Archive for the ‘The Monkey House’ Category


Reading A Monkey Movie

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

In looking for a film to fit into the I Can Read Movies assignment, I decided would start by repurposing my initial Monkey House vector graphic and work with Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film, 12 Monkeys.  Like Gilliam’s 1985 film, Brazil, the film is set in a dystopian future, but also introduces the wrinkle of time travel. Visually stunning and mind-bending, the film is worth viewing if you haven’t seen it.

I decided to work at extending my skills using Illustrator by trying to recreate the graphics template from the original book series. While that was easily doable, the further task of “aging” the book put a bit of a crimp in my timeline. I tried following the Photoshop tutorial by MOME, but struggled to get the right textures, and so, in the interests of time, I sought out some aged paper textures on the Internet, and eventually settled on Old_Scroll_Texture_II_by_Isthar_art, going back to Illustrator to get a partial effect. Unfortunately, of necessity, the layering put the effect under the text, so the text and images on the cover don’t really look aged to match the paper. However, as I was getting ready to post this, I decided to go back and try the tutorial once more, and managed to figure it out in Photoshop. Maybe I was sleepy the first time!

So here are two versions. First the Illustrator-only version, and second, the fiddled-with brushes-in-Photoshop version.

"I Can Read Movies: 12 Monkeys" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“I Can Read Movies: 12 Monkeys” by aforgrave, on Flickr

"I Can Read Movies: 12 Monkeys" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“I Can Read Movies: 12 Monkeys” by aforgrave, on Flickr

However, in doing a bit of research into the movie, I came across an amazing antecedent for the film, discovering that Gilliam’s film was actually a re-make/re-imaging of a quirky black and white still-motion sci-fi film from 1962 by Chris Marker, entitled La Jetée.

Searching online revealed a section of the film. Check it out.

Cool, eh?  If there isn’t already a ds106 video assignment focusing on telling a narrative like this using using still images, there should be. This film produces a wonderful result.  It’s reminiscent of the missing sections of Frank Capra’s 1937 Lost Horizon that have been replaced with existing promotion stills (to accompany the remaining audio track). It’s an eerie effect. And quite dramatic. It creates an interesting space for you to fill in some gaps on your own. Maybe I’ll aim for something like that when we get to video…

Now, as an add-in bonus, while searching for existing images for 12 Monkeys, I found this:

Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys as an animated GIF

Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys as an animated GIF (not mine!)

I’ve been looking for a film to explore the cinematic animated GIF assignment, Say It Like Peanut Butter. Perhaps I’ll take a further look into 12 Monkeys…

And, if that weren’t sufficient monkey-related input for summer reflection, my copy of our Camp Magic MacGuffin Monkey House name inspiration arrived recently in the mail.

"Summer Reading for Monkeys" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Summer Reading for Monkeys” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Read on, Monkeys and campers! Read on!!

On Being A Monkey

Friday, June 8th, 2012

mONkEyhouse monkeyThis is a preliminary post which will be added to over time.  Members of the ds106 digital storytelling group The Monkey House may be interested in some of these resources and hints for use with MineCraft.

1) Monkey Skins are available for your MineCraft dude (while you are waiting to customize your own).

The Skindex currently shows 23 skins when you search for “monkey.”

You can either download the .png skin file for use further editing, or you can upload it directly to  your Minecraft profile so that you immediately look like a proper chimp.

2) Monkey House Texture Pack: Following on a question from @BenjaminHarwood, I investigated the Texture Pack feature, and created the beginnings of a Monkey House theme that substitutes a banana for the apple, and introduces some simple monkey artwork.  To achieve this end,

a) download the Monkey House Texture Pack: to a spot you can locate on your computer. The texture back is in a ZIP file format. Do NOT unzip it.
b) Run Minecraft. If you already have Minecraft running, make sure you save and quit the world: you need to be in the main menu to continue.

c) Click Texture Packs button.

d) Click Open Texture Pack Folder button; this will open the folder where minecraft stores all texture packs. If nothing happens, you need to find the folder manually. Depending on your operating system it is:

  • Windows XP/Vista/7: %AppData%\.minecraft\texturepacks
  • Linux: ~/.minecraft/texturepacks (This folder may be hidden in the Home Folder)
  • Mac OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/minecraft/texturepacks (This folder may be hidden)

e) Do not close Minecraft. Place the texture pack (ZIP file) in the opened texture packs folder, do not unzip.

f) In a few seconds the texture pack will appear in Minecraft. Select it and click Done. The texture pack is now applied, you may load your world and see the difference.

