New format in GIMP: HGT

Lately a recurrent contributor to the GIMP project (Massimo Valentini) contributed a patch to support HGT files. From this initial commit, since I found this data quite cool, I improved the support a bit (auto-detection of the variants and special-casing in particular, as well as making an API for scripts).

So what is HGT? That’s topography data basically just containing elevation in meters of various landscape (HGT stands for “height“), gathered by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) run by various space agencies (NASA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, German and Italian space agencies…). To know more, you can read here and there.
HGT download source: https://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/
(go inside SRTM1/ and SRTM3/ directories for respectively 1 arc-second and 3 arc-seconds sampled data)
You probably won’t find other links of interest since not everyone can do such data (not everyone has satellites!).

Here is what it can look like after processing: left is an image obtained from NASA PDF, and right is the same data imported in GIMP followed by a gradient mapping.

So the support is not perfect yet because to get a nice looking result, you need to do it in several steps and that involves likely a bunch of tweaking. My output above is not that good (colors look a bit radioactive compared to the NASA one!) but that’s mostly because I didn’t take the time to tweak more.

And so that’s why I am writing this blog post. Someone trying to import HGT files in GIMP may be a bit disconcerted at first (so I’m hoping you’ll find this blog post to go further). At first you’d likely get a nearly uniform-looking grey image and may think that HGT import is broken. It is not.

What’s happening? Why is the imported HGT all uniform grey?

GIMP by default will convert the HGT data into greyscale. That is not a problem by itself since we can have very well contrasted greys. But that doesn’t happen for HGT import. Why?

HGT contains elevation data as signed 16-bit integers representing meters. In other words, it represents elevation from -32767 m to 32767 m (with an exception for -32768 which means “void”, i.e. invalid data; since that’s raw data with minimum processing, it can indeed contain errors). Therefore once mapped to [0; 1] range, color 0 (pure black) is invalid, ]0; 0.5] is anything under water level and [0.5; 1] is above water elevation.

Considering that on earth, the highest point is Mount Everest at 8848m, when mapped to our [0; 1] range, we see it has value 0.635. So you can see the problem: most things on earth will be represented with greys really close to 0.5 and that’s why there is no contrast.

How to get nice colors and contrast?

There are several solutions, but the one proposed by the contributor was to use the “Gradient Map” plug-in. That’s a good idea. Basically you remap your greys from 0 to 1 into color gradients.
Now you can try to create a gradient by setting random stops through the GUI, but that will most likely be quite a challenge. A better idea is to do it a bit more “scientifically” (i.e. to use numbers, which you can also do through the GUI by using the new blend tool, though not as accurately as I’d like with only 2 decimal places). This is what did Massimo here by creating a gradient file which would map “magenta for invalid data, blue below zero, green to 1000 m, yellow to 2000m, and gray to white above“. From this base, I added a bit of random tweaking because I was trying to get an output similar to the NASA document (just for the sake of it), so you can get a look at how my own gradient file looks like. But if you are looking to, say, create a relief map with accurate elevation/color mapping, you’d prefer to stick by the number-only approach.

Then once you get your gradient “code”, copy it in a file with the extension .ggr inside the gradients/ folder of your GIMP config, and just use it when running “Gradient Map” filter.

Just to explain a bit the format: for each line, you get the startpoint, midpoint and endpoint coordinates (in the [0; 1] range), followed by 4 values for RGBA (also in [0; 1] range) for the startpoint then again 4 values for RGBA endpoint color. Then you get an integer for the blending mode (you likely want to keep it linear, i.e. 0, for a relief map), then the coloring value (leave it to 0 as well, which is RGB). Finally the last 2 integers are whether the startpoint and endpoint must be fixed colors, or correspond to foreground, background, etc. You will likely want to keep them as fixed colors (0).

So basically a line like this:

0.500000 0.507633 0.515267 0.000000 1.000000 0.000000 1.000000 0.000000 0.500000 0.000000 1.000000 0 0 0 0

means: gradient from 0 meter (0.5) to 1000 m ((0.515267 – 0.5) × 216 ≈ 1000) is a linear gradient from RGBA 0-1-0-1 (green) to RGBA 0-0.5-0-1. That is:

start mid end Rs Gs Bs As Re Ge Be Ae 0 0 0 0

where start is the start elevation and end the end elevation in [0; 1] range; and RsGsBsAs and ReGeBeAe are respectively the start and end gradient colors.

