The following discussion, which may include mild profanity and other unseemly and immature behavior on my part, concerns the Freeware digital animation program Pivot. The software is available only for the PC platform, so that should tell you pretty much everything you need to know right there.
First: thank you to the fine folks at Celanic Studios (whose website has been taken over by the HSU Marine Sciences Department, I recently learned) for their kind assistance with some vexing issues I encountered during my initial forays into Pivot animation. Yes, I reluctantly fired up the PC, inspired by pastilla's widescreen animated epic, and had a go with a non-Mac software package.
A less than successful go, I might add.
"Intuitive." I am learning to despise that word. "Intuitive" should be updated at AskOxford to include as part of the definition, "abstract and awkward to the point where Dave has no clue, and never will, ha ha ha! See: moron."
Anyway, after spending quite some time trying to convert a stick man into a table with square legs (duh... it can't be done!), I attempted to duplicate the toe-tapping feat (nyuk!) of the aforementioned wide-screen extravaganza. Okaaayyyy... so what if you make a mistake in your epic? Not that I would. Editing frames after the fact is a cumbersome, and far from "intuitive," process. Some members of Team Celanic concur, to an extent, with my dissatisfaction for the editing capabilities of Pivot.
Then again, "you get what you pay for." I eventually came up with an incredibly awkward work-around that I figured couldn't possibly be the "best" way to edit frames. As it happens, I wasn't far off the mark. The editing process suggested by Team Celanic closely approximated the ungainly, cumbersome process I came up with.
My major challenge with Pivot was with timing. Creating a "pause" in the action offers a considerable challenge, due to the way animated GIF files are processed. The Pivot program plays the series of frames "as created." Rendering a GIF file, however, seems to compress duplicate frames into a single image. "Dramatic pauses" are completely eliminated in the final GIF output.
Yet somehow, the "sample" images provided on the Pivot site include pauses in the action.
Team Celanic suggests altering the playback rate during the output conversion process. I considered this approach, but wouldn't this have the effect of altering the playback rate for all the frames, including the regular action frames, and slowing the animation to a sluggish, Lord of the Rings-esque crawl? Or will it affect only "duplicate" frames?
Due in part to my frustration working with Pivot combined with a sadistic desire to spread the misery, along with my envy of those schools who have the time and resources to immerse their students in the digital arts, I spent my lunch break at school today loading Pivot onto the 3 classroom PC computer stations. When two of the 4th-grade boys came in for second math block, we instead delved into the magic of digital animation. Keeping in mind that these are "special needs" students... I WAS PRETTY ANNOYED when they not only didn't break down in tears trying to master the program, but actually created functional animations using multiple characters within, oh, about fifteen or twenty minutes! One kid had a figure go through some ninja warm-up moves, then the other figure walked up and kicked the first one in the, uh, in a strategic place. Then he made a second clip of a figure doing a somersault. The other kid had his figures fight, which was kind of sloppy, but then they got up and shook hands!
So... are you smarter than a Special Ed 4th Grader? 'Cuz I'm not.
If I can't even manage to put something together using stick figures in a simple Freeware animation program... well, I'm thinking it would be more to my advantage to take this new, unopened Adobe Creative Suite package sitting here on the table and list it on eBay, rather than loading up the software and trying anything in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Flash.
Speaking of Flash, a girl an another forum posted her groovy, and pretty professional looking, for the most part, Pinky:st video she made using Flash: link
So: no more Pinky:st films from me until I've mastered Flash, iMovie, and whatever else I need to make halfway decent videos. Which obviously isn't going to happen. Thus, my movie-making days are done.
Assuming I were going to look further into animation (I'm not, but, just pretend), is there any reason to use anything other than Flash? I mean, my understanding is that "the pros" use Flash. I've read that those eSurance commercials (with the foxy secret agent babe) are made using Flash. And it seems like South Park or Aqua Teen Hunger Force or SeaLab 2021 could be done in Flash, based on what I've read about the program. Of course, what I've read about the program includes terms like "intuitive," so, like, yeah.
Okay, here's my first crappy (widescreen!) Pivot piece. Without pauses; they're there, but they don't show up in the GIF, which totally ruins the effect of the piece. Maybe I'll try to fix it later. But probably not.
By the way, it's really hard to make the figures walk without looking like some kind of spiders or something.
[EDIT: accolades to kuriimupan of Studio Celanic: his tip for improving the pacing of the GIF image helped considerably!]