You should now see the world through a Monkey’s eyes.

This texture pack will likely evolve over time. I need to address the object naming, create a golden banana, and turn the regular cake into Banana Cake. Other suggestions?

There is more information about Texture Packs on the Minecraft wiki.

Here is a shot of some of our members of The Monkey House posing in front of one of the monkey pictures, with the pile of “apples” replaced (from my perspective) with bananas.

Members of The Monkey House with bananas and monkey art

3) Building Branches in The Monkey House tree.
While a short video tutorial has been requested (might be a nice little project), the basic process that I’ve used to build branches involves using the following bits.

1) the basic wood block for our tree
2) the dirt block
3) the fourth sapling
4) bone meal
5) the dark green leaves
6) the vines.

By placing a sapling on a dirt block and applying bone meal, a tree can instantly be grown on a branch. (remove the dirt block after and replace it with wood). Then add additional leaves and vines to arrive at your aesthetically pleasing result.

NOTE: For when creepers, zombies, skeletons, and spiders come wandering around, having the bow and arrow handy lets you get rid of the monsters without any explosions or collateral damage to The Monkey Hut.

Here’s an external shot of The Monkey House tree with the original large big branch. The plan will be to add additional large big branches such that each monkey can build a tree house of their own in the upper reaches of the foliage.

"The Monkey House tree" by aforgrave, on Flickr

"The Monkey House tree" by aforgrave, on Flickr

4) Select and Name Your Temporary Bunk: We have prepared a good number of bunks in the main level of The Monkey House tree. Select an unoccupied bunk, and then update your sign (break, then replace) with your name, your twitter name, and the type of monkey you would like to be.

"One Funky Monkey Bunk(s)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

"One Funky Monkey Bunk(s)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

5) Members of The Monkey House can use our #tag when posting to Twitter:
We are #mONkEyhouse106.



Crafty Business

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

So! Campers have started to explore the MineCraft incarnation of Camp Magic MacGuffin in droves! Last Friday evening, a good number of folks showed up simultaneously within the virtual space, and by Tuesday evening, the area surrounding the Camp Centre had been transformed with a whole slew of new construction.  With a multiples of folks now working here and there, the opportunities for group photos start to occur. Of course, why settle for a static pose when you can go for the ubiquitous simultaneous-on-the-count-of-three-everybody-jump shot. Three images (one repeated, then looped) to produce a little animation.

Giulia, Shannon, and Ben on the Beach at Camp Magic MacGuffin

Giulia, Shannon, and Ben on the Beach at Camp Magic MacGuffin on Tuesday evening

Of course this becomes more difficult with an increased number of people.
Not only was the co-ordination of the jumping a bit less synchronized with five, but the rapid capture of screenshots using the native MineCraft screen capture (F2 key on PC, FN+F2 on Mac) introduced a whole slew of filenames superimposed on the successive images, which I had to edit out. But the result was worth it.

INSERT 5-PERSON ANIMATED GIF HERE (revised image to come … )

After getting switched to Creative Mode (to avoid the MineCraft Monsters), folks have been getting the basics of manoeuvring and flying down. @timmmmyboy, @mburtis, and @leelzebub have been particularly helpful and responsive in getting new arrivals out of danger (Survival Mode) and flying around.

Quite a few crafters now have customized their Minecraft Steve with a unique skin.  (Search The Skindex  if you want to choose from a huge selection of pre-made skins, or see the embedded skin editor, Skincraft, at the end of this post.)