That’s how you can easily map the elevation into colors! I hope that’s clear! 🙂

Can’t we have nicer support with a GUI?

Yes of course. This was fun and cool to review then improve this feature, and we should not let quality patches rot in our bugtracker, but that’s not my priority (as you know) so I stopped improving the feature (if I don’t stop myself from all these funny stuff out there, when would I work on ZeMarmot?!).
I gladfully accept new patches to improve the support and have left myself 2 bug reports to leave ideas about how to improve the current tools:

  • Improve “Gradient Map” filter to provide on-canvas preview and editing, similarly to the blend tool, because I realize this filter is powerful but that is a bit of a pain to use right now (iterations of edit gradient, run the filter for test, cancel, again and again).
  • Map gradients directly from HGT import with preview and [0; 1] range remapped to elevation in meters in the dialog so that we don’t have to constantly recompute values back and forth and edit .ggr files by hand.

In the meantime, I leave this blog post so that the format is at least understandable and HGT import usable to moderately technical people. 🙂

That’s it! Hopefully this post will be useful to someone needing to process HGT files with GIMP and willing to understand how this works, until we get more intuitive support.

Reminder: my Free Software coding can be funded on
Liberapay, Patreon or Tipeee through ZeMarmot project.

ZeMarmot project got a Liberapay account!

We were asked a few times about trying out Liberapay. It is different from other recurring funding platforms (such as Patreon and Tipeee) that it is managed by a non-profit and have lesser fees (from what I understand, there are payment processing fees, but they don’t add their own fees) since they fund themselves on their own platform (also the website itself is Free Software).

Though we liked the concept, until now we were a bit reluctant for a single reason: ZeMarmot is already on 2 platforms (we started before even knowing Liberapay), and more platforms mean more time spent to manage them all, time we prefer using to hack Free Software and draw/animate Libre Animation.

Nevertheless recently Patreon made fee policy changes which seem to anger the web (just search for it on your favorite web search engine, there are dozens of articles on the topic) and as most Patreon projects, we lost many patrons (at time of writing, 20 patrons for $80.63 of pledge left in 4 days, more than 10% the patronage received from this platform!).

So we decided to give Liberapay a try. If you like ZeMarmot project, and our contributions to GIMP, then feel free to fund us at:

» ZeMarmot Liberapay page «
https://liberapay.com/ZeMarmot/

Main difference with other platforms:

  • both EUR (€) and USD ($) donations are accepted, which is cool;
  • there are no news system so one has to get them oneself (for instance reading the project blog or twitter);
  • all patrons are fully anonymous (which means they won’t appear in credits of the movie);
  • localization is supported (right now our page is only in English, but we will make a French version soon!).

Now this is just another platform, we are not abandoning Patreon and Tipeee. Don’t feel like you have to move your patronage to Liberapay if you don’t want to. From now on, this will just be one more option.

Finally we remind that ZeMarmot project is fully managed by a non-profit registered in France, LILA. This means there are also other means to support the project, for instance with direct bank transfers (most European banks allow monthly bank transfers without any fees, so if you are in the EU, this may be the best solution), or Paypal (though for very small amounts, fees are quite expensive, they are quite ok for most donations), etc. To see the full list of ways to fund LILA, hence ZeMarmot and GIMP: https://libreart.info/en/donate

Call for help: fund GIMP development and Libre animation

Too long, didn’t read? In a few words: our GIMP development + ZeMarmot production is currently funded barely above 400 € per month, this doesn’t pay the bills, my main computer broke today and Aryeom’s graphics tablet has been working badly for some time now. We are a bit bummed out.

So we call for your help!
You can fund GIMP development and ZeMarmot production on Patreon or Tipeee!

Read below for more.


