Stick Figure Pivot,A Simple Application For Amateur Animators
Always wanted to show off your creativity by creating animations but didn't have time to learn resource intensive commercial graphic applications? Here's our solution - a simple stick figure animation program that let's you create stick figure based frame by frame animations without having to hand-draw each line and arc separately on a different frame.Typically, the GIF animators who have been around require users to create individual frames and set a play rate by calling it an animation. However, Stick Figure Pivot, or simply Pivot, a freeware animation program which only half an MB, takes the idea a little further by providing users more control over line movement and shape drawing.The program starts with a default stick figure. Note the interface of the program; the top panel is a place holder for frames, the center is the editing pane of current frame, the left side pane is for play controls and current figure editing. Once you have the program running, consider the red dots at the natural "joints" of the stick figure: feet, palms, knees, elbows, neck and head. By dragging these red circles, the stick figure can be made to attain different positions which can depict any human movement like walking, running, dancing, karate chops and kicks. There's an orange button in the middle which is used for moving the stick figure itself.Press the Next Frame button on the bottom left. A frame is added in the top panel with the default stick figure character which we left unchanged. As we want this frame to be the first one, press Next Frame again to add second frame. Click once at this frame on top and make sure it is selected, shown by a rectangular outline. Now experiment by moving the joints of this stick figure in the editing pane in the middle of the screen. For example, move both arms to a bit to the left by dragging from the palm points.
One helpful feature here is that as parts of the stick figure are moved, the previous stick figure becomes visible from underneath in grey. Thus, letting the user know how much a part is moved relative to the previous frame, without having to run the animation. To update the editing performed in the selected frame, press the "Next Frame" again. See that the stick figure is updated in the top panel. Press the same to add a third frame. Every next frame shows the previous figure by default in anticipation of continued movement derived from the previous position. For the third frame, move both the arms towards the right a bit, that is, back to the original position in the first frame. Then press Play in the left panel. The stick figure appears to slide arms horizontally back and forth. This is a very basic animation that introduces the basic operations of Pivot and its controls.
That's not all Pivot can do. Stick figure is just one figure type which is the basic unit of animation. There are several figure types built in. Pick a few of these types using File>Load Figure Types; for example, horse, elephant, realistic man, clock, etc. There's a folder of alphabets as well. This makes it easy to jumpstart an intro or a similar project where a very basic movement has to be captured in an animation. Say the re-creation of some event, for example, a physics demonstration because the interaction of objects, cause and effect, free falls, collisions and bending effects can be very easily created.
Pivot is not only about stick figures. Given the way it has been designed, a lot of different types of animations can be created. Go to File>Create Figure Type. The Stick Figure Builder window appears with a single stick in the middle. Let's create a primitive car. Create the side viewed car with roof, trunk, engine hood and base lines. Notice the controls here. The red circles provide axis of movement, while marking a circle as static or dynamic using the second-last button of the left-side toolbar controls to see if sticks can be rotated around the axis or not. This is useful when, say, a trunk opening is to be animated. In this case, a red circle would be there at the upper left of the car roof, providing the "joint" for the trunk cover to rotate up and down. Then there's an option of swapping line to circles and vice versa.
The figure types created here can be used in the current animation or can be saved as files to be used later. This is a useful option when a team is working on a project. First, the actors and props of an animation can be defined and created in the Builder part of the application and, later, brought to life by different animators for different scenes. Other standard operations that save a lot of time are flip, centre, change of colour and moving objects to front and back of each other within a frame. The simplicity of this program can gauged from the fact that it comes without a help file.
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