26 February 2009

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Fanservice - The Gratuitous Panty Shot

Any long running series has to have from time to time some filler episodes, which obviously will not make their fans happy so the producers use cheap (but effective) tricks to get the audience content and the easiest trick is a good old fanservice, with a gratuitous panty shot (potentially NSFW) being the most popular choice.

The same with me, a couple of weeks ago I was in a good creative mood, had some free time and a [what I think it was] good idea, so I made such a filler episode to have in reserve which proved useful this week when I had a tough week, with low morale and productivity (this happens if you spent the previous week-end with very little sleep due to a marathon of about 90 episodes to get up to date with an anime show), so here is me trying the fanservice trick on my readers (good thing I don't have many fans, otherwise probably I would get a lot of people upset). But at least, I don't use that kind of panty shot...

fedora webcomic: fanservice - gratuitous panty shot

Note 1: I can think about the possibilities to extend the characters, like in an OS-tan, covering a lot of distros. Some ideas could be: a guy with old panties, unchanged and unwashed for about a couple of years, a guy who forgot to use any panty because the feature does not seems that important to him or a guy wearing iron underwear (chastity belt?). Do you have any ideas?

Note 2: After panty shots, the second most known type of fanservice in use is jiggling boobs... Oh, my eyes! Think of the characters of my comic... I must find a way to erase that image from my head...

19 February 2009

Fedora Weekly News: Troll Killing

Not sure where to link, since the announcement and invitation to patent defense, FOSS-style is practically everywhere in slightly different forms, but it was an unmissable story for my webcomic.

Note: I know the ending is cheesy, but the initial version in my head was even cheesier :p

[fedora webcomic: troll killing]

12 February 2009

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: The Perfect Wallpaper

Another week, another opportunity for me to make display of my lack of originality, coming with a theme from Mo and the story from the comments on some blog post. The anecdotal evidence from the comments there somewhat fit my own anecdotal evidence about some loyal Ubuntu users finding the Fedora artwork better.

An, and those who think I am a weenie for not bringing the joke deeper in the brown matter, I defy you: take my SVGs and try your own :D

[fedora webcomic: perfect wallpaper]

PS: sorry to disappoint those of you who expected a Valentine's Day joke, I had an idea but it was too offensive for both brow and blue, so I took the easy way out...

06 February 2009

Screencasting with mencoder

I didn't made many screencasts, but the most usual complaint I hear is about the lack of a soundtrack, people request a spoken explanation for the actions happening on screen or at least some music. Now way I will include a spoken audio track, but since I know about acceptable music with a clear license, I can do that.

So for a recent screencast I tried to silence the critics by adding a music track, which by consequence forced me to add a "credits" screen, to satisfy the license requirements (CC-BY-SA), resulting in a somewhat complicated editing operation, something deserving to be documented and shared. Keep in mind that my target was to upload the file to YouTube, so a number of compromises were considered acceptable.

Now tot he tools: PiTiVi is crap and I don't say it lightly, not only it lacks the features I needed (and will document in the following paragraphs), but the only thing it seems able to do is crash as soon as I hit the "Redner project" button, so my only option was to use the arcane but efficient Mencoder, cutting some corners, like using DivX as a video codec, mp3 as audio coded and AVI as a container. If someone can come with an alternate recipe, keeping the formats Free, I will use that in the future, if the solution involves a GTK GUI, most likely I exclusively use that...

So back to the screencast. I recorded it with gtk-RecordMyDesktop, even if Istanbul has a better user interface, its recording is worse: it uses an predefined low quality setting, resulting in a bad looking video and high CPU usage during recording. With RecordMyDesktop set at 100% quality level, you get a smooth recording and a very crisp looking video, nice to have for an original.

So the first step is to transcode the image to MPEG4 (DivX) and at the same time reduce the resolution to 800x500, people will not see it at 1680x1050 (my full screen size) on YouTube and the file size is too large anyway (note: no additional parameters for video encoding, since it will be transcoded to Flash at a worse quality anyway):
mencoder screencast.ogv -oac copy -ovc lavc -vf scale=800:500 -o screencast.avi

My video was too long, 18 minutes, much over the 10 minutes limit allowed by YouTube, so my trick was to speed it up (3 times). Being lazy, I just increased the frame rate, didn't care too much about the file size, as I will upload it just one single time:
mencoder screencast.avi -oac copy -ovc copy -speed 3 -o screencast-fast.avi

For the credits screen I prepared a PNG with Inkscape and multiplied it as many times as the number of frames I needed - 10 seconds at 45 fps = 450 copies (10 seconds is a bit too much, and the 45 fps is the results of the lazy speed-up in the previous step):
seq -w 1 450| while read i; do cp frame.png "frame_0$i.png"; done

Then convert all those PNGs in a video with the same codec and frame rate as my screencast:
mencoder "mf://*.png" -ovc lavc -mf fps=45 -o ending.avi

The next step is to merge the two videos and the image is ready:
mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy screencast-fast.avi ending.avi -o screencast-end.avi

I needed properly licensed music, so I used a track from the Denied by Reign album by Severed Fifth, namely War, which has about the same time duration as my video part. In the same step with adding the music, I transcoded it from Ogg Vorbis to mp3 (as required by the AVI container):
mencoder screencast-end.avi -o screencast-final.avi -ovc copy -oac mp3lame -audiofile severedfifth-deniedbyreign-war.ogg

And that is all, upload to YouTube and enjoy.

05 February 2009

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Togas

I should start by acknowledging two sins with this edition, first, I stole the idea from Max, the marketing gang and a neoclassical painter and, second, I am like one week late. But I had to use it somehow and at least abstained myself to take the joke in the direction of "my eyes! too many USB dongles in sight with those togas..." So, how blue are your bed sheets?

[wedora webcomic: togas]

03 February 2009

The great IP of Pantone

The other day when talking about Pantone's refusal to work wit FOSS software I was quite Spartan (pun intended) and my post generated some confusion: there is no need to reverse engineer the Pantone® Matching System®, the core of their "Intellectual Property" is basically a spreadsheet: 3 columns representing color values in Re, Green and Blue and a fourth with the color name, something like this:

Pantone sample

You use those values to be sure the printed colors look like you intended and usually pass the info to the printing shop: the color here is PMS-xxx and the color there is PMS-yyy, so you are sure they match the sample (a physical color swatch) you showed to your customer.

The spreadsheet above is all an software application needs but can be used only under some draconian restrictions (and big $$$).

02 February 2009

Fun fact about olive trees

Talking with Martin over #fedora-art about F11 graphics I felt like researching how an Olive Tree is supposed to look like, I never saw one and we may use such visuals in the release graphics. This was an opportunity to learn (from Wikipedia) that there are several 3-4000 years old (yeah, thousands!) such trees in the world and they still continue to produce fruits (in some cases used to make oil). I find this piece of trivia amazing and, honestly, hard to comprehend how a living thing can be so old. This puts some things in perspective.

My Ass in Pantone Colors

Please be aware that I have consulted with executives at the company and unfortunately, we do not know of a way in which we can work together. "Open source software" is not a venue in which Pantone, Inc. will permit its intellectual property to be licensed, referenced and/or disseminated.

Enjoy reading more about this. Now I'm busy going to paint my ass in nicely matched Pantone® colors.