PicAnimate Review – Animate Parts of a Photo!

Can you believe that the moving water animation in the below-embedded waterfalls video was created using just a photo of the waterfalls? I used a program called PicAnimate that enables to animate parts of a photo and convert it into a video.

Cinemagraphs are slightly different. Although parts of a photo are animated in a cinemagraph too, we start with a video and then create a photo whose parts can be animated using the video in the background. But PicAnimate enables us to animate parts of a photo even if we have just the photo.

There are limitations to this program. Although it animates moving portions in the picture like clouds, lake, waterfalls, trees, etc. very well, the animation looks artificial if you try to animate people or stable objects. If a sky has no clouds, for example, there is almost no animation. So it should be obvious that you cannot animate every photo and every part of a photo!

If you are OK with that limitation and are open to experimentation, you can do some interesting things with the software.

Here is a photo where I animated the clouds on the sky –

Here is a video where I animated both the clouds and the water in a lake. Since the water is stationary only subtle animation is possible.

Animating leaves/trees was somewhat difficult. If I increased the speed, the animation became artificial. So I made the animation to be very subtle.

I did manage to animate a stationary object (The Taj Mahal) which was the background in our selfie. The output was a pleasant surprise, particularly since I kept the foreground (us) stable. Being able to mask parts of photos that you want to animate (or be stable) is a big advantage in PicAnimate. I used the brush tool to mask and it’s very useful. Have a look –

I used an animation mode called Edge-to-Edge to achieve the above effect. But for other animations, I generally use the Fusion mode.

I did all these animated photos after learning and using the software for just one day. I guess I can do more interesting things as I learn and experiment more. The software crashed twice on the day – not a big issue really. I now save more as I create.

Masking was difficult to achieve initially, especially with the line tool. But as I got used to the brush tool, I found it easier. Varying the length of the animation lines and choosing the duration of the animation – both enable me to change the speed of the animation. Much required.

I like the fact that I can animate parts of the same photo and the same objects in different directions if needed. This was very useful for animating the waterfalls (first video).

Overall, I recommend this software for animating parts of the photo that is generally expected to move. But since we cannot always get such photos, I wish stable portions of the photo and objects like hair, hands, etc. can also be animated better/ realistically. This software cannot do that convincingly – yet!

Here is the demo video posted on their Facebook Page that shows how these photo animations can be done on PicAnimate –

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What to do with Suddenly Discovered Old Currency Notes?

Most of us keep currency notes at multiple places around the home. Sometimes just for storage (that we remember) but sometimes to keep it securely so that we can use them during emergencies, etc. It’s normal to forget about the latter until it gets discovered accidentally. It’s generally a pleasant surprise, then.

But now, with the demonetization that happened so quickly, in spite of our best efforts to locate all the currency notes around the house, it’s only human to miss certain notes. It’s again human to discover them after a while – a few months or a few years later.

I can understand if the Govt. doesn’t want to exchange a large sum of money. We ourselves won’t keep and forget huge money somewhere. But what if, we recover some money that’s not large, but not too small to ignore either? For the normal not-so-rich junta, I mean.

Don’t you think there should be a way to exchange these old demonetized currencies?

Even if we assume that it is unaccounted money (it’s not, in most cases) why can’t the Govt./Banks deduct the highest possible income tax (30%) and give back at least the remaining money in new currency notes?

Otherwise, all that old money is not only a loss for the people but also a loss for the Indian Government.

I hope and wish the Govt. will bring in some law to enable us to exchange these old notes. If they want, they could impose a small fine and upper limit. But not accepting them at all is getting too strict. Don’t you think?

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PS: This post is not against Govt. policies, but is a representation of the problem faced by common man in the hope that Govt. will address them at some point.

Of Making Animated Photo Slideshows: My latest Passion

The title says Making animated photo slideshows is my latest passion, not my latest venture. Actually, it’s both. But I guessed you may be tired of reading about my various (unrelated) ventures over the years. What to do, that’s how I am 🙂

Anyways, the concept of this latest venture passion of mine is simple:

Send me six photos taken during any special occasion (like a trip, birthday, function, etc). I’ll send you back a nice animated slideshow (video) made using the photos – like the one shown/embedded above. Since I am just learning the art & business sides of this venture, it is free of cost – for now.

So if you want to be one of my experiments bakras clients, send me six photos to this email address: animatedphotos.org@gmail.com

What are you waiting for? 🙂

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PS-1: If you decide to send me the photos, remember that I may take some time few days to complete and send the video back by email. I am mostly working on this over the weekends because that’s when I feel creative I have time. Besides, I am simultaneously learning to use the required tools.

PS-2: The IT project that I was doing for my school is now finished. So am back to full-time blogging and freelancing.

PS-3: If you have decided not to do anything, at least like my Facebook page 🙂

If you have any tips/suggestions/ideas about this venture, please feel free to drop a comment below, as usual 🙂

Why Not Ban all Denominations Above 500 Rupees?

