Totò Animated

For my first experiment with animated GIFs I opted for the facial gesturing of Italian comic genius Totò in Vittorio De Sica’s The Gold of Naples. I think I’m going to do a series of animated GIFs of Totò in an attempt to try and communicate through gestures alone just how brilliant this actor is. He is a rare comic genius of the physical gesture and facial expression on film that has very little exposure outside of Italy, which is a real shame. He ranks right up there with Charlie Chaplin in this regard. And the other part of his genius—and some would argue even greater part—is his ability to play with language in Italian, but that is still very hard for me to understand, no less communicate.

And while I’m very, very late to the animated GIF game in ds106, I finally got to spend most of the night playing with MPEG Streamclip* and Gimp for the Mac to see what I can come up with using free tools to create a solid animated GIF. My process followed that of a number of folks who were playing with MPEG Streamclip for ds106 already. I trimmed down my selection of the movie using this free tool, and then exported my selected as an image sequence. After that I import the sequence into GIMP and saved it as an animated GIF.

I think I got the image pretty high quality, but my issue with the MPEG Streamclip/GIMP connection is that the image is really heavy. My first attempt was 13.9 MBs, and I finally got my animation down to 5 MBs—which I included above, but it is still way too big.

I followed the general outline of Phoenix’s tutorial on this forum thread:

The Free Way
1) Get a copy of Gimp
2) Get a copy of MPEG Streamclip
3) Open your video in MPEG Streamclip
4) Narrow to the video section that you want
5) Export the video as an Image Sequence (Export Other Formats)
6) Import the Image Sequence in Gimp
7) Edit the sequence
8 ) Export as gif

During my process I made a quick Flickr set of screenshots with brief notes as a the step-by-step for using MPEG Streamclip and GIMP:

I hope to transfer these images and some more substantial text into the tech tutorials wiki shortly. But before I do, I still need to figure out how I can optimize the exported GIF from GIMP so it is not so huge–a process I think might be what Phoenix might be referring to when he says “edit the sequence.” This is something I plan on looking into shortly.

The other method I want to look into tomorrow is the “professional” approach—which basically replaces Photoshop with Gimp:

1) Get a copy of Photoshop
2) Get a copy of MPEG Streamclip
3) Open your video in MPEG Streamclip
4) Narrow to the video section that you want
5) Export as a Quicktime movie
6) In Photoshop Import > Video Frames To Layers
7) Edit each layer with your text
8) Save for Web and Devices (select GIF Dithered)

I don’t own Photoshop, but I can get access to it at UMW, so that is something that will be easy enough to try. Though it annoys me you need something so expensive and bulky.

Tom Woodward has pretty much become a professional at the animated GIF now, and I love his Battlecat

…and I noticed that even with all those colors it is just 3 MBs, so I am wondering if the Quicktime/Photoshop options is that much better at optimizing an animated GIF. For me the optimization is key, but the next step is figuring out the process “If we don’t, remember me” follows. Those animated GIFs are magic.

*MPEG Streamclip is a powerful free tool for basic video editing, trimming, format conversion, optimization, and now creating animated GIFs. I used it extensively last semester for ds106, and was so pleasantly surprised to see Jabiz using it for his animated GIFs.

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7 Responses to Totò Animated

  1. Don’t you dare get Photoshop you bastard! At the edit image stage, did you resize the image to something like 600px before exporting to animated GIF? Try importing the sequence to Gimp as layers, then resize the image to something like 600px wide, then export as an animated GIF. You don’t have to import as layers, but I like it for deciding if you actually need all frames. Not that I’m all that experienced or anything. Just stick with Gimp buddy.

  2. Oh wow, its already only 512px wide… I’ve got it downloaded and trying to find a way to compress it in Gimp too.. why is it so huge you think?

  3. Resized to 300px it comes in at 2.3meg. still, this isn’t good enough is it… 🙁

  4. Curt Grymala says:

    I downloaded both GIFs and opened them in GIMP. The main reason the Battlecat animation is so much smaller than the Toto animation is simple: It has half as many frames.

    I’ll bet, if you were to drop every other frame from the Toto animation, the size would diminish tremendously.

    In addition, if you pick apart the image frame-by-frame, you’ll find that, since Battlecat doesn’t move at all, quite a bit of that part of the image is transparent, which cuts down on the file size of each individual frame.

  5. Reverend says:

    I’m in no danger of getting Photoshop, I can;t afford it 🙂 But I do want to see how the process works with Photoshop and Quicktime. That said, after following your advice for the last animated gif (the Apocalypse Now) scaling on GIMP is awesome, and saved me about 5 MBs in animated GIF size. I think everything that needs to be done can be done easily in GIMP, and for the purposes of ds106—free and open source makes the most sense.

    So thanks for this, and I agree 2.3 is much better, but we need to keep on looking.

    Yeah, on my follow-up attempt with Apocalypse Now I got the image to scale smaller, and it seems that with color it was even more manageable size-wise than black and white, which is odd. That said, I experimented with taking half the frames out of the apocalypse now GIF, going from 8 fps to 4 fps, and I have to say the effect of the scene is totally sacrificed. It moves way to quick, and has not of the elegance of the original, That said, it did cut the image size in half, so you are right on there.

    I just wonder if there is a better way to compress these layered images so that they aren’t so big, but still look elegant.So thanks for this, and I’m wondering if there isn’t some kind of compression setting in MPEG Streamclip that I am missing all together to make everything size-wise a bit lighter.

  6. Damn, have an idea of how much processing juice do your gifs suck our of my mac?
    At last, your animations rule and I love them all, but I’m commenting on the Totò gif because you succeeded in distilling his mimics and because I love the man. In fact, I am preparing a blog post on him. So, we’re back at work, eh?!

  7. Pingback: Give it Up for the GIF | bavatuesdays

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