Sunday, September 22, 2019

Revisiting Sfumata - Number Two

After completing #1 in 1998, #2 should have been a breeze.  After all, it had been begun two years before that, using the unsupported Autodesk Animator Pro, designed for DOS.  Well, after 30 seconds and 90 layers, this much was finished.  Began with adjusting timing and colors, now that technology permits such luxuries on a budget of $35 and paper clips.

Time to wrap up the last 70%.  Let's hope for fewer distractions this time!  After all, #3 is becoming impatient.

Friday, September 20, 2019

"We only have to sell one!" - Chain Pharmacy Pricing Philosophy

And, my, isn't that just ducky....

An international student came into my old pharmacy in January of this year, stricken with anxiety, migraines, and confusion.  She presented this price quote from a nearby chain for three generic medications and wondered if my little clinic pharmacy would have a better price.  Her international insurance told her that this chain was able to fill for her and that she could get 20% of her cost reimbursed.
So I looked at the meds in question, knowing they were all rather inexpensive generics, and ran a quick price comparison with the usual charges from the clinic site.
Topiramate (generic for Topamax) would have cost her $50 with them.  My cost was $15.
Sumatriptan (generic for Imitrex) was originally quoted to her as over $330, but the manager there said they could cut it as a discount for $156.  My usual cost was $45.
Ondansetron (generic for Zofran) was quoted at over $120.  My clinic's cost was $15.
I checked with the prescriber to make the ondansetron a regular tablet vs the ODT version, and cut the price further to $10.  
So the chain wanted over $320 as their best price.  Mine turned out to be $65.

This year seems to be The Big One for crushing independent pharmacies, with slaughtered reimbursement from the major insurance companies and their Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs).  Chains will just throw the burden on the backs of the uninsured.  Independents will become a faded memory.

ASIFA Central Notes of Thursday, September 19, 2019

ASIFA Board Agenda Thursday, September 19, 2019, 8:30pm (11th meeting cancelled due to
monster weather challenges in Grand Rapids, but oh the candlelit stories we can tell…)

Ghosts of Summer Present: Deanna, Julie, Brad, Jim, Chris, Chuck, Bob; Gary, Gretchen, and Steve elsewhere

ASIFA Magazine
Chuck has made plans to meet up with Thomas Renolder to get the magazines at the Ottawa Animation Festival. Chuck will start mailing them out when he gets back in town. The St. Louis members received theirs at the retreat. Deanna has hers, too.

Topics of Capricorn:
OIAF - possible ASIFA meeting on Friday evening, September 27 after screenings? 10:30pm?
- Chuck has his amazing grid of events planned - Jim will tag along and be sure everyone stays hydrated (see other notes below)

Thriller Chiller - Tom and Tony seem to be chatting about final specifics (he doesn’t
need a place to stay, and the large theatre should be room enough for his projectile
needs) $10/person. (no discounts)
Bob will arrange for Postcards from (I am sure there are other places on
line, but I have used Vistaprint a bunch. Good quality and good prices. Fairly quick,
too…) Chuck is working on getting pdf info to the group.
Banner is available for the event (Gretchen), fliers and postcards promoting the chapter,
IAD, and membership will also be available at the theater.
Date: 10-12-19, with Tom Sullivan at 6:30 and the screenings of Evil Dead (with or
without commentary) at 7:30/8pm
Costumes for the film? BYOC (bring your own catsup)
Contact Info for chapters
Jim is assembling contact info for other ASIFA Chapters - email, etc - for Board notes,
emails, and sharing newsletters - digital handshakes already being made - if anyone
has contact info to share at that level, drop Jim a line - who is the contact for uploading
newsletter info at (we need to ask Corrie Francis Parks to make you the
contact person if you want to be that person, Jim - says Jim, that’s ok with me)
History of the Retreat?

Does anyone know when our retreat started? What is the anniversary date of the
ASIFA/Central Midwest Animator’s retreat?
1992 was the first year.