If you read us regularly, you know that I am hacking GIMP a lot. We are just a handful of regular developers  in GIMP, I am one of them. My contributions go from regular bug fixes to bigger features, maintenance of several pieces of code as well as regular code review from contributed patches. I do this in the context of ZeMarmot project, with Aryeom Han, director and animator.  We draw on and hack GIMP because we believe in Free Software.
On the side, I also contribute to a lot of other Free Software.

Our absolutely-not-hidden goal is to be able, one day, to live from hacking Free Software and creating Libre Art. But clearly there is no denying that we are currently failing. With about 400€ a month for 2 people, association LILA can barely pay a few days a month (by the rules, which means a good part of the sum even goes to non-wage labour costs). These 400€ are not even the monthly rent we pay for our 1-room flat (31 m², in the far suburb of Paris); so you would assume well that we don’t live from it. We mostly live off savings and other things to pay the bills. These “other things” also use time we would rather spend on drawing and coding.

We would indeed enjoy working full-time on ZeMarmot, creating Free Software and Libre Art for everyone to enjoy. But we are very far from this point.

The main reason why we have not stopped the project already is that we promised we’d release the pilot. Funders are counting on us. Of course the other reason is that we still hope things will work out and that we will be able to live from what we love. Still the project is done at slow pace because we can’t afford to starve, right? So we are at times demoralized.

This is why I am doing this call. If you can afford it and believe that improving GIMP is important, then I would propose to fund ZeMarmot which supports paid development.
Similarly if you want to see more Libre Art, and in particular cool animation films, and maybe later other movies under Libre licenses in professional quality, then I again propose to support ZeMarmot.

» Patreon funding «
» Tipeee funding «

Our material is dying

And so why is this post released today? The situation has been hard for months now, but today it is dire: my laptop just broke. It just won’t turn on. All my data are safe since I do regular backups (and I think the hard drive is still ok anyway), but I don’t have a computer anymore to work on (I am writing this on a 8-year old 32-bit netbook which barely stands opening a few browser tabs!).

On her side, Aryeom’s graphics tablet has had issues for months. As you may remember, we partly dealt with them, but the tablet regularly shuts down for no reason, we have to remove and put back the battery or similar annoying “workarounds”. And we fear that we have to buy a new one soon.

So that’s what triggered this blog post because I realize how precarious is our situation. We barely get funding for living bills, we eat our savings and now we have (expensive) material issues. So we are calling you all who like Free Software and Libre Art. Do you believe ZeMarmot is a good thing? Do you believe our project has any meaning and that it should continue for years and years? We believe this, and have believed it for the last 2 years where we have been trying. If you do too, maybe help us a bit, relatively to your means. If you really can’t afford it, at least you can spread the word.

ZeMarmot is a wonderful experience for us, and we really don’t want it to have a bitter end (though we won’t regret a second of it).

Thanks for reading!

GIMP 2.9.6 & ZeMarmot

Note: this is a copy of a post initially posted on Patreon and Tipeee.

Splash of GIMP 2.9.6 by Aryeom
Splash of GIMP 2.9.6 by Aryeom

Last month, we released the third development version of GIMP, version 2.9.6, as preparation of the next stable version, GIMP 2.10.

Same as for previous versions, ZeMarmot project was one of the major contributors with 274 commits (out of 1885 total for this release) by Jehan, 4 by Aryeom (some icons, a new paint dynamics “Pressure Size” very useful for flat coloring, and the splash image for this development version), and even for the first time, 3 commits by Lionel, a board member of LILA association. Hence about 15% of GIMP 2.9.6 was brought to you by ZeMarmot! 🙂

To get some more insight, you can have a look at the official announcement. And if you want to get the full and accurate list of Jehan’s contributions in particular, it is available on the source repository.

