Fig.: Animation Window – Key Frame Path
This window lets you define key frames, which then get interpolated by ChaosPro. The keyframes are the main elements of an animation.
Now lets start describing the graphical elements in this window:
This graphical element is a self made GUI component which should graphically display a timeline, i.e. it should show you at what time what keyframe should appear. If you add a keyframe to this component by clicking onto the ‘Add’ or ‘Add first’ button, you will see a small rectangle (blue, selected keyframe: red) labeled like the keyframe.
After the label – enclosed in brackets – you see the ‘distance’ to the previous keyframe and the absolute position of this keyframe (unit: number of images): So Black_Hole (10 / 18) means, that this keyframe appears at position 18 (it is image number 18 in the animation) and 8 images will be calculated from the previous keyframe to this one.
You can select a keyframe by clicking onto it. The entry will then be selected.
You can change the position of a keyframe by dragging it up/down with the mouse. Please note that the first keyframe stays fixed. Its position cannot be changed.
You can rename a keyframe by selecting it and changing the name which gets displayed above the timeline in the entry field.
Below the timeline there is a drop down combobox, which lets you choose a scale factor for the timeline, i.e. how many screen pixels are mapped to one timeline unit (i.e. image).
- Palette morphing
If you look at a keyframe you can see the camera symbol , then a can eventually filled with some pens: . This symbol specifies whether the palette of this fractal should be animated, too. If the pens are visible, the palette of the fractal is used.
ChaosPro can change the palette used to draw the image during an animation. Every fractal has its own set of colors. Normally (if you do not change anything) the whole animation uses only the colors from the first keyframe. That means, if you add another keyframe which uses different colors then the color definitions are overwritten using the colors from the first keyframe.
You can tell ChaosPro to use the colors of a specific keyframe and thus to interpolate the color definitions. You do this by clicking on the “can” symbol. If it contains pens , then the colors from this keyframe are taken. Colors from the previous keyframe get interpolated. If the “can” does not contain anything , then the colors of this keyframe are discarded. Instead, the interpolated colors are taken.
The first keyframe defines the color palette used in the animation, so you cannot alter the can symbol.
Note: Palette morphing is a nice feature with very nice effects. Unfortunately AVI files do not properly handle palette based images. They only handle true color images. So you have to make sure that your fractals which you add to the animation timeline use the 24 bit mode. You do this by choosing the menu item “Fractal/Palette Mode/Interpolated”.
Now lets describe the buttons at the right side of the timeline component:
- Add / Add First
By pressing on one of these buttons the current fractal is defined as a new animation keyframe and is inserted into the timeline. ‘Add’ inserts it after the current selection, ‘Add First’ inserts it at the first position.
On insertion the program checks, whether this data structure is suitable, e.g. whether it is of the same (fractal-)type and subtype as the ones already in the list, and whether it differs only in valid parameters (values which cannot be animated – for example switches – must not change). If it doesn’t fit to the other ones in the timeline, then an error-report occurs, in some cases with a hint why it failed and with the offer to adjust the offending parameters to the other ones in the list.
By the way, the new keyframe has the same name as the fractal data set, but it has nothing to do with it. The new keyframe is a copy of the original structure, not a reference. That means, if you change a parameter in the fractal data set this does not affect the keyframe in any way. This enables a quick method for creating an animation sequence:
Calculate a fractal, insert it as a keyframe, then change a parameter or simply zoom in and add it as a new keyframe again. Repeat this as long as you wish. Then you only need to adjust the desired number of images to calculate between each two keyframes and to set the animation size and those parameters and you are done.
Does, what it says: Deleted the currently selected keyframe
- Keyframe up / Keyframe down
These buttons move a keyframe up or down in the timeline component.
- Start / Abort
If you push the button ‘Start’, an animation is launched. For that purpose a new fractal data set gets created, a subthread is started which calculates the image. As soon as the calculation is finished, this thread signals the main message loop to save the image. The main message loop then starts saving the image and updates the data set. If there’s nothing to update any more (the animation has come to an end), then this entry is deleted, the thread is killed. Otherwise the thread is restarted. Although you can interact with this entry in the Main application window, I suggest not to do so. ChaosPro won’t crash (well, except when a bug occurs…), but the animation will not be correct, of course. If you delete this entry, then you abort the animation, just as if you click onto ‘Abort’. If you click onto ‘Abort’ the calculation of the animation is aborted. Any output made to far (sequence of *.png files or an AVI file) is valid, i.e. there is not a crippled AVI file.
- Load / Save
You can save the list of keyframes and load them later or exchange with friends.
If you click onto this button, all data sets describing the frames of the current animation are created and inserted as fractal data sets as a new project in the main application window. If you then calculate all these new elements and save the images, you obtain the animation. The animation system just creates these structures subsequently, calculates the fractals and saves them automatically.
The main reason for this button is, that you have the data structures and can modify parameters, which the animation system perhaps doesn’t handle like you would expect it.
These buttons are active only while ChaosPro calculates an animation. It let’s you temporarily stop/resume the calculation of the animation.