Author Topic: Tutorial for creating .ani files  (Read 2732 times)

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Offline bigchunk1

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Tutorial for creating .ani files
If you don't find this page helpful, or would rather see a tutorial from someone more experienced in these matters go to
http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=74636.0
Otherwise, good luck!


Talking heads, hud shield icons, command briefing motion pictures, opening doors in the main hall screen... if it's animation in Freespace2 there's a good bet it's an .ani file! What exactly are these things and how are they made?

.ani files string together .pcx picture files as separate frames and display them one after the other to create an animation like a flipbook. This is a file format specific to Volition and in order to create them, certain Volition made tools are necessary.

Do you want to be able to make .ani files of your own? This tutorial should show you how! Don't be discouraged by the setup. Once you get things up and running, making .anis goes much more easily.


Step 1: You are going to need to have some kind of software that can save files in .bmp with 24bit depth. Paint.net, Gimp, or Photoshop are all good options. You will need to create your images and name them like this:

imagename0000 , imagename0001, imagename0002, ... , imagenameXXXX  for as many frames as it takes to create the animation you want. The 'imagename' can be anything but there must be 4 trailing numbers behind every frame counting up in sequence. Note that imagename0000 will be the first picture shown in the animation. All pictures must be the same dimension. ((Width) x (Height))


Save them all and put them all in a single folder. We will get to them later.
 
Step 2:
You are going to need to convert the images into a proper format for Volition's software to be able to read them. It needs to be in pcx. 8 bit with 256 color. Don't worry we are going convert your images to that format in the next few steps.

http://www.mediafire.com/?e1f53f8z5jzwej5
Download this folder and unpack it in your C drive. This is the necessary conversion software along with IrfanView a useful file formatting tool.  This folder must go into your C drive unless you want to do step 3.
 


Step 3(optional): install the folder into your desired directory, open it and right click on the file 'Mjnfilepath' then select edit. You should see a notepad document pop up. Select the two lines of code and type the name of the directory your bright folder is in.



Step 4(colored .anis only): Remember those images you made? Copy the .cfg file 'Mjnfilepath' and paste it in the same folder as your .bmp images. Left click 'Mjnfilepath' to run it and it should automatically convert every image you have into the proper pcx. 8 bit with 256 color.

Step 4(Head and shield greyscale .anis only): 'See replys at the bottom for now... will be updated later'

Step 5: We now have everything we need to string the images together into an .ani file.
Download this file. It can be saved in any directory you want.
http://www.mediafire.com/?4767os3j1hhe5v2

This is the latest version of Volition's .ani builder. It's pretty user friendly. Open the application and click on the 'select' button and browse for your imagename0000.pcx file. Select where you want to save the .ani and specify its type then click Start to convert your images into a single .ani file.  The .ani builder will automatically chain the images together in sequence all the way up to your highest valued frame.



You should see a new .ani file in the directory you selected. You can view the software with aniview which can be found within this folder along with other freespace tools.
http://www.mediafire.com/?b66u0y4ej21zict

Special thanks to MjnMixael for showing me how to do this. Comments for improving the tutorial are welcome.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 11:28:34 pm by bigchunk1 »
BP Multi
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Zacam: Uh. No, using an effect is okay. But you are literally using the TECHROOM ani as the weapon effect.

 

Offline esarai

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
An excellent tutorial, though one question... don't you have to give head and shield anis a very specific color palette in the image editor your using?  Last time I tried 8-bit 256 color pcx without a special palette, bad things happened.
<Nuclear>   truth: the good samaritan actually checked for proof of citizenship and health insurance
<Axem>   did anyone catch jesus' birth certificate?
<Nuclear>   and jesus didnt actually give the 5000 their fish...he gave it to the romans and let it trickle down
<Axem>and he was totally pro tax breaks
<Axem>he threw out all those tax collectors at the temple
<Nuclear>   he drove a V8 camel too
<Nuclear>   with a sword rack for his fully-automatic daggers

Esarai: hey gaiz, what's a good improvised, final attack for a ship fighting to buy others time to escape to use?
RangerKarl|AtWork: stick your penis in the warp core
DarthGeek: no don't do that
amki: don't EVER do that

 

Offline ssmit132

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
Yes. If your .ani is destined to be used in the hud (usually, a head and shield .ani) you need a special grayscale palette. You can get it by getting a frame from an existing .ani from the hud.