Brought to you in 2.9.6 by ZeMarmot

  • made libgimp as thread-safe, which basically means simplify plug-in developer work to have plug-ins using  several cores (now all desktop computers are multi-core);
  • display angles when drawing lines;
  • code review for WebP image support, as well as some improvements and fixes (and even a patch upstream on libwebp library);
  • capability to switch exclusive visibility of layers inside layer groups only with shift-click (feature requested and tested/used by Aryeom for a few months before adding it to GIMP);
  • contributing to the Darktable and RawTherapee  developers efforts for our new “raw” plug-in allowing importing  RAW files through these third-party software and into GIMP (GIMP project advocates for cooperation with other Free Software);
  • contribution to allow GIMP to follow GEGL multi-thread limit (once again to have a better usage of modern computer processors but now in GIMP core in particular);
  • various improvements of PDF support, in particular multi-page PDF export from layers (this is the part where Lionel from LILA made his first steps as a developer with Jehan’s help!);
  • code review and fixes for improved support of PCX images import and export;
  • capacity of plug-ins to be installed in their own subdirectory,  which should in the long run allow to get rid of the “DLL hell”, in  particular on Windows system, a very common issue where some plug-ins  embed libraries breaking other plug-ins;
  • change various defaults values to get to up-to-date standards (bigger default font size, fullHD as the new default image dimension, 300 PPI default resolution instead of 72…);
  • intelligent adaptation of physical dimension precision based on printing resolution to allow better precision in various parts of the  software (measure tool, status bar, etc.);
  • capacity to choose the icon size, allowing to adapt GIMP on smaller or bigger screen and in particular high density screens, etc.;
  • auto-detection of native resolution of your screen to choose  better default icon size (this default choice can still be changed, cf.  previous point; but at least you should get better defaults);
  • vector icons by default for the various size support;
  • welcome new code contributors by adding a vim coding style file and integrating contributed emacs and kate coding style files;
  • Flatpak package for GIMP;
  • and much more! Bug fixes and minor features by the dozens!

Flatpak for creators on Linux?

For the creators who use GIMP on a GNU/Linux operating system, you may have heard of Flatpak,  the generic application package system. Since we also exclusively use  Linux, it felt important that GIMP be available in a timely manner (with  distribution package systems, it is not unheard of to have to wait  months after actual release to get some new version!). We take the opportunity of the release of 2.9.6 to test a first public Flatpak package. Since  we don’t have a stable server, we made it available to our Patreon  and Tipeee contributors only for the time being, then will try and make it available for everyone very  soon!

For information, Windows already has a GIMP  2.9.6 installer available; and a MacOS package should hopefully soon get  uploaded (it will depends on this package maintainer who has some family priorities right now). These are not maintained by us. » See the download page! « 🙂

Thanks and “en route to GIMP 2.10”!

I hope you appreciate our contributions to GIMP! Know that these are all thanks to our contributors, be them Patreon or Tipeee, in previous crowdfundings or the ones who make direct donations.

It is not easy everyday because we seriously lack funding, and we have had some blues more than once. ;-(
Yet the many of you who never failed us and continue to support us give us some courage.
Thanks to you!

We will continue in order to bring you an awesome stable GIMP 2.10. 🙂

Have fun with GIMP!

GIMP Motion: part 2 — complex animations

This is the second video to present GIMP Motion, our plug-in to create animations of professional quality in GIMP. As previously written, the code is pretty much work-in-progress, has its share of bugs and issues, and I am regularly reviewing some of the concepts as we experiment them on ZeMarmot. You are still welcome to play with the code, available on GIMP official source code repository under the same Free Software license (GPL v3 and over). Hopefully it will be at some point, not too far away, released with GIMP itself when I will deem it stable and good enough. The more funding (see in the end of the article for our crowdfunding links) we get, the faster it will happen.

Whereas the previous video was introducing “simple animations”, which are mostly animations where each layer is used as a different finale frame, this second video shows you how the plug-in handles animations where every frame can be composited from any number of layers. For instance a single layer for the background used throughout the whole animation, and separate layers for a character, other layers for a second character, and layers for other effects or objects (for instance the snow tracks in the example in the end of the video).

It also shows how we can “play” with the camera, for instance with a full cut larger than the scene where you “pan” while following the characters. In the end, we should be able to animate any effect (GEGL operations) as well. This could be to blur the background or foreground, adding light effects (lens flares for instance), or just artistic effects, even motion graphics…
All this is still very much work-in-progress.

