Alfred Hitchcock

(s)Tumbled Onto My Hitchcock Posters

Rear Window Animated Movie Poster

Yesterday I was scrolling through my Tumblr feed and suddenly saw my animated Rear Window movie poster as part of a collection of animated GIF movie posters posted by The Creators Project. Well how did that happen? Apparently ten days ago an imgur user with an impossibly long username had collected a number of animated movie posters into two galleries (part 1 and part 2), posted to Reddit and hits the front page, and discovered many of the culture bloggers jumped and reposted:

WIRED (Underwire) – Movie Posters Are Infinitely Better as Mesmerizing GIFs – Enhanced Movie Posters Bring New Meaning To The Term “Action Film”

Fast Company (Co.Create) – 8 Mesmerizing GIF Movie Posters Bring Life To Iconic Images

The Creators Project – See Iconic Movie Posters Recreated As GIFs

Gizmodo (Sploid) – Every movie poster needs to be turned into a GIF like these

In all, four of the five animated Hitchcock posters I created were featured in these and other posts I discovered. And I really enjoyed how Mark Strauss, Senior Editor at commented on the Rear Window poster:

The poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is motionless, until Grace Kelley suddenly tilts her head to gaze at James Stewart, who lowers his camera, as if he knows he’s been spotted. It’s a tense scene before even seeing the film. Such is the magic of animated movie posters.

I reached out to Mark and a number of others via Twitter thank them/let them know who’d created the all those Alfred Hitchcock animated posters. A few favorited, replied, and/or retweeted which is really cool.

It is nice to see your work out there and appreciated by a lot of people!

Jim Groom recently posted about his Jason and the Argonauts animated movie poster being rediscovered by the Nerd Approved Blog. And I respect how the ‘Nerds’ attributed all the GIFs they posted to the original authors. The same cannot be said for the culture bloggers’ posts which assigned authorship to the curator. It’s the way of the author-less-web where work is anonymized into galleries such as the two created by Rindfleischetikettierungsuberwachungsaufgabenubertragungsgesetz (yes that’s the imgur username – based off the formerly longest German word since retired). And as an artist that remixes, curates, and comments on all sorts of pieces of culture it’s an understandable practice. Though I do feel a twinge of disappointment to not be recognized.

It was over two years ago that I created my first animated An American Werewolf in London poster, which inspired a number of others in the ds106 digital storytelling community to do the same. I truly enjoyed the work that was spawned out of that time (Tim’s The Cooler poster in particular). And I imagine I’ve had a little bit to do with inspiring the current animated movie poster makers out there – each sharing their love of poster art and  showcasing their animation skills with their original re-interpretations.


I have plans to make a Lifeboat animated GIF as part of my Hitchcock animated movie poster series, but it’s going to take a lot of work. So I feel like I need to do an easier one in the short term, and To Catch A Thief is looking fun and relatively easy. Carey Grant, sadly yes Grace Kelly will not act in film again!


Psycho Animated Movie Poster

Phew! This poster is done!

It was harder to make than the previous four Hitchcock posters to date, but the real problem was that other efforts became a distraction over the past few weeks (good stuff honestly). But I was able to lock in over the past couple of days and I spent most of it studying Janet Leigh’s facial expressions trying to find a way to make something for the main image of her in this poster. I think it’s interesting to think about this in the context of Leigh’s description of her working with Hitchcock while filming Psycho. She described how Hitchcock made clear that his camera was ‘the focal point,’ and she was to move with it. She mentioned how other actors might have been constrained by his blocking, but she took it as a challenge. And she does make the most of it, working the camera with her fabulous expressions throughout the film.

The original poster makes room for John Gavin, but I felt that the house over looking the Bates Motel deserved better treatment. And be sure to look closely, I think mother is watching!

Ready to Recover

I’m going to finish the Psycho animated poster tonight. Hacking away at my anxieties.


Norman the Peeper

I’m working on my next animated GIF Hitchcock poster, next up is Psycho, and right now I’m thinking of deviating from the original poster dramatically. The featuring of Janet Leigh in her skivvies to advertise the film doesn’t do it justice in my mind. Maybe it got the audiences in the theatre back in the 60s? But the Norman Perkins character and his deviousness playing against Leigh the absconder is what sustains.

The Birds – Animated Movie Poster

This is my fourth effort at animating Alfred Hitchcock film posters, and this one took a lot of time. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it all the way to my desired dozen posters by the end of the summer. This GIF is based on the 1963 theatrical release poster for The Birds and is made from 44 frames. Hitchcock enlisted the famed Disney animator Ub Iwerks to do the screen work for the film which created the effect of swarms of birds attacking actors. The birds traveling over the poster is one of his mattes used in the open credits of the film.

I hadn’t come across Iwerks before and watched a great documentary about his life and the fact that he alone designed the characters for and executed the first Mickey Mouse animation Plane Crazy.

