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Tupi can be defined in few words just as a Free Software 2D Animation Tool, but behind the software there are several ideas about our vision that we want to share with you:
About its license, Tupi as a software project, is covered under the terms of the GPLv2+ license. This means Tupi is free software, therefore its users have these four essential freedoms:
Animation is an art. No. Animation is a fun art. We also could say that animation is a technique that allows you to bring characters and objects to life, but the truth is: animation is much more than that. It's a miracle!
When we talk about animation, we should start by looking into our eyes. Nothing miraculous there, ah? Of course, there is! because the ability to generate the illusion of animation comes from our capacity of seeing. Being more specific: how we see, which in fact it's a science.
Imagine for a moment that you have a set of photographs, now imagine that you start to look at them, one by one, as fast as you can pass them in from of you. Every time you focus your eyes on every photo, they capture the information of the image and send it to your brain through the optic nerve. Then, your brain translates that visual information into the interpretation of what you are seeing. You actually think when you are seeing! I see a house, I see a boat, I see my uncle!, and so on.
You might think that seeing just means to open your eyes but, each time you look at anything it takes a great exchange of information between your eyes and your brain to turn that image into a concept that you can understand, that you can interpret. This process is not easy to perceive because it happens in a very short lapse of time. We are talking about a very small fraction of a second (milliseconds).
Now, let's see what happens when you take the set of photographs and you begin to watch them quickly, one by one. For every image you place in front your eyes, your brain starts an interpretation process, but, as you are replacing one image for the next one so fast, your brain is unable to fully interpret the information of the first picture because it has to begin processing the next one. When the flow of pictures is large enough and it passes at high speed, your brain starts to blend the picture's information, creating the illusion of movement. There is when animation magic happens.
It is estimated that, on average, the human eye is able to process around 24 images per second. If the number of images is equal or greater than 24, then our brain starts to interpret movement within the pictures, in other words, the sensation of motion.
So, does it mean that a film is nothing but a huge pile of pictures that pass in front of your eyes at breakneck speed? The short answer is: Yes! However, we must keep in mind that a movie is something a little more complex than that as it's audio-visual content, which means that also it includes a sound component and a lot of additional technical details.
In the world of animation, every image that compose a film is known as a “frame”. You will need to include several frames for every second in your animations. More frames will give you a better illusion of movement, and less frames the opposite effect. The parameter used by the animation industry to measure the density of frames over the time is called Frames Per Second (FPS).
Currently, there are a wide variety of animation techniques used by the professional studios to create TV and movie animated content. Fortunately, we can use the same techniques to create our own productions. Isn't that great? Here are some of them:
In simple words, this is a technique based on drawing frames over a flat surface. In the early years of 2D animation, artists used to animate drawing in paper. Every sheet was a frame, so they had to draw and paint thousands and thousands of paper sheets to create a movie. After the drawing process, every piece of paper was photographed to become part of a film reel.
As a flat surface (like a paper sheet) only contains 2 dimensions (width and height), that's the reason we talk about 2D animation, that's where “2D” expression comes from.
In the present, software and computers replaced the paper, so new digital artists draw and paint over the computer screen. The funny thing is that the fundamentals of this technique are the same, even today.
Fig 1. Animated TV Show Dexter's Laboratory. Technique: 2D Animation
This technique as its name implies, include a third dimension to the creation space. If you think of 2D as working on a paper sheet, think of 3D as working inside a room. Of course, you can't draw directly over the air, and that's the reason 3D animation only can be done from specialized computer software like Blender. So, it is fair to say that 3D animation is a little bit complex than 2D.
More than basic lines or planes, what you create with this technique are complete objects with volume. Behind 3D animation, a lot of math calculations are involved, not only to calculate the structure of the characters and scenarios you build, but to define other aspects like color, texture and light. Fortunately, you don't have to do the math operations directly because the 3D software does it for you ;)
Fig 2. Animated Short Big Buck Bunny. Technique: 3D Animation
This technique is based on taking photographs of real objects. If you have a camera, that's all you need to get started! So, what can you animate using stop motion? Anything you want if you can move it: people, objects, toys, etc.
The pipeline is very simple, basically it involves taking pictures of the scene you previously prepared following this little trick: take every photograph after you do small and subtle changes on the elements you want to animate. Think of every picture you are taking as a frame of your animation. And that's it! Of course, there is specialized software to support this kind of productions to make easier the whole process.
Fig 3. Animated Series Clay Kids. Technique: Stop Motion
Okay, enough about animation theory. It's time to talk about Tupi, so let's start!