One of the most difficult part is to find how to get the smoother experience. Rendering dozens of frames, each of these composited from several high resolution images and complex mathematical effects, takes time; yet one does not want to freeze the GUI, and the animation preview needs to be as smooth as possible as well. These are topics I worked on and experimented a lot too because these are some of the most painful aspect of working with Blender where we constantly had to render pieces of animation to see the real thing (the preview is terribly slow and we never found the right settings even with a good graphics card, 32GB of memory, a good processor, and SSD hard drives).
One of the results of my work in GIMP core should be to make libgimp finally thread-safe (my patch is still holding for review, yet it works very well for us already as you can see if you check out our branch). So it should be a very good step for all plug-ins, not only for animation only.
This allowed me to work more easily with multi-threading in my plug-in and I am pretty happy of the result so far (though I still plan a lot more work).

Another big workfield is to have a GUI as easy to use, yet powerful, as possible. We have so many issues with other software where the powerful options are just so complicated to use that we end up using them badly. That’s obviously a very difficult part (which is why it is so bad in so many software; I was not saying that’s because they are badly done: the solution is just never as easy as one can think of at first) and hopefully we will get something not too bad in the end. Aryeom is constantly reminding me and complaining of the bugs and GUI or experience issues in my software, so I have no other choices than do my best. 😉

 

You’ll note also that we work on very short animations. We actually only draw a single cut at a time in a given XCF file.  From GIMP Motion, we will then export images and will work on cut/scene transitions and other forms of compositing in another software (usually Blender VSE, but we hear a lot more good of Kdenlive lately, so we may give it a shot again; actually these 2 introduction videos were made in Kdenlive as a test). Since 2 cuts are a totally different viewpoint (per definition), there is not much interest on drawing them in the same file anyway. The other reasons is that GIMP is not made to work with thousands of high-definition layers. Even though GEGL allows GIMP to work on images bigger than memory size in theory, this may not be the best idea in practice, in particular if you want fast renders (some people tried and were not too happy, so I tested for debugging sake: that’s definitely not day-to-day workable). As long as GIMP core is made to work on images, it could be argued that it is acceptable. Maybe if animations were to make it to core one day, we could start thinking about how to be smarter on memory usage.
On the other hand, cuts are usually just a few seconds long which makes a single cut data pretty reasonable in memory. Also note that working and drawing animation films one cut at a time is a pretty standard workflow and makes complete sense (this is of course a whole different deal with live-action or 3D animation; I am really discussing the pure drawn animation style here), so this is actually not that huge of a deal for the time being.

To conclude, maybe you are wondering a bit about the term “cel animation”. Someday I guess I should explain more what was cel animation, also often called simply “traditional animation” and how our workflow is inspired by it. For now, just check Wikipedia, and you’ll see already how animation cels really fit well the concept of “layers” in GIMP. 🙂

Have a fun viewing!

ZeMarmot team

Reminder: my Free Software coding can be supported in
USD on Patreon or in EUR on Tipeee. The more we get
funding, the faster we will be able to have animation
capabilities in GIMP, along with a lot of other nice
features I work on in the same time. :-)

GIMP Motion: part 1 — basic animations

Mid-July, we finally published publicly the code of GIMP Motion, our software for animations in GIMP. It is available on GIMP official source code repository under the same Free Software license (GPL v3 and over).

We don’t have a public GIMP release containing this plugin yet. Hopefully it should happen soon, but the code is still much too experimental and incomplete. We are using it daily internally and you are welcome to do so as well, but the released version will be much better. 🙂
So it means that for the time being, if you want to play with it, you will have to build it yourself from source, or wait for someone to make a build (we may provide one at some point).

The video above describes some of the base features for simple animations, such as storyboards/animatics and most common needs for animated images (GIF, Webp…).  What we call “simple animations” is when you mostly have several images which you want to succeed at one another. No complex composition with background and character layers for instance. New features will still happen, for instance for panning/tilting/zooming on bigger panels (very common on storyboards as well), and adding various effects (a keyframed blur for instance would be a common movie effect).

We will soon publish a second part video where we will describe the more advanced features for complex animation (the ones with layered background/foreground/characters). Because we just scratched the surface of what we will be able to do with this plugin. 🙂

Have a fun viewing!

