Creative Project- Using Synfig & Pencil

First and foremost, here’s my project.

I chose to do an animation simply because I have done quite a bit of work in interactive fiction and hypertext prior to this course.  I have made several choose your own adventures in the past, and as the requirements state, we’re supposed to try something outside of our comfort zone.  I have made simple gifs before, but I had never truly made anything beyond a few seconds of animation.  So, I dived headfirst into the unknown; animation software.

I have to say right off the bat that it definitely did not come out how I anticipated.  I had high hopes for the functionality of animation software, and they were quickly dashed, creating a lot more work for me.

What I was expecting was a tool that would allow me to input the ‘key’ pieces of my animation, and it would take care of all the stuff in the middle.  And I did find that in Synfig!  It’s a great free program that lets you do exactly what I described, and it worked pretty darn well for me.  Except that it would crash every time I tried to save my work.  I would recommend it though if you are an animation beginner like I was, and if you use a Windows machine.  It’s a little finicky on the Mac.

I went in search of free alternatives.  I found Pencil which is what I ended up using.  I don’t recommend using Pencil for any sort of large scale project.  Even though my animation was only a bit over a minute, this ended up being a huge pain in the butt.  However, Pencil is great if you are an artist who wants to show a time lapse of their work.  Or if you’re making something really short like a 5 second gif.

Pencil told me that you could add sound to your project.  And then, when I would try and export it with the sound, nothing would play.  I attribute this to my lack of knowledge of formatting, but nevertheless, Pencil probably should have been forthcoming with this information.

In the end, my minute long animation ended up having 300+ frames to make it look sort of smooth and, even then, it doesn’t look very smooth.  Each of these frames had to be created in a separate program (Gimp) and then uploaded as a new frame into Pencil.  Pencil’s animation timeline window also only went to a certain length, and I had to expand it manually.  Basically, more than half of the animation frame was hanging out somewhere beyond my computer screen as I continuously had to drag the window bar bigger and bigger.  I hope that made sense.

Due to this large amount of tedious work,  I didn’t get to show the whole story that I wanted to.

Thanks to this project, I got to learn more about animation and how it really works.  I also played with a couple of other different programs that ended up just not being for me; for example, I learned a little bit about modeling by trying out blender.  This was a great way to learn new software 🙂



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