While I welcome the ban on the existing Rs. 500 & Rs. 1000 rupee notes by the Govt of India as I think this move will bring accountability to cash transactions in the future, I am not sure why NEW Rs. 2000 notes are needed?

Chandrababu Naidu is right. We need to rethink if higher denomination currencies are needed.

A new Rs. 2000 currency note will make it easier for people who want to indulge in corruption and black money hoarding. No?

Why not abolish 1000 and 2000 rupee denominations altogether?

BTW, here is the RBI’s Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) on depositing/exchanging your old currency notes. And here is a useful graphic that explains it in short.



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BTW, there is a rumour going around that the new Rs. 2000 notes will have nano-GPS tracking enabled. Interesting rumour, don’t you think?

And I am not sure how they are going to manage the operational hassles of such a large project, esp. given the inefficiencies of our system.

What do you all think about this bold move?

Help Chennai get a Huge Monumental Indian Flag: Chennai Tricolor Initiative

Chennai Tricolor Initiative is a citizens’ initiative to crowdfund and install one of the largest Indian flags, a Monumental Flag, at a public place like the Marina beach in Chennai. A 207-feet tall flag post is being planned at a cost of Rs. 40 Lakhs. To know what a monumental flag looks like, see the above embedded video or the below photo.

It seems there are many monumental flags in multiple Indian cities, including the above shown flag in Delhi. But there are none in the metropolitan city of Chennai! This is why a few people have come together and are trying to install a monumental national flag in our city.

You can contribute by spreading the word or by donating a small amount. Help them reach their target of Rs. 40 Lakhs sooner so that we can see a gigantic Indian flag in our city. The largest Indian flag I have seen in Chennai is at the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur.

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Image credit: Wikimedia commons. Image published under public domain. 

Do you believe in Good Times & Bad Times in a day? Indians do!

Traditionally, people of India divided time into 1.5 hour chunks called Muhurthams. Here is a video by a famous Indian Director Naga that explains the concept of time in the Indian perspective. Considering there are multiple 1.5 hour chunks each day, using astrological calculations, Indians determined which time(s) maybe good/auspicious to do some important work, start a new venture, get married, etc. (Guligai.). And they also determined which time(s) may not be good. (Rahu Kaalam, Yama Gandam.)

For each day, there are good times (muhurthams) and bad times, and each time chunk/muhurtham stretches for 1.5 hours. These times are fixed based on the day of the week. Have a look at the below embedded video to understand when these times occur for each day and how to remember the timing. If you do some important work, it has a better chance to succeed if you do it in a good time, is what people of India traditionally believed in.

Do subscribe to Mystic Traditions Youtube Channel to get further updates and information on traditional Indian systems and why they were put into place. These videos are available under ‘Know Ancient India Series’ in the above-mentioned channel.

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See a Musical/Singing Birthday Greeting Card!

If you thought physical greeting cards have lost to e-greetings or virtual cards, think again. Paper greeting cards are also evolving with features that are unique and interesting, that can never be replicated by ecards. Here is one singing/musical greeting card wishing happy birthday. The music starts once you open the card and stops as soon as you close it. Beneath the right side of the folded card, there is a small electronic circuitry and a battery which makes the magic happen.

This an innovative birthday card that’ll make the recipient smile and feel special, don’t you think? 🙂

This card was made by Swastik Cards, India.
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Why should Salespeople always Stand in Shops?

I understand why salespeople in shops need to stand while attending to a customer, but why should they keep standing even when there are no customers in the shop?

Try standing in a place for one hour. Can you imagine how difficult it is? How can we expect salespeople to stand/walk for 8 hours everyday?

Think about this: Only if the sales persons are fresh and relaxed, they can give a good experience to the customers. Making them unnecessarily uncomfortable is going to inconvenience the customers, and reduce business for shop owners.

I feel, shops should give a chair (or at least a stool) to all sales people where they can sit until a customer is near them. Once the customer is in their vicinity, they could stand.

Is this simple tip, that will enhance the efficiency, maintain good health, and improve business, so difficult to implement? Why have the insensitive shop owners not implemented this yet?

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Do you have a designer bookshelf?


Unique Furniture Designs : Sofas & armchairs by Preetham Interior Designer

Most bookshelves I see are pretty boring. Rarely, books get their own bookshelves — a rectangular wooden box with compartments and glass doors. Otherwise they are kept on the shelves in the wall, especially when there is nothing else to go into it. Of course, books are also kept in showcases or in TV stand shelves, mostly as an afterthought, once people have stuffed it with all their beautiful dolls and kids’ paintings.

The bookshelf in my house is inside a closed shelf in my room — so we don’t even have one! I wonder how many readers have a prominent bookshelf at home. Do you? Continue reading “Do you have a designer bookshelf?”