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Oop ae - oa co!

Kasumi DOA

Asuka Anime Gothic


: Alex Lapshin 2:5020/207.8 19 98 04:21
: All 19 98 04:32
: low-cost animation, p

, All!
Doin it on the low end --
Digital cel animation for the rest of us
by Mike Caputo
This is part two of a series of articles about creating animation using
digital tools -- using your computer for creation and playback.
In the first article, we talked about the required equipment (computer,
scanner, software) for building the films. Basically, we said it s possible
to use any mid-range PC or Mac system equipped with enough RAM and a
scanner and the right software tools: Adobe Photoshop or Fractal s Painter
for coloring and retouching the art, and Adobe Premiere for building the
Before I get started on the process of putting together a scene, I d like
to cover a subject I skipped over in the first article: how to deliver the
movies to your viewers.
I mentioned that the final file size of any movie you make of any
reasonable length was going to exceed 10 or 20 megabytes -- easily. Files of
that size pretty much negate the idea of using floppies for distribution, or
even uploading them to your favorite FTP archive or on-line service. But
that s the bad news.
The good news is that equipment in the computer industry always drops in
price. That means that as of this writing, you can buy a CD-ROM burner for
less than $1000. (This is an external unit for a Macintosh -- I m sure PC
versions are just as inexpensive.)
This gives you the ability to store about 600mb of data on a platter that
cost about $5. Cheap enough to hand out to friends, and almost every PC and
Mac sold today is equipped with a CD drive.
If we do the math, we can see that if we create a movie of a window size of
320x240, a frame rate of 10fps, using the popular Cinepak compressor, we
get a file size of about 10 megabytes for one minute of screen time (this is
approximate). That means we can stuff about an hour s footage on a CD.
Pretty impressive. That s a lot of animation. But still, the question
beckons: how do we do it?
The process of building a scene (and a whole movie) isn t much different
than conventional processes. For this article, let s pretend we are trying
for a conventional cel animation look. Nicely painted backgrounds with
characters created in layers on top. (Look, Ma, no cel shadows! :)
After the work common to all production (script/storyboard, character
design/model sheets, recording/mixing of soundtrack, etc.) is done, what
are the steps to creating a digital movie?
The first step is to get the soundtrack into a digital format. If it was
recorded directly into the computer, then it s probably already in the form
of a .wav for .snd or AIFF file. You are then ready to import the file into
Premiere for reading.
However, if the sound is on tape, the best thing to do is have it
transferred to CD. That way it ll always be accessible, and won t take up
valuable hard disk space. Most studios can burn a CD for you, and the cost
shouldn t be too high. Ask if they can also convert the track to a digital
format as well -- it ll save you a step!
If the track is now on CD, in standard redbook audio format, you have to
convert it to digital format. I know that Premiere on the Macintosh can do
this easily -- simply insert the CD into the machine, and do a "File/Open"
from within Premiere. You ll be presented with a conversion window where
you can set options like the sampling rate (11khz, 22khz or 44khz) and the
bit depth (8 or 16) and whether it should be mono or stereo.
It s important to understand that while a sound sampled at
44khz@16bit-stereo will be of CD fidelity, it ll also consume an enormous
amount of disk space. Not only that, but if your playback audience is the
average PC playing back from a compact disk, you ll be wasting time and
effort in trying to preserve the quality of the sound.
For digital playback, or CD-ROM type work, good sound can come from
22khz@16bit-mono without wasting time, effort or media space.
Another option is to bypass the CD altogether. Perhaps you re a hobbyist,
or a student with a low budget. You can record the track directly into your
computer through the microphone port (all current Macs have a built in mic
jack, and most PC s with sound cards do as well), or if the track is on
tape you can re-record it from the tape player directly into the mic jack,
thus creating a digital file.
No matter which way you go, the goal is the same: get the track into the
computer as a digital file.
Start up Premiere and create a new project. There is a whole maze of
settings to choose from, and -- like so many other aspects of digital
animation -- the settings you choose are determined by your targeted output
format. However, Premiere is very flexible, and any settings chosen now can
be changed later.
For now, we ll set up a project that creates an output movie of 320x240, at
10fps, using "Animation" as the compressor. The Animation codec does a
great job in preserving the quality of the image while introducing little or
no artifacts, and it has the added advantage of being a very fast compressor
and decompressor. However, the tradeoff is that it doesn t do a good job of
compressing the movie -- that is, the movie compressed with the "Animation"
codec can easily exceed 20 megabytes, while the same movie compressed with
the "Cinepak" codec will be less than 5. But Cinepak takes longer to
compress, and that means a longer work cycle, so we use a faster codec to
save time while working, and use Cinepak only for the final build.
Premiere has two main windows: a Project window, where all the components
are referenced (not stored -- no audio or graphic data gets stored in the
