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.

If I had an alligator

If I had an alligator, which I'm not likely to do in the near future, I'd want it to look like this.

When you  see something white which is normally some other colour, you automatically think "albino". But no! My research tells me these are leucistic alligators, which means they have blue eyes (and the rest of them is ivory, not pure white). Big difference.

Leucistics are rare - I keep finding different stats on this, but one source said there are "only 12 of them in the world". I don't get this. Have they mucked and gumbooted through all the swamps of Louisiana in search of these "swamp ghosts"? Who knows how many are lurking under rotten logs, waiting to attack? The logic is that something like this would stand out like neon and wouldn't survive a predator's attack. But wouldn't an alligator be pretty handy at self-defense? What natural enemies does it have? It has survived for hundreds of millions of years without having to evolve at all. So does it matter if a handful of them look like the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Maybe it would. A white alligator hide might make tasty material for a Fendi bag. One of those purses that costs as much as the down payment on a car.

These guys are frightening, ugly and beautiful at the same time. While looking for appropriate images to make an animation (above), I found some beauties. Or uglies. 

The blue eyes seem to peer at us with some kind of expression, but they don't. This creature's brain has just one setting: FOOD. (Well, two, but the other one isn't turned on all the time.) It looks at you as if you were food, which you are. If you have a pulse, if you have warm blood - or cold blood - you're food. Do we have some primeval memory of being eaten alive by some prehistoric version of this thing? Imagine how big they were back then, given that everything was on a ridiculous scale.

This one creeps me out majorly. It's either jumping up in the air in a ballet-leap, or underwater. How would anyone get such a shot without being eaten?

Don't ever think it's smiling. It's not smiling. It is jaws on legs. It is hissing and death-roll, and then, digestion.

These three look almost poetical, except they're not. Once more I doubt the "only 12 in the world" statistic. Who runs around in the forest trying to find these? There must be more of them. Here's an extra one just lying around, basking on someone's dock.

My brothers had an old stuffed alligator (crocodile?) with cotton batting in it (the cotton batting spewing out of its stomach and having to be shoved back in). It was a real alligator, or it had been, the skin tanned like leather. I never knew where it came from. The boys played Tarzan with it, and claimed that if you turned the alligator (or crocodile) over on its back and rubbed its tummy, it would relax and become extremely docile. This is a legend along the lines of taming a bird by putting salt on its tail.

So the swamp ghost, the White Bite, the leucistic Fendi bag of Louisiana isn't a myth. Its only real enemy is humankind, which means it will probably be wiped out in short order, along with everything else.

That is the meanest face I have ever seen.

POST-SCRIPT. I never knew what I was getting into when I looked up alligator bags. I assumed they might top out at, say, $10,000.00.

But no. I found this in a post about The Five Most Expensive Purses In The World:

The Chanel “Diamond Forever” Classic Handbag – $261,000

Next on our list is the The Chanel “Diamond Forever” Classic Handbag for a little more than a quarter of a million. It’s limited edition and it’s incrusted with 334 diamonds, white gold hardware and white alligator skin. And that’s only №4!

The description does not specify if this is from an authentic leucistic alligator, or just some old garden variety Wally Gator from a golf course in Florida who had a dye job. One would think the scarcity of the variety would preclude making it into bags, even for a quarter of a million dollars. Might it be that hideous vinyl stuff we had in the '60s, which would get so hot and melty in the sun?