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Chapter 4. 2-D Animation > Digital Video Editing

Digital Video Editing

Digital video tools have opened a whole new realm of possi bilities for animators. These tools are hardware and software that are designed to let users copy video from tape to the computer's hard disk, edit the material in an infinite number of ways, and then copy it back out to tape.

For many animators, however, simply being able to import video to the computer may be enough, and some of the tools required to do this have become relatively inexpensive. The Iomega Buz, for example, was about $200 when this chapter was written. It lets you import full-screen video at 640 × 480 pixels and 30 fps, as well as digitize audio and grab still images from video.

In video-editing programs such as Adobe Premiere and Strata VideoShop, you can edit clips of video down to individual frames, and you can add transitions and special effects as well as control audio.

These programs can be used to reduce the number of frames of video down to the point where they can play as animations. You can edit a video of dancing to remove the background, shrink the frames to banner-ad size, and then composite the dancing character with a new background of advertising text and logos. Finally, you can export the whole composition into any animation format.

Transitions

Most video-editing programs provide animation in the form of transitional effects, which are often used to dissolve or wipe from one track of video to another. Premiere, After Effects, Strata Video Shop, and even Ulead's GIF Animator (with the F/X plug-ins) provide these types of cross-dissolves, wipes, and iris transitional effects.

Special Effects

Special effects run the gamut of visual possibilities. Effects such as particle showers, explosions, deformations, and filters that create natural-media artistic effects are just a few of the pos sibilities. With special effects, you can turn ordinary-looking animation into work that appears to have been painted with pastels, set on fire, or left in the refrigerator too long. There is no clear definition of the term special effects, since virtually any type of animation that deviates from normal, can qualify. In my descriptions of individual 2-D and 3-D software packages (Chapters 5 and 7), I note where special effects are available and describe how some of them work.

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