Firka animation V2.4

software user's manual



This part is a usual copyright information.

Yes, I give you the right to copy and share this manual free!

Copyright (C) 1998 Fazekas László. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. Content of this handbook can be freely copied, spread or distribute in printed or in form of electronic information, if its text remains in its full and unchanged form in the result of these operations.


The Firka software and the enclosed information material (the Software) is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and nonfringement.

In no event shall the Author be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the Software or the use or other dealings in the software, including but not limited to causing directly or indirectly personal casualty, or for any kind of damages deriving from profit loss.

The contents of this material or the Software itself can be changed by the Author without prior notices.

This handbook or the parts of it and the name of the Author shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the sale, use or other dealing in this Software without prior written authorization from the author.

The protected names in this material are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


Here you can find additonal tips and tricks about the text.

Important text is written in bold typeface, and the text that you may enter from the keyboard is in a different font.

The Firka line-tester program is made for the purpose of supporting the motion test which is one of the working phases of the cartoon industry. In the cartoon making, the computer appears in more and more working phases. This does not mean that the computer take over the creating procedure itself - there are experiments for it - but this means that in the cartoon industry, which has always claimed high level of technology background, methods used earlier is replaced with more effective computer solutions which assure better quality for lower price in the final result.

There are enormous computer systems, which replace the final procedures (called post-production) - the painting, shooting, assembling and cutting, with one procedure inside of the computer. These systems claim a complex network of workstations, and the prices are in the same category.

The rapid growth of the capability of the computers makes it possible that smaller firms or individuals can use a computer of considerable output for a reasonable price. Computerised processing of the line-test is widely used today in smaller cartoon groups world also. In the early 90's Amiga computers was used for the aim of the line-test, but the capacity of these was too small for manufacturing a final product of professional quality with it.

Amiga-fans, don't read this!

The developing of the Amiga stopped in the middle of the decade, so IBM compatible PC computers, which were much cheaper, have caught up with it then they rapidly excelled the graphical capabilities of the Amiga. The other problem is that the condition of the machine park at the companies has considerably declined.

So it was necessary to develop a modern motion test system, which is suitable for the possibility of today's computers. This should be such as that for easing the convention it will be able to co-operate with the painting systems and with the older line-test softwares, and it should be able to expand to a full painting system in the future while taking into consideration the prospective growth of the capacity of the computers.

The Firka line-tester was made for these purposes. Development of the program happened on the basis of the claim of the motion test, the main aim of the author was the easy manageability and the direct and tangible representation of the motion picture scenes.

We can create films and scenes within the films for the shooting of the motion test. One or more exposure sheets can belong to the scenes, which define the contents of the scene frame-by-frame during the projection. The contents can be pictures, sounds and effect data. The exposure sheet is divided into levels. The order of these levels is important, for example the non-transparent parts of the picture content of the upper level hide the content of lower levels. There can be unlimited number of levels. The pictures also contains layers, so the components of a picture (like outline, paint or shadow) can be on different layers.

The pictures and sounds can be referenced only within the scene that contains them. The exposure sheets of a scene can share some levels with each other, in this case the changes which are written in one level can appear in other level as well.

The program stores its scenes in an internal database, but there is a possibility for loading and saving the scenes, individual pictures and sound in several different file formats, included loading the author's old line-tester - TestLine - format scenes directly.

Chapter 1.

What kind of computer I needed?

Windows, Linux or AmigaOS operating systems,

IBM compatible PC or Amiga computers.

The program is platform-independent which means it can be rewritten with low cost into any type of computer and any kind of operation system, if it has a graphical user interface. Presently it is ready for the Amiga, Unix (with X-Window, at this time Linux only) and Windows (95 or NT) system.

The Amiga version is not suitable for professional using because of the modest capacity of Amiga computers, instead the author recommends PC computers with the Windows 95 or Linux version.

If it is possible, the computer must be up-to-date with high capacity. Presently the point of view of the price/capacity rate, the Pentium microprocessor PC computers are the most appropriate. Speed of the microprocessor is usually characterised with the internal clock frequency, which is given in megahertz (MHz). The bigger this value is - within one type - the faster the computer will be. The size of the inner memory influences also the capacity, the more memory the computer has, the more data can be processed with rapid speed.

The minimum computer assembling which is recommended by the author is the following:

Pentium 166 MHz PC, with 64 MByte RAM memory, color monitor, 1024x768,65536 color video card, 2 GByte harddisk, Internet reaching, with Windows 95 or Linux operating system.

The problem with the Windows NT is that the most of the video capture boards are not supports it for still image capture. For Windows, you need a Video for Windows compatible capture board, and for Linux, a Video for Linux (V4L,BTTV) compatible one.

See the Appendix to find a good card for your operating system.

Chapter 2.

How to obtain the software?

Download it from the Internet...

The primary purchase source of the Firka is the Internet. The necessary file can be downloaded from the web:

Anybody can use the program free of charge for any time, but only the user's program copy can read the scenes made this way, those cannot be converted into another line-test systems. Some functions of the program, supported for the professional works, also cannot be used in the free type.

On the Internet you can find an instruction manual for the latest version of the program. If you upgrade your system from the Internet, it is a good idea to download the latest handbook also.

For utilising the program fully, you need a personal user identification code. Being in possession of it the scenes made by you can be freely forwarded to the co-operatiove line-test systems of your partners. The identification code consist of 3 times 7 characters - letters and numbers - which can be activated at the right place of the program. If you operate your computers in a network there is possibility for using more identification codes at the same time, and the running programs can use the same common scene data base. In this case you need as many identification codes as many programs you want to run at the same time. For discount prices, you can buy restricted codes for workplaces where you want only to play back or edit the scenes.

From the version 2.1, there are different basic types of the code number. The code number contains access rights to the program's features. These are the basic types available:

There are discount prices also, ask about the details!

Personal line-tester

    For individual users, not usable on a network, no camera movements, no mass data operations

    Price: Temporaly not available

Professional line-tester

    For professional animation users and studios, full line-tester features, camera movements, restricted painting functions, usable also on a network with shared database

    Price: 1500 Euros

Network player

    Only together with the Professional line-tester version, in a network. The digitizing, painting and camera movements editing functions are disabled.

    Price: Temporaly not available

Professional network player

    On a network, only together with the Professional line-tester version, to play and edit scenes. All functions of the Professional line-tester are available, except the digitizing and painting.

    Price: Temporaly not available


    For post-processing systems, painter workstation. Paint and draw features, specially optimized for animation.

    Price: Not available yet


    For post-processing systems, compositing and rendering. Includes high quality rendering.

    Price: Not available yet

These prices can be changed without notice.

If you want to buy a user identification code, or you have any questions, or any use of a particular hardware device is uncertain for you, please contact with the author of the program:

This person created the Firka software, you can send everything to these adresses...

    Fazekas László

Chapter 3.

Installing the program

Don't panic, you can make it on your own!

First, you choose the data pack which is convenient for your operating system at the program's site on the Internet. Download it to your personal computer, and unpack the loaded file with an uncompress utility as you did it before (For example, under Windows with some UNZIP program). If you are unfamiliar with the uncompressing, simply send an e-mail to the Author (please notify what is your operating system), and he will send you an uncompressed copy by e-mail in a few days.

After uncompressing, you get an executable program file, named Firka (Firka.exe in Windows environment) and you obtain also a text file which introduces your user rights - its name is License. Create a subdirectory and copy the files into it. The program will store all data, including the scenes starting out from this subdirectory. In this way data base which is build up by the software can be easily copied, or the program can be finally deleted by deleting the subdirectory. The program does not modify the system settings, and it is not needed for running the program. The program can be carried to any other computer at any time with copying the whole content of the subdirectory, just you have to take care of the fact that you overwrite the Firka executable with the suitable version if you change the operating system.

The program supposes one-button type mouse because of its system independence. Some functions can be activated by clicking with the mouse, others can be used with double click or pushing down the button and moving the mouse (dragging). Numerous functions can be activated with the keyboard also. However, for some list-moving functions, you can use other mouse buttons, but these operations also can be performed in the single mouse button style, together whith the Shift and Control keys of the keyboard. The Control key means the right mouse button, and the Shift is usable for the middle mouse button.

Start the Firka program. After the first starting, the program creates automatically the necessary files and directories in its subdirectory, then it asks you for the user identification code. If you purchased this code, please give it to it. If you intend to buy it later, you can also continue the work, and later you can give your code. If you act this way, later you will be able to see the previously made scenes, shooted without the code, and you will be able to forward these scenes to other computer systems.

If you purchased the code, it can be found in an official license form and it looks approximately like this (this is not a valid code):


You see three text input fields in the bottom of the window. If you click on the left hand input field you can write continuously the code, at hyphen the write automatically steps to the next field. After entering, click Add button to finish entering. In case of wrong spelling, you get an error message and you can correct the written code.

