you can fly!?

Creating an Animated Background Sky

with Project Dogwaffle or PD Pro

[more tutorials]

This short tutorial shows some ways that Dogwaffle can be used to create a background which flows in some direction to create an animation effect.

Additional special effects such as fading to black or snowfall can also be added.

click the image to toggle the animation >>>

Comanche chopper model courtesy of
 Tiki at TheGamesWorks

  • Creating the Initial Background Image

You might start with nothing and simply use Project Dogwaffle to paint an initial image of a sky. You can either paint it yourself, using various brushes to smear and fade fluffy clouds. For a sample tutorial check this link.

paint your background sky
Or use some filters to make it happen quickly. For example, there is a Fractal noise filter, which can be followed by a color change filter to give the right blue tint. You will find other filters useful here, such as light diffusion blur.
Plasma Noise filter
Or you might simply use the Sky filter. It offers a variety of parameters that can be fine tuned for various viewing and atmospheric effects like fog and sunset mood, wide angle, camera tilt,...
using the Sky filter
Or if you have PD Pro you might want a starry night sky, using the new Starfiled filter. It creates a subtle nebulae-like blueish background on black background, then adds a variety of stars of colors and sizes you control.

Starfield filter from PD Pro
Finally, the source of your original image may come from somewhere else. Perhaps your digital camera, or stock photography image. Or, of course, a rendering made with a 3D program which has atmospheric capabilities such as Vue, Bryce, Carrara, etc...

We'll use this example for the rest. of this tutorial If you would like to follow with the same image you can click the image shown here to the right and find the larger original (800x800 pixels).
Carrara sky
  • Creating an Animation

The next step, after loading or creating the initial background image, is perhaps to store it away in memory for safe keeping just in case we want to start from here again. Of course you'll want to save to disk file too.
To store for later re-use, just use the menu:
  • Buffer > Store buffer...
You just never know when it might come handy to have quick access to that image again.

Now we're ready to turn this into an animation. Use the Animation menu:
  • Animation > Create...
You will be prompted for how many frames you want. Let's say we want to initially work with 100 frames. Enter that and click OK.

create animation
Ok, we now officially have a sequence of frames, i.e. an animation. But it's a bit boring, since each frame is the same and nothing appears to slide or move yet.

Notice that since PD Pro (Dogwaffle 3) there's a filmstrip option in the animation control panel.

new filmstrip on animation panel
Let's go to the Timeline editor, menu:
  • Animation > Timeline...

Scroll down in the list of filters within the Timeline's scroll list on the left side. Around the 8th group of filters you'll find the Transform group. Click to select the first in there, the Transform filter.
Set the Scale slider value to the Max (right end)

We are now zoomed in and have some amount of margin all around the buffer, i.e. the image we're working with is larger than the buffer.

In the Timeline's preview you can directly drag the mouse to change the positioning of the image. Or you can work with the sliders to adjust the X and/or Y values. 
Transform filter in Timeline editor
Select the first frame along the timeline. Click the 'key_+' icon to set (add) a keyframe. Then move the timeline slider to the right end (last frame) and change the positioning of the image. Set a new keyframe. You now have set two keyframes for an animation by translating (moving) the background image across the timeline. transform filter with second keyframe set
Click the Render button and see the animation created in the preview. When it's completed you can click the Play button in the Timeline or in the Animation controlk panel to view the resulting animation. Save it as an AVI file from the menu:
  • Animation > Save AVI...

rendering the animation

Of course this will rarely be the end of it. You might want to apply other filters, like photographic filters for night vision or sunset or fog conditions. You might also want to resample the whole video clip to a different pixel-size or drop every other frame or perform other effects. You can also reverse the frame sequence in case you decide you want the animation to flow in the other direction. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have this animated background you might want to use it in order to fly a spacecraft or bird across it, using animated brushes. This will be the topic of another tutorial.

click the image to toggle the animation >>>
(PS: be patient, the animation starts with a
short pause of a few seconds before moving away)

Adding Snowfall and more...

Here's an example of what else to do with it. Loading an animated brush with just a few frames of a helicopter, we can use the Brush Keyframer to move this chopper across the animated background sky. Then we can add some light diffusion or other special effects in Dogwaffle's Timeline editor, including snowfall.

Click the image to toggle the animation>>>

Comanche chopper model courtesy of
 Tiki at TheGamesWorks