Icon Animation System
Print Shop graphics that move
By Jim Johnson
Now you can make easy computer animations using your Print Shop Graphics Editor as a cell animatipn studio. This two-part BASIC program consists of a Sequencer and a separate Scripter that takes aavantage of RAMdisks. It works on 8-bit Ataris with at least 48K memory and a disk drive.
The Icon Animation System makes 8-bit animation easier than ever. You can use it as a tool to learn the basics of cell animation--or simply as an animated billboard. Using the Graphics Editor from Print Shop or Print Shop Companion (Broderbund) as a cell animation studio, you can put together as many as 25 images in a page-flipping animation of up to 100 frames!
The Sequencer module lets you organize your cells in any order, even repeating or skipping frames as desired. Once you have your animations running, the Scripter program lets you link several animations together and run them from disk. You may also run them from a RAMdisk for smoother, faster operation.
Type in Listing 1, ANIMATOR.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy to disk hefore you RUN it.
If you have trouble typing the special characters in lines 160, 170 and 31000, don't type them. Instead, type in Listing 3, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy. When you RUN Listing 3, it creates these hard-to-type lines and stores them in a file called LINES.LST. To merge the two programs, type NEW then LOAD Listing 1, "D:ANIMATOR.BAS" and then ENTER "D:LINES.LST". Now, SAVE "D:ANIMATOR.BAS" and type NEW.
Next, ENTER "D:LINES.LST", delete line 160 and LIST "D:LINES.LST" back to disk. Now follow the same procedure with Listing 2, SCRIPCER.BAS. ANIMATOR.BAS and SCRIPTER.BAS share line 170 and 31000, but SCRIPTER.BAS does not use line 160. Remember to SAVE the completed programs before you RUN them.
MAKING PRINT SHOP CELLS
You will need at least two disks, one formatted from the Print Shop program, another formatted with DOS 2.0 or 2.5. To create the cells or pictures for your animation, start Broderbund's Print Shop or Print Shop Companion and go to the Graphics Editor.
In the Graphics Editor, you can draw an original picture or load any picture from your library of Print Shop icons. Pictures made with other programs can be converted to Print Shop for use with IAS, but you will need the necessary conversion programs.
You can convert most types ofAtari picture files (including many ComputerEyes pictures) to Micro Illusustrator files using Rapid Graphics Converter (Antic, November 1985). Newsroom Converter (Antic, December 1988) is needed to convert Newsroom files to Graphics 8. You can then transfer your Micro Illustrator files and Graphics 8 files to Print Shop with Graphic Shop ($19.95, Arcade Catalog, AP156).
Keep in mind that IAS has a limit of 25 different pictures per sequence--although you can repeat selected pictures within the actual animation, for a total of 100 frames. IAS is best suited to cyclic animation, that is, sequences that repeat themselves, such as a running horse, a juggler, or a waving hand.
When your picture is ready, save it to your Print Shop data disk. Now, go back to the Graphics Editor and change the picture. You can move an arm, blink an eye, or whatever. Save the new picture to your data disk using a different name. (I use CEL1, CEL2, CEL3, . .) Repeat the process of editing and saving files until you have the effect you want. Remember that you can only use 25 cells in one IAS sequence!
USING THE SEQUENCER
Now that you have your cells, place your IAS program disk in Drive 1, turn on your Atari and RUN "D:ANIMATOR.BAS". Once the Sequencer menu appears, use the arrow keys to move the cursor, and press [RETURN] to select the option indicated.
CREATE ANIMATION FILE creates a sequence file from your Print Shop images. The program asks you for the number of pictures you wish to load, up to a maximum of 25. Then the program will load your files--starting with the first icon on the data disk. This way, you do not have to pick and choose each image to be included in your sequence.
Once all the images have been loaded, you go to the Graphics Screen. Here, IAS will flip through your images in the order loaded. The controls below the picture let you adjust the speed of your animation, freeze the action, or advance one by one through the frames.