After adding the code to the system, the window not disappears so you can enter other code numbers also, if you purchased more than one. You can exit the window by clicking on the Exit button.

In this window you can use the Performance test button to check the displaying speed of your hardware.

With the Monitor settings button you can adjust the color correction for the displaying. The monitors has different color distortions. There are two main distortions: the gamma and the transient (high frequency) distortion. The gamma is the nonlinearity of the brightness of the monitor pixels, and the transient distortion is visible where the picture contains high frequency components in the horizontal scanlines (like a thin vertical line). You can set one correction for the working screen windows and one for an external display device (like using MovieMachine II under Linux, when you can display the picture on a video monitor or you can record it with a VCR). In this window you can also enable or disable the fullscreen playing on the external device, with the Fullscreen on external device. If it is disabled, the fullscreen playing uses the settings of the working screen windows, (Window mode) and the picture covers the windows on your monitor.

You can enable the color correction with the Color correction enabled switch. If it is on, you can modify the minimum, middle and maximum levels of the color components, and the transient equalization. You can check the settings with the color bars, it is good if all fields seems equal for each color components.

If you want to use the program not in English language, then load the necessary language data from the Internet. These files are of text formed, they are not compressed and they have to be copied into the langs subdirectory of the var subdirectory in the program's directory. Then the below mentioned row must be entered into the gcnf named text file in the var directory:

language [language]

You can edit the gcnf file with your built-in text editor, for example with the WordPad in Windows.

The [language] is the built-in identifier which belongs to the concerned language file, this can be found in written next to the language file in the Internet page. Usually two kinds of language names are identified, one in English and one in the language. The language files itself are also text files and they can be easily modified. So you can accomodate the messages of the program by your own taste.

Since the English language version is always at your disposal - it is built into the program code - the text of this handbook refers to the messages and subtitles of the English version. Changing of the language, means that the texts change into the translated one, but the place and function of the operation body remains in the same.

If you use both Windows and Linux in your computer, (there are digitizer cards suitable for both system), you can redirect the access paths to your Windows partition under Linux, so you can use the same database - and the same identification code, if you buyed - under the both system. Or for networks, you can keep the database in a dedicated computer, and the other computers can access this data through the network file system. To redirect the access paths (first share the required partitions on the network or mount these DOS or Windows partitions under Linux), enter the following to the gcnf file in the var directory:

path [full path to the other program's directory]

For example, under Windows, here is a redirection to a remote computer named Storage, where the Firka.exe program is in the C:\Program Files\Firka directory, and the C: drive of the Storage computer is shared on the network under the name STC:

path //Storage/STC/Program Files/Firka

If you are using, for example, scanned pictures, these pictures could be very large. Handling such a picture takes many memory and time from the computer. To manage these pictures, you can switch on a harddisk cache. When the software gets a picture, checks its compressed size (number of pixels and memory allocation) and if it is bigger than the given limit, replaces it with a lower resolution representating picture, and saves the original picture into a file. On networks, the cache could be on a local harddisk and not on the server for faster operating. To enable this option (it is disabled by default) enter the following to the gcnf file:

cache [max. pixels] [max. bytes] [full path to the cache directory]

For the size parameters, you can use K for Kilo and M for Mega suffix. The bytes parameter is the maximal compressed size of the picture, this effects on the handling of the pictures with complex contents.

For example, you can enter under Windows:

cache 500K 50K C:\Program files\Firka\cache

After starting the program a narrow horizontal window will remain on the screen. With its buttons (Scenes..., Editor, Showroom, About, Exit) you can reach each services of the program. This window is at your disposal during the running of the program, closing that window means also to exit the program. Let's name this window Base window.

As the very first version of the program was born in Unix environment, this has its mark on the operation surface. For Windows users the user interface of the program can be unusual, but let's think about the fact that this is a uniform surface which is independent from the computer system and looks same in every version of the program. Later you can form the user interface at your own taste, first of all by modifying the above mentioned gcnf text file.

If you do not have a user identification code, later you can do that any time by clicking on the About button of the Base window.

Chapter 4.

Creating a scene

At the first starting, the program creates a demonstration movie for you . To create a scene, click on the Scenes... button. A window appears, which contains the scene list of the actual movie (after the first starting, it is empty), below the Scenes label, in the left hand half of the window. On the right hand half of the window you can see the list of the exposure sheets - labelled X-Sheets - of the selected scene. Below the list columns, you can see buttons also. These buttons are operating on that list (scenes or x-sheets) which is above of the buttons.

To create a new scene, first enter a name for it to the Name input field. First click on it, then type into it for example: First scene. By clicking the New button which can be found under the Scenes column you created a new scene. At the same time you created an exposure sheet belonging to this scene, which appears in the right hand side list. Click Edit button under the right hand side column. With this you open the editor window of the chosen exposure sheet. In the new window a chart can be seen, in which the horizontal numbered rows means the frames of the scene, and its vertical columns are means the levels. The left hand side level is the bottom level, this has an importance when constructing the pictures, where the content of the upper levels covers the content of the lower ones.

You can find buttons in the upper row of the window. The Play button serves for playing the exposure sheet, by the Grab button you can expose the drawings of the scenes. With the Save button you can overwrite the scene you editing. If it was loaded from a file, it overwrites the original file, otherwise the program overwrites the scene in the internal movie database. The Save button overwrites allways the last loaded or saved file. With the Save as... button you can save the scene under a different name to the actual movie (the selected one in the Base window), or to an external file. If you not saved your changes, when exiting the window the program will draw your attention to it. If you want to keep the exposure sheet window open, but you want to swap the editing to another scene, you can use the Load button, with it you can simply load another scene, like in an editor system without multi-document capabilities. The New job button creates an empty, unnamed and unsaved new scene in the window. With the Exit button you can exit the window. The other buttons and fields are helps to filling the exposure sheet. You can find a small square in the right bottom corner of the window where the vertical and horizontal scrollbar meets. Click it, keep the mouse button pressing down, and drag the square to left. This time an additional operation surface appears on the right hand side of the window, in this way you can change its size. If you move the square vertically as well, the exposure sheet divides into two views. These views show the same list, but two different parts of that. In this way the exposure sheet can be divided into optional number of views, and these views can disappear by dragging the square to down below.

With the Print button, you can print the exposure sheet. The Order menu sets the order of the exposure sheet levels. The Left-right means the leftmost level is the lowest and the Right-left means displaying in a reversed order.

If the Enabled levels only switch is on, it hides the inactive levels (the checkmark on the level's header is off) in the exposure sheet.

In the exposure sheet a cursor can be found. This can be place in any position of any level with the mouse. If the list is bigger than it can be showed in the window, the list can be turned by the horizontal and vertical scrollbar. You can position also if you click on the list with the right mouse button (or the left button and the Ctrl on the keyboard), hold down the button and drag the list. You also can move only vertically by dragging the frame numbers in the sidewards of the exposure sheet.

The headline of the levels contains three important fields. The leftmost one is a switch to enable or disable the projection of the level. The next field with a letter mark is the mark for the content of the level. As you know, you can assign the content of a level to other levels, also between different exposure sheets. You can rename the letter mark, as you will see later. The third field is the own name of the level, basically it is defined to blank. If you click on it, you can enter the name of the level. It is just a remark without any means by the working of the program.

Let's go back to the window of the scenes.

In the scenes window, under the left hand side list you can see the control buttons belonging to the scene, and under the right hand side list, there are buttons for the exposure sheet. With the New button you can make a new scene or an exposure sheet. On the selected scene, usable Rename for renaming, Duplicate to make a copy from the scene, and Delete to delete it. Use the Info button to query the parameters of a scene.

Using the Mark button, or clicking with the third button of the mouse on the scenes list, you can switch on or off the small square marks in front the names of the scenes. If you use these to mark only the latest versions of the scenes, you can filter out the previous versions of the scenes from the list, with the Marked scenes only switch, and you will see a clean list of scenes.

Use the Load file and Save to file buttons to load or save external scene files in various formats.

You can select more than one scene for an operation at the same time, if you click on the first scene and move the mouse with pressed button over the scenes.

To create an empty, unnamed and unsaved scene, click on the Editor button of the Base window. An empty exposure sheet window appears.

To create a new movie, open the Movie list window by clicking the left hand side long field (it shows the name of the selected movie, at the first start it is Untitled) on the Base window. The appearing window contains the list of the movies or films handled by the program. After the first starting, it contains an automatically created movie named Untitled. To display the controls of this window, click on the More control button.

To the Name input field enter the name of the new movie you want to create, then and click on the New button. With this you created a new film and its name appears in the movie list. Here you can set the playing speed of the movie with the input field (its default is 25 frames per second), the projecting frame aspect ratio with the Field shape slider and the pixel width and height of the picture (this is important if you want to produce a given resolution file, an AVI for example). With the small rectangles on the ends of the field shape slider you can select the predefined standard frame shapes.

