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How to create smooth animations in K3CCDTools 2

In this tutorial I will use stunning Jupiter images from Christopher Go captured by K3CCDTools. Look at his website.

1, In the beginning of our animation session we have 15 processed frames (they are product of processing of AVI files - stacking and postprocessing).
Usually the input frames have various size, so we must expand them to the same size.

However, before doing expansion we must check, what is background level of the frames. It's a simple task - we just load some images into K3CCDTools and move the cursor above black border areas. In the right part of status bar we see the actual levels:

So now we now, that background level is about [6,6,8].

2, Now we can expand all 15 images to the same size. We will use Expand Frames function:

An Open Dialog appears and we must select all required files. Then Expand Frames dialog appears:

The dialog shows minimum and maximum images' width and height.
The Fill color specifies a color which will be used for filling expanded areas. We select the color of background which we found out in step 1. Then we must specify output image type (e.g. PNG) and output directory. After pressing OK, all the images will be expanded to the same size (in our case 450 x 440 pixels).

3, Now we can load all 15 images as an image sequence into K3CCDTools. We can use Sequence Player tool (from toolbar) to check how misaligned the sequence is:

Here is an animated gif:

4, So, now it is a time for alignment in K3CCDTools. For this purpose we must prepare frames:
a, We have to select Full Rectangles by using toolbutton:

This command will select the whole area of frame as a frame rectangle.

b, Then we must select some subregion of frame by using Select Result Rectangle command:

This step is necessary, because when Full Rectangles are selected, then we cannot move the rectangles for alignment.

c, The selected reactangle can be as follows:

The bigger borders we keep, the bigger movement of rectangle we can use.

5, Now we switch K3CCDTools to Difference mode by using a Show Difference toolbutton:

In Difference mode the difference between the current frame and the reference frame is calculated. We can check in Settings Dialog what difference gain is set:

The higher difference gain is set, the finer differences are visible. Here is an example:

Difference gain = 2

Difference gain = 8

In K3CCDTools 2 we have 3 difference paint modes. We can set the difference mode by clicking the right mouse button on Paint Difference button:

For rough alignment we can use Show Difference or Show Both modes. The final alignment we can do in Blink Reference mode.

6, We can browse through all frames of sequence and by using keys 4-6-8-2 on numeric keyboard we can move the frame rectangle to its best position. You can also use shift key to make 10-pixels move.
Note: Numeric keys are only active when Frames List is an input focus (to make Frames List focused, just click it with mouse).
The picture below shows the effect of alignment:

Before alignment

After alignment

7, In the final phase we switch to Blink Reference mode and we can tweak the final alignment by using keys 4-6-8-2 on numeric keyboard.

Blinking mode

Important tip: During alignment you can select any frame as reference frame. It helps a lot during alignment procedure, because difference between the first and the last frame can be so high, that it is difficult to align the last frame according to the first frame. The reference frame is selected by double clicking the required frame in the frame list.
Another tip: You can use X2 mode for achieving even finer alignment.

8, We can check the smoothness of our animation by using the Sequence Player. In order to see the result frame only we must press the Paint result rectangle only:

Using the Sequence Player and "Paint result rectangle only" we can see the result animation at any step in our alignment procedure without need to save or export it.

9, When we are satisfied with the result we can use Maximize usable rectangle toolbutton (using right click) to enlarge the result rectangle to its maximum available size (it is given by maximum drift of the frames):

Then we can use Select Result Rectangle or Select fixed sized rectangle to choose some comfortable image size (in our case we used 430 x 420 size):

Note: The size of fixed size rectangle is chosen by right click the Select fixed sized rectangle button:

The area of result rectangle on the image is selected by left click this button (during selecting the result area the image cannot be in Paint result rectangle only mode).

10, So, our animation is prepared. We must not forget to save the project by using Save project button:

11, The result animation we can export either to AVI file or directly to animated GIF by using menu command File | Export Frame Collection:


It is important to check Interior of rectangles checkbox, because our animation is defined by frame rectangles.
If we want to use the exported AVI file for furter processing, it is recommended to use uncompressed AVI format. If you want to put the result AVI to internet, you can use DivX or XviD codec (they must be installed on your machine).

If you use export to animated GIF, you must specify frame period (duration) in ms.

Important: Some AVI codecs (e.g. DivX) require frame size to be multiple of 4 or 8. So you must choose proper frame rectangle size in step 9.

12, If we use direct export from K3CCDTools to animated GIF, the work is done. We can also create animated GIF by means of another application like Animagic GIF or similar. Here is the result:

Images for animation were provided
with courtessy of Christopher Go.
Animation made in K3CCDTools 2
by Peter Katreniak.

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Computer generated images, real images, drawings and texts are property of the author and may not be reproduced or used without permission of author. The Jupiter images are property of Christopher Go.


Last Update: 22.09.2004