International Animation Day update
New website for . Who is interested in doing showings in their areas?
(For 2020 the poster artist will be Regina Pessoa, from Portugal (and NFB). Look for her
film at Ottawa, “Uncle Thomas.”)
Board members checking on additional IAD venues; Brad will provide poster info and
templates for promotion, along with access to submitted films.
ASIFA Hellas is very happy with the Anijam created by ASIFA Central for the event.
Next year’s IAD deadline for submissions to Brad - June 1, 2020

Planning 2020 Events.
Ideas for a December or January event? What about an old fashioned Christmas Animators Party? January event! Christmas Card Boxing Day
Event - movies and projects - stop motion with old holiday cards? Chuck and Jim each
have 100 feet of clear 16mm film and ink pen madness may ensue.

Anything for 60th Anniversary of ASIFA, which is 2020.
1. Festival meetups for ASIFA members at Annecy, OIAF, Hiroshima. The international coordinator is Anastasia Dimitra, from ASIFA Hellas (formerly called Greece).
2. Chuck will float the idea towards Chris Robinson at OIAF.

Other Events:
GLAS coming up in March 2020, Jeanette Bonds of LA
Julie will have an evening at the KIA in March 2020
Project One in GR - Oct 26 - can use to promo IAD on the 28th
GR ComiCon - November 8-10
Current membership 39

Next meeting: Thursday, October 10th at 8:30 p.m. EST
Check on status of Thriller Chiller and other October events.
Assemble outline for next newsletter. -- OIAF, IAD, Thriller Chiller - gather your images and share!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Because SOMEONE is having one! (now in THREE versions!)

Video to Flash CS5 for initial title overlay, output as an insanely large Quicktime video, then into Vegas for layering, feathering, and speed adjustment - and then an output to mp4.  Easy peasy!

OK, I can't just let well enough alone - another version, tighter cropping, and one second shorter:

Now that the timing is figured out, it can be used with other variations.  Beware, friends with birthdays!

And, oh heck, another version -
...same lousy piano by the animator...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


About 5 years ago, I sent a note out to the local pharmacy association warning about telepharmacy percolating through the legislature in Michigan - and the likely impact it would have on pharmacist employment. Some goofball from a chain sent it to their legal clods who sent me an email DEMANDING my sources and HOW DARE I spread this sort of information around. Figured I was on to something...this came across from the MPA (Michigan Pharmacists Association) today...I bet some chains plan to "advocate for their special interests." :

Executive Board Discusses SB 340 (Telepharmacy)
Thank you for your input regarding Senate Bill (SB) 340 proposing telepharmacy in Michigan. While the Michigan Pharmacists Association did not initiate this bill, we have been actively engaged to influence this legislation in the best interest of the pharmacy profession and the care of our patients since February. The bill has passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Health Policy Committee chaired by Rep. Vaupel (R-Fowlerville).

The MPA Executive Board met on Monday, Sept. 16 and dedicated a significant portion of their meeting to evaluate and deliberate each and every comment received related to SB 340. Your MPA Executive Board centered their discussion and evaluation of the bill around what’s in the best interest of our patients including ensuring patient safety. The Executive Board is not supporting the bill as passed by the Senate. The bill in now in the House Health Policy Committee. Yesterday at Pharmacy Day at the Capitol (Sept. 17), MPA staff and MPA members met with Rep. Vaupel and discussed the need to have additional changes made to the bill to address the issues of patient safety. While no specific commitments were made, Rep. Vaupel was receptive to the concerns discussed and expressed interest in working with MPA on the issue before the bill is scheduled for a public hearing.

Additional updates will be communicated through MPA publications as we continue to advocate for our profession. We encourage you to continue to monitor this legislation as changes are likely to occur as lobbying groups attempt to advocate for their special interests.