ZeMarmot team

Reminder: my Free Software coding can be supported in
USD on Patreon or in EUR on Tipeee.

Release of TinySegmenter 0.3

Today I released version 0.3 of TinySegmenter, a Japanese Tokenizer in pure Python (released in New BSD license), with a single minor fix for proper install on systems not-using UTF-8 (apparently that still exists! :P). Thanks to Mišo Belica for the patch. Apparently some of his Japanese users are using it for Sumy, his software to extract summary from texts.

About TinySegmenter and Japanese tokenization

It’s not much of a release, but it is a good occasion to tell about TinySegmenter. This is a “Tokenizer” for Japanese. What is a tokenizer? Basically it breaks sentences into words. For people who don’t know Japanese, it doesn’t use spaces or any other symbol to separate words. Theybasicallywritelikethis. Yet there are ways to break these sentences into words, usually based on statistical analysis (like most things in Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence in general). For anyone who wants to know a bit more, this message from Kytea developer (another tokenizer, which is great) explains the 2 main methods with some links of software using them (among them Tinysegmenter) and especially keywords (allowing you to search more).
The reason why you want to “tokenize” Japanese or Chinese is that it is often a first step for further natural language analysis (for instance for automatic translation, grammar analysis, pronounciation hence speech synthesis, etc.).

Now the required example, “my name is Jehan” in Japanese is: 私の名前はJehanです。TinySegmenter breaks it like this:

In [7]: segmenter.tokenize(u”私の名前はJehanです。”)
Out[7]: [‘私’, ‘の’, ‘名前’, ‘は’, ‘Jehan’, ‘です’, ‘。’]

Future?

I am not planning on hacking much TinySegmenter anymore. I never was planning to; at the time I took over maintainership, I just wanted to use it for a project (which never went through) and the original developers were not answering. So I just properly packaged it, did minor changes (for instance better support of European words using Latin1 and extended Latin Unicode characters), added some tests, and that’s it. I don’t even use it anymore. Yet if more people are interested and want to use it, feel free to send me patches. I could also give commit rights, and even co-maintainership after a few patches. I just wanted to get these words out. 🙂

I also discover today the existence of a TinySegmenter3 on pypi, with less downloads than TinySegmenter (the older one I maintained, yes I know that’s a bit confusing, why would they keep the same name and just add a 3?) but worth looking at since they apparently improved performance a good deal (I haven’t checked but that’s what it says). Maybe I should look at their code and merge their commits at some points after talking to them?
We’ll see…

Anyway have fun! 🙂

Reminder: my Free Software coding can be supported in
USD on Patreon or in EUR on Tipeee.

Crossroad 0.7 released and future…

Crossroad 0.7

Last month, I released Crossroad 0.7. Do you remember Crossroad? My tool to cross-compile for Windows from a Linux platform, which I told about a year ago. Well there is not much to say: small release with bug fixes, minor improvements, update of the third-party pre-built Windows package repository (thanks OpenSUSE!), and so on.
Also there used to be a bug in pip, so any crossroad installed through pip was broken (I had a quick look at the time, and I think it was because it would break the install prefix). Fortunately this bug is apparently fixed so getting crossroad through pip is again the recommended installation:

pip3 install crossroad

The example from last year is still mostly valid so have a look if you want to see better what crossroad can do.

Future: Android, ARM, MIPS…

Though I historically started this project to build GIMP for Windows (when debugging for this platform), I had wanted to go further for some time now. Android cross-compilation, or even bare-metal builds come to mind.

10 days ago, I have started to work on the support for more cross-compilers. It’s not available in 0.7, but it should be in 0.8! I have successfully cross-built glib, babl, GEGL (and half a dozen other dependencies for these) for Android quite easily, in barely a few dozen of minutes (for Android ARM, x86, MIPS, etc.). Crossroad really makes cross-compilation just as easy as native compilation. 🙂

I will make a blog post with examples on cross-compiling Glib and GEGL for Android when Crossroad 0.8 will be out (not now since I may change a few things before the release). But really… if you already know how to use crossroad for building for Windows, then it’s exactly the same for Android (except there is no pre-built package installer; does anyone know if such a repository exist somewhere?). Just give a go to the git version if you can’t wait.