Project per se, rather all material is referenced to it s place on disk)
for a given project, and a Construction window, where you lay out all the
audio and video tracks, add effects, and perform edits.
You start by "importing" components (digital audio tracks, digital video
clips, static art, etc.) into the Project window, then laying them out in
the Construction window.
So now you have the soundtrack saved in digital format, have imported it
into Premiere, and drag&dropped it on the Audio A track in the construction
window. Your Premiere construction window should look like this. (see fig
By double-clicking on the audio track, you can bring up a clip window
containing the track. You can now play the track at speed, or "scroll"
through it a frame at a time. You can also place markers at relevant points
on the track. (see fig 2) This is key when trying to sync specific scenes
or frames with audio impact points.
Let s quit out of Premiere for now and talk about getting the drawings from
the paper to the computer.
Assuming the drawings are finished, they need to be scanned. (I m skipping
over doing pencil tests for this article.)
If you ve drawn your work on Acme or Oxberry pegged paper, you ll need a
set of flat tape down pegs on your scanner bed to insure proper registration.
If you ve worked out some other kind of registration system, make sure you
can duplicate it on the scanner.
The scanning resolution you choose is determined by the playback mode.
Since we re talking about digital playback in a 320x240 window, we can scan
in the artwork at a size of 640x480. This will give us a reasonably small
file size, yet an image large enough to actually paint and work with.
However, if you re intending to deliver work for video, you ll want to scan
in your work much larger -- say, at a resolution of 1920x1440 (640x480
tripled). After painting and reducing to 640x480, the result on video is
quite pretty, with clean anti-aliased lines that aren t too heavy.
Also, I always scan in my art at a 2-bit depth. (That s monochrome - black
or white pixels, nothing in-between.) This keeps the whites white and the
lines black and makes it easy to fill in areas with color.
During scanning, you also need to name each drawing as you scan it.
Premiere will import a series of numbered drawings as a single animation
sequence if they are named and numbered correctly. In Premiere s case, that
means naming the files "left eye and brow.000, left eye and brow.001, left
eye and brow.002, etc."
After scanning, open the files in the paint program of choice and convert
them from 2-bit to 32-bit image files. This is necessary to add the color
and the alpha channel layer information.
After painting the frames in Painter or Photoshop, you can then reduce the
images to 320x240, yielding a nicely detailed "cel" with anti-aliased lines
(Photoshop is very good with this.)
With all the drawings scanned, we can now take them into the paint programs
for painting. It is also here in the paint programs that we prepare the art
for compositing (or layering) in Premiere.
There are several methods of compositing in Premiere, but alpha channel
compositing yields the best results.
Proceed to paint the cels as you would any other digital drawing -- fill in
any gaps in the lines, fill areas with color, set the background to be
clear by selecting it and designating it as the alpha channel. (For
information on how to add alpha channels, refer to the manual for Photoshop
or Painter.)
The last step is to reduce the image size to match the final movie -- in
the case of our example, reduce the 640x480 drawing to 320x240.
It is possible to leave the drawings at this size and let Premiere handle
the reduction, but Premiere is notoriously slow at operations like that,
and the few minutes spent now will save much time later.
With the artwork painted and prepared, we are now ready to quit the paint
programs and go back to Premiere, where we will import the artwork into our
project, composite the layers, and build a movie.
The rest of the process is pretty straightforward. Since all our artwork is
registered, and was scanned in that way, we don t have to worry about
Syncing with the track is a little trickier, but still easy. Import the
scanned images into Premiere in the same way you did the audio track.
Remember that Premiere will import a series of sequentially numbered files
as a single clip, so you don t need to import every file -- just the first
one in the series.
However, you will need to adjust the rate at which Premiere runs the clip.
By default, Premiere will run the clip at 1 fps, or what Premiere calls
100%. That s a little slow for animation. You can adjust this to 1500% for
a rate of 15fps, or 2400% for a rate of 24fps. Broadcast video runs at 3000%,
or 30fps. (One of Premiere s cooler features is that you can specify a rate
of -1500%, and get the clip to run backwards at 15fps. This is immeasurable
handy for cycles.)
First, drag&drop the background art from the Project window into video
track one of the Construction window (see fig 3).
Now, using the same drag&drop technique, build the cel layers -- from the
bottom level up -- on the "S" video tracks, starting with S1.
After all layers are added to the construction window, you can select a
group of clips and turn on "Transparency" for the alpha channels.
Your construction window should now look like this (see fig 4).
That s about all I have room for in this article. As you can see, Premiere
is a great tool for building movies, allowing you to see everything right
there in front of you.
Next time we ll cover syncing with sound in greater detail, and also one of
Premiere s real strengths: effects filters.
Happy animating!
! AKA Alex1/2,
- R.An.Ma -- Russian Anime & Manga
e-mail: ICQ#5963203
... p .

