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Classic Game Review: Movie Maker

Movie Maker (MMTK) is a one of a kind program for developing your own computer-animated visual sequences, or “movies”. This program places you in both the director’s chair and at the artist’s drawing board. You devise the action, set the scenes, and create the actors, props, and background, and playback your creation as a complete movie.

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MMTK is comprehensive in the tools that it provides for creating and manipulating shapes and animating them. Plus, it includes a disk full of demo movies that were obviously done with the aid of a professional artist. Because the program allows you to do so much (there are over fifty commands or key stroke sequences to select from), there is much to be learned before you can turn loose your imagination to create a finished product.

The publishers call Movie Maker a “tool kit” but it’s more like a combination construction set and tool kit for both building and refining (or tinkering with) animated shapes. The kind of animation you create is similar to a flip book (you know, where you flip the corner pages of the book and still characters seem to move). Of course, the sequences you create with MMTK are much more than line drawings on still backgrounds. Much of the computers ability to manipulate images and colour in memory is brought into play.

The instruction booklet for MMTK is almost ninety pages. And, every one of them is packed with important information on how to work the program. Even though there’s an exercise to introduce you to the program, there’s no way to create anything of value without several hours of studying the manual, and many, many more of experimenting. These do not have to be gruelling hours, but they must be spent nevertheless. NOTE: In early editions of the pro- gram the documentation contained a disconcerting error in the introductory exercise. After completing step 5 (typing “DOG” and pressing return), a screen full of dog shapes did NOT appear as the documentation indicated. If you have this early version you must next press the arrow keys to move the lighted Selector Bar over the word “COMPOSE” then press return. The screen full of dog shapes should appear.

There are four main modes in MMTK: Compose Record, Playback, and Smooth. In Compose you create the components of your animation masterpiece, in Record you put the pieces together in an animation sequence, in Smooth you sit back while the program smooths out the animation and eliminates the flicker, and in Playback you view your completed movie. Within each of the main modes there is a myriad of sub- utilities and commands for creating and manipulating the graphic elements that make up your movie files.

Some of the features are: drawing with the joystick using a specified colour, creating a window so you can move an image or duplicate it, instantly creating a mirror image of your shape, zooming in to magnify the image, and defining a series of shapes as an animation sequence. Other features in the Compose mode include changing colours, swapping colours already on the screen, defining speed of frame change, erasing, and restoring erasures. Features of the Record mode include several of anim

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