Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Sneeze Animations

OK, so this might just look like a whole lot of jerky animations of a guy sneezing. And it is. But if you look at each of them, they're not the same: the frames are combined and recombined in slightly different ways. 

It started off as something like this - a contact sheet, with five frames per row endlessly repeating.

These are still frames from a very short (like, three seconds) film that Edison made in 1894. It's sometimes called Fred Ott's Sneeze, maybe because it depicts Fred Ott sneezing. Stuck a feather up his nose, or huffed that sneezing powder the fetishists use on YouTube. 

When I see something like this, I have a mad desire to make it move again, to resuscitate the guy who's been dead for a hundred years, and turn his frame-frozen sneeze back into motion. To do that, I had to cut the frames in the contact sheet into little squares, re-assemble them into some semblance of film, then run them through my gif program.

As you can see, it worked fairly well. Blown up like this, Fred looks eerily realistic, even though I was working with only five frames:

Meanwhile, I found a Library of Congress video of the original, three-seconds-long masterpiece of cinema. Frankly, I think my animations look better.

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