: Alex Lapshin 2:5020/207.8 19 98 04:07
: All 19 98 04:32
: low-cost animation: p

, All!
p, p ,
- . p:
Doin it on the low end --
Digital cel animation for the rest of us
by Mike Caputo
This is part three of a series of articles about creating animation using
digital tools -- using your computer for creation and playback.
In the first, we talked about the required equipment (computer, scanner,
software) for building the "films." Basically, we said it s possible to use
any mid-range PC or Mac system equipped with enough RAM and a scanner and
the right software tools: Adobe Photoshop or Fractal s Painter for coloring
and retouching the art, and Adobe Premiere for building the movie.
In part two, we covered preparation of the artwork and actually combining
the layers to build a movie, and getting the audio from an analog source
into digital format.
In this article, I want to talk about simple ways of enhancing still-art
scenes by using motion and effects filters, and how to read a sound track
using Premiere.
Very effective results can be obtained using multiple layers and different
kinds of composition methods.
A multiplane effect is a technique used to give added depth to a scene. It
involves using several "layers" of art, each with transparent sections (so
you can see the underlying area), stacked up. Your final image will look
more like a scene from real life by panning the art at different rates
during a truck-in, and by manipulating the depth of field/focus to go from
soft to hard on each piece.
The Disney studio developed the vertical multiplane camera before they
started on "Snow White".
A multiplane effect is easily and effectively achieved using a four-layer
approach. For example, if you wanted to truck in on a distant castle, build
four layers like this (starting from the "bottom"):
1) the sky background
2) the castle on the hill
3) the foreground hill
4) the trees in the frontmost foreground.
You can argue that the trees in the foreground are actually two layers, for
a total of five, because while we are zooming in on both trees, the tree on
the right will also be panning right, while the tree on the left will be
panning left.
Figure 1 shows the Premiere construction window for setting up the scene.
By varying the values in Premiere s Image Pan filter on each element, we can
simulate the motion of a multiplane camera. (You can further enhance this by
using the Camera Blur filter, but I ve never been satisfied with the results
of that filter.)
Each element has slightly different values. The sky background barely zooms
in at all -- just enough to suggest movement. The castle on the hill,
layered on top the sky, zooms in only slightly more, but also pans up a
bit, since it would get "higher" as you draw closer to it. The foreground
hill zooms in at a higher rate, but pans down (as it passes under your feet),
and the trees, as mentioned above, zoom in and past us, one on each side.
Figure 2 shows four panels from the resulting movie, and you can see how
effective the results are.
This sequence shows a fine spring day, but what happens in the summer when
thunderstorms roll in?
Using two of Premiere s built-in filters, "Brightness/Contrast" and "Color
Balance", it s pretty easy to rain on our castle. Figure 3 shows the same
sequence during a lightning strike.
Of course, without carefully synchronizing the clap of thunder, the
lightning strike is only partially effective. What a great segue into the
next topic!
As the Warner Bros. found out with the release of "The Jazz Singer" (and of
course Walt, with the release of "Steamboat Willie"), synchronizing the
visual action with the soundtrack is vital for a successful film. But doing
the hard part of reading the track for the proper frame counts is tedious
-- at best.
For those old enough and/or experienced enough to remember reading 16mm or
35mm footage on a track reader, software like Premiere is a gift from the
For those young enough to have no idea as to what I m talking about, let me
Track-reading is hard. Not because it s difficult, but because it s tedious
and boring. Before digital tools came along, it was done by taking the
audio recording and transferring it to the same stock as what your final
output was going to be. If you were shooting on 35mm, then you d get your
track transferred to 35mm "mag" (short for magnetic) striped track. If you
were shooting onto 16mm, then you d transfer it to 16mm mag stock.
(Note: you *could* save money by transferring to 16mm if you were shooting
a 35mm project, but then you couldn t run your dailies through the movieola
synced with the audio track. If you don t know what I m talking about,
don t worry. Maybe I m just showing my age.)
After you had it transferred, you would set yourself up at a table equipped
with two reel winders and a track reader in the middle. (see fig "track1").
The track reader is a small device with sprockets for the mag track and a
audio head for reading the stripe. (see fig. "track2").
Since we know that film travels at 24 fps, we can read the action on the
mag track and use the counter to determine how long it takes for a given
We might read the track, for instance, and find out that it takes 15 frames
to say "Hello!".
Track reading is done the same way in Premiere, except it s all digital and
on-screen. We bring up the audio clip window by double-clicking on the
audio clip, and then use the shuttle control to scroll through the track,
making notes for the start and end frames of each sound or word.
In Premiere, however, for a simple talking-head/arm-waving shot it s pretty
easy to do lip sync even without ever writing down the frame numbers.
If you have a scene like in figure 4 where the head is the base layer and
the mouth is on top, and if you have a "library" of mouth frames, you can
work a cycle of reading the track, mark the start and end points of words,
and apply the appropriate mouth to the appropriate frame.
In figure 5, we have the construction window in the background and the
audio clip window in the foreground. By using the virtual shuttle, we can
read the audio clip and place markers for the first few words, then go back
to the construction window and drag&drop the appropriate lips for each.
Granted this won t be smooth flowing Disney-style work, but it makes for a
great clip when all you need is a talking spokesman, or for an animatic to
show a potential client.
Next time, we ll talk about making art-in-motion type films -- without
film, of course.
Happy animating!
! AKA Alex1/2,
- R.An.Ma -- Russian Anime & Manga
e-mail: ICQ#5963203
... p ? p ... p ...

: Alex Lapshin 2:5020/207.8 19 98 04:14
: All 19 98 04:32
: low-cost animation, p,

