[Rd] SWF animation method

From: Mike Lawrence <Mike.Lawrence_at_DAL.CA>
Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2007 10:52:59 -0300

Hi all,

Just thought I'd share something I discovered last night. I was interested in creating animations consisting of a series of plots and after finding very little in the usual sources regarding animation in R directly, and disliking the imagemagick method described here
(http://tolstoy.newcastle.edu.au/R/help/05/10/13297.html), I
discovered that if one exports the plots to a multipage pdf, it is relatively trivial to then use the pdf2swf command in SWFTools
(http://www.swftools.org/download.html; mac install instructions
here: http://9mmedia.com/blog/?p=7).

pdf2swf seems to generate swf animations with a slow frame rate, but you can increase the framerate using 'swfcombine -r 30 --dummy myslow.swf -o myfast.swf', where the value passed to -r is the framerate.

Unfortunately, this method seems to have limitations with regards to the number of plots it can convert. For example, on my system (17" macbook pro, 2.33GHz, 2GB ram, OSX 10.4.10, R 2.5.1) the maximum number of single point plots I can do is about 5400 (i.e. for(i in 1:5400) plot(runif(1),ylim=c(0,1)) ). Complexity of the plots might matter as well, but I only have rather convoluted examples of this. Also, pdf2swf throws up a lot of errors ('ERROR Internal error: drawChar.render!=beginString.render'), the origin of which I know not, that might be slowing things down.

Now, if only someone could wrap this process into a single R command
(I'm a little too newb to do this myself I think).


Mike Lawrence
Graduate Student, Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University

Website: http://memetic.ca

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Err and err and err again, but less and less and less."
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