Going to mobile? Wait… is that… GIMP for tablets?

As always, I never develop just for the sake of it: I code because I want this for a longer term project. And I have grown interested in small devices, even though I resisted for a long time (I still barely use my phone other than for calling, and I don’t even call much). I don’t think small devices will just replace full-grown desktops and laptops any time soon (oppositely to what some would tell you), but they are definitely funny devices. So let’s have some fun in building Android (or other small devices) programs! 🙂

Now I know that a lot of people have asked for a GIMP on Android. Let me tell you I’m not sure it will happen just now. Not that it can’t. I don’t see why we could not build it on this platform (I will probably do a cross-build at some point, just for the sake of trying) but I believe it would be utter-crap as-is. GIMP has not been thought for small devices at all (I even have sometimes GUI size issues on my laptop display!) and therefore we should either heavily modify its GUI with conditional code for small touch devices,  or simply create a brand new GUI, which is probably a much better idea anyway, with such different usage paradigms. Maybe we could create a new Free Software adapted for smaller devices? If other devs are interested to make one as a continuation of the GIMP project, this could be interesting.
This said, having the main GIMP also more touch-aware would be a very good thing (for screen-tablet users), so who knows how things will evolve…

My first GEGL-powered Android “App”

Now I really wanted to have a go at this so I developed my first application to apply GEGL filters on images. This was also my first Android application, period, so I discovered a lot more than just using native libraries on Android.

I know, there are thousands of these “image effects” applications. Sorry! 😛
Really I just wanted a small and easy stuff based on GEGL, and that popped in my mind. For now, it’s called with the stupid name “Robogoat”, and you are free to look at the code under GPLv3. Current version only applies a Sepia effect (“gegl:sepia” operation) to test that the cross-compiled libgegl works well inside Android (it does!). When it will be ready, we should be able to select any effect from a wide range of GEGL operations. 🙂

Robogoat screenshot: applying a gegl:sepia effect in Android
Robogoat screenshot: applying a gegl:sepia effect in Android

If anyone wants to have fun with it, build it and even provide patches, you are more than welcome!


As a conclusion, I would like to remind that I am trying to make a living by developing Free Software, and for the time being, it doesn’t work that well. All my coding is supported through ZeMarmot project, which funds us for making an animation film while contributing to Free Software, in particular GIMP, but others too. For instance, while working on this Android stuff in the previous week, I improved Crossroad, contributed patches and a bug report to meson (and I may have discovered a bug in json-glib but I must check to be sure, before filling a new bug report) and to gradle, and also I have a few commits pending for babl (for Android support)…

So if you want to support me, you can fund my FLOSS development in US dollar (on Patreon) or in euro (on Tipeee). Thanks! 😀


P.S.: by the way, thanks to Free Electrons (a company for embedded Linux development, which contributes back quite a lot to the kernel; I like this, so here is for my minor help by citing them, even though I was not required to!) for having offered me a training in Android system development, a year ago. This is not the reason I first got interested into hand-held devices (rather the opposite, I went there because I had the interest), nor has it been that much help to what I did above, but that sure showed me how easy it indeed was and gave me a preview of the world of embedded Linux.

Background design: ZeMarmot’s home

Background design: ZeMarmot home (title)

In an animation film, obviously the design does not refer only to characters. There can be props design when applicable, and of course background design. As an example, the most interesting case is how we designed ZeMarmot’s home! At least the outside part of its burrow, since we never see the inside (unlike in the initial comics attempt).

You remember the first research trip? Back then, we found this nice hill, next to Saint-Véran village with just a single tree in the middle.

The tree on the hill: ZeMarmot movie reference
The tree on the hill: ZeMarmot movie reference

And obviously on the bottom of this tree, there was a marmot burrow hole.

