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28.7.1 Recording Animations To Video

Recording an animation involves copying the computer-generated images to videotape so that you can view the animation with a VCR, or another type of tape player. This task is not an easy one, as there are several issues that should be addressed in order to create an acceptable video. A couple of these issues are described in the following sections.

Computer Image vs. Video Image

The computer monitor uses a different video signal than the video tape recorder (VTR). Most computers use an RGB-component, non-interlaced signal with high resolution and a high refresh rate. A VTR typically uses a standard broadcast video signal (such as NTSC or PAL), which has an interlaced, composite signal with lower resolution and a lower refresh rate. In order to send the computer image to the VTR for recording, the computer has to produce a video signal in the proper format. This requires extra hardware, which, in many cases, converts RGB component video to standard broadcast video, resulting in a lower quality image. A solution to this problem is to make sure that the image you are recording does not have small text, or too much small detail that will be hard to see on video. Sometimes it is best to zoom in on an area of interest in a large image and animate just that portion.

Another problem is that RGB-component video has a larger color space (or color gamut) than standard broadcast video. This means that some colors may get "clipped'' when an image is converted to broadcast video, resulting in washed-out colors, or color bleeding. The solution is to try to make sure that the colors fall within the color space of the video format, and are not oversaturated. Some picture controls that can help you do this are available in FLUENT. These controls will be discussed in Section  28.7.3.

Real-Time vs. Frame-By-Frame

If the images in the animation can be rendered fast enough on the computer screen, it may be possible to record the animation in real-time. This is as simple as placing the video tape recorder (VTR) in record mode, and playing the animation on the computer screen. This also requires scan-converting hardware that will convert the scan lines of the computer screen to a video signal sent to the VTR.

In many cases, however, the animation cannot be played back on the computer screen in real-time. To create a video that plays the animation at a desirable speed, the animation must be recorded frame-by-frame. This involves sending one frame to the VTR, instructing it to record the frame at a specific point on the tape, then backing up the VTR to repeat the procedure with the next frame. This process takes quite a bit longer than real-time recording, but the result can be a much smoother video animation.

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