Animator’s Toolkit

There are three parts to the Animator’s Toolkit, the Application Packages, Animation Systems and Video Players. Some of them are available here, and others are available elsewhere. You can check out how to go about creating your own animations with the 5 step plan. It’s all here! Recording from a Video Source, well, someone care to donate a video camera to me?

Application Packages:

Graphics drawing programs like:

  • Bitmap (Pixel by pixel) based:
    • Paint Shop Pro
    • Windows Paintbrush
    • Neopaint for DOS
  • Vector (Object) based:
    • Adobe Illustrator
    • WordPerfect Draw
  • Ray Traced (3D):
    • POVRay
    • Breeze 3D Designer
    • POVCad

Each Program should be able to import and export various graphics formats including GIF, TIFF, JPEG, TARGA, DIB, BMP, WMF. In general Graphics formats are as follows:

  • GIF, TARGA, BMP, WMF - general formats
  • JPEG - 16 million colours, small file, but quality loss
  • TIFF - 16 million colours, no quality loss
Animation Systems:
  • Dave’s Targa Animator (DOS)
    • Converts TARGAs and GIFs to animated FLI, FLC
  • Video for DOS (DOS)
    • Converts TARGAs, BMPs to FLI, FLC, AVI
    • Converts MPEG Raw Files to MPEG
    • Converts FLI, FLC to AVI and vice versa
  • GIFAnimator (Windows 95) - Builds Multiblock (animated) GIF89 files for use on the Web
  • GifCon (Windows) - Builds Multiblock (animated) GIF89 files
  • GIFLoop - Adds Looping Application Control Block to GIF89s (For Netscape/Web)
  • Video for Windows (Release version, not downloadable one) - Includes VIDEDIT.EXE and other utilities. Adds sound (WAV/AIFF) and other AVIs to AVI files, and converts FLI/FLC to AVI. Also builds new AVIs from DIBs and BMPs. The downloadable version is called the Runtime Edition and doesn’t have these utilities. Does seem to have a few occasional problems under Win95.
  • Paint Shop Pro 5.0 (Windows 95) - Contains a program called Animation Shop that can be used to make fantastic Animated GIFs. Will automatically create the transitions for you as well. By far the most powerful and easiest to use of all the GIF Animators.
  • Microsoft GIF Animator - Able to compile multiple GIFs into a single animated GIF.
Video Players:
  • Windows Media Player
  • Windows ActiveMovie
  • VMPEG For Windows
  • QuickTime for Windows
  • Autodesk Animator for Windows

Once you have assembled the Animator’s Toolkit, you probably want to know how to do it right? Well, here is a 5 step process guide for creating your animations.

How To Do It:
  1. Create images:
    Use any of the Application Packages to create the image. Start with the key frames and pictures. These key points are like the starting and ending, places where one scene shifts to another, when the camera changes angle and so on. All animations have at least two key frames, the start and the end. Then build/generate each frame individually one at a time to connect the key frames. Frames in between will connect the two. Try to imagine how it will all look in the end.

  2. Arrange images in order:
    Make sure images are all saved in the same format and numbered accordingly. It is safer to use pic01.xxx instead of just pic1.xxx as a filename. Do this for pictures numbered 1 through 9. Store all images in the same directory. Nothing else but the frames should be in that directory.

  3. Run Animation System and create animation.
    I suggest starting with Dave’s Targa Animator, converting TARGA and GIF to FLI/FLC, and then using Video for DOS or VidEdit to convert to AVI. Of course you can also skip the FLI/FLC step and go straight to AVI using VidEdit if your frames are in BMP/DIB format.

    If you plan to have a GIF89 animation instead, GIFCon can be used to convert GIF files to GIF89 Multiblock animations. You can use the Control blocks to set up delays etc. A control block is located before the image it controls. The max delay time is 255. GifCon assumes this time to be in seconds, but Netscape seems to take this time as milliseconds. If you want longer delays, use the same image multiple times with the same control block and longer delays. If you set the control block to remove by background, don’t forget to set the background colour. This is because apparently Nestcape on Windows 3.x/95 seems to interpret transparent backgrounds for the first frame only and use that for all following frames, but Netscape on Macs do not. Use GifLoop program to add the Looping application control block to the GIF89. If you create images with this animation method, remember that browsers that do NOT support GIF89 animations will display the first frame! Of course, most of the details here are automatically handled by PSP5’s Animation Shop.

  4. Test/View animation with Video Players.
    Use the animation players to view the files. Remember you must have the proper drivers to view certain files. VidEdit and Video For DOS both have viewers of their own so you may not need to find some other viewer. GIFCon, Microsoft’s own GIF Animator and PSP5’s Animation Shop contains built-in players for Animated GIFs.

  5. Repeat steps 1-4 or any subset thereof until you are satisfied.

Important Notes

Lots of times, Animations seem to go wrong because of several common problems. The first is that the images do not seem to correspond to each other. This can easily be seen if the animation does not seem to "flow" or if it "jumps" erratically from one frame to another. Make sure your individual frames are matching, and make sure you did step 2 correctly!

Another problem is if the animation "flows", but seems "jerky", or is not "smooth scrolling". It is likely the frame rates are wrong, or if your individual frames are "too far apart" from each other. Each frame should differ from the next one by a few rows/columns of pixels, not whole chunks. You can also change the many parameters in Video For DOS and VidEdit to change settings. Experiment with different settings and try different file formats. FLI/FLC may be more appropriate for some, or AVI better for others and still other situations call for GIF89.

Remember, some images and applications take up a lot of resources, Hard Disk space, memory and CPU power are important factors in determining the quality and success of an animation. However, the content of your animation is still dependent upon your limitless imagination.

Examples

Here is an example of an Animated CSI Logo. It was created from 28 different frames drawn in Paint Shop Pro and saved as GIF89 and TARGA files. GifCon and GifLoop were used to create the animated GIF89, while Dave’s Targa Animator converted the TARGAs to FLI/FLC. Video for DOS converted it to AVI and VidEdit added the sound clip to the AVI. The animated GIF89 can be seen to be animated if you are using Netscape 2.0. There is a delay before the animation starts/restarts. Included in the zip file is both the Animated GIF and AVI versions.

DeepWave Resources

The Animator’s ToolKit (460K). This package includes:

  • Dave’s Targa Animator 2.2
  • Video for DOS 1.6d
  • GifLoop Application Extension

Amateur’s Video Guide GifCon (570K) can be used under Windows 3.x and Win95.


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