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NOLF PC | Newbies | Animated Gifs

written by Deunid | edited by glue

Ever wanted to capture a sequence in Nolf and turn it into an animated gif to share it with your friends?

  What are you gonna do when he'll come for you? (40k)

Groovy, baby! (28k)  

  Don't forget your coat... (28k)

Car trouble in Moroco! (a big sample - 130k)  

Animations by courtesy of Teal'c

Interested? Here is how to do your own Nolf animated gif in 10 detailled steps... 

This method is way faster than the classical method, which involve preparing each image manually before putting all them together in a gif. The instructions given here are for Nolf version 1.003, but they should work with the other versions - just adapt them to your version then.

Also please note that this method requires a 3D card capable of displaying 3D in a window. It should be all right with most cards, but some old cards might have problems with that... To check if your 3D card can, start Nolf's launcher, click Advanced and add "+windowed 1" (don't type in the quotes) to the command line, click Ok, and start Nolf. It should start in a window.

Ready? Set... Go!

1. Get the software. 

You'll need a screen capture software. Get Camtasia here. You can get a 30-days trial release for free. Install it.

2. Prepare your desktop (optional). 

Change your desktop's display colors to 16 bits (right click on the desktop and choose "properties" in the menu, then select the "Parameters" tab) and also make sure the size of the display is greater than 640x480. Setting the display colors to 16 bits is not absolutely necessary but it will increase the capture performance, helping you to capture larger area and/or more fluids sequences. Click the "Ok" button.

3. Prepare Nolf. 

First, get this rez file (1k) and add it to your custom folder (it's usually "c:\Program Files\Fox\No One Lives Forever\Custom"). It is very small and just contains a new cursor which is almost invisible: it's a very small black dot. It replace the big orange arrow in the menus. The capture program record what he sees, and he sees what you see on the screen plus the cursor, located right in the center of the display. As you may want to avoid having a big orange arrow in all the sequences you will be recording, you may want to use that small and almost invisible cursor instead of the normal one. Still, sometimes in the capture, a cursor like the one you have in windows may appear - just try again then until it disapear. 

Start Nolf's launcher, click Display and change the resolution to 640x480 16 bits, press Ok, click Advanced and make sure that "disable hardware cursor" is checked. Also on this window add to the command line this: "+windowed 1" (don't type in the quotes) and make sure "Always specify these parameters" is checked. Click "Customize", select the file SmallCursor.rez, click the Add button, make sure the "Always load these files" box is checked, click Ok, click Ok.

Nolf is ready. Keep the launcher window open, you'll need it soon.

4. Get the recorder ready. 

Start the Camtasia Recorder. 

In the menus, select Options / Preferences and in the Video Options set "frames/sec" to 5. In the same window, select the "Hotkeys" tab, set the Record/Pause key to F11 and the Stop key to Ctrl+F11 (select F11 and mark Ctrl with a check sign). Click Ok. Also in the menus, select Effects / Settings / Zoom and set the "Zoom level at start of capture" to 40%. Click Ok. 

These settings are memorized, so you won't need to set them again unless you want to change one of those settings.

5. Prepare the capture area.

The Capture area is the area which will be recorded in Nolf's window. 

Start Nolf by clicking "Launch" in the launcher. It should start, but in a window - not full screen. Please remember that this mode is totally unsupported - you may experience bugs and minor problems, it is just normal (for instance sometimes I don't see the text in the menus, but the menus still works). Should that happen, just deal with them, just do whatever you need to do to avoid having these problems blocking you.

In the menus of the Recorder, select Capture / Input / Fixed Region. A window opens. Make sure the "Fixed starting point" option is checked and click on the "Select" button. The cursor will change to a little hand with a cross. You'll have to use it to draw a rectangle to in the Nolf window around the area of the screen that you want to capture. 

If this is the first time you're making an animated gif this way, use a relatively small area, like one third by one third of Nolf's window. A bigger area might be cooler but it will also give bigger and probably choppier files, so I'll suggest to first get comfortable with small areas before trying larger ones.

Draw that rectangle in the Nolf window around the area you want to capture. The Nolf window may turn black when you click on it. Don't let this disturb you and finish that rectangle you were drawing. Then on the "Fixed Region" window, press the "Ok" button.

If Nolf's window have turned black, just close and re-open Nolf. To close it, press Alt+Tab several times without releasing Alt until the "No One Lives Forever" window is selected, then release the keys and press Alt+F4.

The capture area setting is memorized, so you won't need to do that again as long as you're happy with the capture region you choose.

6. Record. 

In Nolf, do whatever you need to in order to be ready to play the part you want to record. You can hide the crosshair if you wish by pressing the X key (unless you changed that key assignement, of course).

Ready? Press F11 to start recording.

Play the action, then press Ctrl+F11 to stop the recording. 

Save the avi file - it's your movie.

7. Process. 

Start the Camtasia Producer. In the explorer style area, select the folder in which you saved the movie file. Select it in the list just at the right of the explorer area, and drag it to the first film spot.

8. Edit (optional). 

If you wish to edit the sequence, then you're in the right place and that's the rigth time!

To start editing, just double click on the film spot where you dropped your movie, and use the light blue slider to select parts of the movie. Pressing the '-' button will cause the selected part to be omitted in the animated gif.

For more advanced editiong, see the included documentation (look in the Help menu) - producer is not very difficult to use.  

9. Make a Gif. 

In the menus, select File / Production Wizard. Select "Produce an animated Gif...", click Next, click Next, make sure in the options that "colors" is set to 32 and that in the advanced options, both "Optimized Palette" is selected and "Dithered color reductions" is checked while "Include Windows colors" is not, eventually set " loop indefinitely" or a given number of times, click Next, click Next, click Next (for a change), select the folder where you want to save your gif and give it a name, click Finished. 

10. View the result. 

In Windows explorer, navigate to that folder and open your gif in internet explorer. 


Important - Posting animations in the forums 

If you're going to include the result in a post, make sure the gif file is not too big! It's extremely easy to do a fantastic animation and realize later that it is way too large. Think to our friends who are using modems! Please don't do anything silly like posting a 250k gif file in the forums. Thanks! 

As a guideline, less than 40k is fine, 50k is much, and 70k is really a max for a forum post.

If you want to post a bigger gif in the forums, you're welcome to post a link to it (use the "URL" bbcode) rather that the image (the "IMG" bbcode) and to mention next to the link the size of the file, like this for instance: 

Car trouble in Moroco here! (130k)


How to reduce the size (in kilobytes) of a gif?

The most efficient trick is to stay still when shooting (no walk, no turn right or left, nor up or down). You may want to do this with a friend on the network: you can play an action while he shoot it standing still. The gif file will then be much smaller.

You may also try to change a few settings. Reducing the "frame per seconds" and/or the "Zoom level at start of capture" for instance will help to produce smaller gif files. 

Of course reducing the size of the capture area will also reduce the size of the gif. 



Don't forget that in order to play Nolf normally again, you'll have to uncheck the ""Always specify these parameters" box in the launcher for full screen and to unselect the SmallCursor.rez file from the launcher to recover a normal cursor (see step 3 for both).

And that concludes our Nolf Animated Gif 101... Don't hesitate to post in the forums any question, suggestion or finding you may have!

A big thanks to Teal'c for beta-testing, improving significantly the whole thing, and providing the sample animations!

Have fun!