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For when your thoughts are drifting to things not so movie, or if you're feeling trivially inclined.
591

Animated icons
Topic by: ColonelKong
Posted: November 7, 2003 - 9:18 PM PST
Last Reply: July 12, 2004 - 7:28 PM PDT

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author topic: Animated icons
ColonelKong
post #1  on November 7, 2003 - 9:18 PM PST  
I was wondering how many people have animated icons, I like hamano's animated Totoro icon a lot, and I've seen a few others that were pretty good. If I had a little more time on my hands, I might attempt to my icon look around and roar or something. Is there a limit to the number of frames that an animated GIF submitted as an icon can have?

Also, is there a way to get the animated icons to loop constantly rather just playing once every couple of minutes?
hamano
post #2  on November 8, 2003 - 1:26 AM PST  
Hi ColonelKong!

So far, I've only encountered 2 other GreenCiners with animated icons. ashram, who is a GC techie, and futureboy. When I saw ashram's karate guy, I thought, "Cool!" and immediately set to work on tweaking my Totoro icon. I have a Mac, and I used 2 programs, a Photoshop wannabe called ColorIt! and a freeware program called GIFbuilder. I opened my original Totoro icon, which was a jpeg, and turned it into a gif, which uses only 256 colors. This step caused artifacts that looked like the measles, so I had to clean up the image quite a bit. When I got a nice clean gif, I used ColorIt! to make the next frame, moving the pupils of the eyes. Then I saved it as another gif file with a slightly different name. (hamano1.gif, hamano2.gif, hamano3.gif, etc.) I think I just needed 7 frames to animate the whole cycle.

Next step, I loaded the 7 frames on GIFbuilder. The primary function of this program is to let you create one animated gif out of the separate frames. My animation is actually 12 frames, so I used some of my 7 original frames twice. Once I got the sequence I wanted (eyes go up to the left, come back, look over to the right, blink) GIFbuilder allows me to specify an interframe delay for each frame, in 1/100th of a second increments. Most of the motion on Totoro happen at 5/100th sec. to 1/10th sec. When he looks up to the left he holds that for a full second. Then after the blink his pupils travel to the centers of his eyes. This is then held for 9 full seconds, because I wanted people to catch the blink out of the corner of their eyes then wonder for 9 seconds if they really saw it.

The next step allows me to specify how many times the animation loops. There are 3 choices. The animation can play just once, or play a specified number of times, or play forever. I picked forever, although the 9 second built-in delay gives a false sense that it has stopped. I knew something as flashy as ashram's was bound to bug some people (including myself).

The last step is to save the animation. GIFbuilder optimizes the image, throwing out any pixels that get repeated over an over (the parts of the animation that doesn't move). I ended up with a tiny 4kb file.

The first time I sent the new icon in, the GreenCine monkeys turned it into a jpeg (to save storage space?). I had to write support@GreenCine and beg them to use the GIF without converting it.

Since then the icon has been working well, and I've gotten some good reactions. I'm obviously pretty pleased with it.
hamano
post #3  on November 8, 2003 - 9:29 AM PST  
If you're reading this thread, let's remember that some people are bothered by annoying flashing animated icons! In the interest of being good GC citizens, but mostly in self-interest (I don't want blinking totoro to be banned!) let me implore all of you to aim for subtlety and restraint. I've looked at a lot of shoujo manga sites in Japan, and they're all full of dancing bunnies and spinning flowers and such!

I think a burning bush icon would be cool, but let's also remember that some types of images may be offensive to fellow GreenCiners.
futureboy
post #4  on November 8, 2003 - 6:52 PM PST  
I created my icon using Photoshop and ImageReady. Sounds like ImageReady works similarly to the program hamano used to make his: you can import the images you want to use as frames and then set the timing for each individual frame as well as specify the loop count for your animation.

