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jon13

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Posts posted by jon13

  1. Hello CorinneCC,

    I don't know if you want a realistic snow effect, there is nothing like that ready made in Express Animate. If you are thinking of making a light snowfall, for something like an animated Christmas card or a snow globe, I have a method which might suit. It takes just a few minutes.


    Open a New Project (Ctrl+Alt+N).

    Use 'New Object > Ellipse' to draw a small circle anywhere on the Canvas.

    Right Click the Shape and use 'Change Fill' to set its colour to white (HSV=0,0,100 or RGB=255,255,255).

    With the Shape selected use 'Effect > Video > Pixelate' from the top menu and increase the Pixel Size (at the bottom of the Shape's Composition Panel) to something like 25. This depends on how big you drew the Shape, you are looking for about 5/6 pixels across and down. The circle will look irregular and hopefully snowflake-shaped.

    Right Click the Canvas background and use 'Composition background' to set Background Fill to a light blue colour (if your scene is daytime). You won't need to do this if you are animating over some other media.

    Right Click the Shape and use 'Blending Mode > Multiply'. This will cause the shape to blend with the background colour so that its edges appear pale blue.

    You are now ready to animate the Shape in the Composition Panel.

    Use Position to raise the Shape off the top of the Canvas. Set a Key frame (click the diamond for 'New key'). Move the timeline cursor (grab the white handle under '00:00s' and drag to the right) a few seconds along the timeline. Then lower the Shape beyond the bottom of the canvas - a quick way to do this is to select the Position Y value and change the number from minus to positive by deleting the minus symbol.

    Now scroll back about halfway between the Key frames you have just set by dragging the white handle to the left. You see your snowflake at the middle of its fall. Use the X value in Position (the first number) to move the object a little to one side or the other. This will look like the snowflake is drifting as it falls. Run the animation a few times to see how much looks right (Ctrl+Space), and perhaps drag the Key frames closer or further apart to set the rate at which it falls.

    Go to the start of your animation (Home) and use Rotation to set a Key frame. Move the timeline cursor to meet the last Position Key frame (click > 'Next key' in Position) and set another Rotation Key to be 1x or so. This will cause the snowflake to slowly rotate, and appear to 'twinkle' as it falls. Add 50% Blur and it shimmers.

    Select the Shape in the Object Panel and Copy it. Paste for as many snowflakes as you want - you can get a nice effect with only about ten. Collapse All Panels and drag the blue coloured bar for each one along the timeline a little to set them falling at different times.

    Now go into the Composition Panel for each one and alter the Position property to spread the snowflakes across the Canvas and change the 'drift' for each so that none are exactly alike. Use Scale to make them look big or small. Move the Position Key frames apart so that smaller flakes fall more slowly. Change the rate of Rotation and play with Pixel Size - perhaps even setting Key frames in Pixelate a few pixels different up and down during the animation to make the Shape 'flutter' as it falls. Copy and Paste these properties over and over as each shape drops off the Canvas to make the animation last as long as you need. Unless they follow on the next frame after, you will need to hide the Shape (Opacity=0%) as it travels back up to the top each time.

    If you want a more cartoon-like snow effect you can probably find a piece of snowflake clip art and animate it over and over in the same way.
     

  2.  

    To which property are you adding Ease In/Out? From your description I can't understand the problem but I will help if I can.

    By default a keyframe is Linear, adding Ease converts it to Bezier, with a predefined amount of Ease. You can remove this by Right clicking the keyframe and setting Interpolation to Linear.

    For the fine control you want, open the curve editor (the icon with a green and a red line at the top of the Composition panel) and select the property. Click on the keyframe and drag its handles.
     

  3. After a few years using Express Animate in different versions I've just started with v4.01. It's great to see NCH continue to develop this easy-to-use motion graphics editor as a free program.

    So what's new? Overall things look the same. There are additional tool tips for various features that will be useful to those unfamiliar with EA. A loop button has been added to the playback controls.

    The biggest change I could see was a new palette-based Edit Colors dialog. Change hue with the slider on the right and click in the palette to select any color. I'll miss the handy 'favorite' color selection but it's easy to build a new collection with Set to Swatch boxes. A useful feature is a box showing New and Current colors so it's easy to compare. There are sliders and up/down arrows to set HSV and RGB values, or you can input a Hex Value if you know it. An excellent addition is a dropper to select a colour from anywhere onscreen.

  4. It's true that Express Animate has sometimes weird bugs and glitches, and an occasional tendency to crash. For me it seems to happen most when using masks. A saving grace (no pun intended) is that the crashed file is automatically saved so when you reload the program, you can rename it and carry on without losing work. I think if you are online a bug report is sent to NCH. I've managed to cut the amount this happens by making sure each vertex is selected (yellow box) before attempting to move the mask, or when using effects or feathered edges on the mask and moving too fast.

    Another thing I have found is sometimes when scaling an object down to 0% you get strange behavior where a ghost shape can appear. I don't know if it's just me but a work around if it does happen is to advance one frame and set the lowest positive value (0.1) for the Scale property. Hide the ghost shape for the single frame by turning Opacity to 0 and then 100% for the 0.1 and the rest of the animation will appear as normal.

