Animator Studio produces movies in the Windows environment. It includes paint tools, automatic generation of motion and varying ink effects over time, sound capture and editing, scripting, and playback. It is an excellent vehicle for translating and processing multiple graphics formats. I was particularly interested in its ability to read and write sequential, high-resolution, true-color TGA files.
I needed a method to edit and enhance 3D Studio animations before processing with a DPS PAR video recorder. This task pushed Animator Studio to the limit, since the 752 Χ 480 format I use requires large amounts of RAM, disk space, and processing. With 36M bytes of RAM and several hundred M bytes of free disk, I was able to perform edits, titling, graphic additions, and transitions with acceptable speed and high-quality results. I performed experiments with lower-resolution animations, obtaining a significant increase in speed and lowering in resource requirements.
Animator Studio operates in either frame or time mode. Frame Mode is suitable for manual, frame-by-frame animation and editing, with operations similar to those in a still-paint program. Time Mode interpolates geometrical variations and visual effects over multiple frames, automatically generating the frame-to-frame changes that create animation. For example, drawing a rectangle in frame 1 then scaling it in frame 10 results in a continuous variation in rectangle size over the frames when the action is rendered. Though the concept is simple, the results are dramatic when extended to variations in object movement, text generation, and ink properties.
I created transitions between scenes by painting one movie with another. I used Clone Ink, defined as a segment of one movie, to paint over a segment of another movie. Animating the clone-ink intensity over the transition section resulted in a smooth dissolve from one movie to the other. The effect can be infinitely varied by painting the clone in geometric shapes, varying the shape over time.
I was particularly impressed with Studio's powerful selection tools which are used to isolate portions of a scene for editing. The wide variety of ink controls permits wonderful variations of static and animated effects. Studio includes Kai's Power Tools, an ink filter plug-in which includes a user-controlled Gradient Designer, and one-step filters that perform predefined transformations upon the underlying image.
Animator Studio includes all of the tools needed to make a complete Windows movie, including animation, sound, scripting, and playback. The Sound Lab captures and edits sound tracks, and combines them with movies. I found its operation very straightforward, and had a great deal of fun playing with pitch changes, tempo, filters, reverb, and chorus effects. This capability proves valuable for modifying machine sounds to accompany mechanical animations. The Scriptor combines movie scenes and sound files (including MIDI), to assemble entire productions.
I was pleased with the results of all jobs I tried with Animator Studio. The only objection I had was to the text tool which composes in an editing window, transferring the results to the current frame after editing. This made text composition, in context, somewhat difficult. General changes to text blocks are performed in context, and I found these edits acceptable.
I used Animator Studio as an all-in-one digital video editing tool, pushing it beyond its primary intent of creating lower-resolution movies for Windows. I believe that my success proves its capability. I think that its best features include flexibility, completeness, and compatibility over a broad range of Windows applications and formats.
A similar product:
Adobe Premier - Adobe Systems, Inc., Box 7900, Mountain View, CA 94039; ph. (415) 961-4400; fax: (415) 961-3769.
Spec Box: Animator Studio,R1 for Windows
Requirements: a 486/66 processor with 8M bytes of RAM for 320 Χ 240 pixel images, 16M bytes for 640 Χ 480 pixels. 32M bytes recommended. The hard disk should include a swap space of 3 times available RAM and ample space for working copies of the largest movie anticipated.
List Price: $295
Autodesk, Inc., 111 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael, CA 94903 ; ph. (415) 507-5000; fax: (415) 507-5100.