Overview

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Synfig Studio is open-source 2D vector animation software. It is designed to produce film-quality animation with fewer people and resources.
  
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images ("[[frame]]s") to create the illusion of movement. Convincing movement requires many such frames, but 2D animation is traditionally created by drawing each frame individually, a method called "frame-by-frame animation".
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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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<!-- TODO: Insert illustration of frame-by-frame animation here -->
  
Digital animation makes it easier for artists to animate more quickly, efficiently, and consistently.  It introduced concepts such as automatic in-betweening ([//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweening|"tweening"]) of frames and [[Reuse Animations|reuse of small animations]]. Synfig Studio is free, open source, 2D animation software that implements those concepts.
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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''' is a technique that takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. In the process of transition one shape is deformed into another and this transformation is usually defined by control points. In Synfig Studio images constructed from vector shapes and the morphing is done in automatic way. That allows to create animation by drawing only key positions at relatively wide time intervals. You can draw as many frames as he need to create basic sense of motion for the scene and Synfig Studio takes responsibility to create in-between frames.
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<!-- TODO: Insert illustration of morphing animation here -->
  
==Layers are Different==
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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. 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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<!-- TODO: Insert illustration of cutout animation here -->
  
[[File:overview-layers.png|thumb|Every shape is a layer]]
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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".  But tweening is not the only advantage of Synfig Studio.
The [[layer]] in Synfig differs from those in most 2D graphics editors.  Every object--a rectangle, circle, [[BLine|bezier]] outline or region, etc.--is a layer on its own. Two [[Anatomy_of_a_Synfig_Animation|kinds of layers]] exist in Synfig, the primitives layers and the filters (or effects) layers. All the layers belong to "[[canvas]]es", self-contained animations with their own timelines.
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Multiple layers can be [[encapsulate]]d into a {{Literal|[[Paste Canvas]]}} layer, which will ''isolate their effects'' and cause them to ''act as a single layer''.
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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.
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<!-- TODO: Illustration - bitmap image and same image traced in Synfig Studio -->
  
==The Power of ValueNodes==
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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.
  
Synfig's [[ValueNode]] system gives us flexible control over repeated data and complex relationships.  All layer properties are stored as reusable ValueNodes, which can be linked to each other or even derived from mathematic formulae.  An important aspect of ValueNodes is that ''they can be animated and tweened''; in fact, the vertices of a shape are ValueNodes, and animating them morphs the shape.
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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.
 
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A real-world example of ValueNodes' usefulness is clothing.  If a character's clothing must be colored alike in multiple shots, each instance's color can be [[linking|linked]] across files.  Whenever one instance's color is changed, they are all changed simultaneously.
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Aside from linking simple pieces of data, you can also define relations between them using a functions and conditions. Hence, we have the ability to create animation based on defined laws.  A ball from a cannon can be realistically fired, or a pseudo-3D character's face can rotate accurately with its head.
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<!-- TODO: Write a few lines here that Synfig can be used to produce simple animations too -->
 
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==Example Animation Types==
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All those features of Synfig Studio are covered in detail in the chapters of this manual.
  
===Morphing===
 
 
Morphing takes two images and creates a smooth transition between them. This is done by tweening the vertices of one shape to the vertices of another.  Intricate nimation with this method is done simply by supplying frames in key positions ([[keyframe]]s) at relatively wide time intervals, and allowing Synfig to fill in the gaps with tweening.
 
<!-- TODO: Insert illustration of morphing animation here -->
 
 
===Cutout animation===
 
 
[[File:Boris-munchausen-cut-out.png|thumb|right|[//munchausenproject.wordpress.com/ The Adventures of Boris Munchausen] demonstrates cutout animation]]
 
Cutout animation is created by splitting objects into parts and applying some simple transformations to them (like translation, rotation or scale).  Synfig Studio will tween movements easily.
 
 
It is worth noting that cutout animation can be produced from both bitmap images and vector shapes.  The transformation of parts will be the same, either way.
 
 
==Simple or Complex?==
 
 
What if we don't need all these special features?  Not everyone wants to make physics demonstrations, and sometimes we don't want to worry about intricacies in animating.  Understandable.
 
 
Although interface can take some familiarizing ([//www.synfig.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1820 and the developers '''are''' aware of this]), you are never ''forced'' to program your shapes to do [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigonometry trigonometry] or have a gratuitously streamlined art style.
 
 
<!-- TODO: Illustration - bitmap image and same image traced in Synfig Studio -->
 
 
==Love Your Work==
 
 
For animators or artists, Synfig Studio is an exceptional tool of the trade.  Obviously, it isn't for everybody.  It is industrial-strength software designed for a niche audience, and that is '''animators'''.
 
 
Are you ready to use Synfig Studio?  Put on some tea as we [[Doc:Getting Started|open the manual]].
 
 
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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. -->
 
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Revision as of 06:22, 30 November 2012


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

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.

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

  • Morphing animation
  • Cutout animation

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

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.

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". But tweening is not the only advantage of Synfig Studio.

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.

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


Navigation Navigation:  Manual>>