Yes he designed Mickey Mouse for Walt Disney and created all of the first cartoons. Apparently Iwerks made Plane Crazy in two weeks – approximately 700 frames of hand drawn animation a day – alone. Insane, I thought my GIFs were hard work.

Disney and Iwerks developed the Mickey Mouse character and series after being betrayed by the rest of their animation staff, hired away by Universal Studios. They were contracted by Universal to create the highly successful Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Universal figured they owned the rights to Oswald, so they stole Disney’s staff and fired him. Ub was the only one that didn’t sell-out and Mickey was born.

Sadly their relationship soured, and Iwerks went his own way creating his own animation studio, but it never lived up to the success of Disney (that’s obvious huh?) He did eventually return to Disney studios and moving forward worked principally on visual effects, including The Birds. It’s as if he’d come full-circle returning to creating mattes like he did for the ground breaking 1920s cartoons Alice Comedies, which was one of first live-action mattes with animation.

The longer I work on this Alfred Hitchcock poster series, I seem to be delving deeper into animation as an artform which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I’m excited to see where it takes me next – oh wait that’s Psycho – cue screeching violins in your head.

Vertigo, Dizzing Educational Awesomeness at UMW

Yes this post is an excuse to show another Alfred Hitchcock animated poster which I made while at UMW’s Faculty Academy (with Rear Window & North By Northwest this makes three, nine to go). But I’m not going to write about the film Vertigo and the designer of this poster Saul Bass. Ok one thing, how much does the man spinning in the middle remind you of the Don Draper silhouette tumbling in space in the opening titles of Mad Men.

Actually the feeling of dizziness comes from the time spent at UMW two weeks ago. Mikhail Gershovich, Luke Waltzer and I were lucky to have the opportunity to represent CUNY and our dream of a bazillion posts if we’re able to take the ideals of the CUNY Academic Commons and the campus projects like Blogs at Baruch and City Tech’s Open Lab to scale (300,000 students blogging would be truly insane). Guilia Forsythe was present at our talk and we were fortunate to have her document our talk with this image (the bearded guy with arms raised at the bottom is Mikhail):

100 Bazillion Posts A Year. CUNY Federation, Curriculum & Management #Umwfa12 @mgershovich @lwaltzer @mbransons

Faculty Academy is principally a professional development conference for faculty from the University of Mary Washington with many of them presenting projects of their own. And man there are so many amazing things happening in the classrooms at UMW. It’s incredible to see so much buy-in on a single campus. There are dozens of courses being taught out of UMW blogs, and many, many innovative pedagogical strategies. Here were some of my favorite sessions:

There was Michael McCarthy’s Literary Journals class which has, “students conceptualize, build, and design their own web-based literary journal.” I loved how he polled his students about their interests in non-fiction, fiction, poetry, art, and design using a hotness meter to help him create groups. His students solicited for work using old fashioned flyers on campus, but also Craiglist and by directly soliciting MFA programs around the world. McCarthy showed us a spreadsheet of over 192 entries being tracked and curated by one group of students. You should check out the journals Husk and Jolt, they’re really impressive.

Zach Whalen lead us through his electronic literature class sharing a ridiculous number of digital tools and resources that his students engaged with. (This list is for you Luke). HypeDyn, Bloomengine, Undum, Inform 7, Twine, Jason Nelson digital art and poetry, Curveship, Scratch, inklewriter, Adventure Cow, and Playfic.

And Jeffrey McClurken reflected on building a syllabus collaboratively with his students in a History of the Information Age course. He set-up a framework for the class and released the syllabus to the students as a ‘0.9 beta,’ which was taken to a 1.0 version and then a 2.0. Students had the opportunity to steer both the content focus of the class (choosing readings) and the types of projects they would complete. This included students choosing to make documentaries, despite McClurken warning that they were long and hard to work on (great teaching Jedi mind trick).

Faculty Academy also featured three speakers – Grant Potter, Giulia Forsythe, and David Darts. I’ve heard Grant and Giulia talk a lot on ds106 radio, but they really take it up to another level for a live show. I hadn’t known about Grant’s work in Northern Canada where he re-purposed an underused FM transmitter to ‘bring the school to the community’ distrustful of public institutions by getting students to broadcast their work in the classroom. And Giulia had the entire audience doodling reaction graphs to her talk on visual thinking. Her ability to literally draw together her understanding of a talk into a single image that is coherent and playful is extraordinary.

And finally there was David Darts (below) who’s talk felt more like listening to someone muse about a topic over dinner than a formal presentation. His work on the Pirate Box, was something I’d know about through Jim Groom and Grant Potter’s ds106 radio interview of Darts in his NYU office. But I’d never heard of Cory Coctorow’s Printcrime which imagines a world 3D printer bootlegging. That story and Tim Owen’s thoughts about makerspaces has me hooked on the idea of getting a Makerbot for the York’s CT program.

