A new photo toy and a whole lotta cats

10 years ago

"I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them."

-- Diane Arbus

The staid photo slide show is officially dead. With the recent launch of Animoto, the fancy pants way to make a quick music video with your images, all bets are off, baby.
Animoto helps you produce widget-based slideshows – some say better than Photobucket, Slide and RockYou. While these other sites rely on Adobe’s Flash-based video technology to assemble photos into those poignant video collages, Animoto provides its own technology. It pairs uploaded photos with music tracks selected from Animoto’s own music lounge or tracks from your computer. I’m bummed that the site only offers three categories of music, “Indie Rock”, “Electronica” or “Hip-Hop.” Bleh. Where's my alt-country?

I contacted The Guys at Animoto and Jason issued me a challenge:

"Hi Heather. We're working on expanding our music library. We've started with stuff we like the most and we'll be building out our music library from here as we start working with more music labels and artists. To be honest... not sure how soon we'll dive intoalt-country or bluegrass... but the nice thing about Animoto is youcan upload whatever music you want from your own collection. So please don't let our questionable music tastes hold you back! Maybe if you share with us a great video using alt-country... we could be won over one day."

Fine, Jason! Expect to hear from me, Mary Gauthier and Emmylou very shortly. Who knows? I might even summon June Carter Cash for the cause ...

Nevertheless, the final result is a beautiful new way to obsess over your images. Even better, Animoto aligns the photos with the tune's heartbeat, incorporating varied patterns and shapes to match the pulse. This alone made me squeal, though I will confess that it doesn't take much these days. Also, just for shits and giggles, check out their Animoto blog which offers a "glimpse behind the binary curtain."

"Seriously, who has time for these blog things? We’ve just been up for like the last three days straight. Hair ridiculously nappy and gross. Eyes are pretty much beyond bloodshot and baggy. A collection of coffee cups piling up around us. Chicken bones on our desks from dinner last night. Er… maybe that was two nights ago."

--Jason, the Animoto 'nerd guy', on Launch Day

If you select a Yanni music track, for example, your photos will be displayed in that same mind-numbing pace. Marrying your images to The White Stripes or 50 Cent, however, may result in a slideshow worth staying up for. During the fast songs, photos will fade in and out of the video display, twirl around and duplicate themselves at a rapid pace. You don’t get a ton of creative control with Animoto but it's still very big fun. I’ve created a dorky sample video here.

Sometimes, you just gotta marvel at the random ideas that become web phenomenon. The one that has me shaking my head this week: The Infinite Cat Project. The ICP is an ongoing string of cat photos depicting each new cat looking at the online photo of the previous cat. It has to be said, ICP is one long Pussy Party.

It all began with a cat named Frankie, innocently admiring a rose. Owner Paul Hamilton snapped a photo and posted it in a forum. Someone else then posted a photo of their cat growling at Frankie’s photo and a light bulb appeared over the head of kitty fan, Mike Stanfill. Mike added his own cat, Poozy, to the sequence and in a puff of shed fur, the ICP was born. The feline photo progression project now boasts over 1400 cats.

“There's always room at the table for one more kitty. So join us, won't ye?”

--Mike Stanfill, The Infinite Cat Project

Under the category of 'Why didn't I think of this name first???' please meet The Pixel Chix, Heather Craig and Jenn Lawrence. Besides having a very clever handle for their photography habit, the gals are consummate artists with their own company, Ondago. The photo blog is fairly new, going back to March, but I love the shots – run-ins with nature, studies in sepia and old naive gas pumps with no dollar slots.

Be sure to check out Heather's post on Ttv (through the viewfinder) photography. TtV involves taking a digital picture through a second camera’s viewfinder, often an older reflex model circa 40’s and 50’s. As Heather's photos demonstrate, the effect is grungy and somewhat creepy, perfect for that time-warpy Carnivale effect.

"I found a Kodak Brownie Reflex camera for ten bucks yesterday from an antique store, and have had the best day today taking photos through it with my Nikon D200."

--Heather, One-half of The Pixel Chix

Finally, an important project has come to my attention. Deidre, “just a concerned black female”, has created Black and Missing But Not Forgotten, a blog dedicated to all the missing black women in America. The latest is Laquanna Arnold, a 15-year-old girl who went missing in Queens on Monday after leaving her summer school class.

“This blog is dedicated to all the missing black women in America. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr once said ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ If the media doesn't step up - who will? Let these ladies know that we did not forget about them.”

--Deidre, Black and Missing But Not Forgotten

While not a photo blog, per se, the photos are crucial to tracking down these women and young girls, so please take a look. Deidre’s efforts drive home the fact that modern day superheroes don’t need tights and a cape, just an Internet connection and a cause. Way to go, D.

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