, All!
Doin it on the low end --
Digital cel animation for the rest of us
by Mike Caputo
This is part four of a series of articles about creating animation using
digital tools -- using your computer for creation and playback.
In previous articles, we discussed basic hardware and some basic animation
techniques adapted for execution on a Mac or PC. In this article, we ll get
a bit more specific and address techniques for a particular style.
The best painting program I know of is Fractal Design s Painter. It s up to
version 4 at the time of this writing, and is available for both Mac and PC
platforms. I am strictly Mac-based as far as hardware goes, but I try to
stick to software tools that are bi-platform -- after all, I ve heard some
people use non-Mac systems, and I d hate to alienate any potential clients.
Painter can best be described as a "painting" program. Fractal Design calls
it a "natural media emulator", which is correct, even if it is quite a
If you re in the mood to paint with oil, Painter lets you do so with ease
and no mess. (I miss the smell, though). The same thing applies for
watercolor or acrylic or chalk or pastel or pencil. Painter is adept at
imitation, and it mimics all these very well.
Using a mouse with Painter is fine for some things, but you really need a
drawing tablet to get the most from it. I use a Wacom tablet, for the
simple reason that they are the only tablet maker to make a battery-less pen,
thus making the pen extremely light and worry-free. (Almost all tablet pens,
called stylus , are now cordless and pressure-sensitive, but as far as I
know only Wacoms do not use batteries. Don t underestimate this feature --
besides the expense of buying batteries, the most important thing is how
well the stylus balances in your hand. Those little batteries can really
throw it off.)
If you have niether Painter nor a drawing tablet, many mail order houses
sell the two as a bundle at a good price.
This combination of the Wacom tablet and Fractal s Painter allows you to
freely sketch right on the computer. Hold down your excitement, because
this isn t as easy as it sounds. Remember, you re drawing with the stylus
down near the keyboard or in your lap, but you re looking straight ahead at
the screen. For most, this is harder than it looks. There is also a
"proportion" difference to which you must adjust. The most popular Wacom is
6 inches x 8 inches, while many of us have a 17" or better monitor.
Clearly, that doesn t make for one-to-one sketching.
Also, the surface of the tablet doesn t feel like paper, nor does the tip
of the stylus feel like a pencil. The workaround for this is to tape a sheet
of paper over the tablet to bring up the level of friction. This is much
better than drawing on the plastic surface, which is like drawing on ice.
With practice, though, one can overcome -- or at least get used to -- these
difficulties, leaving you with, at worst, a quick and easy way to draw out
ideas and see how well they animate. At best, you have a terrific digital
animation station.
Before I get off the subject of hardware and software, let me say what
doesn t need to be said:
the more memory (RAM) you have, the better. If you plan on using Painter
to do full-screen animation (that means each frame has a resolution of
640x480), you ll need oodles of RAM -- more than 24mb is a good start.
the faster the processor you have, the better. Painter loves fast
Pentiums or PowerPC CPUs, but will work on a 486 Wintel or 68040 Mac.
Painter does a fair amount of reading from and writing to the hard drive
-- any drive will work, but the faster the better. If you have more than
one drive, and one is faster than the others, designate the faster one as
Painter s temporary drive (see Painter s manual for that!).
Painter s interface is nice, but a little crowded. It uses floating
palettes for nearly everything, and if you don t have a second monitor, you
find yourself hiding and showing the palettes often, otherwise you don t
have the screen room for the image on which you are working. This situation
worsens when creating animation, since a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the screen is
taken up with the "animation" palette. Ideally, it s best to have a second
monitor, even it s a 14" 640x480, for handling just the palettes.
But why am I talking so much about this one program?
Two reasons, the first of which I already went over: Painter is unequaled
