My Animated GIF Day

Cheerios, the breakfast of middle class families across America!

Friday, February 10th, 6:15 AM: We interrupt this regularly updated ed tech blog for a series of animated gifs. Consider this experiment in digital storytelling an indication that I’m thoroughly lost in the labyrinthine halls of ds106. Come back throughout the day for updates on how my animated gif “journal” is going.

My morning commute of 40 miles reduced to 10 seconds of driving

Friday, February 10th, 7:15 AM: While my wife is certainly not thrilled that I was taking photos while driving, I risked life and limb to explore how you can illustrate any type of mundane event with a creative use of digital media. In this case, I took 10 shots in rapid succession with the click of my phone’s camera (I had one hand on the wheel for this, and didn’t attempt to line up the shots as I was focusing more on the driving). Thanks to the GIF SHOP app, all you have to do is touch the screen to take a shot, and it’s ready to go for the next one.

The magical coffee machine of plenty keeps on brewing…

Friday, February 10th, 9:15 AM: Once I’m at school, it’s not long before a trip to one of the many “caffeine stations” located around the building. This morning, the tech department coffee pot had yet to be started, so I worked my way down to the central administration office’s Keurig. I wanted to produce a slightly different effect with the coffee machine this time around, hence the “rewinding” of the gif instead of simple looping. Thanks to a somewhat steady hand, and the ability to use “onion skinning” built into the GIF SHOP app, I was able to produce a much cleaner animated gif in an attempt to meet Alan Levine’s challenge to reduce the amount of movement in the piece. Still not happy, but the day is yet young!

There’s work to be done on the interwebz!

Friday, February 10th, 10:00 AM: Although I work with teachers and students throughout the week, a large portion of my day is spent sending emails, communicating, and coordinating via the internet. Just this morning I made a test connection to a school in New York for an upcoming video conference celebrating reading month, I’ve blogged about exciting things happening in the district, read a few websites and educational articles, and “Skyped” with a couple of other people in neighboring counties about some educational collaborations.

swim, fishies, swim!

Friday, February 10th, 11:15 AM: I spent some time working with a 2nd grade teacher who wanted to better understand wikis and figure out how he could use them to get his students working collaboratively. He had already been blogging with them, so he had a much better grasp on the concept of a wiki than he was giving himself credit for. While waiting for him I managed to grab some shots of his fish tank with my phone propped up against his keyboard. Something excited going on at the bottom of the tank there.

No, this isn’t my lunch, just a tasty treat afterwards

Friday, February 10th, 1:00 PM: I ate lunch with a group of teachers today, and while I’m usually comfortable doing strange things in front of people with technology (like taking a rapid succession of shots and obsessing over the lighting), I didn’t want to intrude upon the conversation with an animated gif of lunch. So instead, I created one of a Baby Ruth bar that one of the nice administrators at the later elementary building gave to me after lunch. I was able to stand my phone up so it remained stationary, allowing me to create the “magic” disappearing candy bar. I especially like the way it unwraps itself.

Just a few open applications right now

Friday, February 10th, 1:55 PM: I had a Skype call with TechSmith today to record a segment for The Forge, and I decided to create a short animated gif showing off all the applications I had open while talking. We talked about technology in the classroom, engaging screen casts, and more. It was a lot of fun.

A clean window, is a happy window

Friday, February 10th, 3:05 PM: I elected to go home bit early today as we were having a bit of freezing rain and slush, so I wanted to afford myself some extra driving time. As luck would have it, it also allowed me to participate on “This Week in ds106“. The drive was pretty intense with the roads pretty slick from the slushy rain-snow, but I think the live Google Hangout show was even harder.

Princess games are a favorite in our household

Friday, February 10th, 7:15 PM: After a wonderful evening hanging out with the family, enjoying a home-cooked dinner, and everyone getting into their jammies (well, the kids at least), my daughter and I decided to play a little bit of Tangled Wii. I was glad for two reasons; A) I got to set my phone down and take another stationary set of shots using GIF SHOP, and B) I love playing games with my daughter. We particularly enjoy Tangled because there’s a cooperative element, where both characters can only progress as long as they help each other at certain points in the levels. A great way to finish up the evening before brushing teeth, bedtime stories, and finally, bed.

I created all of these animated gifs in about 30 seconds using the very handy GIF SHOP app for iPhone, though it works just great on an iPad 2 as well.

GIF SHOP - Something Savage


Special thanks goes to Alan Levine for kicking off this assignment in the wee hours of the morning. If you’re a participant in ds106, or interested, you can see the assignment here.



  1. The way you capture the movement of driving using the bridge is brilliant. You really nail illusion you are moving constantly forward, and that sense is the genius of the effect beyond the technical. I love it.

    1. Glad you caught that. While I couldn’t focus on lining up the shot, I did realize that I could at least wait for the best timing. I missed a nice set of bridges that would have provided the illusion much better…perhaps for my commute home this afternoon.

  2. I think you have a G[IF]roundhog Day thing going- you never get to the bottom of that bowl of cereal and the commute just goes on and on and on and on.

  3. I too love the drive.
    Might be safer and keep your wife happy to do the whole commute with iTimeLaspe or the like and take the gifs out to the movie. A window sucker keeps the phone in place. iTimeLaspe lets you do the 120 mile an hour commute thing too. I blogged iTimelapse a while back at I didn’t think of taking an animated gif out of a video until now going to try that.

  4. Could you send one of those magic coffee makers this way? only fill it with chai please.
    and I’m just going to send a couple of extra prayers out this afternoon on your drive home. Who knows what craziness you will attempt to do then.

  5. Man, just revisiting this post and you are insane, that is a full blown day of animated GIFFing your life. I love this approach to the greatest of all visual assignments in my mind. You rock.

    1. Thanks, Jim.

      Honestly, I’m not happy with the quality of the animated gifs as far as composition and image quality is concerned, but I’m okay with it in this instance. I was looking for more of the “lowest common denominator” creation here, hence sticking to the GIF SHOP app, rather than setting up the shots and doing them proper in Photoshop.

      This really was a labor of love for me to simply find a creative way to tell the story of a typical day of my existence, and I felt that too much time spent in “post production” would take me away from the simple moments for what they were.

  6. Ben,

    I’m loving these gifs. I agree with Jim this is a great way of documenting your life in one day.

    I had a flashback when I saw your laptop gif. A couple of summers ago, we made this animated tv commercial for the telecom company I work for in the summertime. Great minds think alike?

    1. Wow, where do I begin? That was an awesome commercial! Free home phone, and the pliers had a sexy smooth Barry White voice, awesome. I especially like the remote control…whatever you used to prop it up for the shots was either masterfully hidden, or removed well in post production. I can’t imagine how much work must have gone into choreographing the narration and the animation.

  7. Hi there,

    GREAT .gif there with the driving. I do powerpoint presentations for my co-workers and my topic point is “What drives medical necessity?”. May I have your permission to use the driving .gif in it?


    L J

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