You can observe that the name of the chosen movie appears on the left hand side button of the Base window. The windows of the program operates collateraly, there is no need to close a window for working with another one. You can close the Movie list window by clicking the Ok button.

Beginners, follow the instructions of the Try it sections, it is an easy way to learn the usage of the software.

Try it

    1. Click on the Scenes... button on the Base window. A new window appears.

    2. Click on the Name: field with the mouse. Enter a name from the keyboard.

    3. Click on the New button under the left hand side list. A new scene appears in the left hand side list with the given name.

    4. Click on the Edit button to open the new scene's exposure sheet window.

Chapter 5.

Loading and projecting of a scene

At the first start the program creates a movie (named Untitled) for you. There are downloadable demonstration scenes on the program's Internet web page.

Click the Load file button in the Scenes... window. You will find a file-manager window, then write the path to the example scenes for the Path input field of its upper row. If you double click the name of the file on the list, or you click on it then click the Load button, the scene is loaded. This time the program offers to overwrite the marked existing scene of the database, or to create a new scene, or to edit the external scene in itself. Choose the latter one by clicking the Examine button. The exposure sheet of the scene appears.

Click Play button in the left top corner of the exposure sheet window. You will get a window in which you see the contents of the frame of the exposure sheet cursor.

The Play button starts the projection from the beginning of the scene and the Continue button continue it from the current position. You can stop the projecting by clicking the Stop button. If the projection stopped you can replace the viewed exposure sheet position with the long slider or you can do this by entering the frame number into the numeric input field in the middle of the bottom side of the window. By clicking the little triangular arrows in an input field you can either increase or decrease the settled number.

By clicking the + and - buttons you can step the displayed position by one frame forwards or backwards. On the keyboard, the cursor keys serves for the same and you can move to the beginning and end of the scene with the Home and End keys. With the Space key you can continue or stop the playing. In this window you will also find a small square shape button on the right hand side. If you drag it to the left, a list field appears to the right from it, if the projection stopped this shows the names of the drawings on the displayed frame. By clicking this the clicked drawing is highlighted in the displayed picture. If you click twice on this list, you can change the properties of the chosen level.

Observe, if the projection does not run and you are moving in the scene, the cursor of the exposure sheet window follows the moving, so if you place the two windows next to each other, you can follow what you have seen, in the exposure sheet also. And if you move the cursor of the exposure sheet, the displayed frame also follows the movement. If you rewrite something in the exposure sheet, or enable or disable a level, the display follows the changing immediately.

During the projection the two small squares on the right hand side of the window flashes if the projection is late from the synchronous. If only the left hand side one flashes, this means the motion phase starts later, but it hadn't hung down into the next phase. If both of them flash, that means that the program missed one or more motion phases.

With the shorter slider at the bottom left hand side of the window you can modify the speed of the projection considering the nominal speed to faster or to slower. Clicking the small triangle at the middle of the slider replaces the speed to the nominal value. Next to the slider, you can see the selected speed in frames per second and as percentage of the nominal speed.

With Full screen switch you can set the display into full sceen mode. The realisation of it is dependent from the system, if the hardware makes it possible, the displaying will appear onto a separate screen or video output. If the displayed picture covering the windows in the screen, pressing down the mouse button will change back into window display.

The Render first switch can be used when a scene is very difficult and because of it the program cannot play it exactly. If you switch it on, it assembles the frames before the projection, so the projection loads the computer less.

If Play in cycle switch is on, it restarts the projection at the end of the scene, otherwise the projection stops if it reaches the end.

The other options are reachable if you click on the Settings... button. A new window appears, whith additional switches:

With the Picture sub-layers section, you can switch on or off the playing of the internal levels of pictures for the entire scene. For example, you can switch off the painted parts of figures, to see the outlines only.

The Fade and color distortions switch can disable the playing of fade and color (Red,Green,Blue,Alpha) effects.

Also, with the Unfocus and blur switch, you can disable the playing of the focusing effects.

If the Real time switch is on, the speed of the projection strictly adjusts to the settled one, even though motion phases have to be missed because of it. When it is switched off, it projects all motion phases, although the projection slows down. This can lead the meowing of the voice, so it is advisable to leave this switch on.

The Optimal frame size switch settles the displayed picture in a way that every pixel will be visible, but the picture shall be enlarged to the least possible extent. This settings is useful if you specifieed the exact pixel size of the frame for the movie. In this case you will see the picture in that resolution.

If you are using a picture cache on your harddisk, with the Original pictures switch you can force the using of the original pictures from the cache, instead of the reduced resolution representations.

With the Grid background option, you can replace the background color with a grid pattern to check the transparency.

With the Frame counter switch you can display a frame counter on the bottom part of the displayed picture. This can be useful when projecting on full screen.

If the Clappers switch is on, before the playing of the scene a setting picture is visible for a second, it contains grayscale and color scale, the names of the movie, scene and expousure sheet, and the number of the frames. At the end of the projecting, not the last frame of the scene remains on the screen, but a blank black picture.

Try it

    1. Open the Scenes... window.

    2. Click on an existing scene on the left hand side list.

    3. Click on the Edit button. The exposure sheet of the scene appears.

    4. Click on the Play button on the exposure sheet window. A new window appears.

    5. Click on the button with the small triangle (a usual icon for the Play function) to play the scene.

Chapter 6.

Putting the drawings to the scene

Click Grab button on the exposure sheet window. A new window appears, with which you can digitize pictures from the video camera or the scanner which is connected to the computer. You can see the picture of the camera at the upper left side of the window. You can exit this window by pressing the Exit button at the top right hand corner. Under this button there is a list in which the shooted drawings can be visible. If the Show images switch is on, you can see the pictures in the list. Under the list there is a text input field named Path :, in which there is a / sign presently. This displays the subdirectory in which you will put the drawings within the database of the scene. Under this you can find the Object: input field, where you have to enter the name of the desired drawing. If you click the list the chosen name is copied into this field.

Exposure can be made in the middle with the Shoot and Next buttons. The Shoot button exposes the picture and stores it under the given name. The Next makes the same thing, but before the exposure it adds the number of the Advance field to the number in the picture name. For example: If there is K0001z in the name field, and the increment is 2, the Shoot button creates the K0001z named drawing, and the Next button will create the K0003z. You can make an exposure when entering a name directly to the name field, and press the Enter key on the keyboard. This is very useful when the names are not in order and you have to enter the names manually. If you double click on a name in the names list, you can re-exposure the existing drawing. You also can make this if you click on the names list, and use the Up and Down arrow keys on the keyboard for the moving in the list and the Enter key for the exposure. Normally, the Enter key makes an exposure and the Space key does the same thing as Next button.

By switching the Over and Under switches you can insert existing drawings over and under the displayed picture, for example for helping a previously used camera position restoring. If you switch either the Over or Under function on, and the name field belonging to it is blank, it copies the picture name field into the selected function.

By switching off the Running picture switch, you can forbid the continuos scan, and you can change the frozen picture. This time you can scan a single picture by the Scan in button.

With the Image feedback switch you can reprocess the existing pictures. If you click on an existing picture on the list, it will appear on the display. Now you can set the brightness, transparency, aspect ratio, pegs position etc. just like if it comes from the camera. You can reshoot the original picture or you can make a new one. In this mode you can select several pictures from the list by dragging the mouse with pressed button, then you can re-shoot them with pressing the Next button. If you give an alternate name first to the name field, the shooting will create new picture names.

The Paper: Get button is for cleaning the background of the picture. Place a blank paper sheet under the camera before recording, and click Paper: Get button. At this time the program take a photo of the blank background, which is subtracted from every digitized picture afterwards. By this procedure the illumination unevenless and lens errors can be vanished from the picture - which can not be filtered off in other way. For switching off the function use the Paper: Clear button.

If there are parts on the picture what you do not want, for example subtitles or the pegs, you can hide it by masking. Click the appropriate part of the displayed picture and assign a rectangle shaped part what you want to clear, by pressing and holding down the mouse button. You can delete the uncovering by Mask: Clear button. To invert the masking, click Mask: Invert button.

At the left bottom corner of the window, you can see a button above the list. With this you can select the active picture input device. If you have more than one such hardware unit in your computer (scanner and video digitizer), you can activate any of them from a list. If the selected device has a settings window, made by its manufacturer, it will appear if you select the device. The window usually enables to set the resolution of the input picture, to select the input channel, the color system etc.

