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  Porting Animations - Intro 1

Overview and Strategy

At some point, you may want to port an animation from one format to another or from one program to another. There are a lot of animation programs and a few formats in wide use. This series of tutorials will take up the following formats and programs:

Animation Formats:

Format Extension Developer
Audio Video Interleave
AVI Microsoft®
Apple® QuickTime™ MOV Apple Computer
Graphics Interchange Format (GIF89a) GIF CompuServe®

Animation Programs:

Apple QuickTime Pro
Adobe® ImageReady™
Jasc® Animation Shop™
Macromedia® Fireworks®

Although there are many more programs to consider, I chose these because of their popularity. These programs have a lot of flexibility, and this reason alone can explain their popularity.

When porting any image the goal is to obtain the format of choice with no loss in quality. When porting animations there is an additional goal to do it in the least amount of time. This is because an animation (or movie) is made up of a number of individual frame images. The trick is to port the entire image sequence in one step and avoid having to extract or import them one at a time.

Image Quality

The color depth and compression of the frame images are paramount in order to attain the best quality when moving them from one format or program to another. Images stored in AVI or MOV formats can be true color (more here on color depth). Bear in mind that any GIF file has a limited color palette by definition. GIF files only support a maximum of 256 colors, so when porting frame images from one program or format to another, keep this in mind. If you start out with a true color image, you can always generate a GIF file from it. This will ensure that all the colors will be available to create the palette. However, if the frames are GIF files to begin with, the resulting animation will not have any more colors than the ones it started with.

Image compression is another factor affecting quality. When you generate an Apple QuickTime movie or Windows® AVI file, you can elect to use image compression. If you use a lossy compression scheme such as JPEG, this will lower the image quality of the frames (more here on the JPEG format). GIF uses a lossless compression scheme, so if you're not concerned about a limit of 256 colors then at least image quality can be maintained when using the GIF format to port animations. I emphasize that quality "can" be maintained, because you still have to make sure there is no reduction in color depth.

Porting an Image Sequence in One Step

Not all programs support the import or export of an entire image sequence. This can be a huge time saver and should always be taken into consideration. If faced with a choice whether to save or import images one at a time or all at once, the choice should be obvious. The next tutorial will detail which programs do and which ones don't.

Porting Strategy

So the porting strategy you should use is twofold:

1. Port the images with no loss in quality
2. Try to port the image sequence in a single step.

Click Here To Continue...


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