Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pogo gets stuck

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needlepoint animation

Jumping into a Wall (Part 2)

It’s nothing it not primitive.  But I learned some useful things about animating a needle going through a canvas.

If you look at it carefully, you will see the Pogo can seem to either be facing a wall canvas, which is tilted such as to appear skewed or slanted toward him.  When he goes next it, it looks like the canvas is tilting away, and that he pierces it  from above.  I guess it’s an animation illusion I did not realize would happen.

Also, when he shakes back and forth, the canvas wall seems turns into a pentagon, and looks unaligned.  I doubled check to make sure, and the right side of the image (when I looked at the frame) is cropped perfectly straight, although it looks “bent.”

I”ll probably end up creating a page where to show off any new, more sophisticated animations that may come down the pike — maybe I will stick these in an entirely new section under my Features menu.

Meanwhile.. could someone help poor Pogo out?

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016

Jumping into a wall

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I’ve been interested in creating simple needlepoint themed animations for a while now.

They’re fun and represent a different sort of creative outlet, while staying within the domain of needlepoint stitching — which is what this blog is usually about, more or less.

Here’ s the latest animation, a rudimentary storyboard of my newly invented POGO the Needle character bouncing up and down until he reaches a skewed canvas, which impedes his forward progress.  He bangs his head against this wall a few times, then stops to think about what to do.

Now the way I have created these simple gif animations is with Gimp 2.8, MS Paint, and, if I wanted sound, the ancient Windows Movie Maker (my desktop is still running Vista!).

Though Vista is old, one of its (few) positives is that it has the version of MS Movie Maker where you can easily work with MP3 sound files and GIF files directly, and not have to convert everything into proprietary Microsoft formats — as you have to now do with Windows Live Movie Maker, which I find clunky and unpleasant to work with.  I particularly hate the letterbox that gives you these two black bars that are impossible to get rid of, even when you fiddle with the Options knobs.

Now all this software I’ve been using so far is all “free,” but to create these videos, I have to convert everything to a format that Vimeo will accept, which does not include Microsoft proprietary files or even plain old GIFs.

WP makes you pay for video files.  However, Vimeo allows you to load a lot of video content without paying (although there is a weekly limit in terms of MBs), so if I load stuff there, I can continue to NOT ever pay for WordPress space I use (if I stick to posts and pics and animated GIFs ), which is sweet, although ultimately there is a WP limit too.

Now back to Mr. Pogo and his wall.

I will probably add some extra scenes to this simple storyboard, maybe make him climb up the canvas wall using the threads in his “head” as his hands, then ease through one of the holes in the canvas wall and finally continue his journey.

The problem with the techniques I have used so far is that the result is clunky and not slick-looking at all.  It’s time-consuming, and I don’t at all like how you don’t really get a high def effect using GIMP and Movie Maker and Vimeo, among many other drawbacks, for a variety of reasons relating to format conversion and compression.  I kind of felt like Mr. Pogo, bouncing my head against rudimentary technology.

The good news is that earlier this week I came upon this really interesting animation-related site on WP, and asked  Andy, who writes the blog for some expert advice.

He was very nice and really helpful, and based on what he said, I’m going to experiment with Toon Boom and Flip Boom Doodle and Animation-ish to see if I can’t improve my animation skills and actually begin to create the rich virtual needlepoint worlds that I see in my head, instead of making do with these Neanderthal stick figures.  It could turn out to be an interesting little adventure.

Stay tuned!

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016

Needle on a treadmill

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needlepoint animation

Busy needle

Ever feel you’re a thimble bobbing on an tsunami of canvases?

Now if I only were as tirelessly industrious as this needle, I would immediately be inspired by this R. Crawford Designs canvas, instead of treating my stash like the lowly blog props many of them have become.

Stitch Canvas

Stitch Canvas

A similar gif animation take on this would be a threading the needle loop:

needlepoint animation

Threading the needle

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016

Even cats dream in technicolor

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Here’s the latest gallery from Needlepoint Land Studio!  The canvas is by Laura Seeley, for Maggie Designs.

needlepoint cat

Lennon the cat

Here are the threads I bought for this canvas.

needlepoint threads

Click to enlarge

These threads are from a company named Tentakulum.  These are known as the Painter’s Threads Collection.  They are a variegated ribbon floss shimmer; each color is named after a famous artist (e.g., Gauguin, Monet, etc.). I’m also using Planet Earth silk (opal) for the sky, and Renaissance Designs‘ angel hair snow for the cat’s chin.

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016

I (totally) lost it at the movies *

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vintage cross stitch

Vintage cross-stitch by Erin’s great-grandmother

I just saw Robert Redford’s new movie yesterday, All Is Lost.

In this rather grimly titled saga, Bob plays a strong silent type sailing solo in the Indian Ocean on a pleasure yacht that gets rammed into by a floating shipping container filled with sneakers.  The film comes across sort of like an updated, septuagenarian version of Jeremiah Johnson going to sea.

Now I know there’s a been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere already about it being yet another vanity project for Redford, or if an experienced sailor would do some of the things portrayed in the film (at the very least, in the way shown), and whether the end is a cop-out (or maybe something else entirely).

Whatever floats your boat on that last one.

All I know is that I kept thinking how much like Ted Koppel the Sundance Kid now looks.

Sigh.

After the movie ended, I got to thinking:  what if Our Man (Redford’s character) was played by a woman.

For giggles, here’s the skinny on how an Our Woman might have been interpreted by 10 actresses in the autumn of their careers (except for one or two).

1.  Linda Hamilton

Linda beats the shit out of a shiver of circling sharks.

2.  Linda Fiorentino

Linda has sex with a shiver of circling sharks.

3.  Meryl Streep

Meryl starts speaking in tongues to a shiver of circling sharks.

4.  Debra Winger

Debra dumps the sharks for Richard Gere.

cross stitch colonoial frigate

Vintage cross-stitch by Erin’s great-grandmother

5.  Kathy Bates

Kathy hobbles the sharks as she calls them dirty birds.

6.  Jessica Lange

Jessica confuses the sharks with swimming gorillas.

7.  Susan Sarandon

Susan stitches a needlepoint pillow as the yacht sinks.

8.  Whoopi Golberg

Whoopi tries to interview the sharks.

9.  Penelope Cruz (if the movie had been directed as a comedy by Woody Allen)

Penelope shoots the sharks and blames it all on Javier Bardem.

10.  Greta Garbo

Greta tells the sharks she just vonts to be alone.

I suppose the only thing now inevitably left to say is, of course, shiver me timbers!

* With fond memories of Pauline Kael

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016