You can set several properties of the picture by the elements of the list at the left bottom corner. The chosen property can be set by the slider under the list. The default value of the parameter is restored by the Reset button, the Reset all button restores all of the parameters to their default values, the Load button, loads the parameters from a file, and you can save the actual parameter values to a file with the Save button. You can see the numeric values of the settings in the list, next to the pareameters. Certain adjustable properties are:

You can find this list of the settings at the right bottom corner of the digitizer window.

      if a tool has more than one video input channel, and it is not able to choose automatically a valid one among them, this can be used for choosing the input.


      brightness of the picture.


      contrast of the picture, light-dark transition hardness.

    Subtract paper

      the measure of subtracting the background recorded by Get paper.


      contrast increasing filter, the sharpness of the picture is increased.

    Cut to paper

      it sets the shadings, which are close to the color of the paper to the color of the paper, so the arising noise on the paper can be vanished.


      the number of the color grades. The less we quantize the color grades in the picture, the less memory will be used. At the lowest setting only two colors are used, black and white.


      gamma correction. This adjust the curve of the lightness transition.


      a kind of filter, which improves the compression of the picture, by the help of it, the desired place of the scene can be decreased.


      saturation in color mode (divergence from gray).


      proportion of red component.


      proportion of green component.


      proportion of blue component.


      within the picture of the camera, the size of picture cutout. For setting zoom, it is better to use the optics of the camera, because the increasing of the enlarging makes the applicable resolution by this zoom.


      the horizontal position of the picture within the picture seen by the camera.


      the vertical position of the picture within the picture seen by the camera.

    Aspect ratio

      vertical-horizontal aspect ratio.


      the transparency of the picture.


      the pixel resolution of the picture.

    Field width

      the width of the picture in pixels.

    Field height

      the height of the picture in pixels.

    Field shape

      the geometrical aspect ratio of the picture field.

You can set the color of the paper by the Inverse transparency switch at the end of the parameter list. This switch normally must be on, it means the white (and not the black) parts of the picture will be transparent. If the digitizer allows, there is a possibility for color and black-and-white recording. The black-and-white method is appropriate for the aim of line-test, because at this time this assigns different transparency by lightness values of the picture elements,but in color mode every pixel will be non-transparent. The color mode is appropriate for example for the painted background which is put under the drawings. You can change between the color and the black-and-white modes with the Color mode switch, also at the end of the list. Here, you can use the Mirror to flip the picture horizontally, the Negative to make the negative picture (just like with films), and the Diagonals shows diagonal lines on the picture, it may help the positioning of the camera.

If the Field width or Field height settings are not zero, you can set the width and the height of the picture in pixel units. If both of them are zero, the resolution is calculated from the Resolution setting. If only one of them is zero, the resolution is calculated from the other direction size and the frame aspect ratio. With the small rectangles on the ends of the slider, you can select the standard pixel resolutions.

The Field shape setting is very similar to the same setting of the Movies window. If you click on it, two small rectangles become visible on the ends of the slider, and you can select the standard frame shapes with these rectangles.

As for the program, it does not matter what kind of resolution and shape to work with, this can be mixed freely within one scene, but take to consideration that mixing the pictures with different geometry means extra work for the program which may mean that it will not be able to perform the scene exactly in real time.

With the Grid background switch you can put a grid texture under the picture to check which parts of the picture are transparent.

With the Rotate menu, you can select several rotating and pegs recognising modes:

      the picture comes by its original position,

    90 degrees

      the picture is rotated 90 degrees to the left,

    180 degrees

      the picture upside down,

    270 degrees

      the picture is rotated 90 degrees to the right,

    Setup pegs

      in this mode, you can set the position of the shooted field and the pegs on the picture. The program can recognise the position of the pegs from the picture of the peg holes. But you have to set what is the size of the pegs and their relative position from the shooted area. You can move the field and the pegs with the small squares on the picture. Click on the square, and move the mouse with the pressed button. The right mouse button, or pressing the Control key on the keyboard moves the pegs synchronously with the field. Clicking with the middle button of the mouse aligns the pegs and the field into a parallel position.

    Check pegs

      you can see the picture and the recognised pegs position. If the position recognised, the program puts the pegs and the field to the recognised position, and the field is crossed by diagonal lines, otherwise the program puts the pegs to the position selected by the Setup pegs mode, without diagonal lines.

    By pegs

      shows the picture from the field, by the recognised pegs.

    By field

      shows the picture from the field, by its original position, selected by the Setup pegs mode. In this mode there is no pegs recognision, but saves the position of the pegs with the shooted picture.


      shows the same picture as None, but when the picture shooted, saves the position of the pegs with the shooted picture. If you use feedback with this option, and the picture has already a pegs position, it remains unchanged if you not modify it with the Setup pegs mode.

You can view the plain picture coming from the camera by dragging right the horizontal slider underneath the picture.

You can zoom and replace the viewing to check the quality of the pixels (maybe the display resolution is less than the resolution of the incoming picture). You can use the 1..9 numbers on the numeric keyboard, to set the zoom value. If the mouse pointer is on the picture, it zooms around the pointer's position. Also, you can use the zoom slider and the positioning tool at the right bottom corner of the window, or the scrollbars around the picture. With the arrow keys on the keyboard, you can move the visible area. If you click on the picture with the middle button of the mouse (or the left button with the Shift key), and drag the mouse with pressed button, you can increase (right or down) or decrease (left or up) the zooming. If you drag the mouse on the picture with the right button (or the left button with Control key) down, you can replace the visible area.

Place the field chart paper underneath the camera. Set the sharpness and picture cutout (zoom) on the camera. Then set the picture cutout and the resolution in the computer. Take a photo of a blank background by Paper: Get button. Put the first drawing under the camera. Set the quality of the picture. It is the best if every lines can be seen clearly and the background is full white. The Inverse transparency switch has to be switched on.

Write the name of the drawing and expose by Shoot button. If the numbering of drawings is increasing steadily, after it you should only change the drawing under the camera and clicking the Next button.

At the upper right part of the window, the Save button works same as the similar button on the exposure sheet window, it saves the scene into the last accessed file.

You can exit the window by the Exit button.

Try it

    1. Open an exposure sheet window with the Editor button of the Base window.

    2. Click on the Grab button. A new window appears. You can see the picture from the camera.

    3. Enter a name to the Image: input field on the new window.

    4. Click on the Shoot button. The new image appears on the right hand side list.

    5. Shoot other images, and try to use the Next button to shoot numbered sequences.

    6. Exit the window with the Exit button and fill the exposure sheet.

Chapter 7.

Filling the exposure sheet in

After having recorded the drawings, you should write the exposure sheet. The exposure sheet is a table that contains the contents of the film frames in its rows. The columns of the exposure sheet called levels. The leftmost level is at the bottom, and the non-transparent contents of the next levels are hides the contents of the lower levels.

With the Load file button on the Scenes... window, you can load an external animation from a file!

From the Scenes... window, you can reach the exposure sheet if you double click on a scene or exposure sheet name, or after selecting a scene you press the Edit button. The simplest way of writing the list in that you position the cursor to the appropriate place of the list, and you enter the name of the drawing on the keyboard to the cursor position. By pressing Enter key the name will be written onto the list, and the cursor goes underneath. The Step field defines at the upper row that how many frames have to be written in at the same time. There are four selectable inserting mode (it can be changed with Tab and Insert keys also). The Overwrite mode means the previous content of the list is overwritten, the Insert means the contents under the cursor goes lower, and the Sync (All) and Sync (Actives) are works like the Insert, but the other levels (All levels if All, and only the active levels if Actives) also goes down parallely. With the keyboard, you can move with arrow keys, PgUp, PgDn, Home and End. If you position the cursor to the part under the end of the level, you fill the list with the name from the previous end of the level up to the cursor.

The names written onto the list can be media data names - for instance: picture or sound, these called images - and it can be effect markings - for example: fade. The images are stored within the scenes in a directory structure similar to the file-system of your Harddisk. A basic subdirectory belongs to every exposure sheet level, where the written names are searched for by the program. The separator character of the subdirectories is the / (slash) symbol. If the path name begins with the / symbol, this indicates absolute path, in other case the path starts relatively to the basic subdirectory of the level. The blank name means blank frame, when there is nothing in the level on the defined frame.

For example: /ruf/first/A1 is an absolute path of the place of A1 drawing in the directory, A1 is a good marking if /ruf/first is the current basic subdirectory. If we are in the ruf subdirectory, the correct marking is first/A1.

The effects, which are not parts of the database structure, have to be start with // (double slash).

You can see the list of the recorded drawings on the right hand side of the exposure sheet window. (Over the list, among the three button the Images has to be switched on) Under the list you can find a row which is for entering the path, some buttons the field for the name, and two more buttons. Place the cursor to the wanted place of the x-sheet, and click the drawing by the mouse what you want to write in the list. This will be written onto the name field together with the full path access. You can write it onto the x-sheet by Paste button. The cursor behaves as if it entered by hand. You can write the next and previous elements of the list into the level by Next or Prev. buttons. Blank picture is written by Blank. The + and - buttons inserts or deletes frames at the cursor. You can delete the frame at the cursor by Delete button.