Coffee Playtime - Experiments in Animated GIF to mp4

Version 1 - Rough animatic (animated gif format)

Version 2 - checking timing (mp4 render in Vegas)

Version 3 - with video effects added (again, mp4, again Vegas)

Version 4 - with music edit added (mp4, Vegas)

Version 5 - just an ever-so-slight adjustment with two keyframes - this is why you make exposure sheets, kids, even for short experimental pieces....the difference is barely perceptible.

Animation using Flash CS5, output as a jpg series, imported into Vegas for edit and adjustment.

A "production note" - the background was from a quick acrylic painting of some 8 years past, quickly photographed and placed into the Flash library, before being converted to a symbol and then given an alpha adjustment. The original imported image was fairly large, even after conversion once introduced to the Flash environment.  As a result, animating even this brief piece became a challenge due to memory restrictions - things slowed down and the system crashed frequently (the laptop being used having only 8megs of RAM).  I ended up deleting the background file until everything was completed, then put it in place for the two sequences where it appears (after the explosion, I darkened it slightly and knocked it askew).
Everything was still exported as a series of about 225 jpgs, then imported as individual frames to the Sony Vegas software (now called MAGIX - Version 15 is used here, since version 16 is a real estate hog on the hard drive).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

ASIFA Central Meeting Notes - June 24, 2019 - backup notes for September 11th meeting (truncated due to weather)

Present: Jim M (really hoping this phone ap works), Deanna, Chuck, Brad, Gretchen, Chris, Steve (hosting), Julie, Bob

Summer Retreat - Chuck, Julie (maybe), Brad, Steve, Chris, Bob, Deanna

July 19th
Dinner (for the early birds):
University City Loop

July 20th
9:45 - 10:00 / Registration - Media Commons
10:00 - 10:15 / Words from the President - Media Commons
10:15 - 10:30 / What’s Up With ASIFA Central? - Media Commons
10:30 - 11:00 / Workshop I: Six Second Animated Film Strip - Steve Leeper - SVER
11:00 - 12:00 / Workshop II: Painting on Film - Chris Sagovac - SVER
12:00 - 1:00 / Lunch Delivered (pizza maybe?) - Media Commons
1:30 - 3:00 / Workshop III: Pixilation - Media Commons
3:00 - 4:30 / Workshop IV: Putting it all together
5:00 - 6:30 / Dinner - Frisco Barroom
7:00 - 7:10 / Animating In-Between the Lines - Mike Long - Media Commons
7:15 - 7:25 / Ethan Halker - Astro Boy - Media Commons
7:30 - 7:40 / International Animation Day - Brad Yarhouse - Media Commons
7:45 - 7:55 / Something Something Something - Chris Aaron - Media Commons
8:00 - 8:15 / Remembering Suzan Pitt - Charles Wilson - Media Commons
8:30 - 10:00 / Best of Ottawa and Nina Paley - SVER 123

July 21st

Thriller Chiller
Tom Sullivan - he’s available and will be glad to chauffeur himself to GR -  his programs are pretty flexible, he’s a huge fan of Harryhausen and likes to create his own “new versions” of films.


IAD showing

Interactive Animation Event

Committee Gretchen, Julie, Deanna, add Jim to that too

Next month overview of opportunities

Membership numbers report
Number of Comp’d [1]
Honorary [4]
International [28]
Student members [4]

Update on Paypal and Bank balances

Tax-exempt status (re: the renewal e-mail we received this month?)
From Deanna: It was a company, called SImple 990, trying to charge $30 to file for your organization. I just did it online. We need to file an e-postcard, called form 990-N each year, between May 31st and October 15th. We are using Jim’s Battle Creek P.O. Box as our primary address. See image below. It’s easy to file - took about 20 minutes - I can walk a new treasurer through this at some point. We are still good with our non-profit status.

Short international report from Deanna, ASIFA meetings last week at Annecy Festival. I sent my informal report of the informal meeting out to the board now, FYI.

