Hello dellow feviants.... erm... fellow Deviants (Get out of here Jar Jar!
I was recently asked by a fellow youtuber to make a tutorial on how to make animations in apophysis using the apophymator script. What follows is copied verbatim, typos and all, from my message to said youtuber.
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You first need to get the apophymator script at drop.io/apophymator
unzip it into your scripts directory. If you do not have one, make one.
First thing you'll need to do is to create several "key frames". These are the frames that the script will morph from one key frame to the next. When making keyframes, make sure that they all have the same number of transforms (triangles) or the script most likely will crash.
Usually when I make my videos, I start with a flame I previously made that I think will make a good animation. I work backwords for a few frames (about 4 or 5ish) to tweek my flame to a beginning point - kind of a build up effect then I tweek that original flame several steps forward for the rest of the animation. Remember to save each frame/flame and I highly recommend that you save to a separate .flame file. Once you have created all of your keyframes, you will need to resave each flame in the proper sequence so open up the newly created .flame file then click on each flame in the sidebar in the order that they are to be morphed and resave them in order, use a simple filename like 01, 02, 03, etc...
Now you should be ready to run the apophymator script. Click the script button, open and locate the apophymator script where you unzipped it then click on run script or hit f9 (be sure to choose the "3DH" script, the other is for the 2d apophysis). A new window will open "Animation Criteria". Follow all of the prompts entering the appropriate values.
I will briefly outline each step:
1) Leave value at 3 if your frames in the proper order, else choose manual
2)Number of flames to animate: use the default value if you chose 3 in the previous step.
3) This the keyframe interval. The number of frames between the keyframes to morph. I usually choose 300 which yields 10 seconds of video at 30 frames per second. But it's entirely up to you. Bare in mind that rendering these videos is a time consuming process so obviously longer intervals = longer render times. It takes my PC (Core2Duo @ 2.8GHz) about 2 days or more to render a 3-4 minute video so choose your interval accordingly.
4) Animation looping: enter 0 for no loop or 1 for looping (Makes the render time DOUBLE as it re-renders each frame in reverse order - if you really need it to loop then just render in no loop, copy all the files to another directory and re-name the files in reverse order using a bulk file re-name utility. Irfanview works well for that.
5) I usually choose the render option here, but feel free to use the other options to better familiarize yourself with the script.
6) Use the default value of 0 unless you are rendering your animation in chunks instead of all in one pass.
7) Enter a file name to save. This will create a .flame file with all of your animated frames.
8) Entirely up to you. I always choose 3 in case I want to re-render a hi-res still photo from the animation .flame file.
9) Use 0
10) Use default (don't change)
11) leave at 0
12) This one is a tricky beast - interpolation type. I usually use 2 or 4 and occasionally 6. Option 4 yields smoother animations with less obvious keyframe transitions but can sometime produce unpredictable results. I'm not saying the results will be bad but the animation will be different than option 2 which is a more linear interpolation with no smoothing of the transitions. Neither one of those is better than the other, just different. Option 6 is somewhat of a combination of 2 and 4. The other 3 options are the same as 2,4 and 6 but without color gradient transitions - colors will change suddenly as opposed to a smooth transition.
13 and 14) The width and height of the video to be rendered. Common values I usually use are 640x480 (4:3 aspect ratio, standard TV resolution), 640x360 (16:9 AR) and 848x480 (16:9 AR again, but somewhat higher vertical resolution than DVD). You may also choose to render at 1280x720 or 1920x1080 for HiDef videos - but it may take weeks to render just a few minutes of video
15) Density value. This will determine how many iterations Apo will calculate and the overall quality. Too low a value yields grainy pictures. Typically I use about 300ish, but you can get away with less if you don't use a lot of blur or noise variations in your flames. Obviously higher values will yield smoother images but since it's being animated, each image will be onscreen for just 1/30th of a second. Choose according to your needs.
16) Filter radius. Values less than 1 produce a sharper, more crisp image but with a lot of aliasing (jagged edges or "jaggies") on curves or diagonal lines. 1 or higher smooths these out a bit at the expense of detail. Your call on this one.
17) Oversample: I always use no oversample (1). 2 quadruples the time to render and the memory used. Oversampling will reduce jaggies but again the time to render increases. Just enter 1 unless you absolutely need to oversample and have a lot of time available for your animation.
18) Filetype: NEVER use BMP. .PNG yields the same lossless image quality at about half the file size. Use .JPG if you really care about disk space but be sure to set your jpg quality to 95 in the apophysis settings.
19)If you chose .PNG in the previous step, you will need to enter the transparency option here. Choose 0 (no transparency) if you plan to render a straight animation. Choose 1 ONLY if you intend to blend your animation with some other background objects with some advanced video editing software.
20) just click OK. Don't change.
21) Choose 1 ONLY if you must preview each frame, else leave at 0
22) choose 1 (start rendering). Go play Xbox, mow the lawn, take a trip to Cuba.
That covers the apophymator side of the process. Now we need to assemble the frames into a video file.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be using VIRTUALDUB as it is the easiest way to assemble to video. Google it, download it, install it. Now open it (virtualdub.exe). (NOTE: you may need to install some codecs on your PC if you do not have them like xvid, divx or x264/h264 - get a codec pack like k-lite codec pack if you do not already have the codecs)
In virtualdub, click FILE then OPEN, in the FILES OF TYPE dropdown, select IMAGE SEQUENCE then locate the directory where your raw frames are stored. Open the FIRST image. VDUB will automatically import the rest in order assuming your filenames are properly numbered in sequence.
Click the video tab and select compression. Choose the codec you are going to use. I am not going to go in detail about the various codec settings, you'll have to experiment with those. Doom9.net has plenty of tutorials regarding various codec settings. But the most common codecs to use are again, divx, xvid and .x264/.h264 so choose one if you have the appropriate codec installed.
If you intend to add audio and upload to youtube or similar then be sure you have secured the rights to use any copyrighted material. Typically I will search for royalty free music using google or if I'm feeling really creative, I will compose my own crappy tune with FL Studio
To add the audio, click the audio tab and choose "audio from other file" then locate the file.
note: there are various versions of virtual dub out there. Some support the direct import of .MP3 files, some only support .WAV - If in doubt, convert your .mp3 or other type of file to a .WAV using a conversion utility (Google mp3 to wav), else get a copy of vdub that supports .mp3
Now you will need to select a compression type (mp3, ogg, acc, etc.....). Best bet is to stick to .mp3 so click the audio tab again and choose "compression" and select LAME mp3 or other mp3 type codec if you have it installed. Then choose a bitrate, there will be several displayed, choose one that best suits your needs. Typically I go with 160 or 192 kbps CBR. However, if I am importing a .mp3 file, i will select "direct stream copy" from the audio settings tab and no conversion will be done.
By now you should be able to assemble the animation to a video. In VDUB, click file then "save as .AVI". Give it a name3, choose an output directory and OK. VDUB will now encode the video. This could take several minutes. Your video should now be ready.
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I hope this is useful to somebody out there.