How to create a WindowBlinds shell animation file.

It's not as hard as David Copperfield would like you to think it is.

Saturday, November 27, 2004 by Adam Najmanowicz | Discussion: WindowBlinds Tutorials

How exactly do you create those criters? At first it may seem a tedious job but once you have all the frames, you're pretty much set.

First thing I did in my research was asking the experts. I've asked some of the skin authors and most of them uses a kind of workaround to this. The most detailed explanation I've received from one of the greatest WindowBlinds skinners - Mike Bryant:

The first thing I do is make an animated GIF. The GIF needs to be 272x60 pixels. The most important thing to note here is that the top left pixel color will define the transparency color in the final AVI. I never use transparency, because I like to use drop shadows and other effects that need to be alpha blended. So, I make my top left pixel magic pink, and then I don’t use magic pink anywhere else in the image. I’ve attached a .PSD file that can be opened in Adobe ImageReady to see how I created my animated GIF. I’ve also attached the GIF that I saved from it. Animated GIFs can be created with a variety of programs, so I don’t know how much detail you want to go into there.

Once you have an animated GIF, you need to convert it to an AVI, using the correct compression for Windows. The best application I’ve found to do that is GIF Movie Gear.

After GIF Movie Gear is installed, you should check under Edit -> Preferences, and click on the AVI tab. Make sure RLE8 Compression is selected there.

Next, open your GIF animation in GIF Movie Gear. Then, go to the Animation menu and select Unoptimize. Finally, go to File -> Save AVI Video… and give it a name.

That’s it.

That really helped me understand the process better... but I only have Photoshop Elements and it does not come with ImageReady. I also do not have any use for Gif Movie Gear except for the purpose of creating those animations and since it comes at a price higher than an Object Desktop subscription renewal you will be better off reading this article and then buying another year of Object Desktop subscripton with the cash you just saved ;)

 

First thing which is always unavoidable is creation of multiple frames. I am a bit lazy so I simply extracted one of the AVI files that come with windows and dropped the extracted files into a folder. It's a standard animation representing removing a file permanently.

The only tool I need now to assemble the images back ia AVIQuick. Unfortunately this tool is no longer developed and it's website disappeared permanently. Fortunately I've been able to find a mirror which still hosts a file off its own servers rather than the original website. Go to that page and press the "DESCARGAR!" button to dowload the file. If it disappeared let me know and I'll try to upload the tool for you somewhere. I do not think there should be a problem with that since the tool is free.

Install the application and start it. At this moment everything should be pretty self explanatory, but I'll walk you through the process since I have some bits to spate in this article still.

In the first step select the top-most option and press the "Next >" button

Now we need to compound the bitmaps we have into the animation. You could theoretically press the "Add" button and browse for the bitmaps, but that would be merciless so the authors were so thoughtful and allowed the bitmaps to be dropped on the list from Explorer. So i simply grabbed my bitrmaps and dropped them there. Here's the effect:

You need to be sure all images are exactly the same size and format (e.g. all are 8-bit). Here as well concern us all the restrictions Mike hinted us with. which is the image size and transparency. Also a personal request - make sure your images are 8-bit - otherwise your skin will grow rapidly making your skin more of a challenge to download for dial-up users.

OK... so you press "Next >" again. and you're presented with how your file will look and animate after you save it.

You may check the "Transparent preview" checkbox to see how your animation will look in that dialog. "Frame Rate" means the number of frames that are flicked per second. The higher the number - the faster and shorter the animation will be. Make sure to press "Apply Changes" after every change you made to any of the controls. or otherwise you won't see the changes. Compression is what you really want to enable! It will save us all a lot of disk space. 

Once you're done with the settings and satisfied with the result. Press "Next >" again and there is the final step where you are ginev an option to save your creation.

That's it!   Here's the final effect.

Now that you know how easy it is - make sure all your skins have this feature. It really makes a skin feel more complete. Details like that are really important for the overall exerience. Also make sure to export your animations as WB subskins and upload them to Wincustomize to the Progress Anims library.

 

MikeB314
Reply #1 Saturday, November 27, 2004 9:22 AM
Great article, Adam. The next time someone asks, I can just give them this link.
I.R. Brainiac
Reply #2 Saturday, November 27, 2004 12:26 PM
Very good,hehe,wish this had been here when I made my first one.Would have saved me some lernin'.

Question...why are we seeing 2 different sizes here...272x60 and 304x60?(I made mine 272x because thats what they were in the skins I checked out)Does it matter?Can they be taller,longer?
MikeB314
Reply #3 Saturday, November 27, 2004 3:02 PM
I was wondering that myself, I.R. Braniac. I guess we'll have to expiriment.
DigitalCHET
Reply #4 Tuesday, November 30, 2004 6:27 PM
From what I know, they're the sizes of the original files that came with Windows and remember someone telling me that taller or wider dimensions don't work.

But as an alternative you can also use Flash to create your animations, then export it as AVI, import it into GIF Movie Gear using the Import from AVI since Flash doesn't do RLE8 AVIs, then re-export it as AVI from GIF Movie Gear. Voilá.
Works great.
= (Anonymous User)
Reply #5 Sunday, December 12, 2004 1:00 PM
Koasati
Reply #6 Sunday, December 12, 2004 2:27 PM
AnimationShop (Comes bundled with PSP) does a great job saving AVI files as well.

Posted via WinCustomize Browser/Stardock Central
Daiwa
Reply #7 Saturday, January 8, 2005 4:20 PM
Animation Shop comes bundled with PSP9, not prior versions, I'm afraid.

Cheers,
Daiwa
Fremic
Reply #8 Saturday, January 15, 2005 10:16 AM
I'm afraid you made a little mistake...
Animation shop comes with psp 7 ! and up

Greeting,
Alternative
Bichur
Reply #9 Tuesday, January 18, 2005 9:04 PM
AVIQuick was still at the link you provided. Others that will save as AVI are MGI Video wave & ArcSoft Showbiz (which came with my puter). Looking at your shots tho, I'm gonna give AVIQ a try since it seems it might be as easy as MS Gifanimator. Good info!
XyuZ
Reply #10 Sunday, January 30, 2005 4:43 AM
jamespaulp
Reply #11 Saturday, September 1, 2007 6:06 PM
I found AVI Quick here

http://www.tlhouse.co.uk/pc_software.shtml
jamespaulp
Reply #12 Saturday, September 1, 2007 6:07 PM
I found AVI Quick here

http://www.tlhouse.co.uk/pc_software.shtml

It is at the bottom of the list.
theAVMAN
Reply #13 Saturday, September 1, 2007 6:13 PM
Question...why are we seeing 2 different sizes here...272x60 and 304x60?(I made mine 272x because thats what they were in the skins I checked out)Does it matter?Can they be taller,longer?


I tried several different sizes I never got any to work that weren't 272x60

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