 
Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
Indeed, for many applications you need a special greyscale colour palette. In order to do this:

1. Extract a frame from a retail ANI as PCX (you can do that with AniView) and put it in the same directory as the files you want to convert.
2. I don't know how to do this with a .cfg file, but if you run Bright from the command line you enter >bright INFILENAME -palette SOURCEFILENAME.pcx
All the new PCXes will now have the same palette as the original one.

 

Offline JGZinv

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
*raises hand*

Isn't this unnecessary as we have EFF files now?
I mean A+ for effort of making a tutorial, we all know we need those... but I thought EFF was the replacement for all things ANI.
True power comes not from strength, but from the soul and imagination.
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Offline bigchunk1

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
...Isn't this unnecessary as we have EFF files now?


Eather way works, it's a matter of preference which one you decide to use for your projects.

There is a very brief EFF tutorial on the wiki. My experience with them is limited.
http://www.hard-light.net/wiki/index.php/EFF#ANI

I found the .ani tutorial on the same page hard to understand so I tried to make a more detailed one after learning how to do it. It's not so bad once everything's set up.

...don't you have to give head and shield anis a very specific color palette in the image editor your using?  Last time I tried 8-bit 256 color pcx without a special palette, bad things happened.
I think you're correct. I will need to update the tutorial to account for this. Right now, this method works for making command briefing, main hall, techroom (colored) .anis.

Indeed, for many applications you need a special greyscale colour palette. In order to do this:

1. Extract a frame from a retail ANI as PCX (you can do that with AniView) and put it in the same directory as the files you want to convert.
2. I don't know how to do this with a .cfg file, but if you run Bright from the command line you enter >bright INFILENAME -palette SOURCEFILENAME.pcx
All the new PCXes will now have the same palette as the original one.

Perhaps I could get a hold of a greyscale .cfg file to take care of this and include it in the tutorial. I'd bet MjnMixael would be able to make one.
BP Multi
The Antagonist
Zacam: Uh. No, using an effect is okay. But you are literally using the TECHROOM ani as the weapon effect.

 

Offline esarai

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
Well the .effs are only for SCP, so if people still want to have (for some crazy, masochistic reason) compatibility with retail, make .anis with the palette. 
<Nuclear>   truth: the good samaritan actually checked for proof of citizenship and health insurance
<Axem>   did anyone catch jesus' birth certificate?
<Nuclear>   and jesus didnt actually give the 5000 their fish...he gave it to the romans and let it trickle down
<Axem>and he was totally pro tax breaks
<Axem>he threw out all those tax collectors at the temple
<Nuclear>   he drove a V8 camel too
<Nuclear>   with a sword rack for his fully-automatic daggers

Esarai: hey gaiz, what's a good improvised, final attack for a ship fighting to buy others time to escape to use?
RangerKarl|AtWork: stick your penis in the warp core
DarthGeek: no don't do that
amki: don't EVER do that

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
I've uploaded the necessary files.

Place "sourcecolor.bmp" in the same folder as Bright.exe and simply use brightindexedcolor utility in place of the other .cgf.

I have not tested if the palette is correct, but it should be.

NOTE: You will need to edit the utility to direct it to the locations of bright.exe and i_view32.exe

EDIT: I tested it and it works perfectly. This should be used to create anything that needs the 8 bit specific color palette. (message ANIs, tech icon anims, etc.)

[attachment deleted by ninja]
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 08:20:25 am by mjn.mixael »
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Offline IronBeer

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Re: Tutorial for creating .ani files
Olololol /points at sig.

Ani's, while arcane, aren't all that hard to work with. I for one figured out how to make message .anis from scratch (sorta, heheh) by trial and error, plus some wiki help. Getting palettes just right for message .anis is easy to miss- and extremely frustrating if you don't know how to do so. I'd wager that most folks getting into the .ani business are looking to build message anims- updating your tutorial with info about proper paletting wouldn't be a bad idea, as the colorful pictures will drive the point home.
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