Animation Overview

Starting a New Animation

The first thing we need to do when starting a new animation task, is initialize an animation. This sets aside memory for a specific number of frames. If you don't know how many frames you will need, you can add and delete frames later if you need to.

Alternately, you may want to start by opening an existing animation, image sequence, an avi file, or scanning in frames to create an animation.

To initialize an animation, select from the Animation drop-down menu, the first option, “Create...”

From here, you can select the number of frames you want, or enter a time in seconds. Also select the frame rate you want. Traditional hand drawn animation is often done at 12 frames per second, or 24 frames per second. (12 frames are easier to draw than 24) Video is usually 30 frames per second, or 25 for PAL, and film is usually 24.

You also can make a given frame rate the default frame rate. Also, you can visually view how much memory you have available. Note, you may not be able to initialize all available memory for an animation. Generally, you can initialize up to 2 gigabytes of memory for an animation, while the program should be able to work with as much as 4 gigabytes. (but not all in one chunk)

Animation Controls and the Filmstrip

After loading or creating an animation, you are presented with the animation control panel. On it are the usual "VCR" controls like play and stop, as well as frame forward and backward. The bar in the middle is the scrub bar. With it, you can scroll through the frames of your animation.

On the bottom left are buttons to add and delete frames, as well as the onion skin tool, Frames Per Second button, and the Timeline button.

The Filmstrip gives you another way to select frames, by their thumbnail on the filmstrip view.

Editing Frames

Right clicking on the filmstrip view gives you a menu of tools that are related to working with the frames of your animation.

Using the In and Out buttons, you can set in-frames and out-frames.  These are edit points used by several operations on the frame menu.  For example, you can copy the frames between your in and out points, and paste them to another place in your animation.  The 'Clr' button clears your edit points.

Reverse frames causes every frame in your animation to be reversed.

Time stretch allows you to re-time your animation by adding or subtracting frames.  You also have the option of Frame blending, which dissolves from one frame to the next for a smoother looking transition.

Make loopable is a tool that cross-dissolves from the end of an animation into the beginning.  It is useful for making animations that loop smoothly.

In the lower part of the menu is a set of tools used with frames captured from a television source.  Video for TV is generally interlaced -- that is, a frame of an image is actually composed of two fields that are combined together, one set of scan lines from the first, and one from the second.  Video that runs at 30 frames per second is actually 60 fields per second.

Extract fields will de-interlace a video frame, and split each one into two separate frames.  The extra data is interpolated.  This results in a doubling of the length of your animation.  Be aware that extracting frames can result in a slight loss of quality, however if you intend to re-interlace at a later time, then it is not a problem.

Re-interlace will combine the frames

Reverse fields will reverse the order of fields in an interlaced frame.  There is no hard standard for field order, so you may have an occasion when you need to reverse them.  This is a non-destructive operation, since you can re-reverse them.

Frame Rates

The frame rate that you use will determine how fast each frame is played back when you play your animation.  These are some typical frame rates

12 fps.  The majority of cartoon animation is drawn on twos.  When put on film, frames are exposed twice to make 24 fps.  In our case, we can simply play back at 12 fps.

24 fps.  Film is generally shot and projected at 24 frames per second.  When film is converted to Television, it is called a "pulldown"

25 fps.  Pal (European) Television.

30 fps.  Black and White NTSC (US) Television.

29.97 fps.  When color was added to the television standard, a slight adjustment had to be made to accommodate the extra signal used for color.  The video still plays at 30 fps, but occasionally a frame has to be dropped to keep up.  This is called 'Drop frame'

You can achieve many types of video conversion by first de-interlacing your video (this will produce twice as many frames) then retiming your video (taking into account the double number of frames) then re-interlacing.

Tools at Your Disposal

PD Pro has a number of tools for working with various types of animation projects, including video editing and effects, traditional animation, and web animation.

The Stroke player lets you playback brush strokes.  Since a brush can be any image, you can use it to animate an image along a path.

Another option is the brush Keyframer for moving a brush along a path.  In this case, you can set keyframes to determine the motion of the brush, and include such effects as motion blur.

The Timline lets you render special effect filters to your video.  You can optionally keyframe all effects parameters.

The exposure sheet is a tool for traditional animators, and animators wishing to sync video with audio.

Loading and Saving Animations

You can load and save animations in various formats.  PD Pro's default format is DWA.  It is a simple, lossless format.

Another option for saving animation frames is as a series of still images.  You provide a base name, and the program appends a sequence number such as _0001 to the file.


You can also load and save AVI files.

Here, you can set the playback rate for your AVI file.

You can then specify a filename for your avi.

You will then be able to set the type of AVI you want to save.  The types available, as well as their settings will depend on what codecs are installed on your machine.