We continue a series of posts by customers using the Private Beta version of Composer. Today’s guest post again comes from Branden Hart. His wife Karen Hart is the author and illustrator of the forthcoming children’s picture book, A is vir Aardvark.
The concept of interactive books has always interested me, and having a daughter that struggles with concentration, the way she adapted to the iPad and increased her levels of concentration made me value the use of pictures and sounds in stories a lot more. With the absence of a story line at the time, my wife Karen and I decided to compose and illustrate an Afrikaans alphabet using Demibooks Composer. The first challenge was finding an animal that started with each letter of the alphabet, not that easy when Afrikaans makes very limited use of “C”, “Q,” and “Z”. We also wanted to use animals that could be “re-used” in an English version and that also lent themselves to expressive animations. The first animation we decided to use was A for Aardvark, which became the title for our story book app later on. Karen drew a cute little animation of an aardvark and decided to have it’s tongue move in and out. We used a scan of brown paper for the background; it looked kind of cute – very much like a board book.
Creating the page in Composer was simple. Save the files as a .PNG, drop them in the Composer app section of iTunes, and then simply add them to the page. I had never worked with animation before, and as Karen says, I struggle making sure hinges open the right way, but this was intuitive. We explored the functions available through Composer: “Add Animation”, “Physics,” and “Behaviors”. Animating the aardvark was simple; only then did we realize that there were more frames than the three I had bargained on. The animated aardvark had to stick it’s tongue out, pick up an ant, and suck it back in. The animation grew by 2 more frames.
The part about using Composer that I really enjoyed was being able to preview the page immediately and correct things on the fly. Trying new triggers for the animation was a breeze. The page looked great, and we proceeded in the same vein to “B for Buffel” and “C for Cheetah.” (A little poetic license here, it’s actually a Jag Luiperd. However Cheetah is acceptable Afrikaans.) We then started on a page that opened itself up for animation: “D for Dolphin” — we could animate waves, have the Dolphin diving, and create the sounds of the sea in the background.
The Dolphin had 11 Frames; a little fish jumping in and out had 4 and was on an autostart loop; there were 3 sets of waves with 5 movements each; and I timed the sound of a splash to the exact number of frames in the Dolphin frame set. (I hadn’t yet explored the audio triggers – there was an easier way of doing it ) We pushed “Preview” and were very happy with what we had done. My son, Callum, couldn’t stop touching the dolphin and making it jump. He was rather upset though that the fish didn’t
react to his touch. Pause for thought. EVERY page we finished went passed the “Kiddy Test” and was reworked until it made sense to THEM. We previewed from the start of the book, and we realized that the quality of our artwork, animation, and look had improved. Consequently, we decided to rework letters A to C again… Karen re-drew the entire scene from scratch. It looked a lot better.
With our pages not animated, it was now was the time to be a little more adventurous and add sound …