Use the arrow keys and [RETURN] to control IAS. With the cursor on SLOW or FAST, pressing [RETURN] will change the animation's speed slightly. Keep pressing [RETURN] until the animation runs at the speed you want. Select PAUSE to freeze the animation, and PAUSE again to continue. ADV will advance your animation one frame and will only work in pause mode. Use EXIT to get back to the main menu.
At any time, you can return to the Graphics Screen from the main menu by choosing VIEW ANIMATION.
The SEQUENCER lets you rearrange the order in which the cells are displayed. Any picture can be used more than once in any given sequence, to produce a more complex animation. While you are limited to 25 different pictures, you can define a sequence of up to 100 frames. Entering a zero as the picture number will insert a pause in the animation. To exit the sequencer, press [RETURN] and you will be returned to the Graphics Screen, where you can view your altered animation.
Once you've finished your sequence, you can save it with the SAVE ANIMATION FILE option. Then you can load your sequence, or any of the samples on this month's Antic Disk, using LOAD ANIMATION FILE. You will be prompted for a filename to load. Press [RETURN] at this prompt to see a directory of the disk in Drive 1.
Animation files consist of the stacked, uncompressed picture and sequence data. When entering a filename be sure to the device, filename and extension. To load the sample on this month's Antic Disk, put the disk in Drive 1 and at the "FILENAME TO LOAD" prompt type "D:SAMPLE.SEQ".
If you plan to use the Scripter, use .SEQ extenders on your animation filenames. The Scripter looks for a .SEQ extender on sequence files, and .SCR on script files.
USING TME SCRIPTER
With the Scripter program you can go beyond the memory limits of your Atari and create even more complex animations by loading your sequences to a RAMdisk and writing a "script" to run those files in any order. I designed Scripter specifically to run with a RAMdisk.
IAS automatically checks to see if you have a RAMdisk installed. If you don't, the Scripter will load files from Drive 1--but the beauty of the routine is in the speed of a RAMdisk.
When you RUN Scripter, the menu gives you the option to CREATE, LOAD, SAVE and RUN scripts, to exit to the SEQUENCER, or to LOAD FILES TO RAMDISK. If you don't have a RAMdisk, an X will appear in the box opposite this option, and you will not be able to select it.
Whether you're using Drive 1 or a RAMdisk, the sequence files you want to combine all must be on the same disk.
To load files into the RAMdisk you can either SAVE the files to "D8:", or use the Scripter's LOAD FILES TO RAMDISK function. This option will automatically clear the RAMdisk of all files (including DUP.SYS and MEM.SAV). It then transfers all sequence files with the extension .SEQ from Drive 1 to the RAMdisk until the RAMdisk is filled.
If you have a small RAMdisk, it may run out of room before all your .SEQ files are copied. To make the best use of your RAMdisk, you should remove any unnecessary .SEQ files from your floppy disk before you begin. (See Dr. Brilliant's Incredible Atari Brain Transplants (Antic, November 1988) to learn how to expand your RAMdisks.)
If you want to keep the files in the RAMdisk while loading new files, hold down [OPTION] while you select this function, and keep it down until the screen displays * LOADING *.
When you choose CREATE SCRTPT, you will be given a listing of the .SEQ files on disk. To create your script, simply pick the sequences you want to play, and then specify how many times that sequence should run before the next sequence loads and plays. Individual sequences can be inserted anywhere in the script and can be used as often as needed.
IAS can be used to set up demos, or as an electronic signboard system. Experienced programmers could extract the animation routines for use in their own programs, including games--and really ambitious programmers could even try adding a sound track.
PRINT SHOP, $44.95. Broderbund Software, 17 Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 911903. (415) 492-3200, (800) 527-6263.
Jim Johnson is a Print Shop addict living in Seaford, Delaware. His program Iconverter was published in the December, 1987Antic.