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Using CinePaint's Frame Manger


Introduction:

This document is meant to be a brief introduction to the Frame Manager in CinePaint. While this was written on a Windows XP machine running the CinePaint-0.17-0 binary release for win32. The functionality has been consistent across all platforms since the earliest release of CinePaint. However, though there are no extra features between platforms, things could be more or less broken depending on your platform and CinePaint version. Should you run into any such problems please report them to the CinePaint mailing lists, which can be accessed from the CinePaint homepage at www.cinepaint.org . Should you discover any wrong information, or something you feel should be added to this document. Feel free to email me at liquidphoto@ameritech.net or send a post to the CinePaint mailing lists.

Part I – Getting To Know A Little About How The Frame Manager Works

How do I get to the Frame Manager? This seems to be the most frequently asked question I hear about the Frame Manager. The quick answer is that you must have an image open in order to access the Frame Manager. Once you have an image open, you can then access the Frame Manger from its menu options located under the File menu of the Image window (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Shows the two main windows of the CinePaint interface. Unfortunately, both windows currently have a File menu,
which contain some but not all similar functions. Due to this confusing layout, careful attention should be paid to which menu
you need. After a short time, it becomes intuitive. However, it can lead to confusion at first glimpse.

More specifically, one of the disadvantages that CinePaint has inherited from its branch off the old GIMP 1.0 version is the user interface. Figure 1 shows the two main windows that are used in CinePaint, the Image window on the right and the Toolbox window on the left. Both windows have the distracting problem of having a File menu with some common but also some different options. The reason that the Frame Manager is only available from the File menu on an Image window, is directly based on how it works internally.

A partial view of the inside of the Frame Manager:
The Frame Manager works on a preexisting numbered sequence of images, located in a common directory. Normally, this would be a numbered sequence of frames as in a movie or video clip, but the Frame Manager is only interested in the naming convention used, not in the actual content. This allows users of digital camera’s (many of which initially will save your downloaded images as a numbered sequence) to easily load a sequence of digital still pictures. Also, a user can make multiple images available to the Frame Manager by simply renaming them and placing them into a common directory. When you create a Frame Manager, you are asking it to manage a sequence of images, starting with the one currently loaded in the active Image window. All actions requested from the Frame Manager after creation apply to that particular list of images. Theory says that we should be able to have as many Frame Managers for as many sequences as our system can handle, but in practice I have not been able to succeed in creating more than one Frame Manager without them interfearing with each other.

Part II – Creating A Frame Manager

There are four basic steps required to successfully create a usable Frame Manager.

Creating a Frame Manager will bring up a Store Frame Manager Dialog similar to Figure 2. It is important to remember that there is currently no way within CinePaint to save a Frame Manager's image list, thus when you close CinePaint you will loose the image sequence you have created within the frame manager.

Figure 2: The Frame Manager Dialog and its two menus. Once you have created this Dialog box be careful
not to delete it, as I have not yet found a way to bring it back without creating it again from the beginning.
Each number refers to a different aspect of the Frame Manager discussed below.