    I wrote on another thread that I was unable to zoom v3.12 on my laptop (Windows 10) for the reason that the trackpad froze. I solved it with the purchase of a USB mouse complete with scrolling wheel, and now couldn't be happier.

  5. Hello Kermit,

    I read your suggestions with interest. Express Animate is a free program and I would have to think of the time (cost) of implementing changes for any perceived benefit. I came to the program looking for a one-off solution to a personal project and was impressed, it did exactly what I'd hoped. I spent time exploring each option and discovering possibilities, and was inspired to try more. I can see that it is limited in comparison to professional programs yet I usually managed to work out whatever effects I wanted to achieve. I've sometimes laboured over something that another program might deliver at a click but really I've no complaints. A great product, and getting better.

    About your ideas:

    1.  Earlier versions of Express Animate had a tabbed Object panel, similar to your thumbnails suggestion, that perhaps took up too much space. I agree with obtusity, that giving your compositions meaningful names should allow you to recognise every composition and switch between them to work on each individually. I don't know what would be the benefit of seeing compositions in thumbnails.

    It would be useful to know which assets have been used in particular compositions as it's easy to make changes in a composition that might be unwanted where it's used as a nested composition in others, and since these might have different names or be used as copies, things can get complicated. Where I use a drive to switch between different computers I frequently have to change File Source paths, so I need to find what has been used, and where. Not a biggie.

    I would sometimes want to reorder items in the Object panel, for example in order of appearance in the timeline instead of stack order the same as the Composition panel. It might be useful to group by object type, and this could be achieved by right clicking an object's icon.


    2.  I'm not sure what you're after here. When you go to New Object you see Clipart Image and Clipart Sound or you can click the Object tab to get icons for Clipart Library and Sound Library. Each opens a window listing items as you want. What could be more intuitive and easier to navigate?

    I've found that if you preview sounds they are saved to a (hidden) folder on your drive so become available offline.


    3.  Photoshop is a professional program and the Puppet tool has a specialist use. I've seen it in After Effects. I think possibly because of the name, some will approach Express Animate as a tool for making animations above being a motion graphics editor. There are other better tools for this and some are even free.


    4.  Just a personal thing, but I find 97.8% of all clipart completely useless.

    If you've used After Effects then you know what would be the ideal. For anyone thinking of more than just an occasional motion graphics project or exploring beyond recreational use then this kind of professional tool would be the way to go. I'm happy where I am.

    My wish list:


    1.  Set fill to None

    Draw an L by clicking three points and Express Animate gives you a filled triangle, with closed path, so there is no way to create line drawings. I spent a lot of time when I started trying every option because I thought I must be missing something. I've since found ways to render the effect but no Stroke/Fill is a severe limitation. Trim Paths would be a dream.


    2.  Import SVGs

    After Effects is perfectly integrated with Illustrator. Might Express Animate make similar use of open source Inkscape?


    3.  Open more than one project

    I'd love to import compositions or at least copy and paste objects between different projects. Yes, you can render a scene and import that, but then there is no way to work on it, and I often have to reinvent the wheel for an effect when starting a new project.


    4.  Rulers/guides


    5.  Convert text to objects


    6.  Region select for Real-time playback

    It's easy enough to set the Start position but you have to guess where to Stop because during caching the Timeline ruler remains static. Now try adding a few seconds to either beginning or end! Might it be done with bookmarks?


    7.  Zoom to area

    Like every other app.


     

  6. Marquee selection for multiple vertices and Objects can now be scaled from each vertex (instead of opposites together). These are great for things such as quickly turning a rectangle into a rhombus or growing just one side.

    V3.10 is swings and roundabouts for me, I was unable to export video from the previous version but this one is fine. Unfortunately I have a conflict of some sort when trying to zoom the canvas, the hand icon freezes and I'm stuck with just the visible part at whatever zoom I apply, which makes this version unusable except for the basics. I'm resorting to V2 on another PC to work on detail and then bringing the file to this one for rendering. I love Express Animate and what it can do yet find it frustrating there are these kinds of bugs and glitches. I do appreciate that it's free.

    Many thanks to NCH for continuing to develop the program.

  7. Hello OleSmokey,

    I hope you find how to do what you want, the manual doesn't have much.

    There is no shortcut for ordering objects (Send to Back, etc.) you do it by stacking them in the Composition panel, with the topmost object at the top. Moving objects in the Object panel doesn't affect stacking order, this is only in the Composition panel: click the name of the object you want to stack and drag it up or down above or below other objects.

    If you have many objects it can help if you 'Collapse All Panels' by right clicking any object name in the Composition panel and selecting that option from the menu. You will easily see every object in the list and can then drag them up or down as you want.

  8. I have been using Express Animate for a few months (v2.03) and recently installed version 3, and then immediately experienced the same problem as JohnySK: video saves as sound with no picture. If I try to open the file in Express Animate I get "File format not recognised" which is a bit ironic. I tried saving in different formats with the same result.

    This has nothing to do with disc space or anything like that, I uninstalled and reverted to the earlier version and now video - even projects created in version 3 - saves as it should. Plus, it doesn't change all the text to Arial 20 when I Undo but that's another story...

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