The Undo button is for reversing the previous modifications, more than one steps are stored. The Parent button is for moving in the database, it steps back with one subdirectory level in the path. The Series button creates a name series between the name at the cursor and the name at the name field.

If you click on the left hand part of the cursor, you get a name input field where you can enter a remark text for the cursor's frame. If you enter a text here, and exit this field, a small mark appears on the exposure sheet. If you move the mouse over this mark, you can read the text of your remark. To delete the mark from the exposure sheet, click on the mark twice, and erase the whole remark text with the keyboard.

Otherwise, if you click on the cursor in the exposure sheet, and drag it with pressed mouse button, you can select a block range in the level. After selecting a block, on the right hand side at the name field a / (slash) character goes. If it can be seen in the name field (you can enter it even by hand), then you can paste the last selected block content by the Paste button. But if you click a drawing in the list of images, then Paste button is going to fill the selected block by the drawing. The function of Next, Prev. and Blank also will be modified, that the modification refers to the block. The + and - buttons add or subtract a frame in case of all different phases of the block, Delete button deletes the content of the block.

You can select the block on the keyboard also. You can set the first frame by CTRL-H keys and you can select the last by CTRL-L keys. You can modify the borders or the level of the selected block in such a way. If you replace the cursor by the mouse in the exposure sheet, the selection of the block will be disappeared. The Relabel button changes the first letter marks in the names of the selected range to the given, the remaining part of the names will last unchanged. Double click on the list at the right hand side it is the same as the function of Paste button. If this list is active, you can move among the names by Up and Down arrows of the keyboard, and you can write them into the x-sheet by Enter key.

If you click on the list of the images and move the mouse up or down with pressing the button you can select a block of several images. After that this name series can be entered to the exposure sheet with the Paste button.

Try it

    1. Open the exposure sheet window with the Editor button of the Base window.

    2. Click on the exposure sheet part of the window.

    3. Move the cursor with the arrow keys on the keyboard.

    4. Enter a name on the keyboard. You can see that the name is entered to the cursor. Use the Backspace and Del and the left and right arrow keys to edit the entered name.

    5. Use the Enter key to enter the name to the exposure sheet. Try it also with the up or down arrow keys.

Chapter 8.

The database of pictures and sounds

If you click Actions button in the exposure sheet window on the right hand side at the top, the right hand part of the window will be changed. You can create subdirectories and new image names by the buttons, you can delete, or rename, and load the pictures and sounds individually, or save them. As you have already realised, you can always see small figures next to the elements of the database. The drawings are marked by small spasmodic rectangle, the sound by wave line, and the subdirectory by small arrow. If the Show images switch is on, you can see the pictures in the list. If you write a new name into the name accessing field at the bottom of the window - for example test - and if you click New image button, then a new image element will be formed, for which figure does not belong to. This means, that there is no type of this image and no data for it. If you click Load image button, you can load a picture or sound from an outer file. If the selected image is empty (no figure), the program loads the data to the selected image, otherwise it creates a new image. To make an existing image empty before loading, you can use the Truncate button. The program is able to receive Amiga IFF-ILBM, Windows BMP, GIF and TGA (Targa) pictures. In the course of using BMP and GIF, you have to pay attention to the fact, that these formats usually do not contain transparency information. The loadable type of sounds can be Amiga IFF-8SVX or PC RIFF WAV.

In the same way, if you want to store an element in a file, choose it and click Save image button. In the course of saving you should define the type of the saved data. If the Type: field is on the By extension mode, you can determine the file type in its name with the extension part (for example, .bmp for BMP type files), otherwise, you can determine the file format directly. In case of picture this can be GIF, BMP or Targa (TGA) or the own formats of the program, in case of sound it can only be WAV.

For pictures, you can set the pixel resolution you want. If both Width and Height are zero, the resolution is calculated from the original resolution of the picture. Otherwise, the resolution will be exactly what you set. If you set only the width or only the height, the other size is calculated automatically. With the Floyd-Steinberg dithering you can add a noise-like pattern to get better matching colors. With the Quality slider, you can set a quality value for the encoding. Less quality results lower file size.

For sounds, you can set also the sampling frequency.

In the course of creating a subdirectory, type the name of it at the bottom, and then click New folder button. If you want to delete something, click Delete image button. You can delete a subdirectory only if it is fully empty. The function of Parent button is the same as it was written in the previous chapter, you can step back with one subdirectory.

You can load scenes from files in the window of scenes by Load file button. At the file loading window, you can select several scenes if you press the mouse button and moving the mouse on the list of the files. Presently the program can load a scene made by the Amiga line-tester of the author - TestLine - or GIF animation (mostly used on the Internet) and of course, its own native format.

A chosen scene of the movie can be saved to an outer file by Save to file button. You can select several scenes for saving together. Here you should set the type of the result, which is GIF animation, AVI, BMP or TGA picture series or the unpacked XSheet95 format (contains text format exposure sheet and BMP and WAV files) or individual Native format of the program. Just with the pictures, here you can set some properties, the usage of this information is depending on the file format, for example for the native mode, it is not used at all. It is important to know, that the users of the free version are cannot save the files this way, and the scenes of the internal database of the free version are also not receivable by other users' program.

On the saving window, the Width, Height, Quality and Floyd-Steinberg settings are usable similar to the picture saving.

The Frame-by-Frame switch is usable if you want to store every frames. Otherwise, the software creates only the frames where are changes on the animation.

The Keep transparency switch disables the monochrome background (usually the white paper on a line-test) and keeps the transparency of the transparent pixels.

The Use delta frames switch enables the usage of the equivalences between the frames in the encoding, if the file format supports it (GIF, AVI). It could decrease the size of the result file, but sometimes it is not useful if you want to play the result file frame-by-frame, forwards and backwards to check it.

The Whole field is visible is usable together with the Width and Height settings. If you specify a Width and Height, the program scales the picture to fill the entire field (in some cases, you need non-square pixels). If the switch is on, the program works with square-shape pixels and uses the Width and Height as a frame shape aspect ratio also. If this shape is not the same as for the scene, the program places black bars onto the edges of the picture, just like if you see a widescreen movie on a TV.

The Add 1 second clappers generates a clappers image before the animation.

Chapter 9.


We define effects as changings made in the pictures or sounds during projection. The present version of the program supports the picture fade, (un)focus and color component changing effects. The fade effect can be divided into two parts: in course of fade out the levels seen previously is fading through more frames, and it is disappearing. In case of fade in the content of picture which was unseen previously going to be seen. If during transition two animations overlap each other, the participant drawings have to be in different levels.

You can make a transition, if you click Effects button in the exposure sheet window over the right side list in the simplest way. At that time the usable effects are appeared on the right hand side list.

At the header of the levels switch off all the levels, which are not participated in the fade in effect, after it click Fade in list entry. Then if you use the level combination at the first time, a window is going to be appeared (If you did not switch any level off, there would not be the window). At this time do not care of the content of the new window, click Exit button. The effect will be written into the name field, this has to be pasted into one of the levels of the exposure sheet by the Paste button. You should do this procedure in case of fade out or focus effects, by the other list items.

If you want to write the transition by hand, the form of it is the following:

//fade [transition] [level group]

The [transition] can be the "In" word for fading in from fully transparent to fully visible, or "Out" word for fade out, or an XX-YY form transition, where XX means a hexadecimal number for transparency of the first frame, and YY is the transparency of the end of the transition. 00 value means transparent, FF means fully visible.

The [level group] is the name of the level combination, it is a name or a hexadecimal number. The "All" word or 00 number means the default group of the effect's level.

If you write fade/2 instead of fade, the transition is projected by two frames steps.

Making the other effects are just the same as the fade effects. The effect types:

      (//fade) the transparency of the level,


      (//focus) the sharpness of the level,


      (//red) red color component,


      (//green) green color component,


      (//blue) blue color component,


      (//bright) all color components together,


      (//alpha) contrast of the transparency.

Try it

    1. Click on the Effects button on the exposure sheet window.

    2. Click on the Fade list item. A new window appears (the level groups window).

    3. Select the levels you want to fade with double clicking on the right hand side list.

    4. Exit the window with the OK button.

    5. Enter the effect to the cursor with the Paste button into the exposure sheet.

Chapter 10.

