Literally 'Help with animation'

now it has been like one year since i meet Synfig Studio and like 5 month of being in the forums, in this time i’ve made little projects; animated gifs or logos or even effects in videos but now that i’m targeting to something bigger i’m stuck with some things i never thought would be a problem; i don’t know how organize or arrange elements for long animations.
All my life have used Macromedia/Adobe Flash so i’m used to have a library, in which all the elements are stored, if i delete any shape or thing in the canvas it is still on the library but not in the scene anymore, how all the elements are supposed to be arranged in Synfig for achieve this? how can i give an element the instruction that is no longer desired in scene without having to make it invisible (amount=0) nor delete it from the layer panel? i remember having this problem in Anime Studio too, i always ended with many layers containing invisible elements but active in scene, as i said i’m very used to Macromedia’s library system, but i would like to use Synfig now and i would like to use it in the proper way.

sorry for such dumb question, i’ve tried myself to sort this problem but i have no ideas left

oh, i completely forgot mention the problem i have also with animations, as i said before i’m used to programs which can make use of traditional animation (Pencil, flash) or bone based system (Anime Studio, Blender) Synfig seems to be more original than, i also saw some finished animation made in Synfig, most of them very good and they look like the aouthor have learned the proper way to animating with Synfig techhnique, i have my mind stuck in making animations like if they were object-based (Flash, Anime Studio) so i tried to make characters for example divided in body parts but that didn’t work too well for me, and also tried to make animations with the classic frame by frame method which i honestly did not like, i toke my time looking at others sources but i still don’t get it right.

First of all we have to clarify one thing. In any animation program, when you insert an element from the library you end with a copy of the element in your file. So at the moment you import it, your copy is completely separated from the original one in the library. To do that in Synfig you have just to open the file that holds the object to copy, select the layer(s) and press copy and paste in the animation you want to place the copy of the object. (I also wish that there were a nice library interface to do that) Since that moment the objects are separated items.
That’s good. You can reuse a certain library object in several places. But imagine one situation. You have an object (a background) that is already imported in several places and your studio director ask to change it a bit because he wants to introduce a “Coca Cola” advertisement on the background :wink:
Oh dear! you have to change 20 files and import the background again twenty times!. There is a neat solution in Synfig. You can import “references” of external sifz files. So they are just embedded files inside other sifz file. Modify the original and all the other files where it is referenced will be modified. Guess what? the referenced sifz file can have different fps, dimensions, keyframes, time lenght, etc.
All this awesome feature is provided by the paste canvas layer. Its parameter (canvas) can be of three types:
a) Inline Canvas: it is the one that is created when you encapsulate some layers. It inherits all the parent canvas properties.
b) An external file reference like shown above.
c) An exported canvas in the same document or from an external file (d).

In parallel to this feature is the canvas parameter animation. When you have a Paste Canvas layer you have a lot of power with it. The Canvas Parameter can be animated. Unfortunately there is not a good interface to reference external files or exported canvases of external files (b and d cases) and you have to write the codification manually. Only for exported canvases from the current document there is a drop down box to choose the canvas to use.
This feature also covers the layer visibility, like the switch layer from Anime Studio. If you have to switch several layers and don’t want to have the layer list with a lot of trash, just export the layers using paste canvas layers and then use the canvas parameter of one of them to surf through all them.
See the tutorial as example of this usage.

There is a final concept that would help you a lot:
It is possible to reference valuenodes from external files. This is very very important. You can manage the whole styles of a project formed with several layers just if you carefully use a “style file”. To do it follow these steps:

  1. Create a file (a) with a set of objects where you want to define the style of the project. Regions for the fill colors, outlines for the outline colors and width, even other objects for gradients etc.
  2. Export all the properties that you want to be part of the style of the document. Right click the parameter and select export. Give a proper name and see how it appears in the Child panel.
  3. Create your animation file (B), do your artwork, even animate it.
  4. Now, with the file B opened, go to open the file A also. Then copy and paste the elements that form part of the style from A to B.
  5. Then select, by pairs, one copied element of the style and one element where you want to apply the style, both at file B. Go to the Parameters panel and do right click ->Link over the parameter you want to link to the style (i.e. the region color). From that moment, the parameter of the shape of the file B is linked to a valuenode defined in the file A. You can delete safely all the copied element styles from the file B, because you just wanted the linked valuenode.

If you repeat this for all the files of a project, you end with a set of files that depends on a master style file. Modify the master style file and all the other files will follow… is it great or not? :wink: (note, this is also valid for exported canvases inside the same document).

I wish that there were a good GUI for that feature as well as for the canvas importing. It is for sure possible but at them moment nobody has worked to code it.

I hope that helped.

i already know, this is quite useful and handy, i made a ‘staff’ sifz project in which i store characters or common elements like trees or other objects, so when i open a new document it will be for the animation process at all and will not expend time in making new characters (unless i had it planed) not complains on the detail that embedded objects will be modified in every document, indeed i like this because i can improve the graphics or the way in that the element work for good and maybe further re-releasing improved version of animations that at first looked not too good at all

great? of course it is, confusing? even more! =p, i get the idea, this looks more handy for serious work or at least something like series or an animation with various chapters, the thing is, i have no problems at all importing or calling object from other documents, but making them ‘stop existing’ in the current animation without delete them from the layer panel, making them ‘amount = 0’ doesn’t work at all because the object, let’s say a BLine, does still existing even when completely invisible, still editable because the ducks and nodes can be still selected, also i have the impression that even when those object are invisible, they somehow eat resources of the program, and having like 8 layers transparent (when they are supposed not be need anymore for the rest of the animation) or with amount zero on the existing scene is not so good as it sounds, finally, i also thought that key-framing the layer would make any effect, lets say that 30 secons after the start, i decide that i don’t need anymore a layer with a gradient, adding a keyframe and the deleting the layer would save the existence of this layer the first 30 but then deleting from the canvas (canvas referring to the view-port, not canvas as element of Synfig) after second 31, of course this didn’t work so i had to keep the gradient layer with ‘amount zero’, sometimes editing accidentally that layer without noticing, that is like my real problem talking about object or that i’m used to a library (which honestly don’t think Synfig Studio needs at all, just a way to tell the object ‘stop existing from the viewport from this point’ maybe a check box in the parameters or something like that would be nice)

i’m sure that while handy is not that urgent, maybe with the time will see the light also but for now Synfig is doing great with what it have

it did thanks, for sure i would end asking this anyway =p, i took note on all this and i’m trying to figure out the way in that i feel less troubled for animate in Synfig, the downside of being used in other softwares is that i try to apply the same on Synfig, which works in a different way, is more problem of my technique (my fault =P) but that will be fixed with the time (i hope)