🚁 Commercial Drone Pilot 🎥+🎶+📚 Mad Squid Productions™ 🎥 Legion M Founding Investor ⚓️ Navy Vet; IS2(SW) 🎓 Cum Laude, Political Science 🌊

In the process of creating stickers for TikTok (via GIPHY), I have been learning things at every turn. A GIF without a transparent alpha channel, for instance, is not a “sticker.” GIPHY apparently automatically assigns one label or the other when you upload a new creation. Since I’m still waiting to hear back from them as to the fate of my brand account upgrade, I am still very much in the dark about how this will ultimately play out when moving my artwork from GIPHY to TikTok. However, if TikTok calls their entire library “stickers,” it seems to follow that any GIFs which are lacking that sticker label will probably not make it to being live on TikTok.

Furthermore, any stickers which are of insufficient resolution will likely be screened out before going live on the app formerly known as “Musical.ly.” This could be a real nightmare for someone like me because the software that I use to create my motion graphics–and even my still MEMEs for that matter (I could do a whole post on why I prefer Apple’s $49 software to high priced juggernauts, but that would certainly be a digression)–can be very quirky when it comes to resolutions during export. This is especially true when dealing with text, and even more so if that text is animated.

I’m not a software engineer, but I believe that it comes down to the way animation is rendered in Motion. Movement in film/video is an illusion, as we all know. It isn’t actually a temporally flowing event we’re watching, but rather a series of individual still frames which are slightly different from one another, but which are shown to us in rapid succession. High end films retain nearly perfect resolution, with no blurring, even when motion on screen is chaotic and quick.

But, and I’m guessing it’s about saving space (compression) and keeping the price tag low for the software, but Motion seems to handle this in an old-school way: breaking up each frame into two, slicing 50% of each out in an every-other-line fashion, and then merging half of one frame with half of the next. This leads to very obvious striation on screen at lower render settings, and even at the highest settings, if the overall image isn’t large enough, you can see these “artifacts” quite visibly.

So, to make a long story short…oh, who am I kidding? This is already too long for a post about GIF/sticker resolutions! This was a very long way of saying that I have figured out that the resolution that I was making “stickers” at was likely too small (and therefore of insufficient resolution and/or quality) to make it to TikTok.

I had been making them at a resolution of 750 by 250, or 3:1. But this led to several of my creations displaying blurry or with an excess of the aforementioned artifacts. Since many of my stickers are 100% animated text, this was a real problem. Here is an example of one that I made at this resolution:

When I realized my error, I did a little more research and found that I would need to upscale to at least 1080 x 360. So far, this resolution is working better for me. What do you think? Please tell me in a comment!!!!

As I’m typing this post, I noticed that the new, higher resolution one, is displaying with more blurring than the older, smaller one. That one displaying poorly was the entire impetus for writing this post, and now I’m wondering if it wasn’t just a “processing” thing on GIPHY’s end? Maybe the new one will look better tomorrow?

Stand by to stand by. –Mad Squid

A quick glance at my “GIFs” page will tell you that I’ve been making GIFs for a while. Some of them have even become quite popular:

But now I am looking to take my GIF game to a whole new level! Because of the aggressive censorship of liberals–particularly liberal veterans–on Twitter, I have set up shop on TikTok. I couldn’t be more happy about that choice, either! Yes, I still have my 2.5k follower audience on Twitter, and I still post there. Although, most of what I post now comes from TikTok.

In less than two months on that service, my audience has grown to over 6k and shows now signs of stopping:

As you can see, not only are there more real people (you know they’re real because most of them post their own content, regularly), but the engagement is much higher as well. Just look at the likes, comments, follows, and shares that I’ve had since I went to bed last night!

TikTok is definitely where it’s at! Come join me!

Imagine my delight when I discovered that GIPHY Artists and Brands channels are eligible for sticker distribution on TikTok!!! I am currently hard at work on several new stickers, which are basically just GIFs with a transparent background field. Stay tuned as I will be sharing them here in batches as I complete them!!! In the meantime, use that link above this paragraph to join me on TikTok!

