Making Loopable Animations
with PD Pro 3.1

[more tutorials

With the release of PD Pro v3.1 came amongst others things a new feature that  can be used to turn certain animations into looping animations often without noticeable seams at the end of the clip as it loops back to the start frame. This is done by blending a number of frames at the end of the original clip with the same number of frames at the beginning, and then dropping the frames at the end.

The more frames you select for the transitioning, the less likely you'll see the blending zone. However, there's no morphing, it's just a blending of weighted frames so if there are significant topological differences between start frames and end frames you may still notice the fade-over.

Where this technique plays well is when we're dealing with an animation in which there's already a good amount of dissolving and noise going on, such as a snow storm with snowflakes coming in and out, or a cloud scene constantly moving to and over the camera and changing shapes as they do.  In such cases it doesn't hurt to use half of the clip for blending over to the other (first) half. However, since the second half will be dropped after the blending, we should use the Time Stretch function to double the frames before making them loopable, if we want to keep about the same number of frames in the end. Here's the step-by-step technique.

Step 1. Load an animation.

 This example was rendered in a 3D program (Eovia's Carrara) and has 96 frames, plays at 24 fps over 4 seconds, and you can see where it jumps from the last frame to the first as it continues playing in the Flash MX player.

The AVI file (Xvid codec) is here: step1.avi [62 kb]
if you want to play and follow the steps of this tutorial.

click the image to view the animation within a Flash MX embedded version (278 kb) or click it directly here:
step1.swf for viewing at full browser window size.

Step 2. Double its frame count with Time Stretch (optional)

 Use the the menu: Animation>Frames>Time-Stretch function and be sure to

- check the box for Frame blending for better results.
- click "*2" to double the frame count and go.

Notice the doubling of the frame count from Current to new frames. This can be quite a memory-intensive proposal if you have hundreds or thousands of frames.

We now have 192 frames, and we still can see the transition from last to first frame as a sudden jump.

Step 3. Make Loopable:

 Use Animation>Frames>Make-Loopable  and set the slider to the middle position for a value of 96 or as close as possible to that. Then start the process.
A few seconds later you'll have this loopable animation.

What Else?

From here we can do other things with it. Be sure to save it (Animation>Save-AVI). Then perhaps we'll load an animated brush of a bird or helicopter flying away to the horizon. With the Brush Keyframer we can move it from one end to the far end while changing size, angle, position and fading it into atmospheric perspective. We can add motion blurr, and then of course apply tons more special FX filters such as lightning. We can also paint on some of the frames to add fluctuations in brightness, reveal high storm clouds, etc...

hot! stormyday.htm

Other examples: