Firka animation V4.8

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, 2016 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The Firka program is originally made for the purpose of supporting the pencil test which is one of the intermediate working phases of the traditional cartoon animation. The computer appears in more and more phases of the animated film creation. 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.

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 animation 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 90's, so IBM compatible PC computers have caught up with it then they rapidly exceeded 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 pencil 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 software 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 'movie' folders and scenes within these. One or more exposure sheets can belong to the scenes. An exposure sheet defines the contents of the scene frame-by-frame. The contents can be pictures, sounds, effect data or camera movements. The exposure sheet is divided into levels. The order of these levels is important, for example the non-transparent picture content of the upper level overlaps the content of lower levels. Firka can handle virtually unlimited number of levels. The pictures are able to contain internal sub-layers, so the components of a picture (like outline, paint or shadow) can be separated.

The pictures and sounds can be referenced only within the scene that contains them. It is possible to redirect the contents of an exposure sheet level onto another. The exposure sheets of the same scene also can share levels with each other. In these cases the changes in one of these levels can appear in the other linked levels 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.

Chapter 1.

What kind of computer I needed?

Windows, Linux, OSX, or AmigaOS operating systems,

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), Windows (95 and up, XP, Vista, 7, 10 etc.) or Apple Mac OSX system.

The Amiga version is not recommended for professional using because of the modest capacity of Amiga computers. It exists mostly for testing and historical purposes.

If it is possible, the computer must be up-to-date with high capacity. Speed of the microprocessor is usually characterised with the internal clock frequency, which is given in gigahertz (GHz). The bigger this value is - within one type - the faster the computer will be. Firka can take the advantages of multi-core computing too. 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.

For camera capture, under Windows you will need a Video for Windows (VfW) compatible capture board or webcam. For Linux, you can use a Video for Linux (V4L/V4L2) or a gphoto2 compatible hardware. For OSX, you need a Quicktime compatible device. Firka is able to use Firewire camcorders and the Blackmagic Design HD capture cards (DeckLink, Intensity) as well.

See the Appendix to find a good capture 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 without time limit, but in this free mode only the user's program can read the scenes made by itself this way, those cannot be transferred into another Firka systems. Some functions of the program, supported for the professional works, also cannot be used in the free version.

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 (UIC). Being in possession of it the scenes made by you can be freely forwarded to the co-operative Firka systems of your partners. The UIC consist of 3 times 7 characters - letters and numbers - which can be activated at the "About" window in 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 shared scene library. 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 version
    For individual users, not usable on a network, no camera movements, no mass data operations

    Price: Temporaly not available

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

    Price: 1500 Euros

Network player
    Only together with at least one Professional version, over 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

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 downloadable file for your operating system at the program's site on the Internet. Download it to your computer, and unpack the loaded file with an uncompress utility. 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.

After uncompressing, you get a folder with some files and with an executable program file, named Firka (Firka.exe in Windows environment). You obtain also a text file which introduces your user rights - its name is License. There is also a file contains the data for installation, skins, language translations etc. Its name is wupdate for Windows, lupdate for Linux and so on. Create a directory folder on the drive you want to use for the scenes. Copy these files into it. The program will store all its data, including the scenes starting out from this folder. In this way every data related to Firka can be easily copied, or the program can be finally deleted by deleting the folder. The program does not modify any of the system settings (registry). The program and the scenes can be carried to any other computer at any time with copying the whole content of the folder. It is possible even if you change the operating system, just you have to overwrite the Firka executable with the suitable version. If you have a dual-boot machine, like Linux and Windows together, you can use the same shared folder. Just put both executables there.

After you installed the files, start the Firka program. During 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 an UIC code from us already, now you can enter it. If you intend to buy it later, you can also continue the work, and you can add your code later.

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


There are three text input fields near the bottom of the window. If you click on the leftmost input field you can write continuously the code, at hyphen the cursor automatically jumps to the next field. After entering, click Add it 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, if you purchased more than one.

In this same window you can set the language and the user interface theme as well. If your computer has more than one CPU cores, you can set the number of cores used by Firka. The program can do some time-consuming operations faster on multiple cores parallely.

You can close the window by clicking on the Exit button.

Since the English language version is always at your disposal - it is built into the program code - 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 user interface elements remains in the same.

With the Data sheet button you can check the configuration of the program.

With the Code Manager button you can open a window with a list of the UIC codes in your system. You can transfer these UIC codes between Firka instances on different systems. With the Export to file button you can save an existing UIC into a file. The saved UIC becomes disabled afterwards. You can also import an UIC from a file with the Import from file button.

There is a Performance test button to check the displaying speed of your hardware.

With the Display settings button you can adjust the color correction for the displaying. The monitors are usually calibrated to the sRGB color space and Firka using it too. There are two main distortions you can correct: 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.

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

There is a text file in the program's var folder, named gcnf. In this file you can change some advanced settings.

If you use both Windows and Linux in your computer, (there are digitizer cards suitable for both systems), you can redirect the access paths to your Windows partition under Linux, so you can use the same database - and the same identification code. For networks, you can keep the database on a dedicated server, 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 Firka 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, Playlist, 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 Linux 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.

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 below the Scenes label. After the first starting this list is empty.

On the right side of the window there is a hidden list for the the exposure sheets of the selected scene - with X-Sheets label. It is hidden because normally not used at all, but you can show it if you drag the sizing bar right at the right hand side edge of the window. Below these list columns, you can see buttons also. These buttons are operating on the scenes.

To create a new scene, first enter a name for it to the Name: input field at the top of the window. First click on it, then type a name for the scene, like: First scene. By clicking the New button which can be found under the Scenes list, you created a new scene on the list. The scene contains an empty exposure sheet, which appears in the right hand side list, if it's visible.

At the bottom of the scenes window, you can see the control buttons belonging to the scene. With the New button you can make a new scene. For this, first enter a name into the Name: field. Use the Rename button to change the selected scene's name, Duplicate to make a copy from it, and Delete to delete the scene. Use the Info button to query the parameters of a scene.

Using the Marking button, or clicking with the left button of the mouse on the list, at the place of the marker in front of the scene name, you can switch on or off the small marker squares for the scenes. If you use these to mark only the latest versions of the scenes, you can hide the previous versions of the scenes from the list, with the Marked scenes only switch near the top of the window.

Some buttons have an optional menu in the program. The button works as a normal button if you click on it. The menu appears only if you keep the mouse button pressed and move the mouse away from the button. These menu buttons have a small triangle at the right bottom corner. Usually clicking on the button with left mouse button has the same function as the first item on the menu, and clicking with the right button of the mouse has the same function as the second menu item.

In this window the New and Marking buttons have optional menus:

In the New button, the Next command - the same as clicking on the New button with the right button of the mouse - first adds one to the numeric part of the name in Name: field, then creates a new scene with the modified name. It is very useful if you need to create several scenes at once.

In the Marking button's menu, the Invert, Clear and Set items are manipulating the small marker in front of the scene name. The Thumbnail item recalculates the small picture for the selected scenes. For example you may need this if you change the field format of the movie. The Add notes adds the text in the Name: field as a note to the scene. You can read it in a bubble if you hover with the mouse on the list over the scene. The other items (NONE, LAYOUT etc.) are markers for the scenes to show their actual state.

Use the Load file and Save to file buttons to load or save external scene files in various formats. Also you can load these files by using the drag and drop functions of your desktop: drop the icons of the files onto the Scenes... window.

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. Also you can select them one-by-one with the Ctrl + left mouse button, and you can use the Shift + left mouse button to select every scenes between the cursor and the chosen scene.

To open the exposure sheet window for a scene, click Edit button.

The exposure sheet window

In the new window rows and columns can be seen, where the horizontal numbered rows means the frames of the scene, and the vertical columns are means the levels. This is the traditional exposure sheet.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.

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 Scenes: list. A new scene appears on the list with the given name.

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

Chapter 5.

Loading and playing scenes

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

Click the Load file button in the Scenes... window. You will find a file requester 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.

To open the player, click Play button at the top left corner of the exposure sheet window.

The Play button

You will get a window in which you see the frame of the exposure sheet cursor.

The Play button (triangle) starts playing the scene the from the first frame of the scene and the Continue button (line and triangle) continue it from the current position. You can stop the playing by clicking the Stop button (square). If the playing stopped you can replace the viewed frame position with the long slider bar 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 beside the input field you can either increase or decrease the settled number. You can do this also with the mouse wheel if you hover over the input field with the mouse.

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 sizer 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 contents of the levels on the displayed frame. By clicking a drawing on this list, the clicked drawing is highlighted in the displayed picture. If you click twice on this list, you can open the properties window of the chosen level.

The playing position and the exposure sheet cursor are connected. If you are changing the position in the play window, the cursor of the exposure sheet window follows this moving, so if you place the two windows next to each other, you can follow the position in the exposure sheet also. And if you move the cursor of the exposure sheet, the displayed frame also follows the movement. If you modify something in the exposure sheet, or enable or disable a level, the player window's display follows the changing immediately.

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

With the shorter slider bar at the bottom left hand side of the window you can increase or decrease the speed of the playing. 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. It is possible to configure Firka to view the fullscreen mode on a separate hardware display, but by default the fullscreen view will be on the same monitor as the playing window.

The Render before play switch can be used when a scene has too complicated contents and because of it the program cannot play it in real time. If you switch it on, it assembles the frames before playing, so the projection has less load on the computer.

If Play in cycle switch is on, it restarts the playing from the beginning when it reaches the end of the scene, otherwise the projection stops at the last frame.

With the Final quality menu you can render a single picture or the entire animation in high quality. Final quality rendering can be very slow, therefore it swithes on the Render before play option.

With the To file button you can render the current frame into a file. It is also possible to print it with the Print button.

There are additional options if you click on the Settings... button. In a new window you can set some additional parameters.

The playback settings window

At the Picture sub-layers section, you can switch on or off the playing of the internal layers of pictures for the entire scene. A picture image can contain up to eight internal layers. For example, you can switch off the painted parts of figures, to see the outlines only.

At the Enabled effects section you can disable some effect types globally to increase the previewing speed:

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 switch off the playing of the focusing effects.

With the Soundtrack filters you can disable the sounds marked as either dialog, music or sound fx.

If the Real time switch is on, the speed of the playing strictly keeps the settled frame rate, even though motion frames have to be dropped because of it. When it is switched off, it projects every frames, even if the projection slows down because of this. This can lead the meowing of the sound, 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 setting is useful if you specified an exact pixel size of the frame for the movie and you want to see the picture in that exact resolution.

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

With the Checkered background switch, you can replace the white background color with a checkerboard pattern to see the transparency of the levels.

If the Frame counter switch is on, a frame counter becomes visible over the bottom part of the displayed picture. This can be useful when projecting on full screen. It has an option menu to select the style of the counter.

If the Clappers switch is on, before the playing of the scene, an additional 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, a blank black picture remains on the screen instead of the last frame of the scene.

Clappers with the informations of the played scene

The Safety frames switch puts visible frames around the edges of the picture. The important contents, specially the texts usually must be inside these frames to avoid clipping by the television screen.

Safety frames with 4:3 inner part

With the View: menu, it is possible to set different color modes for the viewing. You can see the picture in Colored, Grayscale, or the Red, Green, Blue channels separated.

You can set the quality of viewing by the Visual quality: menu. It has options for three quality steps, but all of these are draft modes only. Occasionally, for a high quality but slow rendering, use the Final quality menu button on the player window.

If you are working on a stereoscopic scene,  it is possible to set a stereo viewing mode with the Stereoscopic: menu. If you have a stereo capable monitor, you can use its interlaced stereo format, or you can use anaglyph color filter glasses, like red-cyan. There are also modes for crossed eye viewing techniques.

Try it

    1. Open the Scenes... window.

    2. Click on an existing scene on the list of the scenes.

    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.

Camera capturing

Open the exposure sheet window and click Record button at the top left corner. A new window appears, where you can digitize pictures from the video camera or the scanner. You can see the picture of the camera at the upper left side of the window.

The capture window

You can close this window by pressing the Exit button at the top right hand corner. The Pictures, Sounds and Camera tabs are selecting the different editing modes for this window. For capturing, Pictures must be selected, and the Capturing button as well at the bottom part on the right side of the window. Under the tab buttons, there is a list in which the captured drawings can be visible. If the Show images switch is on, you can see the thumbnail pictures in the list.

The controls under the right side list

Under the list there is a text input field named Path:, in which there is a / sign presently. This displays the subdirectory within the database of the scene. The capture puts the drawings there and the list shows the contents of this subdirectory. Under the Path: input field you can find the Image: input field, where you have to enter the name of the desired drawing. By default it contains a1 as a usual name for the first captured picture.

The Shutter: menu defines the visible or audible effect for the exposure.

Below these fields, the Onion: switch enables the onion skin mode to show the previous and next pictures from the list, together with the displayed picture. It is very useful for stop motion animation. You can click with the right button of the mouse on the Onion: checkbox to switch to the color mode. In this mode the previous pictures gets a red tint, and the next ones gets a blue tint. In this case the checkbox gets a different shape. At the side of Onion: switch, with the menu buttons you can set the number of previous and next pictures to view (from 0 to 3). At the middle, use the = button to show the last captured image.  If the Exposure sheet mode switch is On, the onion skin shows you the contents before and after the cursor of the exposure sheet window. The onion mode also can be switched on and off by the Tab key of the keyboard. With the slider below these buttons you can change the visibility of the onion layers.

With the Over: and Under: switches you can view existing pictures over and under the displayed picture, for example for restoring a previously used camera position. If you switch either the Over: or Under: function on, and its name field is empty, it copies the actual name from the Image: field into the selected function.

Positioning button

With the positioning buttons right at the side of the Over, Under and Onion controls, you can replace these overlapping layers. This can be useful when creating in-between pictures. Click on the button to make it active and drag the overlay picture on the display with the mouse. Click on the button again to switch off this positioning mode. Or, you can also move the picture by clicking on the positioning button with the middle mouse button and dragging the mouse with this pressed middle mouse button. By clicking on the button with the right mouse button, you can reset the original picture position.

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

Exposure can be made in the middle of the window, with the Capture and Next buttons.

The Capture button stores the digitized picture under the given name. The Next button 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 Capture button creates the K0001z named drawing, and the Next button will create the K0003z.

You can make a capture when entering a name directly to the name field, and press the Enter key on the keyboard. This is very useful when your captured drawings not ordered and you have to enter their names manually. If you double click on a name in the right hand side list, you can re-exposure the existing drawing. You also can make this if you click on the 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. If you are not inside the list, the Enter key makes an exposure just like Capture button and the Space key does the same thing as Next button.

You can also step on the list with the PgUp, PgDown, Shift+Up and Shift+Down keys of the keyboard. This works even if the list is not selected.

If the Exposure sheet mode switch is On, the program enters the name of the captured picture directly into the exposure sheet. In this mode the PgUp and PgDown keys are moving the exposure sheet cursor by picture changes, and you can also move the cursor frame-by-frame with the Shift+arrow and Shift+PgUp, Shift+PdDown keys of the keyboard. In this mode the Next operation can increase the numbering of other picture names as well, in a way to avoid overwriting existing pictures.

By switching off the Running picture switch, you can stop the continuos live capturing. This time you can scan a single picture by the Scan in button. For scanners you can use this Scan in button to start scanning a page.

Under Linux, when you capture images through gphoto2, the Scan in button makes the photo camera to take a picture in full quality while otherwise you can see only the lower resolution live preview image.

With the Image feedback switch you can reprocess existing pictures through the capture. If you click on a 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 a sequence of pictures on the list by dragging the mouse with pressed button, or by selecting all of the pictures between the cursor and a chosen item by using the Ctrl + left mouse button or Shift + left mouse button combination. Then you can re-shoot all these selected pictures in one pass by pressing the Capture or Next buttons. If you give an alternate name for the first picture in the Image: field before the operation, the capturing will create a new set of picture names. Without this, the capturing overwrites the original pictures.

The Accumulate button stores the picture into a copy and merges it with the incoming picure. You can exposure over the same frame multiple times before storing it. This is a usual way to make motion blur in stop motion animation. You can change the picture mixing ratio with the slider and its numeric input field. The Clear button removes the accumulation. You can use the / (divide) key for Accumulate and * (multiply) key for Clear on the numeric keyboard. Also usable the A key for accumulating, and Ctrl+A for clearing.

The Get button at the Paper: label of the window is for cleaning the background of the picture. Place a blank sheet of paper under the camera before recording, and click Get. At this time the program take a photo of the blank background, which is subtracted from every digitized picture afterwards. By this procedure the unevenless of illumination and the lens errors can be vanished from the picture - which can not be filtered off in other way. For switching off the function use the Clear button at the Paper: label. You can use the P key on the keyboard to get the paper, and the Ctrl+P keys to clear it.

If there are parts on the picture what you do not want, for example eraser marks, notes or the pegholes, you can hide it by masking. You can draw rectangles, ellipses or freehand shapes over the picture to hide the unwanted parts. You can delete the mask by Clear button at the Mask: label. To invert the masking, click Invert button there. With Load and Save, you can use files to keep your masks and load them back later.

At the left bottom corner of the window, you can see a button above the settings list. The button is actually a menu where you can select the active capturing device. If you have more than one such hardware device in your computer (scanner, video camera, webcam etc.), 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. In this window usually you can set the resolution, the input channel, the color format etc.

The device selection button and the settings list

You can set several properties of the picture by the elements of the settings list. The chosen property can be set by the slider under the list. You can reset the selected parameter into its default value by the Reset button, and the Reset all button restores these default values for all of the parameters. The Load button loads all parameters back from a file, and you can save the actual parameter values into 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 bottom left 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. Under Windows, for Video for Windows (VfW) devices, if the camera resolution is higher than 640x480, you can set it with the Input field. Also you can set the input video format for the Blackmagic Design cards here.


      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 steps in the picture, the less memory will be used. At the lowest setting there are only two colors used, black and white.


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

    Noise filter

      a kind of filter, removes small groups of non-transparent pixels from the image. You can set the maximum number of connecting pixels.


      saturation in color mode (divergence from gray).


      proportion of red component.


      proportion of green component.


      proportion of blue component.


      the size of picture cutout within the raw picture from the camera. For setting zoom, it is better to use the optics of the camera, because this mode is only clipping to a smaller part inside the original picture. It is usable for removing camera noises or black parts at the eges of the incoming picture.


      the horizontal position of the zoomed picture within the raw camera picture.


      the vertical position of the zoomed picture within the raw camera picture.

    Aspect ratio

      vertical-horizontal distortion of the aspect ratio.


      the transparency of the picture. It defines how to convert luminosity into transparency.


      the downsampling pixel resolution of the picture.

    Field width

      the width of the picture in pixels. If it is not Off, it overrides the calculated horizontal size.

    Field height

      the height of the picture in pixels. It can be Off, it overrides the calculated vertical size.

    Field shape

      the geometrical aspect ratio of the picture field.

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.

If the Field width or Field height settings are not Off, you can set the width and the height of the picture in pixel units. If both of them are Off, the resolution is calculated from the original picture with the Resolution setting. If only one of them is Off, 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 some standard resolution values.

The remaining options on the list are switches. You can also switch these on and off by clicking on the checkboxes inside the list.

    The paper is white

      the shade of the transparent background. This switch normally must be On, what means the white (and not the black) parts of the picture will become transparent.

    Colored mode

      color vs. grayscale mode.

    Mirror horizontally

       flip the captured picture horizontally.

    Mirror vertically

       flip the captured picture vertically. You can rotate the picture by 180 degrees if it's upside-down by enabling both of Mirror horizontally and Mirror vertically switches.


      inverse picture, just like negative film.

    Average filter

      merges the last four incoming frames together to decrease camera noise. Be careful, this filter needs time to get a clean picture and it can add some ghosting to the picture if the picture of the camera is not completely motionless.

    Guide lines

      a guide grid over the picture, it may help positioning the camera.

    Shadow mask

      illustrates the transparency by different fake colors. Only the fully transparent parts are getting the background color, the fully opaque parts have a visibly stronger shade than the shadesd of the partially transparent regions. You can toggle this mode by the Tab key of the keyboard. It has effect only on the displaying and not on the stored pictures.

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 Rotate: menu button, you can select several picture rotating modes:


      the picture comes by its original position,

    90 degrees right

      the picture is rotated 90 degrees clockwise,

    180 degrees

      the picture upside down,

    90 degrees left

      the picture is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise,

    Setup pegs

      in this mode, you can set the position of the field and the pegbar inside the input picture. The program can recognise the position of the pegs using the visible peg holes on the paper. But you have to set what is the size of the pegs and what is their position relative to the captured picture field. For this, you need a field guide paper with pegholes. Put a black paper behind the pegholes during the capture to make them visible. Now in Setup pegs mode, place the field and the pegbar to the right position on the picture. Click on the small squares, 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. Clicking with the right button of the mouse on the side pegs switches the pegbar between three holes (animation standard) or two holes (office paper punch) mode.

The pegbar and the field in the Setup pegs mode

    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 default position selected by the Setup pegs mode, without diagonal lines.

    Recognize pegs

      recognise the pegs defined with the Setup Pegs mode and shows the recognised field part of the picture.

    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 captured picture.

    Attach pegs

      keeps the original geometry of the picture but saves the picture with the pegs defined in the Setup pegs mode.


      keeps the original geometry of the picture, without pegs. Only if you use Image feedback with this mode, and the picture has already a pegs position, it remains unchanged.

If you drag the position on the slider bar right under the picture, you can see the original incoming picture from the camera on the left side of the picture.

You can zoom into the viewing to check the quality of the pixels, for example if the display resolution is lower than the resolution of the camera 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 right button of the mouse (or the left button with the Control 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 middle button (or the left button with Shift key) down, you can replace the visible area. The functions of these buttons were swapped in the older versions of Firka, but the new versions are adapted to the usual behaviour of other programs.

These are the steps of a simple pencil test capturing:

Place the field chart paper from the scene underneath the camera. Set the sharpness and picture cutout (zoom) on the camera's lens. Then set the picture cutout and the resolution in the computer. You may take a photo of a blank background by Get button at the Paper: label. Put the first drawing paper 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 Paper is white switch has to be On.

Write the name of the drawing into the Image: input field and click on the Capture 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 or pressing the Space key on the keyboard. If you made a mistake, you can repeat the last capture with the Capture button or pressing the Enter key.

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 close 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 Record button. A new window appears. You can see the picture from the camera. If there is no picture, select the capture device from the menu at the bottom left corner of the window.

    3. Enter a name to the Image: input field.

    4. Click on the Capture button. The captured image appears on the right hand side list.

    5. Capture other images, and try to use the Next button to make numbered sequences.

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

Chapter 7.

The exposure sheet

After having recorded the drawings, you should write the pictures into the exposure sheet. Without this you cannot play your animation. 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 opaque contents of the next levels overlap 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, press the Edit button.

You can find buttons in the upper row of the exposure sheet window.

The Play button serves for playing the animation, by the Record button you can capture, create and edit the pictures, sounds and camera movements. With the Save button you can overwrite the scene file 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. With the Save as... button you can save the scene under a different name in the actual movie (the selected one in the Base window), or you can export it 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 from button, with it you can simply load another scene, like in an editor system without multi-document capabilities. The Start new button creates an empty, unnamed and unsaved new scene in the window. The Help button shows a help about using the exposure sheet window. With the Exit button you can exit the window. The other buttons and fields are helps to filling the exposure sheet.

Splitting the exposure sheet into views

You can find a small sizer button in the right bottom corner of the exposure sheet where the vertical and horizontal scrollbars meets. Click it, keep the mouse button pressing down, and drag the button upwards. The exposure sheet splits into two views horizontally. These views show the same list, but two different parts of that. This way the exposure sheet can be divided into views. These views can disappear by dragging back the sizer to down below. There is also a sizer bar at the left to split the view into two vertical parts.

Press F3 key to toggle a highlight for the cursor's row. It helps aligning the contents of distance levels.

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.

With the checkbox on the headline of the levels you can enable or disable the playing of the level. The field next to the checkbox with a letter mark is the identifier name for the content of the level. You can redirect the content of a level to other level, as a duplication. The third field is the name of the level itself, it is defined to blank as default. If you click on it, you can enter a name for the level. It is just a remark without any means by the working of the program. If the Enabled levels only switch is on, it hides the inactive levels from the exposure sheet.

The checkbox on the level's headline

In the exposure sheet a cursor can be found. If the list is too big to fit in the window, the list can be scrolled with the horizontal and vertical scrollbars. You can move it also if you click on the list with the right mouse button (or the left mouse button together with the Ctrl key on the keyboard), hold down the button and drag the list with the mouse. You can scroll only vertically by dragging the frame numbers in the side columns of the exposure sheet.

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 modes in a menu (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 also goes down parallely: all of the levels if
Sync (All), and only the active levels if Sync (Actives) selected. 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 image names - for instance: pictures, sounds or camera paths, and it can be effects as well, for example: fade. The images can be stored within the scenes in a directory tree structure similar to the filesystem of your computer. It is not neccessary to use however. A default directory belongs to every exposure sheet level, where the written names are searched for by the program. It is the last directory viewed on the right hand side list when the exposure sheet cursor was inside the level. In the names, the separator character for subdirectories is the / (slash) symbol. If the path name begins with the / symbol, this indicates absolute path, in other case the path is relative to the default directory of the actual level. The blank name means blank frame, when there is nothing in the level.

For example: /ruf/first/A1 is an absolute path of the place of A1 drawing in the directory. To enter this A1 into a level, A1 is a good name if /ruf/first is the default subdirectory for the level. If we are, for example in the ruf subdirectory, the correct marking is first/A1.

For the effects, which are not parts of the directory structure, the names 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. If the Show images switch is On, the list shows the miniature version of the picture images on the list. There are three buttons to the right of Show images switch for setting the size of these thumbnail pictures.

Under the list there are the Path: text input field for changing the listed directory and the Image: field for an image name. This name is an important parameter for several button commands.

You can select a series of images on the list to perform the same action on them together. For this, click on the first image and drag the mouse with pressed button until you selected all images you want. You can also select all of the images between the cursor and a clicked image on the list with the Ctrl + left mouse button or the Shift + left mouse button combinations.

Over the list you can see three tab buttons (Actions, Images, Effects). These are selecting different button sets around the list.

Actions tab:

These are the basic operations to manage the images of the scene.

If you click Load image button, you can load one or more images (picture, sound etc.) from a file. The program protects the existing images in the scene, so the program loads the data into the selected image only if the selected image is empty, otherwise it creates a new image with a different name. Empty images has no type and has no data. To make an existing image empty before loading, you can use the Truncate button. If you select a series of images together before the loading, it overwrites them even if the images are not empty.

You can also load the images with the drag and drop function of your desktop. Use the mouse to drop the file onto the exposure sheet window.

In the same way, if you want to save an image into a file, choose it and click Save image button. You can also select a series of images to save.

With the New image button, you can quickly create empty, placeholder names, for the exposure sheet or to load images into them with the Load image button. First enter the name for the image into the Image: field at the right bottom corner of the window, then click on the New image button. The created images has no type and no data but you can overwrite them with a picture, sound or camera path later.

The New image button has a menu. The Next and Next 10 modes first adds the number of the Advance: field to the number in the image name before creates the new image. The Next 10 mode repeats this ten times, so creates ten images at once.

With New folder you can create a new subdirectory for other images on the list.

The Recover button loads back the selected image from the last saved version of the scene. Each scene has two saved versions in the movie, the last and one before the last. You can choose which one you want to load with the menu of the Recover button.

The Rename button renames the image into the name given in the Image: field. In its menu there are some variations of the command: Keep numbers tries to keep the numbering advances if you rename a sequence of images together. The Renumber mode uses the value of the Advance: field to make equal increments in the numbering. The Dot prefix keeps the names and adds a dot (.) character at the front of each name. Because the list is ordered alphabetically, this places the selected names to the beginning of the list.

The Truncate button removes all the data and the type specification (picture or sound etc.) from the image. This is useful before loading a single image from file. The Delete image button deletes the selected images from the scene. You can delete a subdirectory only if it's completely empty. The Edit button starts the same window as the Record button to edit the selected image. With the Print image button you can send the selected images to a printer. There are some optional modes in its menu for the printed format.

If the list shows a directory, Parent button steps up one level in the directory hierarchy, just like in a filesystem. Changing the listed directory also changes the default directory of the current level at the exposure sheet cursor. The list always shows the default directory for the actual x-sheet level.

Images tab:

The buttons when Images tab or Effects tab is selected

You can write the name of the Image: field onto the x-sheet by Paste button, from the exposure sheet cursor. The cursor moves down during this. You can write the next and previous elements of the list into the cursor by using the Next or Prev. buttons. The Blank button writes empty frames. The + and - buttons extends or shrinks the exposure sheet, you can change the timing of the animation this way. There are menu items also to change the timing (1-2-1-2 etc). The Shift pegbars option replaces the pegbar into a shifted position for the selected pictures on the exposure sheet.

You can delete the frame at the cursor by Delete button.

The Undo button is for reversing the previous modifications on the exposure sheet, more than one steps are stored. You can undo with the ESC or Ctrl+Z keys from the keyboard as well.

The Parent button steps back with one directory level in the path, just like the other Parent button for the Actions tab does.

With the Relabel button you can change the first alphabetic characters in the names of the selected range of the exposure sheet. While this, it keeps the numbering and the end of the names. An exposure sheet animation can be copied and changed into a different sequence of images this way.

Series button writes into the exposure sheet: it creates a numbering series between the name at the cursor, and the name from the Image: name field.

In the menu of the Back button, the Revert block reverts the order of the images on the selected part of the exposure sheet, and the Mirror pictures marks the selected pictures as mirrored.

Effects tab:

The buttons and their functions are the same as the buttons of the Images tab. The list contains the available effects instead of the images. All effect names are beginning with two slash characters (//). You can enter these effects by hand into the exposure sheet. The effects has parameters. If you click on an effect on the list, a window appears to set the level group and the parameters for the effect. The composed effect name appears in the Image: field. After that you can use the Paste button to enter the effect into the exposure sheet.

The exposure sheet has a cursor. You can enter the names into the x-sheet from this cursor. If you start typing a name from the keyboard, a text input field appears at the cursor. You can close the typed name with the Enter key on the keyboard. The name goes into the exposure sheet and the cursor moves down by the value of the Step: input field.

If you click near the left edge of the cursor, you get a text input field where you can enter a remark note 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 remark from the exposure sheet, click on the mark twice and erase the whole remark in the input field with the keyboard.

Block operations:

If you click on the cursor in the exposure sheet, and drag it with pressed mouse button, you can select a block range.

Selected block

After selecting a block, a / (slash) character appears at the Image: field. You can enter it even by hand there. If you use the Paste button with this / in the Image: field, the program will copy the contents of the last selected block to the exposure sheet cursor. You can select a sequence of images on the list of images for pasting too. After selecting the block range, if you click on a single image on the list of the images, the name of the image overwrites the / name in the Image: field, and the Paste button is going to fill the whole selected x-sheet block with the selected image. The functions of Next, Prev. and Blank buttons also refers to the block if a block selected. The + and - buttons add or subtract a frame for all different names of the block, and Delete button deletes the entire content of the block.

You can select the block with the keyboard also. You can set the first frame by Ctrl+H keys and you can set the last frame by Ctrl+L keys. You can also modify the borders or the level of the already selected block in such a way. Ctrl+W selects the contents of an entire level.

To deselect the block, click somewhere on the exposure sheet with the mouse.

If a block selected, the Play window plays only the selected part of the scene. Since it is relatively easy to select a block on a single frame, if the Play window shows only a single frame and not playing, first try to replace the cursor on the exposure sheet, to deselect the block you selected accidentally.

Try it

    1. Open an empty exposure sheet window with the Editor button.

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

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

    4. Start to enter a name on the keyboard. You can see that an input field with the name appears at the cursor. Use the Backspace and Del keys 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.

Saving and loading files

This part is about the file requester windows for loading and saving.
There are load and save buttons everywhere in the program. With these, you can use various file formats to export or import scenes, pictures, sounds, settings, pegs positions etc. The file requester windows are generally the same in these operations.

A requester window for file loading

The left hand side list in the file requester window contains the subdirectories in the current folder. At the top of this list, the program collects some shortcuts for you. To the right of this, you can see the list of the files. There is a sizing bar between these two lists to resize them inside the window.

If the Filter names option is On, you can see only the loadable files (according to their name extension, like: .jpg, .wav, etc.). The .ffs is the extension for Firka's own scene format, and the .ffd is the own format for individual images. These two formats are able to carry all information from these data elements, while others are portable, but may lose some information.

At the top of the window the Path: input field contains the path to the current directory. At the right hand side of the Path: field there is a menu with the last used directory paths.

You can enter the filename into the File: input field, or you can click on the files in the list. For scenes and images, you can select more than one files by clicking and dragging on the list with the mouse. You can also select and deselect individual entries with the Ctrl + left button of the mouse. To select the names between the cursor and the clicked scene, use the Shift + left mouse button combination. If you selected the file to load, click on the Load button, or press Enter on the keyboard.

You can also use the drag and drop functions of your desktop to load files. Drop scene files onto the Scenes... window and it will load them like you do with the Load file button. Similarly, you can import images (pictures, sounds etc.) by dropping the files onto the Exposure sheet window or onto the Record window.

For saving, the requester window usually have some additional controls. When saving scenes, you can see a lot of buttons and checkboxes. You can open this window from the Scenes window with the Save file button, or from the Exposure sheet window, if you click first on the Save as button, then on the To file button in the new window.

Saving a scene

With the Type: menu you can set the file type from the list of the available formats. If the By extension mode is selected, you can determine the file type with the extension in the filename - for example, .bmp for BMP type files. Otherwise, you can specify the file format directly.

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. This is usable when the chosen format using palettes with typically not more than 256 colors (for example GIF or AVI).

You can render in interlaced mode with the Interlaced switch. This mode calculates the camera paths with Interlaced motion set, for each half-frames separately. For a full interlaced control, create and render the scenes with double frame rate instead, and mix the rendered half-frames in a video editor afterwards.

With the Quality: slider, you can set a quality value for the encoding. Less quality results lower file size. With some file formats selected, you get an option menu or some kind of checkbox instead of this slider.

For sounds, you can set also the sampling frequency.

The Frame-by-Frame switch is On by default and 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, visible only 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 frame-by-frame, forwards and backwards.

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 or Add 1 frame clappers generates a clappers image before the animation, similar to the clappers on the player window, with color bars, and with the name and length of the scene.

The Clappers only (the option is visible only if the selected file format supports it) generates only clappers without rendering any scene frames. This way you can create, for example placeholders for video cutting.

The Overlay safety frames, the Overlay waveform, the Overlay counter are similar to the same functions on the player window (see Chapter 5.)

With the Render mode: menu you can select the three draft rendering modes of the player window and even the high quality mode (Final).

The Stereoscopic: menu has some options to render stereoscopic scenes into different stereo formats.

With the Display preview switch you can see the rendered pictures in a small window during rendering, if the given file format supports this option.

With the Load settings and Save settings buttons you can store your settings combinations in files.

Chapter 9.


The effects are modifiers for pictures or sounds during projection. You have several effect types to change the transparency, the focus (blur) or the color components of the selected levels. Or, for sounds, for example you can modify the volume.

You can see the list of available effects if you select Effects tab in the exposure sheet window. At that time the usable effects are appeared on the right hand side list.

To create an effect, for example a fade (dissolve), click Fade list entry. A new window appears where you can select a level group. A level group is a named combination of levels. You can read more about the level groups in Chapter 12.

If you want to use the default group for the level you enter the effect command, just leave the list selection on the Not set (use level's) option. Normally it is better to use a separate x-sheet level for an effect and use the level's default group to select the effected layers. Most of the effects has the same syntax and you get this window when you click on the effect:

Under the list there are buttons to edit level groups (Group name:, Find unused, Clear, Invert, Apply). You can read about these controls also in Chapter 12. At the bottom of the window you can see some controls you can set for the effect. Depending on the effect type there are some variations but most of the effects has the same syntax and you can see the window above. The Step by: menu selects the changing steps for the effect's value. You can use one frame steps or two frames steps. With the Begin: and End: sliders you can set the strength value of the effect for its start and for its end frame. The values are working on the 0-255 range. For example you can make a fade in if it starts at 0 and ends at 255, or a fade out if starts at 255 and ends at 0.

The start value belongs to the first frame of the effect, but the end value belongs to the frame right after the last frame of the effect. So the last frame is before the end value by one frame. This logic is common in Firka, the camera movements works the same way, to make continuous changing possible without stops.

After you prepared your effect, click OK. button. The effect command will be formed and written into the Image: name field on the exposure sheet window. This has to be pasted into one of the levels of the exposure sheet by the Paste button.

If you want to write the effect into the exposure sheet with the keyboard, this is the format:

//effect[/2] [transition] [level group]

The effect name always begins with // (two slash characters) then continued with the name and the parameters of the effect. No image name begins with two slashes in the program.

If you add /2 right after the effect name (without space) it means the effect's interpolation changing by two frames steps.

The [transition] can be the word In for interpolating the effect forwards between 0 and 255, or Out for interpolating backwards between 255 and 0. You can enter the start and end values directly by  START-END format, where START means a decimal value of the first frame and END is the value of the frame after the end of the transition. If you give the start value only, it means a constant effect without interpolation. You can also enter the value as a percentage, from 0% to 100%. If you not give any transition, it means the same as "In".

The [level group] is the name of the level combination, it is the name of a level group or its hexadecimal number. Not giving this, or entering the "All" word or the 00 number means using the default group of the effect's level.

The effect types:

      //fade [transition] - the transparency of the level,


      //focus [transition] - the sharpness of the level,

    Red color

      //red [transition] - red color component to 100% red,

    Green color

      //green [transition] - green color component to 100% green,

    Blue color

      //blue [transition] - blue color component to 100% blue,


      //bright [transition] - all color components to white,

    Red darkness

      //darkred [transition] - red color component to 0% red,

    Green darkness

      //darkgreen [transition] - green color component to 0% green, 

    Blue darkness

      //darkblue [transition] - blue color component to 0% blue,


      //dark [transition] - all color components to black,


      //saturation [transition] - color saturation:

      from grayscale (0) to unchanged (128) to oversaturated (255),

    Alpha weight

      //alpha [transition] - the contrast of the transparency,

    Alpha threshold

      //threshold [transition] - cut transparency below threshold,

    Threshold padding

      //thres_pad [transition] - transparency threshold base,

    Hard cut Alpha

      //hard [transition] - hard transparency,


      //cross [transition] - multi-pass crossfade, double exposition:

      the scene rendered multiple times but the selected levels of the effect's level group are rendered only for the effect's pass. The levels that are not in any crossfade groups are rendered for every passes. The passes are rendered by the order of the level groups' serial numbers and not by the order in the exposure sheet. So the first pass starts with the lowest group number (01, 02 etc.), then the second lowest and so on.

    Repeat cross-fade

      //multi [transition] - repeating the same cross-fade pass, with subframe camera interpolation:

      it repeats the cross-fade effect (//cross) of the same level group. The value of the effect is the number of the repeated passes. If there are time fraction effects, their values are interpolated during the passes. The repeat value takes effect only for the final quality rendering, in draft modes the program renders only two endpoints. Be careful, if you set the repeat value too high, the rendering time could be very long.

    Sub-frame time fraction

      //fraction [transition] - time offset within a frame for camera movements:

      with this effect you can place the camera position between the actual and the next frame. It's a time offset within the frame's time interval. The repeat cross-fade effect (//multi) interpolates this time offset between zero and the given value during the repeated render passes. So you can use the cross-fade, the repeat cross-fade and the sub-frame time fraction (//cross, //multi, //fraction) effects together to make motion blur effects. In this case the time fraction behaves like the shutter angle of a film camera. If the value is higher, the blur is longer along the motion path.

    Audio volume

      //volume [transition] - the volume of both audio channels:

      the /2 option multiplies the volume by two.

    Audio left

      //left [transition] - the volume of the left audio channel only,

    Audio right

      //right [transition] - the volume of the right audio channel only,

    Easing other effects

      //ease [transition] - the nonlinearity of other effects:

      the effects can be calculated with linear or ease in/out interpolation. The default, because of historical reasons is the linear. You can apply this effect on other effected levels or on the levels of other effects. 0 means ease in/out and 255 means linear.

    Quick unfocus

      //quickfocus - switch: faster focus calculations:

      the selected levels has linear filter blurring instead of Gaussian in the final quality mode,

    LInear space unfocus

      //linearfocus - switch: the focus effect calculated in linear color space,

    Fine unfocus

      //finefocus - switch: the focus effect calculated with half values:

      sometimes the resolution of the effect value is not enough for fine unfocusing near the 255 value. With this you can double the resolution so you can make smaller unfocusing effects.


      //invert [ARGB] - switches: inverts the selected A, R, G, B (Alpha, Red, Green, Blue) channels of the picture,

    Alpha from RGB

      //from [YRGB] - switch: convert color to transparency:

      convert Y (grayscale brightness), R,G,B or a combination of these into transparency.

    Collapse layers

      //collapse [+-] - switch: merges the levels below the effect, to use the result as a single picture level:

      this effect separately merges the intermediate levels between the actual and the previous //collapse effect. For the first occurence of //collapse, it merges all of the previous levels. The result viewed as a picture content of the effect's level, instead of the merged levels. The picture matches with the rendering field and its background is transparent. You can move, mask and effect the merged picture. This effect ignores the level group settings.

      With the optional + parameter, you can add the next levels to the actual collapsed level as a nested collapse. The //collapse - (with a minus sign) closes the nested range. A //collapse without + or - works within the actual nesting. Embedded nesting is possible with a maximum depth of 4.

Try it

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

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

    3. Exit the window with the OK. button.

    4. Enter the effect to the exposure sheet's cursor with the Paste button.

Chapter 10.

Drawing and painting

It is also possible to edit pictures in Firka. For linetest, you can erase some parts of the picture, or you can paint the inside of the figures with white, to cover the background behind them. Or you can use these functions even for animation or color painting.

To open the picture editor in the program, click on the Record button on the window of the exposure sheet. Select the Picture tab, then select the Painting button at the bottom right corner, so you can use the drawing and painting functions instead of camera capturing.

The painting window

The right hand side of the window is similar to the digitizer mode, you can read more about these controls in Chapter 6. You can find the drawing tools and controls on the bottom part of the window. There are also two lists at the left hand side of the window: the hierarchy list and the selected palette.

In Firka, a picture can have up to 8 overlapping sub-layers internally. A sub-layer is a rectangular pixel image, and it can contain both RGBA and indexed palette colors. The RGBA pixels have their own Red, Green, Blue and Alpha (transparency) values directly, and the palette colors are referencing up to 256 palettes with up to 256 RGBA colors per each, and these pixels also have their own Alpha transparency. There is also a fully transparent color which has no components.

If you modify a color on a palette, it changes everywhere immediately. The palettes has a hierarchy. You can assign a palette to the sub-layer, to the redirectable contents of the x-sheet level, to the level itself, to the exposure sheet, to the scene or to the movie. This is a priority order, the sub-layer has the highest and the movie has the lowest priority. Every palette has its code number between 0 and 255, and a palette with the same number overrides the same numbered palettes of the lower priority levels. For example, a palette for a specific level overrides the same palette defined for the entire scene.

The colors on a movie palette are shared between all scenes of the movie.

If you click on any of the hierarchy levels on the list at the top left corner, you can see some new controls at the bottom left corner:

To create a new palette, enter a name into the Palette: field, and enter a code number to the Code: field as well. Now you can create the palette with the New palette button. The palette appears on the hierarchy list. By default the palette contains only one palette entry, a black color without a name. You can see it on the another list below the hierarchy. If you click on it, another new controls becomes visible at the bottom left corner:

In the Entry: field you can see the name of the palette entry, and you enter the new names here as well. There are two menus, Active: and Usable: to set a sub-layer and a default tool for the palette entry.  These are automatically applied when you select the palette entry for drawing.

The Alpha: field contains the transparency for the drawing or painting operations. This is not a property of the palette entry, each pixels on the picture have their own transparency values. However, a palette entry can contain transparency, it is combined with the transparency value of the pixel for the final result.

With the Update entry button you can update the name and these settings in the palette color. The Add entry button creates a new entry on the palette with the given settings. To change the RGBA color contents of the palette entry, set the Coupling switch to On. Now if you pick a color from the actual picture with the color picker tool, or by pressing the G key, it updates the color of the selected palette entry. If you select another palette color this way, the result is a link to the another palette entry, indicated by a small arrow on the list. You can also switch to the RGBA mode and change the color manually if you switch the Palette colors option to Off.

After selecting a palette on the hierarchy, use the Rename button to rename both the name and the code number for the palette. With the Delete button you can delete the entire palette. You can save the palette into a text file with the Save palette button, and you can load this file to replace the actual contents of the selected palette with the Update palette button.

When a hierarchy level (layer, xsheet, scene...) is selected on the hierarchy list, you can use the Load palette button to load and create one or more new palettes. The Unify palette button is a complex fuction: it creates a new palette by collecting the palette colors from the actual picture. You can select more than one pictures for this on the right hand side list. The program also replaces the found palette colors inside the pictures with the entries of the new palette.

The bottom part of the window has three zones. The first part at the bottom left corner is usually a color mixer with the Alpha, Red, Green and Blue components, but if you select something on the two lists at the left side of the window, you can see the available operations for the selected item here.

The second part of the bottom area

At the top of the second zone there are four color buttons, and one another labeled as Target color:. The four buttons means four colors, and you can select one of these for drawing and painting. One of them is always selected. You can switch between these colors if you click on the buttons. At the center part of the button you can see the color's transparency over black and white. If the button shows the tansparent color (Alpha value is 0) you can see a black and white checkered pattern. The rightmost color button contains the transparent color by default. You can toggle a button between the transparent color and its previous color if clicking with the right button of the mouse. Also you can do this with the opaque black color if you click with the middle button of the mouse.

To pick a color from the picture and copy it into the active color button, move the mouse over the color and press the G key on the keyboard.

Some drawing operations needs two color parameters. The Target color: is a secondary color for these operations. It's also transparent by default. If you click on the Target color: button, you copy the selected color button there. You can pick the target color from the picture with the T key of the keyboard.

To view a color mode picture, enable the Modelsheet: option and enter a picture name into the attached input field. You can also load a picture file with the From file button. The modelsheet covers the bottom left corner part of the window, and you can pick colors there if you click on it with the left mouse button. You can also zoom in and move around on the picture with the mouse, just like you can do on the main picture view.

If you select a palette color from the lower list at left, the Palette colors switch automatically becomes On and you can see the controls for the palette colors. To return back to RGBA colors, switch this option Off.

The Shadow mask option shows the picture in distinctive colors. The fully transparent parts are white. The parts exactly similar to the selected color are red. Other RGBA pixels are viewed in blue and other palette color pixels are green. The fully opaque pixels are significantly darker than the semi-transparent ones. You can switch this option on and off by the Space key.

You can change the brightness of the background behind the picture with the slider next to the Shadow mask switch. It is also possible to use the Checkered background switch at the right side of the window to set a checkerboard pattern behind the picture.

There can be up to eight sub-layers inside a picture. Use the Sub-layer: menu to select the sub-layer for drawing. If a sub-layer already exists, you can also select it on the hierarchy list at the left top corner of the window. On this hierarchy list you can see an asterisk (*) in front of the name of the sub-layer if it's selected for drawing but the sub-layer is not existing yet. On the hierarchy list you can enable and disable the sub-layers by clicking on their checkmarks. The disabled sub-layer is not visible and not participates in the drawing operations. You can also switch the layer off partially by clicking on the checkbox with the right hand side button of the mouse. A partially disabled layer is visible with half transparency, but otherwise it is disabled.

When you select a sub-layer on the hierarchy list, other new buttons are becoming available at the bottom left corner. With the Type: menu you can change the sub-layer type for the selected sub-layer. With the Delete button you can delete the selected sub-layer. There is also a switch to change the sub-layer's blending mode to Linear color space. This controls the blending on other sub-layers within the picture. In this mode most of the drawing tools are also drawing over the sub-layer by linear color space.

These changes are applicable to a sequence of drawings too.

The Capture button creates a copy of the picture under the name given in the Image: field. This button has a menu: you can clear the contents, delete the image itself, upscale, downscale, rotate, mirror the picture, you can merge it with the pictures from the Over: or Under: fields, and it's possible to correct premultiplied alpha as well.

The New button shows a window. In this window you can create a new picture by some specific parameters. You can set the resolution and aspect ratio of the new picture and also you can copy various features from the actual picture into the new one.

With the Undo button you can undo the last drawing operation of the selected picture. The ESC and Ctrl+Z keys are also usable for this. Each picture has its separated undo history. You can use undo for a sequence of pictures together if you select them first on the right hand side list.

There are six numbered buttons (1..6) at the center of the bottom part of the window. These are memory buttons. When you select a memory button, the program restores the last state of the tools used with the same memory button.

The program also remembers the last selected memory button for the different pen tips of your drawing tablet. For example, you can set freehand drawing for the tip of your stylus while the first memory button selected, and a different drawing mode for the other (eraser) end of the stylus while the second memory button selected. The program automatically changes the selected memory button, according to the end of the stylus actually used.

The third zone of the bottom area is the drawing toolset. At its top there are buttons with figures to select the actual drawing tool. Under these buttons you can find the settings usable for the selected tool. If the bottom part of the window is too small maybe you can't see all of the buttons. In that case, enlarge the bottom part with the sizer at the right bottom corner of the picture area (where the two scrollbars meets).

Selecting, masking, moving and distorting picture regions

You can select this mode with the M key on the keyboard.

To select a region on the edited picture, click on it and draw a shape. The usable shape types are: Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Freehand, Edges, Rays, Flood. These are similar to the shapes of the outline mode, see below. You can see a "marching ants" outline around the selected area. The selection behaves as a mask. All operations are modifying the picture only inside the selection.

The Line smoothing: menu button at the right bottom corner is active when the selected shape is Freehand or Edges. It has four levels: None, Light, Medium and Heavy. This filter smooths out the bumps of the line when drawing the shape.

If you activate the toggleable Move button, you can replace the selected area by clicking on the picture and moving the mouse with pressed button.

With the toggleable Morph button you can deform the contents of the selection. By default the deformation translates the contents of the picture, but there are other possibilities. Use the X and H keys to mark a center point on the picture. After that, with X you can rotate and scale around the center, and with H you can shear. You can clear the center mark if you move the mouse outside of the picture and press X or H keys on the keyboard. The transparency of the actual color (the Alpha: slider and controls) defines the strength of the effect. Instead of the X key you can use the / (divide) key on the numeric keyboard, and you can clear the center mark with the * (multiply) key regardless of the mouse position.

Deformation modes (normal, X, H)

The Morph button has an option menu to capture the actual deformation as a deformation object. You can create a new one or you can add your deformation to an already existing deformation object. Enter a name into the Image: field for this. After created, you can enter the deformation into the exposure sheet to deform the contents of other levels. You can load the deformation from a file, or you can save it into a file.

The Constrain switch restricts the moves to horizontal or vertical directions.

If you activate the Set selected button, the selection moves together with the transformations. Otherwise only the contents move and the selection (the "marching ants") remains in place. With the Select: menu you can define how to add a new selection to the existing selection: Set new, Add, Subtract, Intersect.

Use the Unfocus: slider to draw selections with blurred edges. Sometimes it's better to draw the selection without anti-aliased and partially transparent pixels around the edges. Enable this mode with the Hard edge switch.

With the Get mask button you can create a selection from the actual contents of the picture. There is an optional menu on the button to set what you want to select. The Fill button fills the selection with the actual color. The Invert button inverts the selection and the Deselect button clears it.

From the keyboard, you can use the B key to perform the latest Get mask operation, the V key to fill the selection, the I key to invert it and the C key to deselect it. You can use these key commands even with other drawing tools.

Color picker, palette creation and color ranges

You can select this mode with the P key on the keyboard.

In this mode you can copy a color from the picture into the selected color button. If you click on a palette color, the viewing switches to palette color mode and the left hand side lists displays the selected palette and palette color. If you click on an RGBA color, you can see the RGBA values. You can use the G key from the keyboard to pick a color, even in other drawing modes.

If you enable the Palette making mode switch, the picked colors are overwriting the color of the selected palette item. You can use this mode to build a palette. If you have a color model sheet for your character, first create a palette with the required color names, then set the colors by selecting palette items from the list and picking their colors from the character model. There is also an option to set RGBA manually. In this mode when you click on the palette item, you get the RGBA sliders to change the color of the item.

The two long bars with the color gradients are two color ranges. There is an option in other drawing modes to use the selected range for drawing instead of the actual color. You can use these also to mix colors and pick the mixed color. You can define a color range from the picture if you select a region of the picture with the selection tool and click on the Get range button. It copies the colors of the selection into the range along the horizontal or vertical direction, whichever is longer. It is possible to reverse the color order in the range by using the Mirror button, and you can use the Load file and Save to file buttons to keep your ranges in files.

Filling closed areas

You can select this mode with the F key on the keyboard.

When you click on the picture, you fill the clicked area inside of its closed borders. If the border is not closed perfectly, the paint leaks through the hole. You can close these holes by hand if you click and draw closing lines on the picture while pressing Shift and Control keys. You can start these lines even without the Shift and Control keys if you click on the edge of the painted part. The program recalculates the last fill each time you draw a closing line. Repeat closing the holes on the outline until you close all off them.

You can also draw a rectangle on the picture. The program seeks inside the rectangle for closed areas with the Target color: and repaints all of them into the selected color.

The program uses the current sub-level and the enabled sub-levels above as borders for the painting. The sub-levels under the actual are not influencing the result.

Click on the Get button next to the Pattern: switch to pick the actual picture contents as a pattern texture for painting. If there is a selection, the program copies only the contents of the selection. After that, if the Pattern: switch is On, you can fill with the pattern instead of the selected color. If you paint with a pattern, you can also use the Move and Morph buttons, just like with selections. You can distort the painted textures by hand to follow the movement of the character's body parts. The Constrain switch is also similar to the same function of the other tools, it restricts the transformations into horizontal or vertical directions only.

In the Recolor mode you can paint over parts that are not transparent. It changes only the color tint but keeps the original transparency. If you switch Contouring On, you can use the contour close function by default, without the need of pressing the Shift and Control buttons. With the Step palette after each painting, the selection on the palette steps to the next color. It can be useful if you have the same color pattern to fill on several drawings (like all squares on a checkered blanket for example).

The program is able to close small holes on the outline on its own if you increase the value of the Patching: slider. But it also lowers the accuracy of the painting. You can set the pixel distance to flow behind the contents of the higher sub-levels with the Underflow: parameter. By using the Tolerance value you can set the sensitivity for the background color differences.

Outlines and filled shapes

You can select this mode with the O key on the keyboard.

In this mode you can draw shapes by hand. To fill the inside of the shape with the selected color, enable the Fill inside switch. Otherwise you can draw outlines. If you enable the Stroke mode, the contents of the actual and higher sub-levels are acting as a strength modifier for the drawing pen. The pen strokes over the existing contents. With the Use color range switch you can draw with the color range selected at the color picker tool. It translates the transparency of the drawing to the colors of the color range. If you have a pattern texture defined at the Fill tool, you can use this same pattern for the Clone drawing mode with the Pattern cloning option.

With the Shape: menu you can select the shape to draw. You can use the same shape types to create selected areas in the selection tool.


      To draw a rectangle click on the picture and drag the mouse diagonally with pressed button.You can use the Shift key to draw a square and the Control key to draw the rectangle symmetrically around the starting point.


      Similar to the rectangle mode, you define the ellipse with its bounding rectangle.


      Click on the picture and drag the mouse with pressed button. Meanwhile, repeat pressing the Enter key to mark the corners of the polygon. Release the mouse button to finish the drawing. The program is connecting the corners with straight lines and also it's closing the shape.


      Click on the picture and drag the mouse with pressed button. You can draw an outline curve. The program is closing the shape with a straight line.


      It is a variation of the freehand mode. If the drawing is near to a contour of the picture, the pen is sticking to the edge and exactly following it.


      It is a radial projection outwards from the position of the mouse. The opaque contents of the picture are casting shadows what become the selected parts. This is useful to draw beams of light for example.


      It's similar to the fill tool. It's useful for selecting a filled patch of the same color. This mode is using the Patching, Underflow and Tolerance values from the Fill tool.

You can fill the entire picture with the Whole button.

The Line smoothing: menu button at the right bottom corner is active when the selected shape is Freehand or Edges. This filter smooths out the bumps of the line when drawing the shape.

At the bottom part the controls are common for the shape drawing, the line drawing and the freehand drawing modes. You can set the pen style and the drawing mode here.

The Pen size: slider defines the size of the drawing pen. You can give the strength of the pen with the Pressure: slider. It's similar to the Alpha setting of  the color, but some pen types are using it differently.

In the Pen type: menu you can find the different pen types. There are basic pens like the Square and Round, these have hard edges without anti-aliasing. The Smooth pen is a round pen with anti-aliased edges and subpixel positioning. The Fuzzy pen has a blurred shape. There are other pens to simulate different drawing tools and styles (Chalk, Dry brush, Airbrush etc.).

Some pen types

The other menu of the pen type section is defining the drawing mode:


      Replacing the contents of the picture with the pen color, it replacing the transparency as well.


      Drawing over the contents. The pen covering the contents, the transparency becomes only more opaque.


      Similar to the Over mode, but the order of the pen and the previous contents are reversed, it's drawing behind the contents.


      Drawing on the contents. It's changing only the color tint but keeping the original transparency.


      For palette colors only, it's changing the palette of the contents into the palette of the selected color but keeping the color index inside the palette. If the Target color: is a palette color it changes only the colors from the given palette. If the Target color and the selected color are on the same palette, this mode offsets the index on the palette.


      This mode is using only the Alpha value from the selected color for the strength of the eraser. It's increasing the transparency of the pixels but keeping their color tint.

    Chroma key

      Changing the selected color into the color of the Target color: button. The Alpha value of the seleted color is the tolerance for accepting similar colors.

    Alpha cut

      This is using only the transparency of the selected color. If the transparency of the previous content is below the given Alpha value, this mode is changing the pixel into transparent, otherwise it's remaining intact.

    Hard cut

      Changing the pixel value to fully transparent if it's transparency is below the given Alpha value, and changing it to fully opaque otherwise.


      All components (Alpha, Red, Green, Blue) are changing the corresponding components.  It is changing the transition curve betwen the minimum (0) and maximum (255) values of the components. You give the new value for the middle (128), so if a value is 128, the component is remaining intact.


      This mode is increasing or decreasing the strength (brigthness) of the color components. It's not using the Alpha value. For a component (Red, Green, Blue) under 128 it darkens and over 128 it brightens the contents. If a value is 128, it is not changing the color component.


      This mode is changing only the color hue of the pixels to match with the selected color, but it's keeping the original transparency and brightness.


      This mode is using the Alpha value of the selected color only. Under 128 it's slightly blurring the contents of the picture, and over 128 it's increasing the sharpness.


      This mode is also using only the Alpha value. Under 128 it's making the contents thinner and over 128 it's making them thicker. This mode is changing the thickness by at most one pixel only. Because of this, this mode is mostly useful for fine tuning the line thickness of lineart drawings. For a bigger change, it's better to use the Stroke mode with an overwriting pen.


      This mode is mixing and blurring the pixels of the previous content.The selected color has no effect in this mode. With the value of the Pressure: slider you can change the strength of the smudge effect.


      Copying the contents of the picture. This mode is using the same origin point as the selection and fill tools for the deformation. So you can set the starting point of the cloning with the X or H keys on the keyboard. After you clicked somewhere on the picture, the program is copying the contents of the picture from the origin into the area under the mouse. You can also copy the contents from the stored pattern texture of the Fill mode by setting the Pattern cloning switch to On.

Straight lines and gradients

You can select this mode with the L key on the keyboard.

To draw straight lines with this mode click on the picture and move the mouse with pressed button. The Fade out switch is interpolating the transparency of the pen into invisible along the line. Similarly, the Thin out switch is decreasing the size of the pen into zero. The Use color range and Pattern cloning switches are the same as for the previous tool.

To draw color gradients instead of lines, use the Gradient: switch. You can draw Linear, Radial, Conical and Spiral gradients onto the picture. The gradient is a continuous change between the selected color and full transparency.

You can use the Constrain switch to align the line or the gradient to the horizontal or vertical axes. The Shift key is activating this mode during the drawing. You can also press the Ctrl key to enable more aligning axes with 15° stepping.

The remaining controls are the pen types and drawing mode settings. These are similar to the same settings of the previous tool.

Freehand drawing

You can select this mode with the D key on the keyboard.

In this mode you can draw lines by hand. Click on the picture and move the mouse with pressed button along the path you want. If you have a pressure sensitive pen tablet, enable the pressure control with the Pressure switch. If it's enabled, you can use the Fade out and Thin out switches to set the parameters you want to modify by the pressure of your stylus. By clicking on these switches with the right hand side mouse button, you can switch these controls to a half position. It means the pressure is modifying the value to a lesser degree. Without pressure control, the Fade out and Thin out switches are able to draw lines that continuously fading and growing thin.

If the Follow edges switch is enabled and the pen is near to an edge of the undelying content, the pen is sticking to the edge and following it.

For the Use color range and Pattern cloning switches, the pen types and the drawing mode settings see the previous tools.

With the Line smoothing: menu button you can set how you want to smooth out the bumps of the line during drawing.

Try it

    1. Click on the Record button on the Exposure sheet window. The record window appears.

    2. Click on the Pictures tab at the top right corner, then select the Painting button below.

    3. Enter a name to the Image: field and click on the Capture button. Now you created an empty picture image.

    4. Select the freehand drawing tool by clicking on the rightmost tool button (wavy line). Draw a few strokes.

    5. Try to change the pen color, the pen size, its pressure, its type. Try different drawing modes.

Chapter 11.

Concatenating scenes, 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 Playlist button in the Base window.

The playlist window

In the new window you can see a list for the projection order of the scenes. To add scenes into the list, use the scenes window. Open Scenes window by clicking Scenes... button, and click the scene what you want to insert. You can select several scenes at once for inserting. In th latter case, the program will insert these scenes by the same order as you can see them in the scenes window, by alphabetical order. Then go back to the Playlist window and click Add to list button. The selected scenes 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 the selected list entries by Remove button.

The Select all button selects all items on the list at once.

In the course of cutting a film, frames can be skipped from the start and 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 to omit at the starting of the selected scene by Skip first: field. For the end of the scene use End frame: field where you can set the number of dropped frames in three different ways: the number of skipped frames from the end, the last frame of the scene, or the length of the scene.

You can set the transition between the selected and the next scene in the Transition: field, here you can set the type of the transition, and its length. In the course of transition the two scenes are overlapped in time.

With the Linear color space option you can use linear color space for the transitions. With Ease in-out, the transition will have a softer start and end.

To save the list of scenes, use the Save list button. This saves only the list arrangement of the scenes and not the scenes themselves. You can load the list back with the Load list button.

You have to select the range what you want to play or render. The selected range is visible in different 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.

To start playing the selected scenes, press Play button, then you get the playback window. If you want to render the scenes into file, use the Render file button. Then you get a file request window to set the file or image sequence you want to save.

Try it

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

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

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

    4. Click on the Add to list button of the playlist window. With this you inserted the selected scene into the list.

    5. By repeating steps 3. and 4., select and insert other scenes also.

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

    7. Play the selected scenes with the Play button.

Chapter 12.

Levels and level groups

On the exposure sheet, click on the letter of a level header to open the window of level properties.

Click on the name of the level contents

The Level properties window

In this window, at the left bottom corner you can overwrite the Name: field and change the name for the level contents. Over this Name: field, a list is visible with the letters of all of the level contents of the scene. If you click any of them, you redirect the level onto the another content. The redirected content means that the levels are sharing the same exposure sheet contents. Changing someting in one of them is changing in the others too. You have to take consideration, that the level contents which is not used by any of the levels, will be deleted from the scene.

The Fade and the Focus sliders are for the transparency and the blur of the entire level, the Red, Green, Blue are to change the color tint, and the Alpha is the contrast of the transparency.

With the Stereoscopic: setting menu you can select the stereo view mode of the layer, to view it for both eyes, or only for the left or for the right eye.

The Audio left and Audio right sliders are usable to set the volume of the stereo audio channels. With the Stereo audio: menu, you can select the mapping of the audio channels.

With the Presets... button you can save the settings combination of the layer, to reuse it in another scenes.

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 automatically.

If the contents of the level shared with other levels, the Unshare button is able to convert the contents back to separately editable.

You can delete the level by the Delete button.

In the Picture sub-layers section you can enable or disable the internal layers of pictures. (outline, paint, shadow etc.). Every picture can contain up to eight layers inside and these can be viewed in any combination on the exposure sheet levels.

With the Level type: menu you can select the operation mode of the level:


      The picture rendered by its valid colors and its opaque parts overlaps the contents of the lower levels. 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 contents of the level is merged to the contents of the lower levels 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 mixing paints or printing them over each others.


      The color result is calculated by multiplying the colors together. For multiplying 0 value means 0 and 255 means 1. It looks like a color filter and it decreases the brightness of the picture.


      It's an "inverse multiply" mode. First inverts the colors, multiply them and inverts the result again. It increases the brightness of the picture.


      It's a combination of Multiply and Screen. The result is darker for dark colors and brighter for bright colors.


      It works similar to the Cover mode, but it keeps the transparency of the actual picture contents. To draw onto the contents of other layers, combine this mode with the Collapse layers effect (//collapse).


      The color result is the absolute difference between the components of the two mixed colors.

    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 opaque on all of the masks (AND). But, with the summed union masks, the program merges all masks together before masking, and a pixel will be visible if it is opaque on at least one mask (OR).

    Neg. union mask

      It is a union mask, but it uses the inverse transparency of the mask. It is very similar to the negative mask but summed together with other union masks before the actual masking.

    Eraser union mask

      It erases its contents from the union mask. The order of these union mask layers is important on the exposure sheet.

    Neg. eraser mask

      It is similar to the eraser union mask but it uses the inverse transparency of the mask.

    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 remains visible if one of the merged masks is transparent and the other is opaque.

    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.

    Directional focus

      It is an unfocus mask but the transparency is only blurring the picture in the mask's +X direction. The red, green, blue color components are unfocusing the -X, +Y, -Y directions. With this level type you can make simple directional blur effects.

    Inter-scene mask

      It has effect only when in playlist window the scene has a transition to another scene and the Transition: mode is set to Key mask. In this mode the inter-scene masks of both scenes are masking the overlapping scene as positive masks.

    Light rays effect

      This mode is usable with camera movements, to distort picture layers with light rays casted from a center point. The actual position of the camera is the center point of the rendered rays. Use the size and rotation angle of the camera position to set the length of the rays inwards and outwards.

    Picture vectors

      You can use picture images as camera positions. Each picture can have up to eight camera position vectors, and you can select these by enabling or disabling the Picture sub-layers settings of the level. This mode is useful if you want to correct the camera positions of an animated sequence. Then you can duplicate the animation layer as a picture vectors layer and use the pictures as their own correcting camera positions.

    Deformation path

      The camera position of this layer distorts the modified layer with directional scaling and skew. You can stretch the picture layer in the direction of the rotation by the size of the camera position, and you also can skew the layer in X and Y direction by using the camera position. The default position at (0,0) with scale=1 does nothing.

    Perspective path

      You can use a kind of perspective deformation. According to the position, rotation and scaling of the camera movement, it compresses the contents of picture at one side of the picture while keeping the original size on the opposite side and interpolating inbetween. Only for simple cases, otherwise a 3D software is better.

    Mirror path

      You can use the camera position as a mirroring point and the rotation angle as the axis for the mirroring.

    3D position

      You can use the Y coordinate of the camera position as in-depth (Z) 3D camera position for the modified layer.

Switch the Linear color space option to On if you want to use linear space for the color calculations on the level. The default color space for the compositing is sRGB, but some operations, like unfocusing gives better results in linear space.

sRGB and linear color space

For a well arranged exposure sheet it is not recommended to mix the purpose of levels, ie. do not use the same level for both pictures, sounds, effects etc. Use separate levels for these different purposes. It is also better to use only the default level groups to set the level combination for the effects.

You can put the pictures onto pegbars. The pegbar is a traditional animation tool. There are three holes in the drawing paper. Pressing these holes onto pegs ensures the precise positioning of the drawings. The pegbar of the level defines a relative pegs position for positioning of the contents. Every picture has a peg hole position (if not given, the software uses a default arrangement), and the program idents the picture onto the pegbar using these peg holes. With the On pegs: menu you can link the level to the level's own pegbar, or to the shared pegbar of its default level group, or to 13 independent shared pegbars, named from 1 to 9 and H to K.

To modify the same parameter for the levels together, enable the Apply to actives switch and then modify the parameter. The change becomes applied for all of the enabled levels on the exposure sheet. For example, when you want to put every level to Pegbar 1, turn Apply to actives switch on, then set Pegbar 1.

There is a default level group for the level to use if there is no other group defined in the exposure sheet entry. You can set the default group from the keyboard with the On group: field, but you can use the Level groups... button as well. A level group is a combination of levels. The effect modifies the selected levels in the assigned group. Level groups are used by effects, camera movements and masks. For effects and camera movements you have the option to give a level group directly within the exposure sheet entry, but for masks, since these are only pictures, you can use the default level group only.

The Level groups... button opens the Level groups window to manage level groups and to select the default group for the level.

The Level groups window

At most 127 different groups can be used. The Groups list on the left contains all of the level groups. In case of basic settings the names of these are hexadecimal numbers, but you can change it to anything you want with the Group name: field.

The already used groups have small marks in front of their names in the list. You can select a unused group with the Find unused button.

The list on the right shows the levels of the exposure sheet. You can set the selected level combination for the selected group here. You can include the certain levels in the group by using the checkboxes. You can deselect everything by Clear button, and you can reverse the selection by Invert button. With the Apply button you can copy the combination of the actually enabled layers into the group.

Click on the OK button to exit the window and set the default level group for the selected level.

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 deselect the levels using the checkboxes in front of the level names on the right hand side list.

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

Chapter 13.

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 movements are created with replaced drawings, under the camera.

Sometimes, specially when large background movements used in the scene, this can be difficult. In the Firka program, it is possible to create the camera movements within the program.

The camera path window is reachable through the Record button, just the same way as the camera capture. If you click on the Camera tab at the upper right corner of the window, you will see a new list at the left side of the window, and at the center a white rectangle on a gray background.
This rectangle represents the camera field.

The camera path window

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

Firka can use two main types of camera movements. The first type is a series of individual points, each defined with the above two vectors.

Because it is difficult to set a long movement with a series of positions, there is another path type also. In this type of movement the path defined with a series of segments. A segment can be a line, an arc of circle or a Bezier spline. The endpoints of the segments are defined with the two vectors, and there are additional values for the relative speed of the movement, the scaling and the rotation.

The same camera path in the two different modes

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. Meanwhile, you can see some new buttons at the bottom part of the window.

If you switch the Freehand curve option to On before creating the camera path, you can draw a freehand path with the mouse instead of a single straight line.

To save this path as an image, enter a name to the Image: field and click on the Capture button. You see the new image name on the right hand side list. It is very similar to the picture capturing with the camera. You can clear the temporary overlay path with the Clear button.

Capture and Clear buttons

If you click on the line between the two points you can select it and place a cross mark at the clicking point. Now you can see the following control elements at the bottom left area:

Selected linear segment and its controls

You can use the menu at the left to select segments and points of the path. With Delete button you can delete the selected segment. The Split button inserts a new point at the cross mark and splits the segment into two parts. You can give an exact numeric position for the mark with At percent: field.

Below these buttons you can set the Segment type: menu. The Line is a straight line between the two points. The Arc is an arc of a circle. You can move the center point of the circle or enter the radius as a number into the Radius: field. There is a Complementer path switch to make a complementary arc. The Spline is a Bezier spline segment with two control points.

The three segment types: Line, Arc and Spline

If you select an point instead of a segment, you can see different buttons:

Controls for the selected point

If the selected point is one of the two open ends of the path, you can extend the path with a new segment and a new endpoint by the Extend button. The Delete button removes the selected point.

If the Locked switch is On, the point remains at the same position when you move a neighbour point. Otherwise the point will move proportionally together with the other point to keep the shape of the curve.

With the Key position switch you can define a point as a reference position with a label. These are the key positions for the exposure sheet. You can make movements between these key positions and the motion can be stopped on these points only.

The labels are letters from the alphabet, from A to P. The reference point A is always the start point of the total path.

The X:, Y:, Scale:, Angle: fields contains the position, the scaling and the rotation for the point. The distance values are relative to the half-height of the camera field, which has a size of 1.0. The (0,0) point is the center of the camera field. The Angle given in degrees.

For every point there are Motion, Scaling, and Rotation settings with sliders and numeric fields. The values are relative speeds to the speeds of other points. For example if you set a value of 100 for one point and 50 for the another, then at the point of 100, the speed will be twice as much as the speed at the point of 50. The small transversal marks on the line of the curve represent the positions during the frames of the motion.

To move the selected point, click on the small rectangle at the point with the mouse and drag it. You can click with the right button of the mouse too, in this case all points are moving together, and you can use the middle mouse button to select only, without moving the point.

From the selected point goes out a T shape handle with a movable point at the end. This is the size and rotation vector of the position, you can move it to change these values. You can screw the handle around the point several times to set a rotation higher than 360 degrees.

The handle with a rotation higher than 360°

To convert the camera path into the another type of paths, ie. the point series type, use the Convert to points button. On point series there are no segments, but only points. The Insert, Extend and Delete buttons are usable to add or remove positions. The key positions are also available with this type of movement.

The following settings are not belonging to individual points or segments, but to the path itself:

If you use pan and zoom together, there is a problem well known in compositiong: 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 balancing the motion, and the Balanced scaling to balance the speed of zooming. Generally it's better to use these together.

The rotation can follow the direction of the camera curve if you switch Relative rotation to On. 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.

Normally the paths move the pictures and 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.

It is possible to render a scene in interlaced mode, for interlaced video. In this case every second row of the picture is shifted in time by 1/2 frame. The Interlaced motion switch enables to calculate the camera positions with this time shift for the interlaced half-frames.

Apply 3D switch enables the path to move the levels according to their 3D Z depth. Otherwise it moves all levels equally.

The Pan & Scan is a special setting: if the movie must be rendered in two different frame formats, for example there is a widescreen and a 4:3 version, maybe it is required to make the movement for these modes different. For the given Unchanged field: format, the camera path has no effect at all. For the Moved field: format, the path has its full effect. If the movie field format is different from both of these, the result is interpolated.

With the Picture relative view switch, the displaying of the path becomes different and you can see how the camera field moves along the path. In this mode the actual point is always at the center of the field.

After you captured the path into an image, you can go back to the exposure sheet to enter the path there. When you enter the motion into the exposure sheet, you have to specify the start and end key label (A, B, C...) of the movement. Enter a / (slash) character after the name, followed by the start and the end keys. For example, if the motion stored under the name cam1, and you want to move from A to B, enter either cam1/A-B or cam1/AB. If you want to keep the camera in a still position, you can enter cam1/A or cam1/A-A either, for instance. If you enter a /2 text after the keys, the movement steps by two frames. This is useful when the animation also changed on every second frames. There are more complicated cases as well: the /12 means alternated 1 and 2 frame steps (121212...), and the /23, /3, /34, /4 and /45 modes are also multi-frame steps with the same logic.

Normally the path moves the default group of the level where you entered the path. But you can define the level group inside the name as well. After a space character, enter the group name, as the last part of the name. For example, a valid path name can be cam1/C 02, or cam1/D-B/2 pan - in the second case, the motion steps by two frames and the name of a level group already renamed to 'pan'.

To make continuous motions possible (ie. from A to B, then immediately B to C etc.) the first frame of a motion is always on the start key point and the last frame is 1 frame before the end key. The end point is not reached during the motion. If you want exactly to be on the end key at the last frame, enter the motion one frame shorter into the exposure sheet and add a one frame long still position for the end key.

If more than one path moves a level, the movements are superposed. The addition of the motions goes from the bottom level up. The exposure sheet order of the movements is important.

After you entered the path into the exposure sheet, go back to the camera path window. Switch By xsheet position checkbox On. What you see now is very similar to the player window, you see the contents of a frame from the scene, and on the left there is a list with 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 open the level's properties window. With the long slider below the picture area, you can move to a particular frame of the scene. You can zoom the displaying, just the same way as when digitizing.

If the selected level contains a camera path on the selected frame, the path is also visible over the actual frame. You can move the positions, add new points, change the speeds and the result is immediately visible in the scene. As you move the camera path, you can see how the pictures are moving on the actual frame.

If the selected level has a pegbar, it becomes visible and you can replace the pegbar and with it, the attached pictures also.

The level's 3D position, its position in the Z direction and its tilt can be set after you press the Level's 3D position button. To keep the original size of the picture when changing the Z position, you can use the Keep original scale switch.

If you have some guide drawing for your scene, you can put it on the screen 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.

Try it

    1. Create an exposure sheet with a simple animation.

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

    3. Click on the Camera tab at the upper right corner of 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 camera path.

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

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

    7. Go back to the exposure sheet, and enter the new name to a level (eA level).

    8. This time the movement belongs to all levels. To select the levels you want to move, open the level settings window by clicking on the headline of the level (eA) containing the camera movement. Click on the Level groups... button on the new window, and select the level group and mark the levels in it.

Chapter 14.

Editing sound

Dialogs framing, cutting sound

The sound editor, like the camera movements, accessable from the Record window. Click on the Sounds tab at the top right corner to reach the sound functions. Then select an existing sound on the right hand side list. Its waveform appears on the display area.

The sound editor window

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 over the waveform, 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 to: 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 horizontal row of these labels, you can enter letter marks from the keyboard to a position of the sound. Use short words only (up to five characters) and split the long words into smaller fragmens. This way the text will stick to the sound precisely. While entering, with the Up and Down arrow keys 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 around the entering position, it helps to find the exact position of the particles of the speech.

With the Capture button you can store the selected part of the sount under the name entered into the Image: field. Use the Print button to print the frames of the sound, together with the contents of the words and phonemes rows.

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 the Learning mode switch to On, the program analyzes the enterings of the Phonemes row, and refines its recognizing capabilities. To reset the recognition to its defaults, use the Forget button.

With the Clear: Phonemes button 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 beginning of the selection, and the New base right puts it to the end. This base position is usable as a starting reference in the exposure sheet. To use this in the exposure sheet, enter a slash (/) and the name of the mark after the name of the sound. The base is represented by a vertical bar tagged by its name over the waveform, you can replace this by clicking and dragging it 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.

With the Fragment button it is possible to split a sound into several parts automatically, for example when you split a single sound footage into scenes. In the menu there are two possible options:  the At base points splits the sound at its base markers, and the By timecode list loads a timecode list from an external file. You can create such a list by using the Playlist window to export a timecode list from its list of scenes. The program automatically names and creates the splitted fragments from the sound.

Try it

    1. Open an empty exposure sheet.

    2. Load a sound using the Actions tab and Load image button.

    3. Click on the Record button, and on the Sounds tab 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 15.

Customising the user interface and other configurations

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 separations for the resizable internal parts. It stores the settings of the player and capture devices 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 comes by [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 separate GUI theme files in the w-themes, l-themes, m-themes or a-themes directories (for the different operating systems) has the same format as the gcnf file. Usually a theme file can be used without modifications under another operating systems too if not using OS-specific color or font settings.

The basic elements of the graphical surface for both gcnf and for the theme files:


      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. The default encoding for newer systems is the UTF-8. 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.

For colors, you can use the #RRGGBB hexadecimal format in all systems. Using OS-specific color names are not recommended to make the files compatible with other systems. But it is a possibility:

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 also 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, use the ~ (tilde) character before the number -, or these are the 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. In the newer versions of the program it is possible to set the language directly from the user interface, so this setting is obsolete. But if for some reason it is required, to select the hungarian language, copy the hungbase.lng and hunghelp.lng extensions into the var/langs subdirectory, 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. Use the cache pixelsize size path format to 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. as well.


    This option can specify various settings for digitizer devices. Under Linux, you can set some additional parameters for video for linux (v4l or v4l2) and gphoto2. Please get in touch with the author if you think you need this for your digitizer. The default gcnf file contains a commented out capture row as an example. Delete the first # character to change the row from remark to active.

Chapter 16.

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 this place base directory).

    Edit the gcnf file (it's 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 something like

      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 have one keyword.

Available restriction keywords for the tilt file:


      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 of pictures (digitizing and drawing),


      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.



With these rows you can restrict the access to the keys by usernames and by computer names. In the first case the same user can run the program only once, and in the second case the same username is able to run the program multiple times on different computers, but only once on each of the computers.


Hardware and software compatibility

Operating systems:

    Amiga: OS 2.0 and above (3.0 recommended), m68k,

    Windows: all versions from Windows 95, x86 or x86-64, win32 or win64 compatible.

    Linux: glibc 2.1 and above, X11, x86 or x86-64.

    OSX: 10.5 and above, PowerPC or x86.

    Firka is able to use the zlib and libpng open source software libraries (dll's) if these are available on the system. Under Linux these functions are usually integral parts of the system, and under other operating systems it is also possible to install the libraries from other internet sources (from the websites of their developers, for example).

Computer hardware:

    Firka is under development long time ago and it was designed originally to run on even very humble architectures. So there are no real limitations. However, faster computer and more memory is better. Firka also can take advantage from multi-core architectures.

Video digitizer devices:

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

    Windows: TWAIN devices (scanners), Video for Windows compatible capture boards, TV tuner cards, firewire cards, webcameras, Blackmagic Design Intensity and Decklink cards.

    Linux: Fast MovieMachine II, Video for Linux (v4l and v4l2) compatible boards and webcameras, firewire cards, Blackmagic Design Intensity and Decklink cards, GPhoto2 compatible photo cameras.

    OSX: Quicktime compatible boards and webcameras, Blackmagic Design Intensity and Decklink cards.

Other devices:

    Windows, Linux, OSX: Wacom pressure sensitive tablet support.

The End.