Overview

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As you probably know, animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images in order to create an illusion of movement. Traditionally 2D animation is created by drawing each displayed image individually. Those images are called "frames" and thus such method called "frame-by-frame animation". To create good illusion of movement you need to draw many frames, that's why his method requires a lot of time and resources.
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[[File:Traditional-animation.gif|x150px|frame|center|A traditional frame-by-frame animation, taken from : http://flipily.com|link=http://flipily.com]]
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{{literal|Synfig Studio}} is [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software open-source] 2D vector animation software. It is designed to produce film-quality animation with fewer people and resources.
  
{{DevNotesBegin}}This page is currently under development. It is by no means ready for use.{{DevNotesEnd}}
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Synfig Studio is built to eliminate the need to draw each frame individually. There are two techniques for that:
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* Morphing animation
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* Cutout animation
  
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== Morphing ==
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[[File:Rose4b.gif|thumb|100px|right|Morphing animation of a rose, by Rore]] '''Morphing''' is a technique that takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. In the process of morphing, one shape is deformed into another and this transformation is usually defined by control points. In Synfig Studio images are constructed from vector shapes and the morphing is done automatically. That allows us to create animation by drawing only key positions at relatively wide time intervals. You need only draw a few frames as needed to create a basic sense of motion for the scene, and Synfig Studio will create the in-between frames.
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== What Is Animation? ==
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== Cutout animation ==
Well, do we really have to explain that here? You wouldn't be here if you didn't have a glue, right?
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[[Image:Cutoutsample.gif|thumb|100px|left|Cutout animation in Synfig's tutorials]]
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'''Cutout animation''' is created by splitting objects into parts and applying some simple transformations to them (like translation, rotation or scale) at different moments of time.
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Synfig Studio uses those values to interpolate the motion for in-between frames. Cutout animation can be produced from bitmap images or vector graphics.
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We like what we found at [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Animation&oldid=358878912 Wikipedia]:
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== Synthesis and other functionalities==
"Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement."
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In both cases the role of Synfig Studio is to fill the gaps between the drawn frames (also called "keyframes") and produce smooth and fluid animation. This process is called "tweening".
  
The important part is "[...] artwork or model positions [...]". This is the difference to shooting a film or video.
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Although Synfig Studio is not directly intended to draw animation frame-by-frame, it can be used to bring your hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation to the film-quality level by converting bitmap data of each frame into vector format. This process is called "tracing" and usually done by hand by constructing vector shapes on top of bitmap image. In the process of construction you can apply a lot of fascinating effects built into Synfig Studio to achieve a professional look for your animations.
So the question is now: How do we get the artwork or the model positions?  That leads us to the ...
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<!-- TODO: Illustration - bitmap image and same image traced in Synfig Studio -->
  
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Whether you do frame-by frame animation or not, Synfig Studio gives you flexible control over the repeated data, such as colors, outline characteristics, textures, images and many more - even animation trajectories and their sets (actions). Reusing repeated data is achieved via linking. This is a power of Synfig Studio, which is especially important for big animation projects.
  
=== Animation Techniques ===
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Among the plain linking pieces of artwork data you can also define relations between them using a set of functions. That allows to create automatic animation based on the defined laws and bring whole animation process to the new level.
There are several techniques for creating an animation:
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[[Image:Parabolic-shot.gif|frame|center|Parabolic shot in Synfig's tutorials]]
* traditional animation ("by hand" development of each of the images)
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* stop motion (or step-by-step) (using a camera to take the images that finally build the animation. e.g. clay animation)
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* computer animation
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* other animation techniques (like: drawn-on-film, paint-on-glass)
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We need to explain "computer animation" as many of the other techniques can be done, enhanced or mixed with computer tools. In this documentation we define computer animation as an animation where we use a computer to create at least some of the images just based on rules and data.
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<!-- TODO: Write a few lines here that Synfig can be used to produce simple animations too -->
  
