First important step is to set up paths for keyframe files and rendered frames. To do this press Select file paths (output images, textures) button. In this window, using Select button on the right side of Keyframe sequence edit field please specify directory, where you want to keep keyframe files. If needed create a new directory. As a filename type "keyframe".
Next do the same for destination of rendered animation frames. The path has to be specified in Destination image sequence edit field. Filename has to be without extension (e.g. "image", "frame")
You can also specify files with textures and background but it is possible later. When you finish, press OK button.
It is good to save settings now using Save settings button. With this settings file you will be able to continue preparing animation after restarting Mandelbulber program. You should always use this file to save changes after changing some global parameter of animation (e.g. background image, colour palette, fractal formula, etc.)
There are some parameters which cannot be animated. They are constant for all the animation. Some of them has to be set at the beginning, because changes in the middle of work could cause weird effects.
Parameters which have to be adjusted at the beginning:
After changes of global parameters it is also recommended to save settings, because these parameters are not loaded from key-frame files. This settings file will be necessary when you want to continue preparing or rendering animation afrer restarting Mandelbulber program
Open the Timeline window (big Timeline button on the bottom). In this window there will be visible thumbnail for all keyframes. There are also buttons for adding and deleting keyframes.
Keyframe is the set of parameters for one of intermediate point in the time. There is no needed to specify parameters for all frames, but only one keyframe for number of frames. On Animation tab there is parameter which specify how many frames will be between each keyframe.
To create new keyframe first you have to set what you want to have on animation frame. Set required position and rotation of camera or set some specific parameter which control fractal shape or shader. It it ready then press Record button. Then you will see thumbnail for this keyframe in Timeline window.
To create next keyframe do the same. Fist change a little camera position and rotation or some other parameter. Next press Record or Insert after button. You will see second keyframe thumbnail in Timeline window
To modify some keyframe first you have to load this keyframe (e.g. by double-click on keyframe thumbnail). Next change the required parameter. Finally press Record button to put parameters inot the same keyframe.
Mandelbulber uses Catmull-Rom Splines for interpolating parameters between keyframes. These splines always passes through control points and gives smooth changes of position (value) and velocity.
Below there is an example of Catmull-Rom interpolation.
As it is visible the path goes exactly through intermediate points. So it is good to place these points near the obstacles to be sure that the line will no go through them. It is especially important for camera tracking. If camera has to go through some hole, create keyframe with camera located exactly in the centre of the hole.
Next important thing is not to make to high changes between control point in one step. It could cause overshooting of the interpolated values. For example camera is moving toward the wall. On first keyframe distance of the camera to the wall is about 9 units, on second 0.7 and on the third only 0.2. Between the first and the second keyframe distance is reduced about 13 times. In this example the camera will collide with wall because of nature of Catmull-Rom splines.
It is better to decrease distance in smaller steps. In first step reduce distance 5 times and in second step also about 5 times. Camera will not collide with the wall. Changing relative value maximum 7 times in one step guarantees interpolated path without overshooting.
First there should be specified the number of frames for each keyframe. This value has to be put on Animation tab in Frames per key edit field. There should be also specified the range of frames to render. For render whole animation Start frame should be 0 and End frame should equals to number of frames per keyframe multiplied by total number of keyframes. Be sure that destination folder for images is empty. Finally press Render from key-frames button and wait for final result.
The animation will be rendered as a JPEG image sequence (by default) and image files will be located in the folder defined at the beginning (see Initial Setup). Image format can be changed on Image tab by Autosave / animation image format combo box.
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