Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category.

A Quick Introduction to WebP Graphics and Animations

The WebP format was developed by Google as a twenty-first century replacement for the aging hoard of mutant armadillos which has previously served the web as graphic standards. It can be used in place of still image formats, such as JPEG and PNG, and it really gets up and dances when it’s used to replace the medieval relic that is GIF to manage animations.

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WebP offers both lossless image compression like PNG and lossy image compression like JPEG. It uses vastly more effective image compression than existed when the foregoing formats were originally created back at the dawn of human civilization, resulting in both smaller animation files and better looking ones. It supports full alpha transparency.

It also handles timing in milliseconds, rather than in the hundredths of a second that GIF uses.

A Digression On Compression

In case the whole lossless and lossy compression issue sounds a bit like two Martians discussing what to order for lunch, here’s a brief digression on the matter.

Graphic files are by their nature sort of huge, and huge files can be a bit of an issue if you have a finite amount of storage space, such as on the SD memory card of a digital camera, or a finite amount of bandwidth over which to transmit said files, such as the Internet if you didn’t spring for a gigabit fiber connection.

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Is There a 64-Bit Version?

The transition from 16-bit Windows software to 32-bit Windows software over a decade ago was an event that future archeologists will no doubt write papers about and bore people at parties with until they all make up excuses about having forgotten to hypnotize their ferrets and leave. Admittedly, archeologists get excited about the damnedest things.

It’s been our experience that neither archeologists nor most of the people who use Windows software actually know why 32-bit applications are preferable. This is arguably as it should be – well-written software should allow its users to do whatever they bought the beast for and never concern themselves with that’s going on under the hood.

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Building Animation Objects for Animation Workshop

While you can create sophisticated banners and other complex animations using Alchemy Mindworks’ Animation Workshop – and nothing else – adding animated objects to Animation Workshop will unquestionably drop it into hyperspace. Alchemy Mindworks offers a suite of inexpensive, easy-to-master tools to build animations.

Animation Workshop will import animations from a number of popular formats. The two you’re most likely to get involved with are GIF and MNG. While conceptually similar, it’s important to understand the distinction between them.

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Building an Alpha-Shadow Animation

PNG/MNG Construction Set and the newly-updated animation plugins with alpha-channel support – the 3D Effects #1 plugin set, as of this writing – allow the creation of animations with sophisticated translucent shadows. Place such an animation over a textured surface or a photograph and its shadow will darken the details of its background, but not obscure them.

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An Introduction to Alpha-Channel Animations

While its sounds like a fragment of dialog from a 1980s science fiction flick shot on a budget in an unnamed eastern European country, alpha channels are actually a profoundly useful feature of graphics… as long as you know what they’re really up to.

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Matting Animations in GIF Construction Set

It’s often convenient to force existing animations to have specific fixed dimensions, that is, to matt them within a colored rectangle. This is easily to accomplish in GIF Construction Set Professional, although the process of doing so might not be immediately obvious.

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Applying Images to Animated 3D Objects

The Alchemy Mindworks 3D Effects #1 plugin can create rotating three-dimensional objects with your choice of still graphics affixed to their faces. Adding pictures to these objects is easy, and if you understand what’s going on behind the curtain, your pictures can look sharp and sophisticated.

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How the Text Effects 4 Plugin Banner was Built

The banner advertisement for the Alchemy Mindworks Text Effects #4 plugin has received considerable comment since it appeared in the banner rotation at our various web pages – and no small degree of interest in how it was created. The procedure was elegantly simple, but perhaps not immediately obvious. You’ll probably be able to use it for your own banners.

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The Text Effects #4 Animation Plugin – Dangerous by Design

Depending upon who you listen to, there may be up to a billion people connected to the world wide web as you read this. Don’t get too excited – they have in excess of 100 million web pages to look at, according to a 2008 report by Domain Tools. If yours in one of them, you’ll need something more than a clever domain of your own to attract the attention of passers-by in cyberspace.

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Avoiding Animation Transparency Halos

Unless you plan animations with transparent elements very carefully – or you’re habitually lucky – you’ll probably encounter an unexpected halo of colored pixels around the object being animated. Transparency halos will trash the seamless appearance of animations against whatever they’re being animated in front of. They’re easy to avoid in GIF Construction Set Professional, but you’ll need to get them by the throat early in the design of your graphics.

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