PI7 Creative Lighting Animation

Creative Lighting effects can create static image effects as well as key frame animations. This tutorial shows you how to custom edit a preset lighting animation so that it looks like a little girl is tossing a star from one hand to the other. We'll start with a basic preset animation, then edit the animation by adding key frames. You can see the full size animation, which weighs in at 252 kb, here.

small version

To follow along, you'll need to right click and save this image from the PI7 installation CD's Images folder. I've reduced the dimensions to keep the animation file size manageable, and added a little more sky at the top to give the animated effect some room.

save this animation for tutorial

With the image open in the work space, choose Effect, Creative, Lighting to open the Lighting dialog box. Select the Light bulb effect. The first thing you'll notice is that the star appears in them middle of the little girl and that the photo looks dark and murky. Don't worry, all of these attributes for the animation can be edited.

lighting dialog box

Note the Basic and Advanced tabs in the upper right corner of the dialog box. Options available from the tabs let you edit the lighting effect. Click the Help button to find out what each option does. In the bottom right corner of the dialog box are the animation controls. To brighten up the image, edit the Ambient light value to 90. Look at the section labeled "Key frame controls."

key frame controls

The screen shot above is labeled to help you identify the parts of the key frame controls. Click the Play button to watch the default animation play in the dialog box's preview window. It will only play once. The "star" will move from the middle of the child upward to the right corner. Click Loop and the animation will play continuously, starting from the beginning each time. You'll have to click Stop to stop the animation. Then click Ping to have the animation play continuously, reversing itself and playing backward. Click Stop to stop playing the animation. Unfortunately, when you save the animation, the Ping and Loop options don't "stick," which has been a problem with these animations since PI5. For now, leave Ping selected so that you can preview in Ping mode.

Where it says "Key frame control" you'll see an animation timeline with two diamonds. Click on the first diamond, the one on the left, and it will turn blue, indicating that this is the active key frame. The star will be back in the girl's middle again. Click on the second diamond, and you'll be on Frame 10, the last frame of the animation. The star will be in the upper right corner again. Select the first key frame diamond again. In the preview window, position your cursor over the star. Once you see the double-headed arrow, you're right over it. Drag the star to the little girl's open hand.

drag star to hand

Click on the last key frame to select it. From the upper right corner, drag the star to the same hand. We want the animation to begin and end on that side.

What we've done so far is edit the beginning and end of the animation time line. Now let's add some key frames to create the animation. In the key frame control time line, enter 3 to get to Frame 3 of the 10 frames, then click the Add key frame button (it has a plus sign on it). Doing so will add a key frame at Frame 3. Notice that it's blue because now it's the active key frame.

add a key frame at frame 4

In the preview window, drag the star so it's up over the girl's head.

drag star for key frame 4

In the key frame time animation time line, enter 5 to get to Frame 5 of the 10 frames. Click the Add key frame button. This will add a key frame at Frame 5. In the preview window, drag the star down so it's in the girl's other hand.

drag star for key frame 7

In the key frame time animation time line, enter 7 to get to Frame 7 of the 10 frames. Click the Add key frame button. This will add a key frame at Frame 7. In the preview window, drag the star up again and toward the middle of the trajectory, so it's over her head like it was in Frame 3.

drag frame 7 star to middle

Now click the Play button and watch the star move in an upward arching pattern, like she's throwing it from one hand to the other! If the animation doesn't flow right, click on Frame 3, 5 or 7 to select its diamond, then move the star around as necessary in the preview window. When you're satisfied with the previewed animation, click the Save button. You'll see the Save As dialog box.

increase frame delay time during save

Browse to the desired folder on your hard drive and give the file a name (e.g., anistar). Be sure to note "GIF Animation Options" at the bottom of the dialog box. I've increased the "Frame delay time" from the default of 10/100 of a second to 15/100, because I want to slow the animation down a little. By default this will be saved with 256 colors, Infinite loop, transparent background, dithered and interlaced. Deselect any of these options if you know what you're doing, otherwise it's probably best to go with the defaults. Note also that you can tweak the animation further by selecting to open it up in Ulead GIF Animator.

Now that you know how to add key frames and edit lighting effect animations, you can use this process to make other lighting animations. They are a lot of fun to experiment with.

This tutorial uploaded 2/15/02

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