Science student Hugo Germain (aka. Graphonaute) is just 18 years old, but crates animations and visual effects that seem well beyond his years. Though animation is not his primary focus, Germain spends his spare time mixing live action footage with various 3D tools to create quirky visual effects and experiments. You can see more over on Graphonaute. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Since 2008 Hungarian/German graphic designer David Szakaly has been churning out some of the most dizzying, hypnotic and wholly original gifs on the web under the name Davidope. His blend of twisting organic forms, flashes of black and white, and forays into pulsing technicolor shapes have inspired legions of others to experiment with the medium, many of whom have been featured here on Colossal. It’s hard to determine the scale of Szakaly’s influence online, but a simple Google image search for “animated gif” brings up dozens of his images that have been shared around Tumblr hundreds of thousands of times.
Szakaly began experimenting with the vector animation program Macromedia Flash back in 1999 where he used the software to create presentations, banners, and other creatives for clients. It was nearly a decade later when he decided to dedicate more time to experimenting with motion graphics and found that Tumblr was a great platform to share his quirky gifs. While he still works in the corporate world on other digital projects, he has also found commercial success making animations for clients around the world. Though it’s his personal work that really stands out. If or when gifs end up on gallery walls, it will be hard to deny Szakaly’s role in getting them there.
Several months ago we featured a photographic series called Time is a Dimension by artist Qi Wei Fong that depicted layered collages of landscapes and cityscapes photographed over a 2-4 hour period. Fong has since taken the project a step further by animating the images in this new series called Time in Motion. The new photos, shot in locations around China, Indonesia, and Bali show the change in light at sunrise or sunset through angular rays and concentric circles that shimmer as time passes. You can see more from the series on his website.
Digital artists and photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, arguably the masters of cinematic animated gifs, recently shared this wonderfully executed series of images featuring locations in their native New York as viewed Armani eyeglasses. Cleverly, as objects and people move across the lenses they suddenly snap into focus, revealing the finer details of Times Square, Central Park and Grand Central Station. You can read more about the series over on Ann Street Studio. (via Ignant)
As a way to temporarily break free from a routine of personal and commercial projects, photographer Romain Laurent (previously) challenged himself to create a looped animated portrait each week since last September. He says the bizarre and often laugh-out-loud experiments are a low-pressure way to experiment and be creative without expectations. “As far as the intention of the series, it’s a way for me to explore a hybrid medium, experiment and being spontaneous while still sticking to a short weekly deadline. There isn’t a common concept between each loop, I just ‘go with the flow’ and see what comes to my mind each week.” You can see many more loops from the series over on his Tumblr. (via Lustik)
I recently stumbled onto the Tumblr of animator Matthias Brown who shares his numerous experiments with rotoscoping and other animation techniques in quick looped gifs. In case you’re unfamiliar, rotoscoping is method where animators trace real footage frame by frame to create live-action animations with a hand drawn feel, a technique invented in 1915 by Max Fleischer who used it in his series Out of the Inkwell. While the technique is a century old it’s oddly refreshing to see it appear in today’s barrage of animated gifs, gritty imperfections and all. You can see much more of Brown’s work over on his aptly titled site TraceLoops, and he talks a bit more about his process here.
It’s been well over a year since we last checked in with the anonymous art collective known as RRRRRRROLL (previously here and here) who create brief animated gifs of spinning objects or people. Although the aesthetic is somewhat rigid, with desaturated colors and only isolated objects set in motion, each new animation remains just as intriguing week after week. The group is made up of at least three individual photographers, a digital artist, and models, but have never publicly credited themselves, but you can now follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Nearly 155 years before CompuServe debuted the first animated gif in 1987, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau unveiled an invention called the Phenakistoscope, a device that is largely considered to be the first mechanism for true animation. The simple gadget relied on the persistence of vision principle to display the illusion of images in motion. Via Juxtapoz:
The phenakistoscope used a spinning disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed around the disc’s center were a series of drawings showing phases of the animation, and cut through it were a series of equally spaced radial slits. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc’s reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together, so that the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single moving picture.
Though Plateau is credited with inventing the device, there were numerous other mathematicians and physicists who were working on similar ideas around the same time, and even they were building on the works of Greek mathematician Euclid and Sir Isaac Newton who had also identified principles behind the phenakistoscope.
Courtesy the Richard Balzer Collection
Courtesy the Richard Balzer Collection
The moving image was only viewable through a narrow slit. Via Wikimedia Commons
So what kinds of things did people want to see animated as they peered into these curious motion devices? Lions eating people. Women morphing into witches. And some other pretty wild and psychedelic imagery, not unlike animated gifs today. Included here is a random selection of some of the first animated images, several of which are courtesy The Richard Balzer Collection who has been painstakingly digitizing old phenakistoscopes over on their Tumblr. (via Juxtapoz, 2headedsnake, thanks Brian!)