Photo Wall in Motion with a Replicator

After seeing an image sequence being used with a replicator to deconstruct a single image, I thought it would also be handy to use an image sequence to make a photo wall of sorts. So I’ll first show you how to make an image sequence using Automator.

Creating the image sequence

  1. Place copies (not the originals) of the photos you want to use in a folder. You’ll want a number of photos that is a multiple of the number of photos you want on each side. For this tutorial, I’m doing 25- 5 wide, 5 high.
  2. Open Automator.app, and choose the following settings: “Photos & Images”, Get Content from: “My Mac”, “Ask for image files now.”
  3. Automator will ask you for the files. Go to the folder and select all the images in the folder. Don’t select the folder, as it won’t process the photos inside the folder.

  4. From the Photos folder of the Action Library, choose the “Crop Images” Action, and double click it.
  5. A message will popup, asking you if you want to add a Copy Finder Items action. Click “Don’t Add”. You aren’t working on the originals or only copy of these photos, right?
  6. For this effect, we want all of the photos to be squares. So, choose the following options: “To Dimensions”, Scale before Crop: “Scale to Short Side” (this will avoid there being any black borders), Width: “100”, Height: “100”.
  7. Now, in the “Files and Folders” folder, double-click the “Rename Finder Items” action. Again, click “Don’t add” on the pop-up. Choose the following options: “Make sequential”, Add number to:”new name” (enter a name, I put “photowall”), Make all numbers “5” digits long, and check the box next to that option. Leave everything else here alone. (What we’re doing here is making the numbers sequential so that Motion sees it as an image sequence, and not just a random series of photos. Interesting caveat from Motion manual- you need at least 3 proceeding zeros before the image number for Motion to recognize it as an image sequence.)
  8. Press the Run button, sit back, and enjoy. 25 pictures took maybe 10 seconds on my computer, so you may not be able to get coffee or anything, but hey- it’s a lot faster than if you did each one individually, so take a break- you deserve it.

Back already? Let’s replicate.

  1. Open the folder with the photos. You’ll see they are all identically cropped, and named and numbered sequentially. It’s time to switch to Motion! Open a new project- I’ll be using the DV-NTSC preset. Find your file- you’ll see something odd- there will just be one file, and named something like “photowall-[#####].jpg”>:1:25″. If you preview it, you’ll see all the picture flash by way- not the effect we’re going for here. Drag that file onto the middle of your canvas.
  2. Select the image, and hit “L” to replicate it. It’s… interesting. Not what we’re going for. So, hit CMD-3 to bring up the Inspector tab.

  3. In the Replicator tab, set the size to 396. (396? But there are 5 pictures, each 100 across. Why not 500? Well… the size goes from the centers of the outermost photos [so -50 from each side] and then subtracting an additional 4 seems to remove a 1 pixel gap between each photo. Or just go with the answer, “I don’t know… it just works.”)
  4. Set the origin to “Upper Left” and the Build Style to “By Row”.
  5. Further down in the Replicator tab, uncheck “Play Frames” and set the Source Frame Offset to “1”.
  6. Now, you have your wall. It should look like this.
  7. Alone, it’s cool, but not that impressive. But combined with the addition of a couple simple behavior parameters, we’ll be golden. Now is a good time for another break, if you’d like. Maybe for a quick snack or something. Here’s the project file, if you need to compare or something. Project File- Right click and save as

Making it look cool.

  • Welcome back. I hope your yogurt was delicious. Let’s animate! From here the possibilities are pretty much endless. So, to act as a starting point for your own creative juices, I’m going to give a couple examples of what can be done then. I’d suggest saving a copy at this point, so you can use where we are so far as a starting point for each example.

Example 1- Animate the camera.

  1. In the Replicator: Check “3D” and “Face Camera”.
  2. Add a camera. In the dialog that comes up, choose “Switch to 3D”.
  3. Select the camera. In the HUD, play around with the camera’s rotation to get a feel of the effect this gives. As the camera moves around the photo wall, the photos automatically rotate to face the camera, giving some interesting effects.
  4. Here’s what I came up with- check my motion file to see how I did it. Basically, it’s just overlapping ramp parameters on the different rotation axes of the camera.

    Project File- Right click and save as

Example 2- Animate the replicator

  1. In the Replicator: Check “3D”.
  2. This is what I got with putting a bunch of ramp parameters on scale, angle, and angle randomness.

    Project File- Right click and save as

Example 3- Both

Example 4- Filters

  • And you can apply Filters to the original image sequence to add more interesting effects. Here’s the Bevel Border filter, which I think could come in handy. Put it in 3D space, move it around, and you can have a virtual studio.

Well, I think that’s enough for now- play around with it, and you’ll find the replicator is a very strong tool.

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