Animating with the Commodore Amiga – Page 2

Dope sheet and control panels in Take 2.

For this reason, animation sequencing programs such as Deluxe Video III are available, which allow complex videos to be constructed from backgrounds, anims, animbrushes and even sound and MIDI files. To animate a character waving in Deluxe Video, it is only necessary for an animbrush of one wave motion (created in Deluxe Paint) and a background to be available. These are then pasted together on different control tracks, with the animbrush set to repeat for a specific duration as required.

Putting animations together in Deluxe Video is quite straightforward, although it is worth working through the tutorials in the manual to get to grips with the program. Each video is composed of scenes, which are all represented graphically against a horizontal time line. Parts’ of scenes or videos can be moved around with the mouse, their duration altered by tugging on attached arrows, and effects applied by attaching them to the relevant control track. Still images, anims and animbrushes can all be precisely positioned, made to appear with a variety of wipes and other transitions, as well as moved along user defined paths.

Line test animation in Take 2.

The program is extremely memory efficient (although 2 megabytes of RAM and a hard drive are recommended as for virtually all animation programs), allowing complex videos to be constructed on most Amigas. One of the supplied demonstration videos features a transforming logo, a running cartoon television set, live video of a greyhound running and a man using a camera, and finally a parrot flying from a raised hand. The whole video lasts over 35 seconds and yet is one of several supplied on a 880K Amiga-format floppy disk.

As in Deluxe Paint IV AGA, a VCR style control panel may be used when playing and working upon a Deluxe Video animation. In fact the only real drawback with the program is that it does not support the new AGA resolutions, and hence will only handle high-res images up to 704 x 580 pixels in size and in up to 16 colours (or alternatively low-res images at up to 352 x 290 pixels in 32 colours). This said, for cartoon-style animation work this is not too much of a drawback, and as previously mentioned, manipulating live video animbrushes even at low resolution can render superb results.

Taking an entirely different approach to animation sequencing is Take 2 from Rombo. This really is an animation package for animators. In fact, it was originally written by Geert Vergauwe as a line tester program when he was a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. If the anims, animbrushes, scenes, parts and videos of Deluxe Video sound daunting, then fear not. Take 2 terminology is extremely traditional. Cels are loaded into a Picture Panel either after being created in another art package (such as Deluxe Paint), or automatically if you grab them with a Vidi Amiga digitizer (also made by Rombo).

Take 2 controls the Vidi Amiga digitizer directly from a special digitizer screen. The program automatically numbers drawings as they are digitized, and even speaks their name out loud to confirm that it has done so!

Once cells are loaded into Take 2’s Picture Panel, they can be pasted into a four-level exposure sheet. A Cell Panel controls how many times and where they are inserted. The mouse can then be used to drag cells about and to increase or decrease their duration on screen. Sound samples can also be pasted onto the extreme left of the exposure sheet. Once you are ready to play the animation, simply select Flipper and the animation will run at either 24 or 25fps as selected. A VCR style panel is utilised as in other programs to step through animations when in this Flipper mode.

As with Deluxe Video III, Take 2 is marred somewhat in that it was created before AGA Amigas arrived, and hence is limited to only 16 colours in high resolution. When used as a line tester with Vidi Amiga, resolution is further limited to a monochrome 320 x 256 in 2, 4, 8 or 16 shades of grey, although this proves perfectly adequate for test purposes and saves on memory. There are also some problems when using overscan images that fill the entire screen (rather than having a border around their edges), which decreases Take 2’s suitability for final output purposes.

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