealership until it blacked out, and Tony turned just in time to see and sketch it. I caught up with him with his slightly soggy renderings, and we both ran to the fairgrounds at the northeast edge of town. 
We hurried our introductions and snuck into the clown car, thinking we could get in the show for free. But when the clowns all piled in, we were squeezed further back than expected, close to a trap door – and when they emerged in the Big Top, Tony was gone. 
I found his sketch with Elsie and the lion, but never saw him again. 
I stuck with the circus, and was with Elsie until she passed away, proud and happily pampered, nine years ago. 
I’m glad Tony made a career of art, because his drawing showed so much promise.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Springtime 2020 ASIFA Central Newsletter - the CoVid Late Edition

Breathe in...just one nostril...nothing to it...

Testing, testing, testing - all this talk about testing, especially near the end of a challenging academic year. Everyone getting all nice and springful of testiness.
Well, Monday, I did get tested. Yes, the elusive CoVid test.
Not of symptomatic necessity, but because of surgical protection for the folks at a Kalamazoo hospital. And it wasn't in the driver's seat of the SUV, either -- it was within the mildly panicked confines of the outpatient surgical floor in the hospital, upright in a Stryker bed, and in my freshly washed surgical gown and a fresh non-surgical mask of our own provision.
The young nurse appeared in full battle regalia for the event, face guard, masks, double layered disposable gowns in place. I felt fairly underdressed for the occasion.
She adjusted my bed to put me at about a 45 degree angle, instructed me to tilt my head back to make an approximate 70 degree level of flexation, and then said "Sit on your hands, please: This is going to be very uncomfortable, and I can’t have you make a grab for the probe."
I closed my eyes, and the long-stick cotton swab began its journey into my right nostril. She explained as she proceeded with the probe that swab had to reach the back of my throat via this right nostril route. I somehow was able to hear her actually say that.
It burned, all right, and my right eye began to tear up, and after a few seconds, we agreed that she had probably reached her intended destination. She then apologized, saying she had to hold it in place for 10 seconds to obtain a proper sample.
The burning continued, and she swept the stick back out before I could be immediately aware of its exit.
My right eye continued its lacrimal drainage down my cheek, and there was a wee bit of blood coming from the right nostril by the time it was all over. The remaining time before the completion of the pre-op process was spent holding (and moistening) severeal tissues against nose (and I do mean severeal...that situation called for a new word).
I discuss this at length, not to profess any bravery or extreme fortitude - there are many far more uncomfortable medical procedures one in his third act gets to experience - but because I hear how certain people say they're getting tested “all the time," yet don't seem to be appearing in public with any of the physical consequences - it is unlikely one could go through this on a routine basis and still have, say, makeup intact, or at least unreddened eyes.
Fortunately it came back within the hour as "negative."
That meant the next phase of the adventure could begin. Lucky me.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

ASIFA Notes on IAD Chapter Group Project

Meeting Morning of 25 April 2020 10am EST (US) - It’s Midnight in Australia and tomorrow already down under!

Present on Zoom this morning: Trent Ellis, Sabine Zipci, Saraswathi “Vani”Balgam, Jim Middleton, Deanna Morse, Dimitra Anastasia, Brad Yarhouse, ASIFA Central President, IAD coordinator, meeting moderator

Brad provided a prologue to the meeting stating that IAD 2020 represents a huge opportunity in this environment of self-containment to celebrate and share our strengths and examine our weaknesses and how to rise above them.

Introductions followed

Brad’s report on IAD 2019 - his report is going to be ready soon and will be shared after some other chapter reports make it in (ie Germany).  The overall attendance was up considerably over IAD 2018, both in viewers and participation.  The photos of the global events provide an inspiration to other animators and aspirants. 
The report will also show that Iran had significant participation, holding picnics and an “animation walk” among area businesses, all running animation examples.  Not a “bar crawl” but a “cartoon crawl!” (Jim note), Madeira in Portugal had a first-time celebration, and even in the chapterless Kharthaum of Sudan there was enthusiastic observation of the IAD.
“The richness of what goes on around the world” was demonstrated in 2019's IAD.

The Two-Minute Chapter Clip - Brad suggested the Yeats-inspired term for “Spirit of the World,” namely SPIRITUS MUNDI, as the name for the international participation project.  With 15 chapters willing to participate (5 represented in today’s meeting), it should represent a cumulative 30 minute project.
Due to CoVid’s societal challenges, the logistics are going to be a challenge this time around.  And this particular project will represent one of three projects currently running in parallel:

- Spiritus Mundi
- The ASIFA 60th anniversary celebration (Deanna and Anastasia working on specifics)
- The IAD curated collection of international animation

The upper limit of 2 minutes was to keep the final project manageable.  Less can be fine.

Deanna mentioned the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s recent live streaming as a one-time access, to maintain the sense of an ongoing festival.