“Stand by to stand by.” –Mad Squid

The last four years have been a whirlwind of epic proportions. It might be more accurate to call the whole thing a whirl-hurricane. (Feel free to use that term, just send me some bitcoin every time you do. 😉 I was sent home from my job–the first one earning above the poverty line since leaving the Navy in 2003 and coming home to Colorado–and ultimately fired, on Trump’s Inauguration Day in 2017.

This was by no means my first clue as to how terrible the Trump years were going to be. I do have a (pre-law) degree in Political Science, and my years serving as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy imparted me with a strong interest in geo-political matters. I had already been following Trump’s ascendency within the GOP with a sense of distraught fear. Being fired on the day that he seized power was merely the final nail in the coffin.

I don’t have to remind anyone of what has happened since then. The truths of the Trump failure(s) will scar this nation for years to come. With that said, the Trump era is coming to a close, and with it comes the death of this never-ending chaos. A Sailor knows that any port will do in a storm, but that peace won’t be upon thee until the storm has passed.

Today, the skies are clearing. I can see rays of sunlight bursting through from between the rapidly parting clouds above. An array of hope washes over my world like an expanding rainbow, come to cleanse me like the Democrats did to the GOP last week.

With the return of stability comes the return of past responsibilities. There are bills to pay, new projects to start, and old projects to complete. I had been working on a documentary about the disappearance of my grandfather, a WWII veteran, in the mid 1980s. My commercial drone pilot license (Part 107) has lapsed, and requires renewal.

There is much to do, and four fewer years to do it in now. But here we are. And onward we sail!

“Stand by to stand by!” –Mad Squid

If you grew up white in America, you were probably taught to celebrate “Columbus Day.” But why? Columbus probably wasn’t even the first non native person from outside of the Americas to venture over here. There is now almost insurmountable evidence that the Vikings beat us here by a very, very long time. As did, apparently, the Knights Templar after them. But even that doesn’t accurately convey the meaning of today.

Why?

Because no matter how much earlier the Vikings landed in the Americas before Christopher Columbus, even they didn’t get here before…wait for it…AMERICA’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!

To celebrate Columbus Day not only grants him an ‘honor’ that really isn’t his (first non-native to land here), but it goes beyond that. Why celebrate everything that Europeans gained, when the real story is what the Indigenous Peoples lost?

I completely missed the #BLM blackout day, but when I saw that creators in the #NativeTikTok community calling for a similar event for their content today, I decided immediately that I would participate. I even made a couple of Duet graphics to help highlight content created by Native/Indigenous content creators. Feel free to use them for the same:

And so, I will be sharing no original content today. I am liking, sharing, and subscribing to Indigenous content creators all day long. Please join me! I’ve already learned a ton, and I’ve vowed to stop a specific offensive behavior of my own which I have mistakenly seen as solidarity with a native culture, but which is actually a misguided form of appropriation: I will no longer be saying “Aloha” or “Mahalo” as if that’s my own culture.

Sure, I lived in Hawaii for 5 years, and yeah, I had a Kamaʻāina card, but so what? I’m a white man from Colorado! I LOVED Hawaii, and I still dream of being there (literally, ALL the time). But I’m not an indigenous Hawaiian. It’s time that I stopped acting like one.

Thank you for your time!

Since the GOP has chosen to walk the dishonest path every single day of Trump’s Presidency, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Still, somehow, Republicans misconstruing the House investigation as a trial and demanding witnesses then pretending the actual trial in the Senate wasn’t one and refusing to allow any witnesses to appear there, felt like outright criminal acquiescence. The GOP is now the pro-crime and anti-justice party. I never thought I’d see the day. SMH.

#VetsResist #VetsAgainstTrump #VetsAgainstGOP #VoteBlue #VoteDemocrat

There are so may low life losers crawling out of the woodwork these days. Whether it’s James Woods using his twitter account to dishonestly claim to his followers that Democrats “hate America” or Trump just being Trump, it’s pernicious. It’s also in perfect character for the GOP.

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