Assembling the scenes to a movie, film cutting

We can make a film from the scenes compiled in a random order. Depending on the speed and memory capacity of the computer, you can view the film in full, or in parts. For assembling the film click Showroom button in the Base window. Then a list is appeared, where you can see the projection order compiled last. For writing into the list, use the scenes choosing window. Open Scenes window by clicking Scenes... button, and click the scene what you want to insert. You also can select several scenes if you moving the mouse with pressed button on the list of the scenes. Click Add button in the showroom window, then the exposure sheet of the appointed scene will be inserted into the cursor position of the list. You can overwrite one of the elements of the list by an other element with the Replace button - for example the list has to contain the rough version of a scene recorded during the planning work phase, or a still frame recorded from the storyboard, and this can be replaced to a latest version after recording the ready scene. You can delete a list entry by Remove button. The Clear all button is for deleting the whole assemble list.

You have to set the range what you want to play. The selected range is visible in reverse colors in the list. You can set the first scene of the range with the Set start button and the last scene with the Set end button. You can select this range also if you move the mouse with pressed button on the list.

You can start the projection by Play button, then the projection window will be appeared. It is true for this projection as well, that the changes made on the scenes will be appeared immediately.

In the course of cutting film, frames can be skipped at the starting of the scenes and at the end of the scenes. This will not be cancelled from the scenes, only it will not visible during the projection. You can give the number of frames what you want to omit at the starting of the selected scene by Skip field, and at the end of the scene by End skip field.

If there is a not a cut between two scenes, you can set the transition in the End transition field, here you can set the type of the transition, this time it can be fade or unfocusing. In the course of transition the two scenes are overlapped in time.

With the Load and Save buttons, you can keep the play lists in external files.

Try it

    1. Click on the Showroom button on the Base window. The assembling window appears.

    2. Click on the Scenes... button on the Base window. The window of scenes appears.

    3. Click on an existing scene on the window of scenes.

    4. Click on the Add button of the assembling window. You inserted the selected scene into the list.

    5. Select and insert other scenes also.

    6. Click on the first scene on the assembling window and drag the mouse with pressed button to make the scenes selected.

    7. Play the selected scenes with the Play button.

Chapter 11.

Levels and level groups

If you click on a letter of a level header, a window will be opened. In this you can overwrite the Name field and change the mark of the letter of the level. Over this field, a list is visible with the letters of all of the level contents of the scene. If you click any of them, you direct the level onto the content of another level. You have to take consideration, that the level contents which is not used by any of the levels, will be cancelled from the scene. You can create new levels by New under and New over buttons, under or over of the current level. For the new level, an own level content will be created with a name given automatically.

You can delete the level by the Delete button. Picture sub-layers is a service of the program which can not be used presently, this divides the pictures to sub-pictures (outline, paint, shadow etc.), and presenting these can be configured by these swithces. The Fade and the Focus sliders are for the transparency and the sharpness of the whole level, the Red, Green, Blue are for the color distortion, and the Alpha is the contrast of the transparency.

You can set the default level group for the level at the input field labeled with On group. This is useful if you use the level for effects, camera movement or masking. The Level groups button opens the same window what you met at writing fade effect. Levels can be divided by 127 different groups. Level group means a combination of levels, and an operation - for example fade - can address each levels of the set. The Groups list on the left contains the level groups. In case of basic settings the names of these is the same with their hexadecimal numbers, but you can change it to anything you want in the Group name field. The already used groups are marked with small rectangles in front of their names in the list. The list on the right shows the level combination of the selected group, from the levels of the exposure sheet. You can switch the certain levels on or off by clicking the names of the levels. You can delete all the selections by Clear button, and you can reverse the selection by Invert. With the Apply button you can set the selections in the level headers of the exposure sheet by the actual selection of the level group. If you select the level group, and you click on the OK button, the program sets the default level group field to the selected level group, in the level settings window.

With the Level type : menu you can select the picture masking type of the level:

      The picture rendered by its valid colors and overlaps the other pictures of the lower levels by its transparency. This is the default state of a level.


      Works on the same way as Overlap, but the colors of the picture is replaced by black. It is useful to create shadow effects.


      The level overlaps the lower levels, and the color result calculated by an additive color mixing method. The result is a bit similar to projecting a slide onto something.


      The color result is calculated by a subtractive color mixing method. It looks like if you are using transparent color filters in front of the camera lens.

    Positive mask

      It masks the levels of the default level group. Where the mask picture is transparent, the masked picture will be transparent also.

    Negative mask

      It is the same as positive mask, but it uses the inverse transparency of the mask.

    Union mask

      It is very similar to the positive mask. If you use more than one masks for the same masked level, the positive and negative masks works individually and after the masking a pixel will be visible if it is visible by all of the masks. But, with the summed union masks, the program overlaps all masks together before masking, a pixel will be visible if it is visible by at least one mask level.

    Exclusion mask

      It is handled together with the union mask. It calculates the difference between the contents of the lower mask levels and the mask of the actual level. Generally, a pixel is visible if an odd number of mask pixels are visible.

    Unfocus map

      The transparency of the mask level modulates the unfocusing of the masked levels. Where the mask picture is transparent, the masked picture remains sharp.

    In the current version, the mask and unfocus levels can mask only Overlap, Shadow, Additive and Subtractive type levels.

    You can put the pictures onto pegbars. A pegbar defines a relative pegs position for positioning of the picture. If there is a camera movement on a level, the movement determines a base point and a base size/rotation vector for every frame. The pegbar determines the position of the pegs relative to the base point and the base vector. Every drawing has peg holes (if not given, the software uses a default position), and the program idents the drawings onto the pegbar using these peg holes. You can link the level to its own pegbar, to the default level group's common pegbar, or to five independent pegbars, numbered from 1 to 5.

    Try it

      1. Click on the label name of a level's headline on the exposure sheet window.

      2. Click on the Level groups... button.

      3. Select a level group on the left hand side list.

      4. Select or unselect the levels width double clicking on the right hand side list.

      5. Exit the window with the OK button to assign the selected group to the level.

Chapter 12.

Camera movements

The camera movements are not available in the free version.

In a usual linetest, the operator shoots the pictures in their final position, by the field chart. In this case there is no camera movement, or the camera movement shooted by the repositioning the drawings under the digitizer camera. Sometimes, specially when large background movements used in the scene, this can be difficult. In the Firka program, it is possible to move the drawings with camera movements, inside the computer.

A position of a drawing is defined by two vector parameters. The first vector is the offset of the base point of the picture, the other vector determines the scaling and rotation of the picture.

The first type of the camera movement is a series of points, each defined with the above two vectors. Every frames of the motion are defined with individual positions.

Because it is difficult to set a long movement with a series of positions, there is an other path type also. In this type of movement the path defined with a series of segments. A segment can be a line, an arc or a Bezier spline. The endpoints of the segments are defined with the above two vectors, and there are additional values for the relative speed of the movement, the scaling and the rotation. If a camera movement is in the exposure sheet, the program calculates the positions by the segments and the speed parameters and by the length of the movement which written to the exposure sheet.

The camera path designer is reachable from the Grab window, if you click on the Movements button at the upper right corner of the window, you will see a new list at the left side of the window, and a white rectangle on a dark background. This rectangle represents the camera field. To make a new movement, click on the picture, and move the mouse with the pressed button. This way you made a new segment, a straight line between the two endpoints. This movement is not stored yet, it is in a temporary storage, called Overlay camera path. You can see this name in the list at the left. To save this movement, enter a name to the Image : field and click on the Shoot button. You see that the new movement is got into the database, just like the pictures do when you digitizing. You can clear the overlay path with the Clear button. Now enter the movement to the exposure sheet. The movement can contain four reference points maximally, called A,B,C,D. The A point is always the first point of the motion. If you not change it, the B,C,D points are at the last position of the path. When you enter the motion into the exposure sheet, you have to specify the start and end position of the movement. Enter a /(slash) character after the name, and the range of the path. For example, if the motion stored with the name M1, and you want to move from A to B, enter M1/A-B. If you want to keep the camera in a still position, you can enter M1/A or M1/A-A either, for instance. If you enter a /2 text after the path description, the movement steps by two frames (this is useful when the animation also changed on every second frames). You can select the group of the levels moved by the motion, so you can move the levels individually or together. After a space character, enter the level group name to the end of the name. (For example, a valid name can be M1/C 02 or M1/D-B/2 pan -in the second case, the name of a level group defined to 'pan'). If you not set the level group in the name, the default group of the level used instead.

If you enable more than one movements for a level, the movements are superposed. In this case, it is important the exposure sheet order of the movements' layers.

After you entered the movement to the exposure sheet, go back to the camera movements window. Click By xsheet position checkbox. What you see now is very similar to the playback window, you see the contents of a frame from the scene, and on the left there is the list of the contents of the levels. If you click on a level in the list, its contents are highlighted on the picture. If you click twice, you can change the level's properties (default level group, pegs, transparency etc.). With the long slider below the picture, you can move to a particular frame of the scene. You can zoom the displaying, just the same way as when digitizing. If you click on the camera movement's level, you can see the camera path also, and you can move its positions with the small squares. As you move the camera path, you can see how the attached pictures are moving on the actual frame. If you click on a level with a pegbar, you can replace the position of the pegbar and with it, the attached pictures also.