My animation is 21 frames long and it's just under 30k, which is probably the largest the GC techies would like to have them. Probably the only reason I got mine up was because I sit accross from ashram in the office and I asked him very nicely to put it up for me :)

As for the annoying-ness of animated icons, I kept this in mind when creating mine and put a ten-second delay at the beginning and end of the animation (similar to what hamano did with his). I hope mine doesn't drive people too crazy! Though I guess I don't post much anyway.
larbeck
post #5  on November 12, 2003 - 8:36 PM PST  
> On November 8, 2003 - 9:29 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> some people are bothered by annoying flashing animated icons!
> ---------------------------------

Oh, I know and some people REALLY hate intense colours. But unless they work for Greencine, I just remember what that Bridget Fonda character in said once, "At times like these, I try not to worry about the little things".

thejasonholland
post #6  on November 13, 2003 - 2:53 PM PST  
How do you get your personal icons on here instead of the ones the Green folks have offered?
ggsuperhero
post #7  on November 13, 2003 - 2:59 PM PST  

> ---------------------------------
> How do you get your personal icons on here instead of the ones the Green folks have offered?
> --------------------------------

FAQ

hamano
post #8  on November 13, 2003 - 3:01 PM PST  
As most things, it's in the faq.
hamano
post #9  on February 20, 2004 - 10:40 AM PST  
Here's a great page about animated GIFs, what they are, how to make them, etc. with useful links to various tutorials and also to software to help you make animated GIFs.

Espresso Graphics GIF animation faq

Also some info at The Animated GIF Artists Guild.
artifex
post #10  on February 27, 2004 - 6:10 AM PST  
> If you're reading this thread, let's remember that some people are bothered by annoying flashing animated icons!

Those people should turn off animated gifs in their web browsers, assuming they have modern functionality. Personally, I think animated icons are cool, though my Firebird browser seems to wait until I click on gifs to animate them, sometimes.
HOngchua
post #11  on February 27, 2004 - 2:03 PM PST  
> On February 27, 2004 - 6:10 AM PST artifex wrote:
Personally, I think animated icons are cool, though my Firebird browser seems to wait until I click on gifs to animate them, sometimes.


Is that a flaw in the Mozilla Firebird browser beta, or is that a feature?
HOngchua
post #12  on February 27, 2004 - 6:30 PM PST  
I'm looking forward to jross3's new icon. I'm assuming that we'll see it here. BTW, thanks for the compliment!
hamano
post #13  on February 28, 2004 - 9:40 AM PST  
Hi. Just popped over from the "What's yer icon" thread.

>> On the "envelope please" totoro (just in time for the Oscars!) it looks like you actually scanned a real GC envelope and did a shrink/rotate on it.
> Yes, you got it exactly. Fireworks is a good tool but it's very weak in photo-image manipulation... The artifacts that you see are the remnants of my address (and other envelope text) but I wanted to keep the look authentic.

I zoomed in on the envelope and the noisy stuff that was bugging me was actually the pixels deriving from the little white arrows and "OPEN HERE" text (I had to look at my latest rental to figure this out). This isn't essential info for a concise graphical concept of a GC envelope so I replaced these artifact pixels with the trademark GC green. Here's what I got.... you lose a bit of the "photo-real" look but instead you get a cartoon-simple GC envelope that might go better with the cartoon look of the O-totoro. I made the "stamp" area a little darker, too. On the real envelope it's just a square with the "First class postage paid by..." blurb in it, but I think people subconsciously expect to see a stamp in that corner. It's a visual illusion - there aren't really enough pixels to draw a stamp anyway - but using an illusion that takes advantage of subliminal expectations is kinda fun.
jross3
post #14  on February 28, 2004 - 10:01 AM PST  
Aah, lookit Larbeck's new icon. Neat! I can't quite place it... but I couldn't quite place the other, either. Still, looks cool, huh?

Could it be that these threads are prompting more and more people to change their icons? Or am I just noticing it more now than before?
HOngchua
post #15  on February 28, 2004 - 3:01 PM PST  
> On February 28, 2004 - 9:40 AM PST hamano wrote:
> I zoomed in on the envelope and the noisy stuff that was bugging me was actually the pixels deriving from the little white arrows and "OPEN HERE" text ...

Exactly. That was a very nice clean-up that you created on the envelope!

I think that I'll stick with the photo-realistic look for now. Besides, the nice folks at GC already did myself and IronS such wonderful favors by expediting our icons so I'd rather not burden them with another update for a while. :-)


I wouldn't yet say that personalized and animated icons have really caught on yet with the majority of GC users but it seems to ge gaining momentum. A generic search of GC members brings up mostly stock avatars rather than personal ones. Those who are active on the boards are probably doing more to express themselves visually.
jross3
post #16  on February 28, 2004 - 3:14 PM PST  
> On February 28, 2004 - 3:01 PM PST HOngchua wrote:
> ---------------------------------
Those who are active on the boards are probably doing more to express themselves visually.
> ---------------------------------

Yeah, that makes sense. I was here for a few months before I started posting on the boards much (I looked in on them from time to time though and assumed that the custom icons were all GC employees :-) - that's about when I got myself an icon. I recognize most people by their icons anyway, so I guess it made sense for me to get one. Besides, making icons is fun!

