AniComp Quick Start

This page is intended to give a quick introduction to the setting up a simple session within AniComp.

Before we go any further, go take another quick look at the project development status.

This page relates to a development version of AniComp, although should also work for the currently released snapshot. We also refer to a slightly modified version of Ardour-0.99. Get in touch for further details about this. (AniComp development has fallen slightly out of sync with Ardours development, I'll be working on resolving this soon).

Ok, here we go ...

Software

To get the most out of AniComp, you'll want to install a few additional applications.

Ardour

Ardour provides audio recording for the aniamtic, and provides a visual representation of each image frame upon the timeline.

qjackctl

AniComp requires the Jack Audio Connection Kit. qjackctl provides a nice way to setup and control the audio server.

Starting AniComp

First of all, lets start AniComp. Assuming you've successfully built and installed AniComp, and that AniComp is in your current PATH, just start it.

# AniComp &

AniComp uses a small configuration file in the user home area, $HOME/~anicomp/anicomp.xml, to control resource locations etc. These settings should be fine for a default installation.

Next we'll fire up the Jack audio server. qjackctl comes in useful here. Strictly speaking, AniComp does not require Jack to be running, until you come to use the preview feature, or connect to Ardour (Ardour does require Jack to be running). However, generally you will want to start Jack, and connect to Ardour.

Configuration of the various jack setings for your soundcard is not covered here, a good place to look is the Jack website.

Start qjackctl and start the jack audio server.

Finally, we'll start Ardour. One thing to note here is that Ardour looks for AniComp in the current path, and adds a required menu option depending on whether AniComp was found. If AniComp is in the path. the menu option session/image compositor will be available. So, before starting Ardour, ensure that AniComp is in your current PATH.

Image Repository

Menus within AniComp are still under construction. Item positions are likely to change in the near future.

Before we conect to Ardour, and create a session, lets add an Image Repository to AniComp. Image repositories store the individual frames that will compose an Animatic. We can have several separate repositories for different features, or group everything within collections in a single repository. AniComp currently supports only a file based reposiroty, although this system could easily be extended to handle different reposiroy types.

The image browser is intended to provide more than a simple viewer for the thumbnails, it is intended to be a complete interface into the repository allowing images to be added and moved between repositories and the browsing and searching of metadata connected to each image.

Open the reposity manager from the the tools menu on the manubar. From here we can add a new image repository. Select Add to add a new repository. Select File System as the repository type. (XMLDB has not been implemented yet). Browse to the directory structure holding the frames that will be used for the animatic. The last path segment of the selected path is assumed as the root collection within the repository, directories below the root are collections within the root collection. Click OK to add the repository.

If these images are critical, I'd suggest you create a copy of the directory structure and use the copy fo experimenting with AniComp.

We can use the Image Browser to view the images. The repository we have just added should be available within the image browser. We can navigate through the collections, and see thumbnails of each image. The Image browser will be used to add frames to our Animatic later.

Connecting AniComp to Ardour

The current connection method needs improvement. Ideally we should be able to conect automagically, and not require an audio session be started before-hand.

In order to connect Ardour and AniComp, we must first tell AniComp to listen for a connection. Under the Tools menu, select Audio Engine Connection/Listen.

Before we can connect, we need an initial session within Ardour. Under the Session menu within Ardour, select new and create a new audio session. We can now use the Image Compositor menu option under the Session menu to connect to AniComp.

Creating a new session

Now lets create a new Animatic session.

Select File/New from the AniComp menubar. You'll be presented with a new animatic dialog. Add a title and a brief description of the Animatic. We can ignore the aspect ratio at this point. We'll use our current session within Ardour for our audio session. Select the Use Connected Session checkbox, details of the current session within Ardour should automatically be set.

Using the new Animatic dialog, we can also add an initial image track to display image frames. Using the Initial Tracks tab, select Add and enter the name of an Image Track, 'Images' would do, and hit OK.

Back in the new Animatic Dialog, we can now click OK to create the Animatic.

Initial Audio Session

For the purposes of this simple example session, we'll use a pre recorded audio track and import it into Ardour to provide our soundtrack. For this you'll need to locate a sample .wav file someplace on your system. Once you have one, click on the region/name heading to the right of Ardours main Window and select import audio (copy). Navigate to your .wav file and import.

Add a new audio track to the audio session via the session menu within Ardour and drag the imported audio onto the track. You should now be able to hit play and hear the audio.

Adding Initial Frames

AniComp uses jack concept of frames for all timing values internally and that is what is expected here. Ideally this will be replaced with a user configurable option on the time display format.

Using the Image Browser, and the toolbox, we can now begin adding scenes, and frames to the timeline. Start by selecting the scenes tool. signified by the 'S'. Enter a scene Id for the new scene, for example 'Opening'. The scene will be added to our previously created Image Track, 'Images'. If we had multiple Image Tracks we could select the approriate track to which the scene should be added.

Now, we'll add a few frames directoy to this scene as we are adding it. Check the Initial Image Frames checkbox to activate the initial frames panel. The start frame and duration relate to the starting point on the timeline of each of the frames, and the duration of each frame. Set the start frame to zero, and set a reasonable duration for each frame. Assuming you are runngin Jack with a sample rate of 44100, a value 132300 would represent 3 seconds here.

Now using the Image Browser, drag a few images from the browser onto the Image Preview area of the scene tool. Once you have a few images, hit Add. The scene will be added to the 'Images' Image Track, and an Image Frame for each image you added will be created within the Scene. You should be able to view this now on the DataView within AniComp, and see the thumbnails on the timeline within Ardour.

Updating Frames

todo ...

Preview

Previews represent another area of AniComp that is far from complete. While we can present a simple 'slideshow' of the animatic, the actual rendering leaves alot to be desired. At this stage it serves as a simple indication of what AniComp could do.

AniComp uses the transport information provided by the Jack audio to syncronise image frames to audio. We use Ardour to generate this information for us. Open Ardours option editor window, from Windows/Option Editor, and ensire that the Jack time master checkbox is checked, and set the Position Sync to Sync With JACK.

We open the preview of an Image Track by right clicking on the track within the DataView, and selecting Preview. You should now be able to start playback either with the transport controls within Ardour, or by right clicking on the preview window and selecting Plat.

Exporting

todo ...

AniPlay

todo ...

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this quick run through with AniComp has demonstrated the aims of the project. There are a number of problems still to be overcome, and a number of gaping holes in functionality. However, hopefully you now have a clearer idea of what AniComp is, and what it is intended to do