All animation programs generate the frames one at a time. Some of them (notably, V-Ray and Kerkythea) save each frame as a separate file in the computer, composing a file name out of the user's specified name and a frame sequence number. This allows them to re-start (or re-do) some of the animation, touch-up frames, etc.
Since each frame is rendered and saved independently, it is possible that you could edit a single frame (or every frame) using Photoshop or similar, adding a watermark or correcting some rendering or modeling error. Once saved, the modified file is just one frame in the finished rendering.
Another benefit of this situation is that you might do an initial production run using "cheap" render settings (maybe even wire-frame), then re-render PORTIONS of the animation using higher-quality settings. If the new frames simply replace the old frames, you've done a seamless edit!
From frames to movies
Digital movie file formats are NOT just a collection of individual frames. By taking advantage of similarities between sequential frames, a finished movie file may be substantially smaller than the original folder of frame images. Further, as with images, there are multiple formats, or codecs that might be used for the finished movie. To make a .mov or .avi file, then, a program needs to load the stack of images, and then save the results out to an appropriate file format. There are several options that will be described here:
- Apple QuickTime Pro (OS-X or Windows)
- Adobe Premiere (Windows)
- Microsoft MovieMaker (Windows)
- McNeel's Video Encoder (Windows, part of "Bongo" animation plugin)
A Case Study Example
Check out this case study for some additional information and an illustration of the possible file size reduction from proper encoding.
Last updated: November, 2015