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Rendering Options - Animation

There are a wide variety of options that you can set when generating an animation.  These include: the duration of the animation, the frame rate the animation will be played at, the file format to use, field rendering options (disabled in beta), and the CODEC (for AVI files).  In addition to these output options, there are some options available on the display characteristics of the keyframe controls, including: time display format, and how the slider controls behave.

For example, in the Animation Options dialog shown below, the frame rate is set to the NTSC standard (which is 59.94 fields/second or 29.97 frames/second).  The display of time is SMPTE (Min:Sec:Frame), the duration of the animation is 10 seconds, starting at 0.  The output format is an AVI file (which uses the name of the mdl file as it's output file name).

Animation Options Dialog
Figure 9 - Animation Options


More detailed descriptions of the individual controls follow.

Frame Rate

There are two ways to set the frame rate for an animation.  Either chose a predefined rate (which will be one of the selections shown in Figure 10), or click the "Set Rate" button and enter the desired frame rate in the dialog (Figure 11).

Framerate Options
Predefined Frame Rates Combo Box


Custom Framerate
Custom Frame Rate (fps)

Time Display

The time display option controls how time will be shown in the slider and in the start/end time entries in the options dialog.  Several possibilities are available: Frames, SMPTE, Frame:Ticks, and MM:SS:Ticks.  Figure 12 shows the pulldown for the time display options.  Frames is a single number,and is easy to interpret - note that this can be less useful than a time oriented display since frame numbers will change if you change the frame rate for an animation.

Time Display Combo

Animation Limits

There are three entries in the animation limits part of the dialog: Start Time, End Time, and Current Time.  The first two (start, end) define the range of keys that are currently visible (the slider will only move between start and end).  Current Time is the frame that is currently active (this value is also shown on the thumb part of the slider).

By changing any of these values and pressing Ok (or Apply if you want to keep the dialog active), the new values will be applied to the keyframe controls.

If a range of keyframes doesn't fit the amount of time you want (they need to be stretched in time), then the "Rescale Time" button give you access to a dialog where the amount of time can be modified.  See section x for details.

Output Options

Since images will always be rendered to the file format specified in "Render|Render Options" - the standard Moray dialog for rendering options.  Animations can be rendered in two basic ways, as an AVI file or as a sequence of individual frames.  When rendering as an AVI, you can select any installed CODEC.  When rendering as individual frames you can select any of the following output image formats: BMP, DIB, PNG, PPM, TGA, TGA/RLE, or TIF.  The selection of output format is shown in figure 13.

Output Options Combo Box
Output Format Combo Box

Codec Configuration

The Codec used to output an AVI can be modified by clicking on the "Select" button in the "Compression" pane.  You will be shown a standard Microsoft dialog that allows you to select from any of the currently loaded Codecs.  The dialog will look like the one shown in Figure 14.

Codec Selection Dialog
Codec Configuration Dialog

Key Steps

This determines how the left and right arrow buttons in the VCR panel function.  [Actually, this particular functionality is probably broken right now.]  By default, each time you click on one of the arrows, the slider will move to the next key frame for the selected object.  If you select "Object" (which is only different from selected if you are working on a CSG), then the arrows will take you to the next keyframe set for any part of the object.  If you were to select "Scene" in the list, then each click of the arrow would take you to the next keyframe set anywhere in the scene (which may be before the next keyframe of the currently selected object).  The pulldown for selecting key step options is shown in figure 15.

Key Step Combo Box
Key Step Options

Slider Steps

[This function doesn't work as advertised - the slider will always move according to the display representation of time.  Normally this means that it goes forwards/backwards by one frame.]

This controls how far the slider will move when the arrows on the left or right of the slider are clicked.  The pulldown for slider step is shown in figure 16.

Slider Step Combo Box
Slider Step Options

This pulldown may be inactive/disabled.

Rescale Time

If the duration of the animation (or some part of the animation) isn't quite what you want, then you may need to rescale the time values.  Before invoking the rescaling dialog, you need to set the bounds of the times you want to scale.  For example, you may have an animation that goes from 0 to 10 seconds, but want the part from 1 second to 4 seconds (3 seconds duration) to take a total 4 seconds.  To do this, you would start from the animation options dialog and set the start and end times to 1 and 4, as shown in Figure 17.

Rescale Time - Starting Limits
Rescale Time - Modified Limits
Rescale Time - Beginning and Modified Limits


After entering the starting and ending points that you want to scale, you must click "Apply" for the changes to be made on the timeline.  After clicking on "Apply", click on the "Scale" button.  This will bring up the rescale dialog with bounds as shown in Figure 18 (a).  Since we want the starting time to remain the same and just want the end to be 1 second later, we enter 00:05:0 for the end time and click OK.

Rescale Time - Starting Bounds
Rescale Time - Modified Bounds
Rescale Time - Starting and Modified Bounds

After you finish this operation, you will probably want to reset the animation limits (after the previous modifications, the slider will only go from 00:01:0 to 00:05:00).  Simply enter 00:10:0 for the "End Time" and 00:00:0 for the "Start Time" value before hitting OK on the Animation Options dialog.

NOTE: A more intuitive way of performing this operation, using a timeline view, will be available in future versions of this plugin.