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Animation in Photoshop CS2

Part 2: Importing 16-bit image sequences By Dave Nagel
With the introduction of the Animation palette in Adobe Photoshop CS2, rotoscoping in the world's most popular pro image editing application has become a reality. Well, almost. As we discussed last week, the trick is getting your animations into Photoshop in the first place. With 8-bit image sequences, the idea is to use ImageReady as a jumping off point. But ImageReady doesn't support 16-bit images. So how do you get 16-bit sequences into Photoshop while maintaining your original bit depth?

The answer is to open up all of the images in thew sequence in Photoshop, then combine them into a single, multi-layer file, then convert those layers to frames. This, clearly, would be a nightmare to do manually. So you'll want to automate it. But how do you automate something like this? With a combination of a simple script, several recorded action steps and batch processing. It sounds tricky. But once you get the basic setup worked out, the process will involve nothing more than clicking a few buttons forever thereafter.

Incidentally, before we get started, if you're interested in the method discussed last week for importing 8-bit sequences into Photoshop using ImageReady, you can find that article by clicking here.

The plan
There are many, many ways you could accomplish this feat. I'm going to try to show you what I consider to be the most simple method, one that involves minimal scripting in order to make the setup as painless as possible. There will be three phases to this approach.

1. Creating a basic script.
2. Creating the Action that will incorporate the script, open the images in your sequences and combine them into one document.
3. Using the action to batch process multiple images into a single image file.
4. Converting the layers in the new image to animation frames.
5. Exporting your final work to a new image sequence.

That's the setup. Once you have it completed, you'll be able to use the resulting action over and over again to make importing 16-bit sequences into Photoshop a simple matter.

The script
The first part of this process is the hardest part, particularly for those who don't like to do scripting. I myself dislike scripting, so I'll try to make this as simple as possible.

The purpose of this script is simple to create a new document in Photoshop IF no other documents are open at the time the script is run. The document that is created will be the base document for our merged file. That's all this script will do.

To create it, make a new plain text document in a text editing program. I'm using Text Edit in Mac OS X (which is located in your Applications folder). Any text program should work.

In this document, paste the following text, making sure that it appears with line breaks as shown (for a total of six lines).

app.preferences.rulerUnits = Units.PIXELS
var docCount = documents.length
if (docCount == 0)
documents.add(720, 480)

What this script does is to change the default ruler units in Photoshop to "pixels," then check to see if there are any open documents, and, if not, then it will create a new document at 720 x 480 pixels. If you want to use a different size, enter different values into the parentheses in the line of script beginning with "documents.add." For example, if your original footage is 720 x 486, then you'd write "documents.add(720, 486)." If your original footage is 1920 x 1080, then you'd write "documents.add(1920, 1080)." Et cetera.

Once that's settled, you're done with your script. Save it with any name you wish, making sure you save it with a .jsx extension (example: "dave720x480.jsx").

The action
Now we want to incorporate this script into an action. Close any documents you currently have open, and then follow these steps.

Step 1. Open the Actions palette in Photoshop. Create a new set by clicking the folder icon at the bottom of the palette. Name it whatever you want.

Then create a new action by clicking the New Action icon at the bottom of the palette. Name it whatever you want, and then click the Record button.

Step 2: Play your script. Now your new action is recording everything you do. The first thing you want it to record is you running the script you just created. So choose File > Scripts > Browse, and then locate your new script on your hard drive, and click the Load button in the dialog box. Once you do this, a new document will be created, and you'll see your script appear as the first item in your new action.

Step 3. Now you need to record yourself doing the things you want your action to do for you automatically. These are, in order:

? Convert document mode to 16-bit (Image > Mode > 16 Bits/Channel);
? Open a document (any document that's in the same format as the files will be in your image sequence, such as .psd. .tif, etc.);
? In the new document, select all (Command-A);
? Copy (Command-C);
? Close the document you just opened;
? Paste the contents into the blank document created by your script.

That is all. Click the "Stop Recording" button at the bottom of the Actions palette, and your new action is ready. It should look like this, with seven steps: Scripts, Convert Mode, Open, Set Selection, Copy, Close, Paste.

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Related Keywords:adobe photoshop cs2, animation, 16-bit image sequence, 16-bit movie, import, place, open movie, script


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