SUGGESTION: Improve the way the TIMELINE works

Last build (26July)
Win7 Ultimate SP1 64bits

I would like to give an idea for improving the way the timeline works. I realized it today when I was trying to work with an animation with many, many frames (around 700)

As I was trying to re-draw some frames in the middle of the timeline I wanted to check some of the last (END) frames of that layer but pressing the END arrow animation button (on the right on the Animation Controls) would just move the timeline-cursor to the End of the timeline (will not be visible on the screen) and the timeline would remain on the same spot as before. I had to move the scroll button at the bottom of the screen to the right in order to reach the last (END) frames.

SUGGESTION: Would it be possible to automatically move the timeline to “follow” its cursor along the frames? For instance Like PAP (Plastic Animation Paper) in which the center point of the timeline (which is in fact at the Center of the Screen) is always the frame that is about to be changed or re-draw.
Wanting to change it to another frame, at the BEGINNING of that layer for instance, the timeline will just adjust scrolling horizontally to the right bringing this new frame to the Center of the timeline (Center of the Screen)

Thank you

TEXT WAS EDITED

1 Like

I think this is a great idea. I’ll even go a step further and describe what I’m doing in my Project That Is Not Yet Being Publicly Named:

  • I'm storing frame timestamps, not just indexes. This allows me to render the movie at any framerate I wish—changing the framerate of your project doesn't change its duration, which will be nice for converting for US/European HDTV output (1080p[24|25|30|50|60]).
  • My timeline has a graduated timecode ruler along the top (zoomable, so you can precisely place frames), and the playhead moves along at a resolution of 10ms.
  • Playing from the beginning, the entire timeline scrolls left once the playhead reaches the middle of the control area; the end of the active area (placed frames, movie or audio elements) is aligned to the three-quarter span of the control area, and the timeline stops scrolling and the playhead moves from the middle to the end of the active area once this has been reached.
  • The playhead runs across a bracketed span of the active area. The user can drag the left or right brackets so that, for instance, just a few seconds of the entire timeline can be looped.
  • The user can toggle looping and specify how many times to loop before stopping.
  • The timeline displays a RAM preview indicator: each time your project is modified, the application begins to re-render the modified portions to a temporary movie file. This makes playback of even very large projects smooth, as opposed to real-time compositing. I got this idea from After Effects.
The following are features I hope to add, but not essential:
  • Audio elements live in a "bin" on the lower part of the timeline. Since they're not visual, it doesn't matter how they are stacked vertically in the UI.
  • Audio elements aren't presented in individual "tracks"; rather, they are automatically sorted into the minimum number of vertical tracks required, like the Magnetic Timeline feature of Final Cut Pro X. Two non-overlapping audio elements will sit beside each other in the same "layer" or "track"; drag one to overlap the other and it gets bumped into a track above or below it, dynamically.
  • The audio of a movie clip is displayed in the Audio Bin, and behaves like any other audio element except that it is linked to its video and can not be moved independently (unless split into separate elements).
  • The timeline can display compositions, which are like movies rendered from other projects. Double-clicking on a composition will open its corresponding project (and timeline); editing the nested composition timeline dynamically updates the current project timeline. I also got this idea from After Effects.
My timeline is a floating/dockable component, so it can be moved to a secondary screen. So far, all I've implemented is the timestamping of frames and preliminary RAM preview.

@oluseyi_s,
I have to edit my comment. Some phrases didn´t make sense and I felt embarrassed.

Let´s move on.

The first impression I got after reading your first paragraphs was that you were implementing the timeline of PAP! Everything you said, less the zooming and its floating component, is almost identical to the timeline of PAP (Plastic Animation Paper)
No wander why you are implementing it to your software, because I tested it and it is just fabulous, very efficient and very fast indeed. Not even TVPaint has a timeline like that.
So congratulations, your new soft will surely be such a great gem among soft for animation :slight_smile:

One question , if you may? Are you actually working alone as a developer for that enterprise?..
If yes, then I believe it will be a matter of time for Pencil to get a better timeline also, because I think Pencil took off and it is running a good path to develop new features, and if you were literally working alone for your project I feel that it would be also possible for the Pencil2D´team to get motivated and start getting the same idea that you got from After Effects.

Glad you are sharing your thoughts, they might be a way for our developers to reach a new point of view, it is always healthy, that I believe it will be in concordance with the initial work/vision of Pascal.

:slight_smile:

@kaiko

I actually used PAP a couple of years ago, before I discovered Pencil. I found it shortly before it went free (and then was abandoned, sadly), and I liked quite a few ideas in it. I strongly believe in taking all the best ideas from everywhere, improving them whenever possible, and then implementing them to work together elegantly. And I clearly believe in sharing (most) ideas, because the discussion helps everyone make better software.

To answer your question, yes, I’m the sole developer on my project right now. I started a company to do so, only about a month ago, and I’ve taken on some contract work so that the company has revenue. The contract work takes up my days, then I work on my project in the evenings and weekends (and spare moments here and there).

As I mentioned in our private conversation, I’m even interested in contributing/donating code to Pencil in the future. My project is currently written in Objective-C; I would port useful portions to C++/Qt and submit pull requests against feature branches that added cool stuff. I think that’s a way for me to continue to be a part of this effort even as I build my own thing! :slight_smile:

As I mentioned in our private conversation, I’m even interested in contributing/donating code to Pencil in the future.
My project is currently written in Objective-C; I would port useful portions to C++/Qt and submit pull requests against feature branches that added cool stuff. I think that’s a way for me to continue to be a part of this effort even as I build my own thing! :)

That’s great !!! Really great :slight_smile:
It would be good to have someone like you, who knows the soft since a lot of time and is familiar with is code.

Also, I would be curious to see to what your new software looks. But maybe this is still secret ! Are you planning to sell it to people or just to a company ?

@oluseyi_s
Working alone? That was a surprise. So, I can see now that all your free time is really needed for your own purposes. And for that I would like to thank you for getting “involved” here, on your spare time !

The question @admin asked you also crossed my mind :)… so I am also curious about the answer

@gordie:

Also, I would be curious to see to what your new software looks. But maybe this is still secret ! Are you planning to sell it to people or just to a company ?
Well, since you asked... :)

My project is the culmination of ideas I’ve had since around 2006, when I started drawing again. It was actually those ideas that brought me to contribute to Pencil in the first place, so I’m very excited to still be developing them. At the very core is fluid drawing, so I spent a lot of time trying to create a fluid, smooth drawing engine. Here are some screenshots:

Initial success with smooth drawing, no size jitterInitial size jitter: notice how the lines get thick and thinReally nice, expressive linesThe linework is interesting, but this experiment was laggy and inconsistent. No thanks!

I’m pretty happy with this drawing quality, so the next phase for the canvas is palette management and color/alpha blending. But first I want to work on timeline and layers, because with a single solid color, layers and a timeline, you can already create quite expressive animation!

And, yeah, the product is called Lightbox.

@admin, @keiko:

Oops. Forgot to answer the rest of your question. Yes, I intend to anyone who’ll buy it! Feature-wise, I’m focusing on supporting individual animator workflows right now; I plan to provide full-team, multi-role support later, which I envision being more interesting to teams and studios. I even have ambitions of breaking out the workflow/collaboration aspect into a web-based service that can be used with a variety of software.

@oluseyi_s
I can see you are not wasting your time! no way. Congratulations
And thank you for your answer, very interesting indeed…

By now I will let you to concentrate on programming :slight_smile:

@oluseyi_s,
I forgot to mention about your images. I really like your last two sketches. The lines seems more natural, more traditional.
Nice really