David Darts at UMW Faculty Academy 2012

Overall, Faculty Academy 2012 was a fabulous experience and I’m sure CUNY will return and represent next year. Thanks so much to Jim, Martha, Tim, Andy, and others for having us!

Reorienting My Compass, North by Northwest?

It’s been over a year since I first discovered ds106 and it’s amazing to me how much creative energy I’ve discovered since then – I’ve made more work in the past year than I have in the previous ten, seriously.

Ok this isn’t exactly true, I’ve made many things over the past decade, but they’ve principally been of the industrial sort – client work mostly. There’s a lot I’m proud of, particularly media materials for my wife’s non-profit Row New York (videos like Monique and Because I Row (with Daniel Phelps) as well as photography and design).

But in the last year I’ve begun to make work that reminds me of the work I used to make. Back then I made lots of stuff, all sorts of stuff, but when I made it, I was just creating, and creating and never reflecting. Despite that fact that I was in an MFA program, I was prickly about critiques, always evasive about why I made this or that. And it wasn’t because I thought ‘my art should speak for itself,’ it was because I didn’t have any confidence or sense of how or why to describe what the heck I was doing.

So probably more important than the creative energy that I’ve rediscovered is the feeling that I can and should describe my work. I falter at this effort (it’s taken two weeks to write this post and only a few hours to make Cary Grant into a track star), but it’s one I realize I need and want to work on. I want to be more confident and comfortable describing my work, not just making it.

This summer I’m hoping to focus my energy toward a bigger project. One that’s inspired by the ds106 mashup, pop culture, ‘make art dammit‘ mantra. Above is an animated movie poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest. I previously created one  for Rear Window, and I love making these. So I’m thinking I should commit to a series, six? A dozen? I’m not sure.

But I’m also thinking about something else. Earlier this semester I read an article in the New Yorker about Christain Marclay’s mashup masterpiece ‘The Clock.‘ Marclay assembled thousands of clips from films that referenced time into a 24 hour mashup movie, that when viewed it would reference the present moment in time. So if you happened to start watching at 11AM, the clips you’d see would reflect that time.

How crazy is that? A T-W-E-N-T-Y F-O-U-R H-O-U-R movie, about time. It apparently took Marclay 2 years of slaving over his computer to create it. And its supposed to be amazing. You can only see it in galleries or museums. And I’m dying to see it, here’s a BBC story about the piece to give you some sense of it.

So besides animated GIFs I’m thinking about something else – it’s not a 24hr movie – I could never. But it’s a mashup that would require help. I’m thinking about telling a story about education through the innumerable portraits created of teachers and students in movies. I feel like there might be something we could learn from these portraits of schooling.

I’m picturing a mashup of scenes that portray high school and the interactions between students, teachers, parents, and principals. I want to see what will happen if I create interactions between characters from the Blackboard Jungle and the Breakfast Club. Too crazy?

Anyway that’s where I’m thinking of pointing my creative efforts – Hitchcock GIFs and/or a high school mashup. I’m excited and anxious at the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve felt ready to do something like this.

Rear Window Animated Movie Poster

Alan Levine’s post about watching cool flick’s with Jim Groom finally got me to get of the snide and finish this animated movie poster for the amazing Hitchcock classic Rear Window. I have an older post with animated GIFs from Rear Window, but all things GIF need to ratcheted up a notch every few weeks.

This poster is was created for the limited theatrical re-realease of the movie in 1999 after an extensive restoration. I am a little disappointed with myself as if I were to really make something truly awesome, it would have been modeled after the original theatrical poster, which showcases all the happenings in the many neighbors windows. *Note to self, amazing summer project might include creating a number of Hitchcock animated movie poster GIFs.

To make this poster, I used the James Stewart GIF from the previous post, as well as made a new one for Grace Kelly. The work on Grace Kelly’s GIF was a lot tougher as it required the erasing of the background on ten separate frames (not fun). Here’s what one of the frames looked like beforehand:

To create the animation, I used the animation timeline in Photoshop in which you basically turn on and off different layers per frame. This is also a bit tedious, but it allows you to create some interesting timing options. Each frame can be assigned its own amount of time, which is how the pauses work. Here’s a look at a few frames of the animation timeline:

And here’s a look at the layers:

Since Alan’s post refers to Blow-Up as well as Rear Window, looks like I still have more work to do.

4 Icon Challenge – They Said I Led a Dull Life

North By Northwest

I still enjoy making my own icons for this assignment using the live trace tool in Illustrator. I made a quick tutorial of how I do this using the Dr. Oblivion image as my example to convert a bitmap to vectors.

And please guess away, the biplane should be the tell tale icon for most!