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introduction to mFlip - The matterial Flip Book

Lastest source: mflip-0.3.0.tar.gz version 0.3.0 (1/17/02)

What is it?

A flipbook.

What is a flipbook?

A little program that reads a sequence of images and plays them back from memory.

Why not just render out a movie and watch that?

Several reasons. Some dislike artifacts that the video compression can introduce. You could make uncompressed videos to avoid this, but you already have the uncompressed data, so why waste disk space for a second copy? You can render directly to, say, an avi, from some programs, but what if you want to later composite these frames, or replace a few frames where the render bombed? What if the render bombs in the middle of writing the avi? What if you are in too much of a rush and can't wait for a video to be encoded?
news about mFlip
  • 2002-01-17 -- SGI file reader
  • 2002-01-17 -- stale frame detection (if a frame has been modified since loading
  • 2002-01-17 -- auto-reload of stale frames (see -a), or manual force (u key)
  • 2002-01-17 -- automatically scales down if images are too large for screens
  • 2002-01-17 -- optimized scaling for common cases
  • 2002-01-17 -- changed colors (green == dropped, red == stale)
  • 2002-01-17 -- play options added, can play forward/backward, loop/oneshot
  • 2002-01-17 -- memory leak cleanup
  • 2001-12-19 -- now includes Cineon/DPX support with adjustable density correction
  • 2001-12-19 -- alpha channel support
  • 2001-12-19 -- single channel viewing capability
  • 2001-12-19 -- click/drag on time-progress bar to scrub
  • 2001-12-19 -- improved scaling performance
  • 2001-12-19 -- reorginization, and addition of autoconf for easier building
  • 2001-12-19 -- better handling of bad frames. mflip will now display a blue frame if it encounters a bad frame in a sequence. you can then display the filename of the bad file.
  • 2001-11-27 -- speed improvements, about twice as fast as previous version
  • 2001-11-27 -- added gamma correction (-g from the cmd line)
  • 2001-11-27 -- minor tiff reading fixups
  • 2001-11-14 -- added x and y scaling (-x and -y from the cmd line)
more info about mFlip

Will it run on my machine?

It has been tested on x86 Linux and SGI's IRIX. Let us know if you have more fun and exotic hardware to build on. mFlip is based on xlib, so it should be fairly portable.

Is it fast?

On a ghz p3 and GF2, we've seen 47 fps @ 1024x768 when viewing rgb channels. Performance will be degraded signifigantly by viewing channels individually (around 21 fps @ 1024x768 when viewing a single channel). But don't take our word for it; mFlip has a built in speed test. Running "mflip -b 1024" will spit out random data at 1024x768 as fast as possible and report the timings. The test is only setup to work at 4:3 where you specify the x resolution with the -b argument.

What are all these colored boxes that show up on the time indicator bar?

The purple-ish color indicates the current frame being displayed. Any green boxes indicate frames that were dropped (not displayed) in order to keep up with the specified frame rate. Red boxes indicate frames which have changed since mFlip was loaded.

Stale frames? Auto-reloading?

In order to make mFlip as fast as possible out of the box, the auto-detection of stale frames (those that have been modified since load time) is disabled. If you wish to enable this option, use the command like argument -a 0. This will not do any auto-reloading of the stale frames. You will have to force a reload with the u key. For both auto-detection and auto-reloading, use -a 1,

Ahh.. I see.. What else can it do?

  • displaying alpha
  • scrub through frames by dragging on the time bar
  • scaling of images at load time
  • read 8 and 16 bit tiffs via libtiff
  • read Cineon/DPX files
  • read 8 bit rla's
  • read 8 bit maya iff's
  • play, pause, etc..
  • display the filename of the current frame
  • hide the progress bar and text
  • detect frames that have changed since loading, and reload them if desired

Waaaaa! It doesn't do XX

Ok.. we're still playing with it. The code was born for another project which has since been finished, but we thought it would be useful to clean up and release to the world. So tell us what you want (on the Mailing List) or write it yourself! So far, there are plans for:
  • reading more 16-bit variants of files
  • audio? maybe if karl ever gets a soundcard..

How do I run it?

Try something like 'mflip -h' to see a list of arguments. You will generally specify 'mflip ', where the pattern indicates the file sequence. In the pattern, the character # represents a sequence of numbers, not necessairly padded correctly. For example, to load a sequence, file.1.tif, file.2.tif, file.03.tif, file.4.tif, the pattern would be file.#.tif. Note that some programs will have trouble handling the different 0-padding of the numbers, putting file.03.tif at the end of the sequence. mFlip will order them correctly, by the number instead of the string.


Questions can be directed to the developer mailing list (see side bar). The authors are all there.


using mFlip

mFlip is has been tested to work on x86 Linux and SGI's IRIX. mFlip should work with any computer with xlib (from X11) on it. (If you get mFlip to work on any other platform, please tell us about it.)


downloading mFlip

To download mFlip, go the the Download section (of this website) and get it under the (sub)section titled "mFlip - The matterial Flip Book".


Copyright © 2000 - 2002 matterial development team