There was enthusiasm for the curated IAD films and the ASIFA chapter project, with the following challenges being discussed

IAD Films in General
1. Rights and permissions to the work for broadcast/streaming purposes
2. Duration of the on-line presence
3. Deadlines

ASIFA Chapter project - what common themes of humanity can be explored that represent the region for the particular chapter
3. Interlinking the sequences of the chapter project
4. Use of music
– each chapter will make its own soundtrack for their portion; the assembly will have some appropriately vetted music, either public domain or specially composed, with appropriate rights cleared for usage
5. Titles and credit for participation
– do we want to do a Facebook “live” contribution on the day of IAD
6. Deadlines

Overall, on submission of films, permission sign off should be performed at that point.

Is there a useful connection with UNESCO for promotion or inclusion of “Spiritus Mundi” in their online information (it has been a while - 10 years?- since UNESCO made mention of ASIFA in its reports).

Brad expressed concern regarding global access - can China see this?  Other suggestions included Vimeo, Film Freeway, a Zoom “festival,” note - Film freeway may have deferral of bandwidth expense if it is a “non-profit” putting together the program.

Music scoring - keep each chapter’s sound a chapter-based inclusion.  This will add an international feel to the entire piece with regional variations.  Keep international copyrights on music in consideration.

Brad thought each piece could come with a brief comment by the head of each chapter. Language?

Options discussed on screening types for IAD showing
1. Marathon running over a period of days - downside, you don’t have the interaction or feedback, and the viewer doesn’t get to “know” the contributor
2. Short running time over a period - three weeks would be about right for that, and then pull down the shows
3. Perhaps break films up by category, if the submissions suggest a trend - perhaps a “family friendly” section in case things get rowdy?
4. There needs to be some way of getting viewer feedback to the creator(s).  When logging in to register the entries, is there a template that can be used?  Can this “catalog” link to the creator’s website?  Bio?  Picture?

A final thought - rather than make a huge, centralized curated event, let each chapter create its own packet of films, which can then be parceled out over a few weeks beginning the end of October.  October 28th would be the day for running the Spiritus Mundi piece at 30 minutes, which would then be sent out to the individual chapters for their respective use.  Four times during that day, the ASIFA chapters could do a FB or public zoom presence to chat up the profession, the process, and the joys of animation!

The meeting reluctantly dissolved about noon.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

More Flash Fun

640 frames built in Flash CS5, exported as jpgs, placed into Sony Vegas 15 at 1 frame each, rendered out at 24fps in 1920 x 1080.  Then this version brought back in, edited for timing, rendered again, then brought in on two layers, the lower one being over-exposed to white, executing a cross-fade at the end for a transition into the next scene.  No sound.  For reference, earlier versions are in animated gif format on an earlier post.

Here 'tis so runs about 20 seconds
(c) 2020 Animating Apothecary - a "work in progress"

Monday, April 13, 2020


2020 Animating Apothecary

About the Smithfield Meat Plant Closure - an observation

Regarding the Smithfield meat and CoVid issue --  I am intrigued at the WH Group (formerly the Shuanghui Group) and its base in Hong Kong, along with its January 31 affiliation with PR firm  MWWPR agency.

The MWWPR website promotes this interesting aspect of their public relations: "Issues and Crisis Management" - with the following description that seems too prescient for coincidence

"When the stakes are highest, we’re at our best. It is more important than ever to be prepared with the tools and resources to manage the situation quickly and effectively to limit any potential damage to your brand and your reputation. And in this crisis-driven marketplace, there is no substitute for our experience, our pace and our integrated multi-stakeholder strategies. On call 24/7, senior crisis experts combine streamlined crisis planning, our proprietary Crisis Action Protocol (CAP), and advanced data and technology with critical media contacts, third-party advocates and other vital stakeholders."

Note the "third-party advocates"  - or,  "They are possibly the key people who could leap to the defence of the project or company." (Managing a Crisis, authors Tom Curtin,Daniel Hayman,Naomi Husein)

The CoVid reports from Smithfield began last week.  The plant closure came over the weekend.  The PR firm was engaged January 31 of this year, by the WH Group centered in Hong Kong.  On January 25 (6 days before), the Hong Kong government declared the viral outbreak as an "emergency." (Wikipedia)

Aluminum hat time - did the WH Group see this coming two months ago?  Or at least, did they take it seriously enough to enlist a PR group with connections to "third-party advocates?"

In any case, it's a 4-5% hit to our meat supply and perhaps a good time to adjust to the flavor of Protose, Wham, and Tuno.

A Slice of Life During the Great Quarantine - a quick post

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Yes, We ARE getting sick from all that winning....

The Trumpster Fire Continues....

Fixing Things from Flash 5.5 Days

Not example a "fix," more of a "restore."
The original Flash 5.5 files had become unstable - mainly a font issue - so this was reworked into a collection of about 2000 jpegs and then re-edited in a contemporary video editor, rather than rely on the space hogging (and poor resolution) files within the Flash software itself.  Not sure it's worth all the effort, but it's one less thing on the bucket list, and there is "time" these days....

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Evolving Project Test GIFs

(c) 2020 Animating Apothecary
A later iteration.... (c) 2020 Animating Apothecary

And still more.... (c) 2020 Animating Apothecary

...and to the end of the initial assembly... (c) 2020 Animating Apothecary

Monster mouth test (c) 2020 Animating Apothecary

Mouth and foreground assembly test (c) 2020 Animating Apothecary