  1. When the Auto Save feature is turned on, a frame will be saved to the destination directory before it is removed from the list with the Delete menu option.
  2. Allows you to set the Area of Influence for a frame. The Area of Influence is basically a poor mans quickmask. After activating this feature, you then move to the Image window where the Frame Manager will have activated the Rectangular selection tool. You may then select areas you want to be manipulated, “masking off” the areas of the frame you wish to remain untouched. The add/subract/union options of the Rectangle selection tool are available to allow specific selections, and I have had varied luck using the other selection tools to create the mask.
  3. Turns on/off the Area of Influence.
  4. Step backward in the frame range.
  5. Determines the increment of the step used by 4 and 5. You can either enter the size in the text box or you can use the up and down arrows to change the value.
  6. Step forward in the frame range.
  7. Marks a frame as read only preventing it from being saved by the Frame Manager. You can still save it using the File->Save menu option in the Image window.
  8. When the A is present, the store will be affected when you step forward or backwards.
  9. When the F is present, the store will be included in the flip book.
  10. Indicates which frame is the background frame. This is used by onionskining. Only one frame can be set as the background at a time.
  11. An “*” in this column indicates modified frames.
  12. Display of the current frame sequence. The current active frame is highlighted. Clicking on the filename will make the selected frame active. Only one frame can be active at a time.
  13. Activate the flipbook, and play backwards through the frames. The Frame Manager will start with the current active frame and advance to the previous frame in the frame list (up the list window). There is currently no way to adjust the frames per second used by the Frame Manager, though I estimate it to be around 10fps. The fps is very inaccurate and will vary based on the speed of the computer. The Frame Manager activates a frame, which causes it to be displayed in the Frame Managers corresponding display, it then sits and waits for a set period of time, and then it activates the previous frame in the list. When it reaches the beginning of the list, it returns to the last frame and starts working its way up again. It will continue this loop until the user presses the Stop button.
  14. Advance backwards through the frame list one frame and make it active.
  15. Stops the flipbook. It sets the current active frame to that last played by the flipbook. It doesn’t return to the last active frame before the flipbook was activated. In order to change from flipping forwards to backwards or visversa, you must first stop the flipbook.
  16. Advance forwards through the frame list one frame and make it active
  17. Activate the flipbook, and play forwards through the frames. The Frame Manager will start with the current active frame and advance to the next frame in the frame list (down the list window). There is currently no way to adjust the frames per second used by the Frame Manager, though I estimate it to be around 10fps. The fps is very inaccurate and will vary based on the speed of the computer. The Frame Manager activates a frame, which causes it to be displayed in the Frame Managers corresponding display, it then sits and waits for a set period of time, and then it activates the next frame in the list. When it reaches the end of the list, it returns to the first frame and starts working its way down again. It will continue this loop until the user presses the Stop button.
  18. Turns the onion skin feature on and off.
  19. Adjusting this slider will set the opacity of the foreground element of the onionskin. The value ranges from 0.0 to 1.0 with higher numbers indicating increased opacity.
  20. Switches the Frame Managers associated Display between the Foregound and Background frames.
  21. Because the Frame Manager works on directories, the destination and source directories are kept track of as opposed to each individual file name. The directory and general filename are displayed in this area. Figure 2 indicates that the destination and source directories are identical, with the basic filename being “full [xxx].png where [xxx] is the image sequence numbers. You should be able to indicate a different directory for the destination, so that you can maintain your unmodified source files and save your changes to a different directory. I’m not sure how to accomplish this, so hopefully someone will be able to enlighten me.
  22. Because the Frame Manager works on directories, the destination and source directories are kept track of as opposed to each individual file name. The directory and general filename are displayed in this area. Figure 2 indicates that the destination and source directories are identical, with the basic filename being “full [xxx].png where [xxx] is the image sequence numbers. You should be able to indicate a different directory for the destination, so that you can maintain your unmodified source files and save your changes to a different directory. I’m not sure how to accomplish this, so hopefully someone will be able to enlighten me.
  23. Add frames to the Frame Manager. See below for more detail.
  24. This menu option deletes a single entry from the Frame Manager. Specifically the currently selected one, which would be “full 004.png” in figure 2. If the autosave feature is active, the file will be saved into the corresponding destination directory for this Frame Manager. This is not an edit function. I simply removes the frames entry from the Frame Manager. No change is made to the file in the source directory, and no renumbering of the frames takes place. So even if you remove a bunch of frames from the middle of a sequence with Delete, it will play differently when you activate the Play command of the flipbook, these are only temporary, however, and disappear when the Frame Manager is destroyed.
  25. Raises the currently active frame one place in the frame list.
  26. Lowers the currently active frame one place in the frame list.
  27. Save the currently active frame into the destination directory. Does not save frames marked as read only.
  28. Save all frames currently loaded into the frame manager that are not marked as read only.
  29. Discard all changes made to the currently active frame and return it to the state it was in when loaded into the Frame Manager. This does not seem to rely on the undo functions of Cinepaint and is thus independent of its undo settings.
  30. Change Frame allows you to change swap the currently active frame with another frame from the same source image sequence. This appears to be broken under win32.
  31. Haven’t figured this option out yet. Need to dig back into the source and see if I can find any clues.
  32. Haven’t figured this option out yet. Need to dig back into the source and see if I can find any clues.
  33. Haven’t figured this option out yet. Need to dig back into the source and see if I can find any clues.

Part III - Adding Frames To The Frame Manager

When you select Store->Add from the Frame Managers menu. A dialog similar to figure 3 will be brought up.

Figure 3: Shows the dialog box for adding new frames to the store. Remember, you are adding new store entries, the Frame Manager will not create frames that do not alread exist.

This dialog can be broken up into three segments. First is the number of frames you wish to add. You can eather directy enter the number of frames into the text box, or you may use the up/down arrows next to the text box to increment/decrement the number of frames desired. Secondly, you need to decide if you want to load your new frames as read only. Finally, you select if you want to add frames numerically backwards or forwards from the numbered sequence of images. Alternatively, you may decide to load multiple copies of a single frame. When loading multiple copies, a litteral copy is made of each frame and changes to one do not affect the others.