in mimicking "real life" media like chalk and pastel and oil and watercolor
paint. Plus, you can designate a paper texture, and anything you paint will
take on the texture of the paper. Plus again, you can mix media on the same
canvas. Try painting with oils and watercolor in real life.
The second reason -- and the one for which I m writing this column -- is
Painter s animation module.
We re all using Quicktime enabled PCs or Macs, right? Of course we are -
digital animation on a computer would be tough without it.
Well, Painter allows you to create Quicktime movies right from inside the
program. It treats each frame as if it were an individual painting, but you
retain all the ability of cut/copy/paste, layers, Painter s media tools,
and special effects.
In addition, Painter supports a tracing mode, where you can see frames that
came before and after the frame on which you are working. This, of course,
is essential for animation. (Some programs call this feature
"onion-skinning", because of the thin transparent quality of real onion
It s important to note that Painter doesn t support automatic inbetweening
of art. This means if you draw a character at frame 0 and again at frame
10, you can t tell Painter to draw 2 through 9. It is strictly a bitmap
painting program -- albeit a very good one -- that lets you draw right on the
frames of a Quicktime movie. This is akin to a digital version of Len Lye s
or Norman Mclaren s work.*
You can also insert and delete frames at will, to adjust timing of action.
Let s say you have a character blinking, and drew 8 frames for the
close/open of the blink. Well, if you run this at 10fps, the character is
going to look pretty sleepy instead of blinking spontaneously. So you go in
and delete frames 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, and redraw frame 3 so that his eyes
are fully closed on that frame.
Rerun the animation at the same 10fps and now you have a snappier blink.
Much easier than reshooting and waiting for the lab, right?
Creating nicely hand-drawn figures this way is great, and being able to run
your animation immediately goes a long way toward honing your skills.
The great part about Painter, though, is that now you can go back to the
frames (drawings) and do all the inking/coloring, or adding of effects or
visual looks.
You can make the character look like he s been drawn in pastels, or change
the color of the line, or apply a canvas texture and color the character
with "oil" paints.
To be fair, there are two weaknesses to Painter s implementation of this
animation module.
For one, there is no support for syncing to sound. If you want to animate
to dialogue, the soundtrack must be read -- outside of Painter, usually in
Premiere -- ahead of time.
This is something that could easily be addressed. Painter can already show
you the frames laid out sequentially. It wouldn t be too hard to import an
audio file and lay it out below the frames. At least you d be able to hit
the high points of the beat, or perhaps read and mark the file so that you
know when the consonants and vowels and syllables start and end.
Two, Painter starts to bog down when handling large files. Yes, it is
possible to create full screen resolution movies, but Painter does a lot of
disk swapping and spends a alot of time doing it. This slows down your work
and destroys the spirit of spontaneity.
The best size I ve found is 320x240 with a color depth of 16bit (32k
colors). This yields files that are the size of small rhinos instead of
large elephants, and minimizes the amount of info Painter has to manage or
swap to disk, while still mainting a reasonable size image and color range.
One thing about Painter -- and I haven t figured out if it s a drawback or
a feature -- is that it doesn t save it s animation files as a Quicktime
movie. It uses a proprietary format Fractal calls a "stack", and this is
the actual file on which you work. When you get to a point where you want to
view your animation, you save it as a Quicktime movie and then play it.
If you want to go back and make changes, you make them to the stack file
and then save it again as a Quicktime movie.
A clear drawback to this is that it uses twice the disk space, and the
stack files can be large.
A feature is that if you totally screw up the stack file, you can read in a
previously saved Quicktime file (if you have it) and all your work may not
be lost.
Happy animating!
! AKA Alex1/2,
- R.An.Ma -- Russian Anime & Manga
e-mail: ICQ#5963203
... : , , .

