The Animix app is a cool utility for photographers, digital artists and videographers that adds excitement to (boring) static images. With Animix you can add natural elements that animate, such as falling snow, rain, moving water and smoke & haze effects to your digital photos.
Animix is simple to use and works just like an image editor but you can create, edit and view your animations in real time. After animating your photo with effects, you can export it to a Quicktime movie or save it as an Animix screensaver.
To learn more about using all the great features of Animix, we have prepared an instruction guide below. If you are familiar with Photoshop or new to photo editing you will find the Animix interface intuitive and easy to use.
The main workspace of Animix is viewable after dragging your photo into the main screen area. You will see three dialog boxes. First is the Photo Navigator where you can scroll or zoom your image in a small thumbnail preview. Zooming is controlled through the Main Menu and these hotkeys:
- Zoom in: View -> Zoom in, cmd + “+“.
- Zoom out: View -> Zoom out, cmd + “–“.
- Zoom to 100%: View -> Zoom to Original Size, cmd + “0“.
- Autozoom: View -> Toggle Autozoom, cmd + shift + “0“.
Next is the layers control. A single layer control called New Layer comes pre-loaded. By default, the new layer is set to the Lens Flare filter, but the effect can be changed. From the pull down menu, you can select the effect of your choice. You can also click on the default New Layer name and change the text to your own name.
The Main Scene control is to set non-effect parameters. Resolution is where you set the picture area in pixels. Camera sets camera movement. By default, camera is set to Static. When your image is wider than the scene itself you can set camera movement. Cycled will pan the camera from left to right in cycles and is ideal for cycled panoramas. “Hither and Thither” pans the camera back and forth and is good for non-tiled panoramas. To test the camera setting, enable the Preview button at the top right of the workspace. To add a new layer, click on the “+” button in the Main Scene and a new layer will be stacked into the palette. There you can combine effects within separate layers. To remove a layer simply click on the ” – ” button in the layer dialog box.
Layer types & editors
Layers are where you add motion effects to your scene. By combining just 2-3 animated layers you can bring your photo to life. All of the layer effect setting parameters are user controllable. Use the sliders to control effect settings. You will see changes in real time.
- Water Surface – This effect simulates moving water. Using masking, you can isolate the water area in your photo and add motion to it, controlling the intensity, direction and speed of the water motion.
- Clouds – Simulate clouds moving in the sky using this filter. Control the horizon vanishing point, the amount of cloud cover and cloud speed.
- Smoke & Haze– An effect that gives the appearance of smoke or haze in the atmosphere. It can be used to animate fog, smoke vapor, and haze. Use to animate sunshine rays or get creative and animate grass or other surfaces.
- Rain/Snow– These filters add moving rain or snow effects to your photo, You can choose angle, speed and density of the effect. You can “weatherize” your entire photo or mask areas for a partial effect. For example, you can have rain appear in a portion of your photo with a rainbow.
- Lens Flare – This effect produces a sun spot and lens flare with adjustable power and type, you can choose both spot and target position. This effect is intended to be used on panoramic photos with Camera set to Cycled or Hither and Thither. It’s generally recommended to keep the target on the center of the screen.
- Touch – This effect adds one of several popular photography filters to “touch up” your scene. Choose from Monochrome, Polaroid, Lomography or Technicolor.
Masks allow you to control your Animix effect areas within your scene. The screenshot above demonstrates the Rain layer with a precisely drawn mask that keeps the girl dry under the umbrella from the rain in the “applied region”. This technique is very powerful in combination with layers stacking. For instance, you can animate a waterfall with a water layer that has a strong vertical speed and a pond surface with another water layer with some “calm” water settings. Masking will help you to define the areas for every layer.
For effects that allow image masking, a small pencil icon appears at the top of the layer bar. After clicking on it, a tools palette will appear below the Photo Navigator. Your masking tools are shown as a brush and eraser. As a default setting, the effects will cover the entire scene. Use the eraser tool to remove areas that you don’t want effects to appear in. Toggle between the pencil and eraser tool to fine tune your image mask. You can toggle back to the pencil tool to brush areas back in. For more precision you can use the slider bars to control the brush thickness, flow and opacity levels. Click the small gear icon to reset the mask for the entire scene: clear or fill.
At present, there are two options for export: a QuickTime movie and a ScreenSaver. The first option is pretty simple: you can define target resolution (output video size), video duration and the frame rate. The output in encoded with lossless video codec and file size can be large, but the main idea here is no produce the best quality. This movie the can easily resampled or converted to other formats with third-party editors, there are lots of free converters for Mac.
Another export option is ScreenSaver module which is a bit more complicated. Screen Saver details are available at the separate page.
The Animix application requires a fast video accelerator with OpenGL support to render the scene in real-time. If the app runs slow in design mode (layers editor), it’s recommended to open Animix -> Preferences and choose the option “Drop frame while editing layers (Design Mode)”, this will reduce the frame rate for editor mode and app will run smoother on slower video cards. It’s also strongly recommended to test the app on target machines if you are going to export scenes as ScreenSavers. For instance, some Mac laptops may not have fast enough video cards to handle real-time animation. However, if you are mainly interested in QuickTime output, fast on-screen video acceleration is not required.
There is also a Screencast available, please take a look at it for more tips. While each effect is designed to simulate a specific effect, I encourage you to play with them on different surfaces and stack layers to create interesting animations. If you have further comments or suggestions – feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.