After getting oriented, most folks are getting together with their bunkmates and working to build their bunk houses.  The Camp Centre has taken a few hits as Creepers continue to roam and blow stuff up, but everyone seems to be pitching in to make repairs.

After seeing that Bunkhouse Five (The DigiOuijas) was casting a nasty shadow on the centre camp at high noon (causing the night-creatures to come out at mid-day), @timmmmyboy graciously removed and relocated Bunkhouse Five and introduced a shadow-free transparent floor at the same time! Tuesday evening he spent a good chunk of time working to get his piston-elevator system working.  I had a chance to test it out — and while we both encountered a bug or two …

You Moved Too Quickly (Hacking?)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

You Moved Too Quickly (Hacking?)" by aforgrave, on Flickr

… it did manage to transport my MineCraft self up to the top of the world.

"Top of the World" by aforgrave, on Flickr

"Top of the World" by aforgrave, on Flickr

@BenjaminHarwood and @GiuliaForsythe chose a location for Bunkhouse Two (The Wäscälly Wäbbits) and did some serious digging in, both in terms of into-the-cliff-burrowing, and front-entrance garden planting. They also spent time working on a Pirates of the Caribbean boat attraction, and I had an opportunity to experiment with MineCraft TNT at their site while trying to create an exit for the trapped boats.  Check out the proud Wabbits in front of their collaborative digs.

"Two Wäscälly Wäbbits" by aforgrave, on Flickr"

"Two Wäscälly Wäbbits" by aforgrave, on Flickr"

@shauser and I returned to the site of the new BIG HUGE GIANT tree for Bunkhouse One (The Monkey House), and spent some time working to make it bigger and more tree-like. – It’s getting there.  But we also had some fun when we managed to fall out of the world while visiting Ben and Giulia.

  • aforgave fell out of the world
  • <aforgrave> did you cover up that hole?
  • <shauser>    yup, planted that sapling where you fell through
  • <aforgrave> how deep is the dirt?
  • <shauser>    like three deep? should it go deeper?
  • <aforgrave> tree?
  • <shauser>    i don’t know, i had a sapling on hand so i planted it
  • <shauser>    in memory of you!
  • <shauser>    but you didn’t really die :-)
  • aforgave fell out of the world
  • shauser fell out of the world
  • <aforgrave>  yes — unless we want to make it really thin and let others follow!
  • <shauser> haha yes lets fix

In fact, the experience was so enjoyable, we enjoyed it a couple more times:

  • aforgave fell out of the world
  • shauser fell out of the world
  • aforgave fell out of the world
  • shauser fell out of the world

We then repaired the original hole at the Wabbits site, but not wanting to say goodbye to the fun, we built an amusement ride for all to enjoy at the Camp Magic MacGuffin beach — The Fell Out the World Fun Ride.   Enjoy, everyone!

"'Fall Out the World'Fun Ride" by aforgrave, on Flickr

"'Fall Out the World'Fun Ride" by aforgrave, on Flickr

Shannon and Tim and I also took a little excursion to try to find some of the sights I encountered during my Lost in the MineCraft Wilderness Expedition, and some more work was completed on The Monkey House tree house, but those details will remain for a later post … 

Skincraft: A MineCraft Skin Editor


See? I made a Gumby skin for my MineCraft dude

Why settle for some off-the-shelf Steve skin, when you can Create Some Art and make your own with this handy skin editor?

The editor gives you a tiny little .png file. This is what I uploaded to my profile at to skin my dude as Gumby …

My Gumby Minecraft Skin

Who would you like to be in MineCraft? What key features do you need to capture to make your character’s skin instantly recognizable and unique?

Use the embedded editor below. Just click Play. Make some MineCraft Skincraft art! 

(It’s a .swf file, so you’ll need to edit on a device that supports Flash)
Skincraft © 2011 The-Swain | Afro-Ninja | Mike Welsh Sponsored by Newgrounds