: Alex Lapshin 2:5020/207.8 19 98 04:24
: All 19 98 04:32
: p

, All!
Softimage TOONZ. (from Microsoft)
Professional 2D cel animation software solution(SGI and NT). It
automates the production steps of cel animation, but keeps the
animator s original drawings/line quality in tact.
AXA Digital Ink & Paint.
Professional PC based 2D cel animation software
Professional cartoon animation production system for NextStep(SGI and NT
avail. Q1, 1997) OS(x86).
Cambridge Animation Systems Ltd. Call phone 818-551-4500 or (44)
223-311231,or FAX(44) or
ToonBoom Tic Tac Toon. A full resolution independent process 100% Vector
based Animation package. You can scan in your hand drawn animation and
it converts it to vectors (DEC Alpha and SGI based)
VOICE: (514)522-5142 FAX: (514)
Linker Systems - Animation Stand.
Professional cartoon animation production system for the Mac OS, SGI Unixand
Windows NT.
13612 Onkayha Circle, Irvine, CA
92720. Call (714)552-1904, or FAX (714)552-6985Email:
USAnimation, Inc.
Vector based animation production system for SGI.
contact: Shelley Milestel: 213-465-2200fax: 213-465-2800
email: info@usanimation.com
platforms: Silicon Graphics and Hewlett Packard UNIX workstations
digital animation production system for Macintosh and Windows NT.
Avid - Jester
Resolution indepentent (vector based) digital ink and paint system for
cartoon production. Close integration with Avid s full range of image
processing systems.
Macintosh Pencil Test system
X-Sheet 95
PC based Pencil Test System
! AKA Alex1/2,
- R.An.Ma -- Russian Anime & Manga
e-mail: ICQ#5963203
... p - .

: Igor Ustinov 2:5020/993.256 18 98 10:18
: All 19 98 15:20
: :(

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