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.
Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016