With the breakpoints of the movement, you can use the right mouse button to move all points of the movement together, and the middle mouse button to select only the point, without moving it.

If you click on the line of the camera path, it become highlighted, and a cross placed to the position where you clicked on it. Then you can put a new breakpoint to the selected position with the Split button. With the At percent: input field, you can set the split position numerically, as the percent of the segment's curve length. The Segment type: button sets the type of the segment, it can be a straight Line, an Arc with a central point, and a Bezier Spline with two direction points. To make these points visible and changeable on a path segment, always click on the segment's curve. You can change the coordinates of the path positions numerically with the input fields on the bottom side of the window. The rotation parameter is basically given in radians, but if you enter an asterisk (*) after the number, it will be calculated in degrees. If you work with an arc, and you click on the arc's central point, there is a Complementer path switch, because there can be two possible ways between two points of a circle outline, and the switch toggles between these two variations.

If an endpoint of a segment is selected, you can remove this endpoint with the Delete button.

With the Key position checkbox you can define a breakpoint as a reference point, usable in the exposure sheet. There can be four reference points (A,B,C,D), the reference point 'A' is always the start point of the total path and it cannot be changed.

For every breakpoint you can set the speed of the Motion, Scaling, and Rotation. The speeds are relative values. You can check the speed of a motion by the small transversal lines on the curve, these lines are represents the camera positions belonging to the frames of the motion.

If you use pan and zoom together, there is a problem that well known for the camera operators: the visible speed of the motion is depending on the scale of the picture field, so a constant speed movement seems accelerating. To avoid this effect, use the Balanced motion (for the motion) and the Balanced scaling (to balance the speed of zooming) switches.

If you have a field layout drawing for your scene, you can display it with the Drawing : input field. On the left side list it represented by the name Overlay picture. It can be moved with its own pegbar.

Normally the movement paths moves the pictures, not the camera, but on the field guides, usually the path of the camera field given. To make these informations usable, switch the Field motion to on. Then you can align the motion curve onto the positions shown on the field layout, and the camera moves on the given path.

If the Relative rotation is on, the rotation follows the direction of the camera curve. For example, if a car moved on a road, the front of the car is always on the direction of the motion, in this case the rotation of the car follows the path.

In some cases, it is needed to determine the positions on every frames. You can make a position series from the path with the Convert to points button. On point series, the Insert and Delete buttons are usable to add or remove positions. The four reference (key) positions are also available with this type of movement.

Try it

    1. Create an exposure sheet with a simple animation.

    2. Click on the Grab button on the exposure sheet window.

    3. Click on the Movements button on the new window.

    4. Click on the display part of the window and move the mouse with pressed button. Now you have a simple motion in the Overlay.

    5. Enter a name for the movement to the Image : field.

    6. Click on the Shoot button. A new movement image created in the database.

    7. Go back to the exposure sheet, and enter the new name to a new level. 8. This time the movement belongs to all levels. To select the levels you want to move, click on the name on the headline of the level of the movement. Click on the Level groups... button on the new window, and select the level group and the levels.

Chapter 13.

Editing sound

Dialogs framing, cutting sound

The sound editor, like the camera movements, accessable from the Grab window. Click on the Sounds button to reach the sound functions. Then select an existing sound on the right hand side list, its waveform appears on the display area.

The displayed waveform can be zoomed or moved just like in the camera movements and picture functions with the mouse or with the numeric keypad. A slider at the right bottom corner of the window shows the actual zooming. A grid is visible on the sound, in seconds or frames units, depending on the scale of the displaying.

You can select a part of the sound when dragging the mouse with pressed button. The selected part can be played with the playing buttons under the waveform. You can play the sound faster or slower with the tool under the playing buttons, just like in the scene playing window. If you click on an existing selection, near its border, you can replace that border, otherwise you make a whole new selection. The position and size of the selection can be set numerically with the Block begin: and Block length : input fields. With Align menu, you can set the measuring unit of the positioning, it can be samples, frames or seconds.

Under the waveform, inside of the display, if the zooming is big enough, you can see two labels, Phonemes and Words. Clicking on the rows of these labels, you can enter letter marks from the keyboard to a position of the sound. It is useful if you enter short words even to the words row, splitting the long words to smaller parts. While entering, with the up and down arrows of the keyboard you can move forwards or backwards in the sound by one frame. The Tab key plays the cca. 1/10 sec. area of the entering position, it helps to find the exact position of the particles of the speech.

The program can recognize the wovels by itself, this operation can be used for the selection with the Analyze button. The results are shown in the row between the Phonemes and Words rows, this row cannot be modified by hand. If you switch on the Learning mode switch, the program analyzes the enterings to the Phonemes row, and refines its recognizing capabilities. To reset the recognition to its defaults, use the Forget button.

With the Clear: Phonemes you can erase the contents of the Phonemes row and the recognized letters, and the Clear: Words button erases the Words row, both works on the selected region.

You can mark a position of the sound with a name entered to the Base name :. The New base left button puts a mark to the left hand side edge of the selection, and the New base right puts it to the right hand side edge. The base is usable as a starting position of the sound in the scene, to use this, enter a slash (/) and the name of the mark after the name of the sound into the exposure sheet. The base is represented by a vertical bar and by its name on the waveform, you can replace this with pressed left button of the mouse. To select only, use the right hand side button. The selected base can be renamed with the Rename button and you can delete it with the Remove button. With the Fit block button you can extend the edges of the existing selection into the nearest bases.

Try it

    1. Open an empty exposure sheet.

    2. Load a sound with the Actions and Load image buttons.

    3. Click on the Grab button, and on the Sounds button at the upper right corner of the new window.

    4. Click on the loaded sound in the right hand side list. Its waveform appears on the display.

    5. Select a region inside of the sound with the mouse.

    6. Play it with the play (small triangle) button.

Chapter 14.

Customising the user interface of the program

How to modify the settings in the gcnf file?

The windows can be sized and replaced as you want, and the program stores these positions, included the inner separations. It stores the settings of the projection and digitizing as well. If you want more customised settings, then load the gcnf text file from the var directory into a text editor program.

The settings in this file in [name] [value] order, you can write only one setting in a row. The text can contain remarks with whole row, these rows are marked by # symbol at the beginning. The basic elements of the graphical surface:

      the background of the window, default element,


      text labelling,


      the buttons on the windows,


      the switches (checkboxes),


      the scrollbars and sliders,


      character input fields for texts or numbers,


      list boxes,


      movie projecting fields,


      header of the exposure sheet levels,


      the exposure sheet body,


      cursor (selected item) in the exposure sheet and lists,


      inner sizer boxes,


      help text windows and text fields,

Different properties can be modified of these basic elements, you can concatenate the modifiers with the "." (point) character. For example:

You can use these modifiers in any order and you can leave out any of them. raised

The modifiers:

      the thickness of the border of the control element, it can be a number or the "thin" or "fat" or "none" words (these are predefined sizes)


      the style of the border, it can be "none", "solid", or "raised", "sunken", "raisedsunken" or "sunkenraised" words for some 3D styles.


      the complexity of the illustration, it can be one of the "poor", "normal" or "fancy" words.


      the name, size and other style settings of the text font for an element.

The following basic colors can be referred:

      the color of the background, default element,


      the color for things drawn over the background,


      the color of the text labels,


      a color for special purposes,


      the 3D color for the edge of the border on the left,


      the 3D color for the edge of the border on the top,


      the 3D color for the edge of the border on the right,


      the 3D color for the edge of the border on the bottom,


      background color for the block selection on the exposure sheet,


      text color for the block selection on the exposure sheet,

Additional modifiers:

      normal windows, default element,


      dialog and request windows, error messages,


      the first frame of the exposure sheet phases,


      the activated control element,

Default element is used if you do not write the name of the component. You can find some examples for these settings already in the gcnf file. The not defined elements are gets their settings from the default.

About the fonts, you should use several font sets, but it is the best if these fonts are using the same character encoding. There are downloadable configuration files to specify character encodings. First the software looks at the charmaps directory for a character encoding filename, matching with the language's first four characters. For example, 'engl' for English and 'hung' for Hungarian. If it is not there, it looks at the mscf file. If it is also missing, then checks the system language and try to load the standard's file with '.cst' extension (for example, '8859-2.cst' for the ISO 8859-2 character set) from the charmaps directory. If it also fails, the program uses 7 bits ASCII encoding without special characters.