Burrow hole in tree roots: ZeMarmot reference
Burrow hole in tree roots: ZeMarmot reference

We thought that was just too cool. Most burrow holes are just in the middle of the landmass, but this felt like a “special hole”. Our main character is not a special marmot, it’s not a hollywood leader, chief of the marmot clan or anything, but still… it’s our hero, right? It’s not just any marmot, its ZeMarmot! So we wanted to give him a special burrow. Therefore ZeMarmot now lives under a cool tree. Only difference is that we didn’t set it on a hill but in a plain, since plains are also very common setups for marmots in the alps.

Here is how the burrow entrance looks in our storyboard:

Storyboard: burrow entrance
Storyboard: burrow entrance

Then with clean lines:

Drawing: burrow entrance
Drawing: burrow entrance

Finally adding some colors:

Colored ZeMarmot's burrow entrance (WIP)
Colored ZeMarmot’s burrow entrance (WIP)

Note that this last image is still work-in-progress. Aryeom said she is not fully happy with it yet. I thought it was still nice to show you the progression from our research photos to storyboard sketchs, drawing and coloring, with all the thinking we made on why and what.

Hope you enjoyed this little insight in our work! 🙂

 

Reminder: if you want to support our animation film,
ZeMarmot, made with Free Software, for which we also
contribute back a lot of code, and released under
Creative Commons by-sa 4.0 international, you can
support it in USD on Patreon or in EUR on Tipeee.

 

ZeMarmot work in progress: from animatics to animation

While production on the animation is still going full-steam, we thought we could show what exactly this is about. How do you go from static images to animated ones? Well this is all like progress layers, one step after another.

The Storyboard, then the Animatics

We have already talked about these at length so we won’t do it again. Feel free to check out our previous blog posts on the topic. These are the first 2 layers: comics-like static images (storyboard), and static images displayed in video (animatics).

Key Framing

In the digital world, “keyframes” is used with different meaning. On video formats, it is usually used to distinguish a standalone image in the stream with partial images which cannot be displayed by themselves. On 3D or vector animation software nowadays, it is usually used as extreme points in smooth transition which are computed by algorithm (interpolation). This is more or less the definition given by Wikipedia: “A key frame in animation and filmmaking is a drawing that defines the starting and ending points of any smooth transition.

This definition is a little too “mechanic” and tied to modern way of animating with vector or 3D (actually it is not entirely true even in 3D and vector but this is what one might think when discovering interpolation magic). Key frames are actually simply “important images” as determined by the animator in a purely judgemental way. Keyframing is part of the art of the animator, more than a science. It is true that they are often starting/ending points of movements, but this is not a necessity. Also called sometimes “key poses”, these are what the animator feels make the movement good or not, in one’s guts as an artist.

Pose to Pose vs Straight Ahead animation

When animating, there are 2 main techniques. The first method is to decompose the movement in key poses (keyframes) as a first step. Then later, when it looks good, you complete with intermediate frames (inbetweens). This is the pose to pose method and demonstrated a bit in the above video.

When you are a big studio, keyframes would usually be drawn by the main animators, and the inbetweens would be left to the assistants (less experienced animators). This allows to share the work with more multitasking. In ZeMarmot‘s case unfortunately, Aryeom does everything, since we don’t have the funds to hire more artists as of yet.

The other method is called “Straight Ahead” and consists on doing all frames one after another without prior decomposition. Timing is much harder to plan with such a technique and you may end wasting more drawing. On the other hand, some animators prefer the freedom it gives and by making movements less perfect, you can also avoid them being too mechanical (in other words, perfect movement are not always what you are looking for when you want to represent living being in their whole perfect imperfection).

Observing Aryeom, she uses both methods, depending on the cuts, as is the case for many animators.

Conclusion

Hopefully you appreciate this insight on the work behind animating life, and this small video where we display the same pieces of a scene at different steps in the work-in-progress, first one after another, then side by side.

You will notice that we mostly show always pieces of the same scene since we really want to try and avoid any spoiler as much as possible. 🙂

Have fun!

ZeMarmot team

Reminder: if you want to support our animation film, made with Free
Software, for which we also contribute back a lot of code, and
released under Creative Commons by-sa 4.0 international, you can
support it in USD on Patreon or in EUR on Tipeee.