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
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