Backgrounds can be drawn and painted separately and then added to a sequence of animation once it is complete. The background can also be saved in an artwork file and used for other sequences. Several sequences with a common background can be linked at the player stage to form a longer sequence.
A scanner may be used for getting drawings into the system. DP Animation is supplied with several conversion programmes to allow other picture file formats to be used. There is also a camera’ facility for capturing a screen from paint programs.
There are a number of animation commands that control the movement of an image when it has been selected as a brush. As part of the tutorial DP Animation supplies a pie chart divided into three sections. Each section is loaded as a brush and manipulated to fly in and join to make a complete image. Various numbers for speed and position are entered on a chart. These cover start or finish position, the number of frames the action should take and the acceleration or deceleration required. The image will move in all directions including towards or away from the screen. Images can start as a small dot and zoom in to fill the screen, or they can zoom away to infinity. Once the choices are made the preview button is clicked and it runs through the move. It can be modified as many times as required and then the draw button is clicked to put it in place.
The animation brush can be rotated through selected amounts up to 360’. This
can be combined with the built in moves to add impact to flying logos and so on. A demonstration supplied with DP Animation has the word “ANIMATION” flying in from the distance and spinning as it travels. The effect has been seen many times on television titles and it is impressive to see it created very easily on a personal computer.
The instruction book offers a good demonstration on the necessity to ease in and out of a move. The instructions explain, “The primary advantage of these features is that you can make the brush movement smooth at the beginning and ending points.” The move dialogue chart has a section to select the number of frames to ease in or out of the move. Ease is demonstrated by asking the reader to animate three sets of bouncing balls; one without ease; one that speeds up as it nears the bottom of its fall and slows on rising; one that slows as it falls and speeds up on rising. With these three balls bouncing side by side on the screen the novice animator quickly sees what ease is all about. This is typical of the many exercises given in the hand book. The thrill of discovering new controls kept me going for many hours. Later, when I was creating my own animation I found it was easy to refer back to the book to see how things were handled.
DP Animation is supplied with twenty-one mono type fonts and two multicolour fonts. The mono fonts are display faces in fancy styles such as Art Deco, Raster, Saloon and Stencil. They can be typed in any single colour from the 265 colour palette. There is a facility to outline the letters in a second colour which is useful if the words are going over a busy background. Drop shadow effects can be created by making the words into a brush and printing them offset in a second colour.
Short sequences of animation can be built up and then played with a script file outside the animation programme. When they are played without the animation programme running there is much more room in the computer memory for the animation files.
The best thing about animating on a computer is the results are seen as soon as they are created. It is easy to go back and change things to make them run smoother or add extra action. I started by drawing on paper and scanning the images into the computer. However, once I started creating drawings on-screen, with a mouse, it became much more fun. I can recommend DP Animation to anyone who has a suitable computer and is looking for a comparatively low cost animation program.
DeluxPaint Animation by Electronic Arts needs the following hardware:
An IBM Personal System/2 or IBM-compatible computer; a hard disk with at least 5Mb of available disk space; and 640K of Ram. The computer must be running on Dos version 2.11 or higher. DP Animation runs in the 320 x 200 mode with 256-colours and requires VGA or MCGA graphics. IBM PC version £65.00 plus VAT.
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Printed in Animator Issue 29 (Spring 1992)