Hey, - Anniversaries: 2020 is ASIFA 60th Anniversary, also the 60th anniversary of the Annecy International Animation Festival… and the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. ASIFA/Central, founded in 1975, will be 45 years old next year!!! Wow! We persist!
45th is Sapphire, 60 and 75 are both Diamonds!

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Public Domain Observations - Seeking Stokowski

Animation for the Ear (from the ASIFA Central Summer 2019 newsletter)

        A rich musical resource, featuring Leopold Stokowski and his acoustic recordings between 1917 and 1923 (public domain by material, public domain by performance) is available for review and download from:

        For acoustic performances (recorded through a horn to the wax blank, and not with a microphone), these are quite sophisticated and well engineered.  I suspect that the  unusual, comparative roundness of the sound from the strings in these selections is due to the large size of the orchestra, with the additional violins working in close synchrony.  The engineers were giving it all for their attention as well, squeezing as much as possible onto the 12 inch matrices without sacrificing groove width and flexibility.
On the down side, they are all acoustic, with increased surface noise and muted fidelity.
On the plus side, they’re public domain, and of the available examples, are among the best.  Using some creativity with filters and speed adjustment, and you have some impressive sound beds.  The selections come as mp3s, along with the date of recording, just to smear the info into the faces of youtube or FB monitors.
Over the years, many of these 78s have found their way into the shellac-and-wax-based archive here, but these already-converted recordings are a remarkable collection of some very familiar selections waiting to join your digital library.  Through 1923, they include:

Hungarian Dances #1,5, 6, Brahms
Dance of the Blessed Spirits, from Orpheus and Eurydice, Gluck
Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt, Greig
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scherzo, Mendelssohn
Symphony #40, 3rd movement, Mozart
Carmen, Prelude to Act 1, Changing of the Guard, The Smugglers, Bizet
Blue Danube Waltz, Strauss
Hungarian Rhapsody #2, Liszt
Largo from the New World Symphony, Dvorak
Finlandia, Sibelius
Faust, Waltz from Act II, Gounod
Dance of the Tumblers, Rimsky-Korsakov

        Next year, when 1924 opens its public domain vaults, Rachmaninoff’s Piano concerto #2, performed by Rachmaninoff, is at your service.  Like the acoustic version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (which is another 1924 release), this first recording provides what some (including your humble typist) consider the better piano performance of the piece.
        The  website is of the nice, old fashioned html variety, and the links were all still connecting to mp3 versions of these recordings as of 30 July 2019.  I had no problem downloading the files for my thumb drive (formerly called, according to my students, as a “memory stick”) of road tripping material.  The site also has in-depth information on early recordings, the evolution of Stokowski’s style, and his influence throughout the acoustic and early electric era of recorded sound.  Someone spent hundreds of hours putting this all together, and you can easily spend a couple of hours here.
        Another source of recordings that are in the public domain can come from the record catalogues themselves - Victor, Columbia, and Edison put out annual promotions.  Remember, the current cut off is 1923, but 1924 kicks in come January, 2020...

Remember - if it's in here, it's public domain! (1922.1923 catalogs)

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Gotta Love the Sanskrit

Nine rules for being human – handed down from ancient Sanskrit

You will receive a body.
You will learn lessons.
There are no mistakes, only lessons.
A lesson is repeated until it is learned.
Learning lessons does not end.
“There” is no better than “Here”.
Others are merely mirrors of you.
What you make of your life is up to you.
The answers lie inside you.

Now, you can make it 
12 rules for being human - handed down from ancient Sanskrit 
If you add

Life is exactly what you think it is
You will forget all of this
You can remember it whenever you want

Choose either one - 64 years of kicking around on this dustball and I have found nothing in that time to contradict these statements, regardless of the source.

But, then, I forget things.
That's why we have dogs.  Dogs make you get up in the morning and remember things.

Now, let's make that
13 rules for being human - handed down from ancient Sanskrit and your dog