Video Art: Experimental Animation and Video Techniques in Linux
The famous GNU Image Manipulation Program can create animations as well as still images. Because it is a full-featured image editing program, you can use it to create an animation entirely from scratch.
In order to import a prepared image sequence into GIMP, click File→Open as Layers... or press Ctrl-Alt-o. The Open Image dialog allows you to select multiple files, which then will appear as layers.
Figure 3. An animation in progress that I made by tracing reference photos of faces from the Psychological Image Collection at Stirling (PICS).
In the example shown in Figure 3, I imported a series of reference photos into GIMP and traced over them in cyan and then in black. I eventually deleted the reference photos and blue layers, leaving only the black-lined drawings that I planned to use for my final animation.
To finish my animation, I exported the layers as a GIF and specified animation parameters in the export dialog. Because I wanted to use the animation in a video, I had to turn the animated GIF into a video file. I ultimately chose to do this by way of screen recording, but that is not the only option.
From Stills to Movies
Let's say you have a sequence of images, or perhaps an animated GIF, that you want to make into a video file. There are several ways to go about this.
Stopmotion started as a student project under the Skolelinux/Debian-edu organization in 2005. Although it hasn't been updated since 2008, I find it to be a handy tool for anyone working with frame-by-frame animation. You might have trouble finding Stopmotion in your distribution's repositories if you aren't using a DEB- or RPM-based package manager, but you can, of course, compile it from source on any distribution; that's how I set it up in Sabayon Linux.
Stopmotion is simple and to the point, with a nice drag-and-drop interface. It's not designed for heavy post-production or for drawing and adding effects to frames. Rather, the point is to give users an easy way to arrange images sequentially and export them into a video file.
The video import and export options are limited only by your imagination (and your knowledge of the command line). If you know how to use FFmpeg and/or MEncoder to convert image sequences to video, you can pass your desired command-line arguments to Stopmotion, which is essentially a GUI for those programs. Stopmotion also gives you several choices of video capture commands for grabbing video from your Webcam or another attached device.
One cool feature I didn't know about until I read the user's handbook was the option to add sound. You can set a sound clip to start at any given frame by double-clicking on it. The audio I added to my sequence didn't play in the exported AVI, but maybe you'll have better luck.
If you want to perform more-advanced editing on your individual frames, Stopmotion has a button to open a selected frame in GIMP. You also can export your data into Cinelerra for video editing.
Figure 4. Animating a Sequence of Faces in Stopmotion
Rebecca "Ruji" Chapnik is a freelance creator of miscellanea, including but not limited to text and images. You can find her experiments at http://rujic.net
Special Reports: DevOps
Have projects in development that need help? Have a great development operation in place that can ALWAYS be better? Regardless of where you are in your DevOps process, Linux Journal can help!
With deep focus on Collaborative Development, Continuous Testing and Release & Deployment, we offer here the DEFINITIVE DevOps for Dummies, a mobile Application Development Primer, advice & help from the experts, plus a host of other books, videos, podcasts and more. All free with a quick, one-time registration. Start browsing now...
- The Ubuntu Conspiracy
- A First Look at IBM's New Linux Servers
- Vigilante Malware
- Disney's Linux Light Bulbs (Not a "Luxo Jr." Reboot)
- Libreboot on an X60, Part I: the Setup
- Vagrant Simplified
- System Status as SMS Text Messages
- Bluetooth Hacks
- Dealing with Boundary Issues
- Non-Linux FOSS: Code Your Way To Victory!