 
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All those features of Synfig Studio are covered in detail in the chapters of this manual.
=== Types Of Computer Animation ===
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The 2 major types of computer animation are:
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* 2D Computer Animation and
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* 3D Computer Animation
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2D Animation is quite close to the traditional animation techniques. The computer tools take care of some of the steps that can be generated based on interpolation rules. The images that define important positions of a movement have to be created by the animator. The results are best if the animated images are based on vector graphics, because changes to the vectors have to be mathematically well-defined.
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3D Animation changes the whole animation process. It is not built upon images that an animator creates, but on 3D models of all relevant resources (such as actors, items and scene). 3D Animation is much more comparable to real film production: one has to take care of camera position, camera movement, lights and movements in 3D space (collisions).
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Now, does that mean that 2D Animation is obsolete?
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No, definitively not! They are very different techiques for creating an animation. We willl give you some hints on where the differences are in the next chapter.
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=== Differences Between 2D And 3D Animation ===
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'''2D is more direct'''
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Not that 2D animation would not take into consideration camera, lights and movement, but in 2D it's always about the image itself, not about the technology to get the image.
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'''skills are different'''
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You need different skills for 2D and 3D animations. 2D needs more painting skills where with 3D you would need 3D construction skills. Both are arts on it's own, but as we said... different.
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'''it is a different style'''
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Have a look at some of your favorite animation features. There are many very successful movies and tv series that intentionally work with 2D animation or even traditional animation. Good example: "The Simpsons". Even more obvious: the "cut-out-animation" style of "Southpark" is part of the art concept. 3D animations tend to be less abstract and sketchy in their style.
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'''time & efforts'''
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Chances are that creating 3D animations are more time-consuming than a comparable 2D animation.
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While on the other hand animating even simple 3D movements (like a head turn) can be very time-consuming with 2D.
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3D tools are usually more complex to learn if you start from scratch due to all the 3D construction features, while most people have some experiences in using drawing tools on computers already.
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So, over all: you ''might'' get results faster with 2D animation.
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=== ... And Synfig Studio? ===
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You may have guessed it already... Synfig Studio is conceptually developed for 2D computer animation based on vector graphics.
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Synfig cannot do 3D. Period. But believe us: it is '''very''' powerful, just 5 examples:
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* animating a plant growing and blooming .. easy. Have a look at the tutorials.
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* doing "cut-out-animation" style with Synfig: no problem (just have a look at the tutorials)!
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* you might use Synfig for technical animations as all changes can also be based on mathematical models.
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* creating a Slide Show with your pictures (again: have a look at the tutorials).
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* mixing pictures and animations for funny and astonishing effects (you guessed it.. yes, have a look at the tutorials)
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== The Animation Creation Process ==
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So, can we do everything in 2D animation creation with Synfig Studio?
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Well, you could, but there are parts where Synfig fits very well and other parts where you might better use other tools to do that.
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Let's have a look at the creation process of an animation to structure this a bit...
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The animation creation process includes the following steps:
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* development
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* pre-production
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* production
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* post-production
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* sales and distribution
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''Develoment'' takes care of the creation of the story script as such and does typically not include creation of any artwork other than textual. ''Sales and distribution'' are important, but also do not have an animation content as such. We will have a closer look into the ''pre-production'', ''production'' and ''post-production'' steps, but also limited to the most often used and animation related topics only.
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We've left out things like reviews, previews with target audiences as well.
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=== Pre-Production ===
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the following tasks are usually seen as being part of pre-production
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* organization (e.g. storage, version control, other tools)
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* estimations, plans and schedules
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* script breakdowns
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* development of characters, scenes, background and other items
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* storyboard
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* storyreel / animatics
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* draft sound track, dialogs...
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=== Production ===
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* recording of spoken text (for lip sync)
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* Animation Production
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=== Post Production ===
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* picture editing / cutting
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* final sound track development
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** recording takes (even rerecording the spoken texts usually)
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** cutting/mixing
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* video editing
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** combining sound and picture
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** final rendering in delivery format
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=== ... And When Do I Use Synfig Studio? ===
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*
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*
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<!-- TODO: About this manual/Structure of this manual: The purpose of first chapter is to give you overview of the animation creation process using Synfig Studio. Without diving deep into details it will guide you through the basic concepts and offer few exercises that help you to understand how this software works. -->
 
{{Navigation|Category:Manual|Doc:Getting Started}}
 
{{Navigation|Category:Manual|Doc:Getting Started}}

Latest revision as of 11:19, 9 October 2016

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As you probably know, animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images in order to create an illusion of movement. Traditionally 2D animation is created by drawing each displayed image individually. Those images are called "frames" and thus such method called "frame-by-frame animation". To create good illusion of movement you need to draw many frames, that's why his method requires a lot of time and resources.

A traditional frame-by-frame animation, taken from : http://flipily.com

"Synfig Studio" is open-source 2D vector animation software. It is designed to produce film-quality animation with fewer people and resources.

Synfig Studio is built to eliminate the need to draw each frame individually. There are two techniques for that:

  • Morphing animation
  • Cutout animation

Morphing

Morphing animation of a rose, by Rore
Morphing is a technique that takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. In the process of morphing, one shape is deformed into another and this transformation is usually defined by control points. In Synfig Studio images are constructed from vector shapes and the morphing is done automatically. That allows us to create animation by drawing only key positions at relatively wide time intervals. You need only draw a few frames as needed to create a basic sense of motion for the scene, and Synfig Studio will create the in-between frames.


Cutout animation

Cutout animation in Synfig's tutorials

Cutout animation is created by splitting objects into parts and applying some simple transformations to them (like translation, rotation or scale) at different moments of time. Synfig Studio uses those values to interpolate the motion for in-between frames. Cutout animation can be produced from bitmap images or vector graphics.

Synthesis and other functionalities

In both cases the role of Synfig Studio is to fill the gaps between the drawn frames (also called "keyframes") and produce smooth and fluid animation. This process is called "tweening".

Although Synfig Studio is not directly intended to draw animation frame-by-frame, it can be used to bring your hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation to the film-quality level by converting bitmap data of each frame into vector format. This process is called "tracing" and usually done by hand by constructing vector shapes on top of bitmap image. In the process of construction you can apply a lot of fascinating effects built into Synfig Studio to achieve a professional look for your animations.

Whether you do frame-by frame animation or not, Synfig Studio gives you flexible control over the repeated data, such as colors, outline characteristics, textures, images and many more - even animation trajectories and their sets (actions). Reusing repeated data is achieved via linking. This is a power of Synfig Studio, which is especially important for big animation projects.

Among the plain linking pieces of artwork data you can also define relations between them using a set of functions. That allows to create automatic animation based on the defined laws and bring whole animation process to the new level.

Parabolic shot in Synfig's tutorials


All those features of Synfig Studio are covered in detail in the chapters of this manual.


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