Animation's always been teriffic fun. But producing an animation has traditionally involved an awful lot of sheer slog and drudgery before any results can be seen, and only the most dedicated and patient people have ever really seen animation as a rewarding hobby.

Bring in a computer, on the other hand, and you can eliminate all the sweat, hassle, and tracing paper. With The Complete Animator, animation becomes easy and rewarding for everyone ... it's like we've invented a whole new art form, even though all we've really done is make it easy for the first time.

You don't even have to be able to draw (though I guess it does help); the frames you draw will only be visible for a split second each, so you can get away with a lot as long as you produce a compelling sense of motion and activity. Remember the TV cartoon series Roobarb and Custard? Nothing much on that ever looked like anything, but because the movement was so fluid and natural, everyone remembers it as good animation.

The Software

The Complete Animator is available on either floppy discs or a multi-platform CD-ROM which can be used on either an Acorn machine or a PC (provided, of course, that you have a CD-ROM drive).

The Complete Animator has a set of painting tools built in, for you to draw the frames of your animation with. You've all seen sets of painting tools before, but, I have to say, this is quite a good set of painting tools, so much so that I often use Animator for graphics work even if it won't be animated.

To make your animation as smooth as professional animators do, you'll need to use the techniques they use -- so Animator includes on-screen equivalents of the tools of their trade. In particular, when drawing a sequence of frames, an animator would draw the first and last frames on thin paper, then stack them under a new piece of paper on top of a lightbox (a glass table with a light in), in order to see, through the paper, just how the frame in between should be drawn. Animator gives you a "lightbox" or "ghosting" mode, in which the previous and next frames of your film are shown, faded, "behind" the one you're currently working on. All the painting tools work as normal when in ghosting mode -- they ignore the ghosts; only you can see them.

If you want to impress people even more, you can add sound effects to your animation. Animator comes with a collection of noises for any occasion, and it can use any sound sample you already have. You can even sample new sounds directly into Animator if you've got sampling hardware.

Once you've finished your animation, you can save it in formats understood by almost any multimedia package -- or you can even print it out as a flick-book, with all the crop-marks ready printed!

You can even use Animator to produce animated Web content!

Differences between the PC and Acorn versions

Importing graphics
The PC version can import BMP, WMF and EMF files; the Acorn version, sprites, Draw files, and Artworks files.
Exporting films
The PC version can export BMP, FLI and AVI files; the Acorn version, sprites, Ace Films, and Replay files.
Sound effects
The PC version can load any WAV file as a sound effect; the Acorn version, any Armadeus file.
Sound samplers
The PC version works with any Windows-compatible sound card; the Acorn version, with the Oak Recorder, SEMERC's sampler, and VTi's Sonor.

Requires: Acorn Any Acorn computer, including StrongARM based computers, with Risc OS 2, 3.1, 3.5, 3.6, or 3.7; 2Mb of RAM or more; a hard disc is handy but not essential.
PCA 386DX/40 or better (486 recommended); 6Mb of RAM or more; a hard disc with at least 8Mb of free space; an accelerated graphics card; Microsoft Windows 3.1, 95, 98, Me, NT 3.51, NT 4.0, 2000 and XP are all supported. Under Windows 3.1 and 3.11, The Complete Animator installs Microsoft Win32s 1.25 (included in the pack) -- but not, of course, if you've already got a later version of Win32s.
Pricing: £84.26 + £3.50 (P&P) + VAT single user; site licences are available, contact us for more information

Overseas purchasers: please contact Iota.

A taste of paradise

If all this talk of animations has made you want to see some, check out our films page. To play back the Animator ones, you'll need a copy of our screen saver; however, some of them are available as FLI files as well.

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