Color names under Linux:

Giving the colors is depending on the system, in case of Linux, the standard names of the X-Window can be used, like in the configuration files of other programs (for example: black or #001030). You can check the usable color names with the showrgb shell command. For the fonts, you can use the standard X-Window font descriptions.
Color names under Windows:

In case of Windows, the color values are given in a hexadecimal format in BBGGRR order, or the basic colors of Windows, these are:
Color names on the Amiga computers:

On the Amiga, you can use the color palette indexes (for the 8 Workbench palette colors, you can use the ~ (tilde) character before the number), or these color names:
These settings are cannot be combined with the above modifiers!

Other settings:


    You can set the projecting parameters of the operation surface of the windows by this setting. The usable settings depend on the operation system and the hardware very much, so get into touch with the author if you want to change these modifications.


    The projecting parametes for the fullscreen projecting.


    You can set the used language translation. The default, built-in language is the English. To select the hungarian language, copy the hungbase.lng extension and enter the following instruction to the gcnf file: language magyar


    You can redirect the place of the var and the movies directory in the computer's file system. You can redirect these directories on a network file system, even to a remote computer. In the var directory, only the subdirectories can be redirected in this way, so the gcnf configuration file, the system-dependent settings, and the stored last settings - window positions, states and values of the program - are not redirected (see the network usage also).


    You can give a harddisk cache directory for keeping the large pictures on harddisk, instead of memory. Give the maximal number of pixels, the maximal compressed size in bytes, and the full access path of the cache directory. For the sizes, you can use the K (Kilo) and M (Mega) suffix after the number, without spaces. See the example in Chapter 3. also.

Chapter 15.

Using the software on a network

If you have more than one code numbers, you may want to use the Firka through a local network, or if you use more than one operating systems on a machine

If you want to use the Firka on more than one computer, or with more than one operating system, you have to solve the following problems:

The different operating systems requires different executable files. So you have to make a starting directory for every operating system. If you want to use the software on a network, it is the best if you put subdirectories onto every machines. Under Linux, you can make symbolic links through the network to the place of the software, so you can store the executable only once. Under Windows, this is not possible, so it is the best if you keep the software on each machines. Usually the different operating systems requires different gcnf and other configuration files, so these files are not redirected by the path configuration command.

On a common database, the movies, the administration and information data, like the identification codes, language files, manuals can be kept on a common place. This could be on a file server computer, with large and fast storage capacity. To install such a system, do the followings:

    Run the program once, so it can create its directory structure.

    Copy the var and the movies directories with their all contents to the final place (lets call it base directory).

    Edit the gcnf file (its in the original var directory), and add a path [base directory] row with the network access path of the base directory. For example, under Windows, a valid path can be

      path //studioserver\ntd\firka

    if the server's network name is studioserver and the path is also valid.

    Create directories on each machines with the Firka executable file. Create a var directory also, and copy the files there from the existing var directory (gcnf,mscf).

If you have codes with different access rights, maybe you want to dedicate machines that are used for a special purpose. You can set restrictions of the usage and the program always selects the best matching identification code. Under Linux, with some organization works you can restrict the access rights of the individual users (If you are using a Windows network with a Linux-based server, you can do this also). To do this, put an ASCII text file to the var directory of the restricted machine. The filename is tilt (not tilt.txt!). The file contains the restrictions, each row can contain a keyword.

The restriction keywords:

      the user cannot create, delete or rename the movies.


      the user cannot create, delete or rename the scenes.


      the user cannot save the changes of the edited scene.


      disables the saving of images (pictures, sounds etc.) to external files.


      disables the saving of scenes to external files.


      disables the loading of scenes from external files.


      print operations are not available.


      no video digitizing functions.


      disables editing (digitizing and painting) of pictures,


      disables editing of camera movements.


      disables the changing of the system settings of the program, it is not possible to enter the code number.

There are predefined settings for the basic user types:

      Line-test operator with restricted access to the modification of movies.


      Painter user, with a restricted access to the modification of colors, camera movements, movie, scene and exposure sheet actions, file operations.

With the restrictions, you can manage the usage of the different types of code numbers. If a machine used as a linetest workstation, you can set a restriction line-tester to reject the painter or renderer codes. Also, on a painter workstation, you can reject the renderer and the line-tester code with the painter keyword, and also, a renderer can be protected by renderer.

The other possible usage of the tilt file, to restrict the access of several identification numbers. This is important because a novice user can start the program more than once at the same time, allocating several code numbers, which results rejecting the other users from the usage of the program. The protection means that the program must reserve a lock which is not used by anyone. The locks are numbered from 1 to 255. To define a lock, enter a


format row into the tilt file. If someone (including the actual user) uses the defined lock in the system, the program won't start.

Chapter 16.

Summary of the new features by the versions

This new chapter is available from the 1.4 version...

Important changes under Version 1.4:

    On the Base window: with the Editor button you can create a new, unnamed empty scene.

    On the Exposure sheet windows: with the Save as button you can save the scene to the actual movie or to an external file. With the Load button you can load a new scene for editing to the exposure sheet window, and with the New job button you can continue the working with a new empty scene. You can add a remark to a frame on the exposure sheet if you click on the left side part of the exposure sheet cursor.

    The Picture resolution and the Field shape sliders on the digitizing window are moved to the bottom of the settings list at the right bottom corner. There is a new Mirror switch on this window.

Important changes under Version 1.5:

    On the Playing window, you can use the Clappers switch to display a frame with the parameters of the scene before the scene, and a black blank picture after the playing. When the Frame counter switch is on, a frame counter is visible on the bottom part of the picture. On the full screen playback, it is possible to play the scene frame-by-frame.

    At the picture digitizing, the transparency of the picture is adjustable with the Transparency setting, and you can set the pixel resolution of the captured picture with the Field width and Field height parameters. With the Grid background switch, you can test the transparency.

    When saving pictures or scenes to an external file, you can set the pixel resolution, and also you can set the sampling frequency when saving sounds.

Important changes under Version 2.0:

    The designation of camera movements is available from this version. Pegs are usable for positionning the contents of the levels. It is possible to recognise the pegs position on the digitized picture. Mask level types and default level group settings for the exposure sheet levels. A new help system implemented.

    At the picture digitizing window, it is possible to feed back the existing pictures, to change the resolution, transparency, recognise pegs etc. just on the same way as the processing of the pictures coming from the digitizer.

    The number of the possible level groups expanded to 127.

Important changes under Version 2.1:

    You can set the pixel resolution of a movie at the Movies window. Advanced camera movements, new options when saving files, like creating clappers, or using different screen aspect ratio (for example, writing a widescreen scene to a 4:3 video output, when black bars are required at the top and bottom part of the screen).

    Internally the advanced picture handling enables less memory usage and faster rendering.

    Under Windows, the handling of the Video for Windows sources is advanced and now it is possible to use virtually any VfW sources. Also, there is a new scene saving format (External AVI) which enables the usage of the installed video codecs, even for the popular MJPEG video writer cards.

Important changes under Version 2.2:

    At the playback window, a new options window created. You can disable any picture sub-levels for the entire scene, and also you can switch on or off the effects.

    There is a new, configurable feature to handle big size pictures. This method writes the large pictures from memory to harddisk, and keeps only a low-resolution representation of the picture in the memory during the editing. You can disable the full-resolution displaying while playback, so you can improve the reaction time of the software while playing the animation or editing the camera movements.

    The GIF picture file format handling corrected to process the GIF animations correctly. There is a new "Save by extension" feature at the saving windows, when the type of the file is determined by the .ext part of the given filename.

Important changes under Version 2.3:

    Sound editing functions, on the dialogs it is possible to mark the words and phonemes, these are visible on the exposure sheet also. The program can recognize the wovels automatically.

    In WAV file format, 16 bits saving added, it is used if the original sound was also 16 bits in depth.

Important changes under Version 2.4:

    It is possible to change the video input device without exiting the program. Small corrections, mainly in the playback and camera motion functions. At the drawing section, a new picture creating window added.


Hardware and software compatibility

Operating systems:

    Amiga: OS 2.0 and above (3.0 recommended),

    Windows: 95,98 or NT, (Windows 95 recommended),

    Linux: Kernel 2.0.0 and above, X11R6,

Computer hardware:

    Amiga: A3000 or A4000 recommended, min. 16 MB RAM,

    Windows: min. Pentium PC, 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM,

    Linux: min. Pentium PC, 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM.

Video digitizer devices:

    Amiga: VidiAmiga 12RT, VidiAmiga 24RT, VidiAmiga 24RT Pro, VLAB,

    Windows: TWAIN devices (scanners), Video for Windows compatible capture boards, for example: Miro PCTV, Primetime TV.

    Linux: Fast MovieMachine II, Video for Linux compatible boards (usually based on Brooktree BT848 chip), for example: Miro PCTV.

Other devices:

    Windows: Mouse wheel support, pressure-sensitive pen support,

    Linux: Mouse wheel support through the 4th/5th mouse button feature.

The End.