Cinemagraphs: Playing Duck Hunter For Homework

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Yes, you read that right. I got to play video games for class credit. It’s alright, you can be jealous. 😀

Never before seen…

The stuff I’m sharing today hasn’t been seen by anyone else yet (unless you were one of the 7 other people in my summer class). So you’re getting a sort of exclusive first look right here, right now! If that doesn’t make you feel special then I don’t know what will.

For my digital imaging class this past summer there was a “design your own/do whatever you like” kind of assignment. You know, the kind that’s awesome because of all the freedom you’ve got but sucks because you’ve got to figure out for yourself what to do. Anyway, our professor showed us a bunch of examples for what we could do and one of those was this interesting thing called cinemagraphs.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of cinemagraphs before. Turns out they’re just animated GIFs, but not the really cheesy kind from the ’90s. The people who pioneered cinemagraphs, Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck,  make some really, really good stuff. As defined by them: “A Cinemagraph is an image that contains within itself a living moment that allows a glimpse of time to be experienced and preserved endlessly.” You can see their work here:

Playing games

It just so happens to be that I have a fully functioning NES (the original Nintendo Entertainment System; this thing) and I thought it’d be pretty fun to use it as the “subject” for my cinemagraphs. There’s also an ancient TV in my basement that fits the look I was after perfectly (and it works still!).

To make a cinemagraph I did two things. To get the portion that’s moving onscreen I obviously had to switch over to movie mode and record some footage of me playing the games. Then I also took a still photo of the scene. Later on in Photoshop I made the GIF, then overlaid the still image and masked out an opening where the screen is. That way the animation could show through. Part of the reason for doing it this way was trying to achieve a slightly higher resolution end product (my camera only records 720p video but photos come out much larger). It ended up being for naught anyways because the files wound up being huge and took forever to load/play full speed. Seriously, the full size GIFs are nearly 30mb. Usually GIFs are like 2mb or less. That’s also why the versions embedded in this post aren’t all that big. They just would take forever to play properly.

The other part of doing a still image + video was because of lighting. To get any part of the environment lit up where you could see it, I had to severely overexpose the area of the TV screen. Which would be no good if you’re trying to see what’s happening on the screen. So the still photo was exposed to reveal details in the environment, while the video was exposed to capture the action onscreen.

Here’s the tutorial from that I used as a guide for the technical side of things. For anyone who prefers a video tutorial, here’s the tutorial that Phlearn did. I haven’t actually watched that yet, but Aaron and the rest of the Phlearn team always does an excellent job with their tutorials so I’m sure it’ll help.

Now on to the images! I may have spent a couple extra hours playing Duck Hunter and Super Mario Bros. just because……. 😀

Note: These may not play at full speed the first time through. I compressed them as much as I could but they still lag a little first time through. Just give it a moment and it should work itself out.



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Posted in Behind The Photo, Tips & Tricks.