Synfig Studio vs Synfig

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In the Synfig Project there are two main tools:

  • Synfig: The command line renderer
  • Synfig Studio: The graphical user interface (GUI)

Both applications uses the synfig libraries to render the output animation. The first one (Synfig) just coverts an animation composition into a movie file and the second one (Synfig Studio) is a GUI that help to the user to create the animation composition and save it to a source file.

Synfig Animation file format

It is not the interest of this article to show you how's the synfig animation file format. For the moment you should only need to know that the file extension is .sif and that it is XML formatted text file. For space saving it is saved and loaded un gzip format under the extension of .sifz. If you're interested in learn more about synfig file format or want to contribute to its definition visit this page.

Synfig the CLI renderer

Although Synfig CLI (command line intereface) is an independent application from Synfig Studio it is worth to have it installed in your system. In fact, both share the same libraries to produce the outpur renders, one (the GUI) to the screen output and also to the file output and the other (the CLI) just the file output. The syntax of usage is the typical one with optional parameters that just need a input file and an output filename in most of the cases. One of the things that makes synfig CLI great is the ability to render large files without take your computer with your attention. Also if the render is quite long and there is any possible error (for example power supply) you can always continue rendering later using the CLI in where the animation render ended. It is only possible if you use a image sequence render target. It is explained in some of the tips of the Tips page. Also, for modern computers with several cores, if you tell to the renderer the proper values, you can run several simultaneous instances to decrease drastically the render time. It has not been developed but it is possible to create render farms to increase render time for huge movies.

Understand and learn Synfig CLI syntax is not very difficult. Once you understand the basic concepts of Synfig by using Synfig Studio you will domain Synfig CLI quickly.

Synfig Studio

Synfig Studio is a graphical user interface that is used to create new animations. With Synfig Studio you can:

  • Create a new animation from scratch.
  • Import external resources: single images, image sequences, other vectorial files (SVG) and even videos (at the moment though ffmpeg).
  • Export the animation into a movie file or into a animated graphic or a image sequence.
  • Edit several files at the same time.
  • Reference external sif files and create a macro composition.
  • Preview the animation.
  • Redo and undo the operations performed during edition.

Synfig Studio interface is a bit complex when you watch it for the very first time. But after a while and after learn how is the animation work flow you feel comfortable and understand "why things are like that" ;-)

If you're impatience and want to go straight to know interface of Synfig Studio see this quick visual overview. But it is more interesting discover step by step the meaning of the Synfig Studio components and its usage.

Further reading:

  • Principles of Animation with Synfig Studio
  • Synfig Studio Work Flow
  • Advanced Techinques

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