CinePaint for Animation Q&A

A reader asks what’s coming for animators in the next CinePaint version

By Robin Rowe

LONDON, UK (CinePaint) 2012/12/28 – Many people write me with questions or suggestions for CinePaint. Here are some great questions from a user about how the next CinePaint could work better for 2-D animators.

Q: I have been reading the docs on the website trying to find the answer to some things related to the creation of animation. I’m a Windows user interested in the coming release. At the end of the day, I’m looking for a bitmap-based program that will allow me to paint frames with an anti-aliased, circular brush whose opacity is linked to tablet pressure.

A: What you describe is what’s planned. CinePaint already has a flipbook and brushes and tablet support, so it shouldn’t be a big enhancement to accommodate what you want. While CinePaint almost does it now, many things need to work better for it to be a tool truly useful to animators. For example it doesn’t hold its frame rate on playback (may go faster or slower than 24fps), doesn’t sync sound, doesn’t reorder frames easily and doesn’t renumber frames automatically.

Q: CinePaint needs to be able to playback the animation at 24 FPS without me having to export it. Will it? The GIMP animation plugin requires a wait time to create a file to playback, which can get annoying. And, I would like to be able to go forward or backward one frame quickly with a keypress.

A: Making the filpbook hold its frame rate correctly and navigating the flipbook more easily are coming. CinePaint will use the standard J-K-L Final Cut keystrokes for playback control, along with the spacebar and arrow keys the way you would expect.

Q: I would like Undo to work after switching to a frame the change isn’t made on. Will Undo work across frames? Paint on Frame 1, change to frame 2, undo twice. Will it take away the stroke on frame 1? How about undoing to a change made before removing a frame?

A: There may be stuff broken in Undo that I haven’t even checked yet, however it should act the same way as any other image editor when you have two images open. As far as CinePaint is concerned each frame is just an image. That images are in the flipbook wouldn’t change how Undo works or any other feature in CinePaint. Undo is relative to the frame you’re on. At this time there’s no good mechanism for removing a frame from a flipbook. You would remove the file to do it. When there is support for removing a frame from a flipbook, it won’t delete the frame unless that’s what the user wants.

Q: How fast will CinePaint be when used to create animation from scratch? Can I quickly add, insert and remove frames in CinePaint? Will it quickly flip between images? Will there be noticeable latency between pressing the key and the new frame being displayed?

A: Well, if images won’t flip in 1/24th of a second CinePaint won’t sustain 24fps playback, so clearly the software better be fast. Add, insert and remove should be instantaneous. CinePaint has always been considered fast. The plan is to make it even faster. There are a few places in legacy code where significant speed increases are feasible, for example, in reading and writing images to disk. Another is doing tasks in the background with threads or deferring them until needed. Regarding that, I want to defer loading plug-ins until they’re actually called, not make the user wait for a bunch of plug-ins to load at program start that he or she may not even be using in that session. If CinePaint did that it would load instantly.

Q: I gather that the program works on a numbered series of images, which might mean that to insert a frame may take a while to renumber each image after the inserted frame?

A: There’s no reason renumbering frames need be expensive. Renumbering in RAM or renaming short sequences shouldn’t be an issue. If you want to renumber a whole feature, 100,000+ frames, that wouldn’t be so nice. However, that’s not how artists typically work. You would divide a film into scenes (a few minutes each) and build those into reels (20 minutes each).

Q: CinePaint needs a global frame rate that applies to all frames when played back. Will it?

CinePaint has nowhere to store that data now because it doesn’t have a sequence file type. Adding that feature will fix that and enable it to play flipbooks that have frame numbers out of order or even frames that are unnumbered images, mainly for making slide shows. CinePaint will have a frame sorter something like PowerPoint.

Q: I’ve read that the flipbook will play frames in sequence but has no concept of time. Is that true?

A: Yes, CinePaint needs timecode. Another feature being added. The sequence file would contain frame rate and timecode information.

Q: Soon?

A: I’m still aiming for January.

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  2. I had forgotten about Cinepaint until I read a recent article on graphics programs. I just happen to be working out a Linux pipeline for traditional animation – currently using Linux Mint KDE as my distro – and I’m very interested in this idea of using Cinepaint for 2D animation. I’ll be eagerly following your progress now. Thanks for your efforts.

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