Recording the animations
- Many external software may be used for the recording, such as Fraps. See Appendix 1 for a small guide on how to configure Fraps.
- Animations should be recorded from slightly above the character, allowing full view of the animation.
- Animations should be recorded without any traits active which would affect that skill (or its effects--for example, if it knocks your character down).
- Recording should ideally happen in an area without too colorful an environment, so colors in a skill animation are clearly visible. The area should also be relatively clear of people (such as an instanced area or a less populated server).
- Skill targets:
- Skills which target self (such as Ether Renewal) should be recorded with the front of the character facing the screen.
- Skills which send out a projectile (such as Fireball) should be recorded to show the projectile as it is fired, as it flies to its target, and as it strikes its target. Recording from behind and slightly to the side of a character will probably be optimal.
- Skills which target a foe without projectile (such as Ice Shards) should be recorded to give full view of the character, the target, and the effect at both locations.
- Skills which target a ground location (such as Meteor Shower) should be cast on a location near the character, but ideally not overlapping with it.
- Skills which target a cone-shaped area (such as Drake's Breath) should capture the effect as much as necessary to understand the effect.
- Character use:
- For racial skills, any profession may be used, as long as the armor doesn't clip with the animation.
- For profession skills, any race may be used to record the animation. As above, if the race or armor clips with the skill animation, it should ideally be captured with another race or armor set.
- Special skill types:
- Charge skills such as Energy Blast should be captured at each charge level, if the animations for each level are unique. (We'll figure this out more later.)
- Channeled skills such as Ether Renewal need to be recorded only for a few seconds, unless there is an effect for using the skill as long as possible.
- Skills for which the effect changes based on what direction you strike from (such as Concussion Shot) should be recorded from each direction if the animations are unique based on direction. (This will be elaborated on later.)
- Downed skills -- Unknown yet. If there is a method of a character downing itself, dueling, or scrimmaging similar to in Guild Wars, any of these methods may be used.
Converting to .gif files
- Many image processing softwares may be used for this goal, such as Photoshop, GIMP (part of the GNU Project) or Jasc Animation Shop, a freeware software. See Appendix 2 for a small guide on using JAS.
- Cropping the images is important, in order to lower file size. Many screen elements will not be necessary for the .gif files, such as the skill bar. It's important to show the entire animation, with a small border so users know no part of the animation has been accidentally cut.
- Remember to balance image quality, so the details of the animations are visible, with file size.
- The formats for file names of animations and project organization will be determined after seeing how Guild Wars 2 skills interact with the environment.
Appendix 1: Configuring Fraps
- At the top of the Fraps window, click on the "Movies" tab.
- "Video Capture Hotkey" is usually set to F9; it may be useful to change the hotkey to something else, as F9 is often used in GW to open the inventory window.
- Turn "Record Sound" off, on the left of the window.
- Turn "Half Size" on, in order to reduce the size of the movies. There is no need to reduce the animation size further, though.
- Set frames per second to 25, by clicking at the top option on the right of the window.
- Once Fraps is running, when playing Guild Wars 2, it will begin recording as soon as the Video Capture key is pressed, and will end the recording when the same key is pressed a second time.
Appendix 2: Using Jasc Animation Shop 3
- At the menu on the top, choose "File" then "Open". Choose the proper video to be open, and press "Open".
- A screen will appear asking which frames to open. For now, keep "All frames" (default option). Keep "Merge identical frames into one" on. Press Ok.
- The video will be open showing all frames one by one. Scroll to the left, seeing the animation, and take note at in which frame the skill animation itself begins and ends.
- Open the video again, but instead of choosing "All frames", select the option to control which frames will be open, and choose the initial frame and the last frame of the skill animation. It may be useful to leave two or three frames before and after the animation itself, in order to keep the resulting image smoother.
- Once the lenght of the animation has been determined, it's time to crop the frames. A video recording will likely contain many elements that are not necessary for the final .gif, such as skill bars, the target's health bar, etc. For cropping, select the "Crop animation" icon - it's the fourth icon from the left in the tool palette (if the palette isn't visible, or to identify it, go to the "View" menu at the top of the screen and then choose "Tool Palette").
- With "Crop animation" selected, select an area on one visible frame by clicking and dragging the cursor. Selecting an area in one frame will select the same area in all the frames, making it easy to see if the entire animation fits within the selected area. Scroll through the frames and resize the selected area as necessary, so the entire animation fits within it. Once that's done, click on the "Crop" option that will be shown in a gray bar to the top left of the screen (between the "Options..." and "Clear" options).
- Once the frames have been cropped, the animation is almost done. It's recomended to view the animation now, in order to check if it's working properly. Either select the "View" menu and then the first option, "Animation", or click on the "View Animation" icon on the toolbar (it's the second to last icon from the left; if the toolbar isn't visible, go to the "View" menu and choose "Toolbar").
- If the animation appears to be in proper order, it's time to save. Choose the "File" menu, and then "Save as...". Choose the file name, and change file type on the menu to CompuServe Graphic Interchange (aka gif). Upon clicking on "Save", a new screen will appear, asking what is the desired quality of the .gif file. Select "Better Image Quality" (at the top of the options) and click on advance a few times. The image will be processed, and the resulting animation will be shown.