I wonder - have there ever been incidents of stolen icons? Say how Hamano's got his whole history on his site; suppose someone could snatch one of his old icons and send it in to GC themselves. Would GC catch that? I wonder what the policy is there...
hamano
post #17  on February 28, 2004 - 5:06 PM PST  
> On February 28, 2004 - 3:14 PM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I wonder - have there ever been incidents of stolen icons? Say how Hamano's got his whole history on his site; suppose someone could snatch one of his old icons and send it in to GC themselves. Would GC catch that? I wonder what the policy is there...
> ---------------------------------

Well, technically GreenCine "owns" all the content here, so they "own" my custom icons, too. That's why I don't think they'll object to HOngchua using a GC trademark image on his icon... I doubt they'd really seriously object to a GC dogtag on dh22, either. I'd say the "don't ask don't tell" policy might apply on that issue.

And on the stealing issue, I usually side with the anarchists and "fair use/first amendment" fetishists, so I say steal away! I've seriously thought of stealing dpowers' old froggy icon and playing with it, because it got to be such a familiar image and a lot of people missed it when he changed to ol'baldy. It's sort of a performance art kind of idea... steal an icon, change my username to pdowers or whdudson, tweak my on-line persona...

Philosophically, I would say that icons and avatars are so low res that they should all be covered under "fair use". The whole point is to choose an image that represents as much as possible what you want to say about yourself with a 64x64 pixel image. If that includes a famous cartoon or corporate image, so what? You'd have to be really stingy and Disneyesque to want to protect such a tiny piece of information. On this scale, I'm sure most graphic artists regard it as free advertising, or they ought to anyway.

I'm sure it's a good idea to keep up some sort of "community standards", however, so jross3, I don't wanna see any animated gifs of Ed and Ein doin' it, even though NLee might be wishing for just such a thing!

One of my icon "performance art" concepts is to add a pixel-wide green frame around one of my icons... would GreenCine crack down on me for impersonating a staffer? How about a blue or pink frame? dpowers is such a positive and ubiquitous presence (well, not this week, but he's been that before) on these boards he should be awarded a honorary purple halo!
hamano
post #18  on February 28, 2004 - 5:09 PM PST  
> On February 28, 2004 - 10:01 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Aah, lookit Larbeck's new icon. Neat! I can't quite place it... but I couldn't quite place the other, either. Still, looks cool, huh?
> ---------------------------------

It looks like Misato from NGE on some sort of acid trip... His last icon was "Yoko" from one of the episodes from The Animatrix tweaked to his own artistic satisfaction, I think.
HOngchua
post #19  on February 28, 2004 - 7:06 PM PST  
> On February 28, 2004 - 3:14 PM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I wonder - have there ever been incidents of stolen icons?
> ---------------------------------

I just have to shrug my shoulders and say, "Who cares?"

Besides, given that an icon is meant to be an expression of individualism, it seems contradictory to steal/borrow/replicate/your-euphemism-here a personalized icon for use on the same board. It could cause some confusion of identity and that would be another reason why it would be a less-preferred option. (Case in point: All the Batman icons.)
hamano
post #20  on February 28, 2004 - 9:37 PM PST  
I disagree a bit in that I think the concept of stealing icons is definitely interesting... It's like identity theft on a very small, inconsequential, harmless level. But insofar as we come to identify individual members by their icons, I think the concept of stealing that identity is worth exploring, especially if you tweak the icon you stole somewhere to put in an original element.

What if I stole sinisterguffaw's icon and "tweaked" it? Now whose icon is better, the original, or the copycat? His original icon is a jpeg, so it's cleaner and looks nice. Mine is a bit funny. (It's animated but set not to repeat. If you want to see it again hit "refresh" on your browser and reload the icon.)

Here's another icon based on one of the GC generic icons that I see a lot. If someone takes this and starts using it, whose icon is it? GreenCine's, because it started out as their icon, or mine, because I "created" this version, or does it belong to the person who stole it and started using it? (BTW, if anyone wants this icon, please feel free to take it!)

Here's another one that GreenCine might not like, but I think is funny. ^_^

On a very tiny scale, this is interesting to think about, for me anyway...

Oh, here's a link to my hamano Icon Museum for this thread....
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