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Kamishibai for computer illiterates   by Chris

A guide to Kamishibai for all you newbies
Now one would think Kamishibai is so easy to handle that an article like this one here is totally superfluid... wrong. Last month I received an eMail by someone who found this site and got interested in Kamishibai. So I told him more and soon he wanted to create his own story. Problem: this person described himself as a computer illiterate. And as one of those it might be a huge problem to handle easiest things for people who use a computer all the time. Simple things like creating new folders or handling file name extensions. So I created this little tutorial for all you computer illiterates. My goal is to describe things as easy as possible and step by step - so here we go:

1) Setting things up
So you decied to create a Kamishibai - but where to start? If you take a look at your Stories folder that is inside your Kamishibai directory you will see that there's one folder for every story. So first off you will have to make on of those. To create a folder you right-click on where you want to create it and from the drop-down menu chose "New\Folder". A folder icon will appear that you will now have to give a name to. You can later on change that name by either right clicking on it and chose "rename" or slowly click the folder twice (no fast double click!).
So now you have your new folder. This one will contain everything your story needs like images, sounds, music and of course a file that puts everything together. This is the so called "gamefile.txt" which we will take a closer look at later. The gamefil.txt will later be in your folder you just created. But you will also need folders inside that folder that hold your images, sounds and music. With your gamefile.txt you can define what those folder are suppossed to be, so basically you can throw everything into one folder. But since that would make you lose track of all your story components you should use the "common" three folder system. Inside your story folder create three new folders just the way you did before and call them "images", "sounds", and "music". Now your directory should look something like this:



Inside those folders you will later on store your images, sounds and music of course. By having done all this you're ready to go and create your Kamishibai. Pretty easy up to now, huh?

2) Creating your story
Now this is basically a very detailed "how to" guide on hoe to create the story itself. For those who read Otakuworld's sample gamefile and understood how things work - just skip this part. For those who feel like they could need a little detailed help, read on:
For watching a Kamishibai-story all of the images, sounds and musics have to be hold together. Actually this is very simple. The hardest job should be creating the images (that really isn't easy...). But we won't talk about drawing and painting (I think you all know how to use a painting- or drawing-programm). We'll talk about the so called gamefile.txt. This file holds everything together, tells Kamishiabi when to use which sound, etc.

At the top of your gamefile.txt you give informations about the story: who had the idea for it, who did the images, etc. In your gamefile.txt this should look like that:

[TITLE]
@Name = name of the story
@date = dae (when you did this story or how long it took you to make it)
@version = version number (z.B. v.1.2)
@author = who's the author of the story
@artist = who made the images (or where you got the images)
@copyright = Copyright (C) 20.. by name of the guy who holds the copyright
@contact = how to conatct the author (z.B. eMail)


Well, that wasn't too hard, was it?... Now you just have to create some kind of "Setup" and then you can begin creating your story itself. Leave one free line after the [TITLE]-definition and type the following:

[Setup]
@musicdir = music
@sounddir = sounds
@imagedir = images
@FirstScene = name of the first scene (for example: Scene1)

A little explanation towards this Setup:
After @musicdir, @sounddir and @imagedir you have to type the directories where you keep your midis (music), waves (sounds) and bmps (bitmaps, images). Normally there are three more Folders in your story's directory: music, sounds and images. In those folders are your midis, sounds, or bitmaps (so it doesn't look as untody as your room ^-^). Of course you can call those folders as you wish but don't forget that those names then have to appear like this in the [SETUP]-definition. So, if you call your folders Melodies, Soundeffects and Pictures (let's also change the name of the first scene into Scene Number1) this should look like this:

[SETUP]
@musicdir = Melodies
@sounddir = Soundeffects
@imagedir = Pictures
@FirstScene = Scene Nummer1

But normally the authors don't rename their folders and so shouldn't you. Until now all of those folders in nearly all Kamishibai-Stories weren't renamed, but were called as it's the basic, this means they were called: images, sounds und music in nearly every Kamishibai-Story (I've only seen one Kami where the folders had other names).

But enough the babblin' about the setup... Now it's starting to get interesting. You've got a good story in mind or even made some notices (that's always a good idea!), evtl. you even got all of you rpictures ready (I personally make all images and animations after I've written down my story)? Then you can begin writing your "Script"...
In the gamefile.txt every single scene has to be defined by an own segment or section (a bit like in the [TITLE]- or [SETUP]-definition). This could look like this:

[Scene1]
@image = image.bmp
@music = music.mid
@sound = sound.wav
@description = text
@option3 = option text
@link3 = link to another scene (to which you get redirected after clicking the link)


Again a short explanation:
In the brackets ( [...] ) you write down the name of the scene. These scenes don't need to be called Scene1, Scene2, Scene3, etc. If you want you can call them [abc Sceneonlygodknows blabla] (but you have to call the links for jumping to this scene the same name). But just as a tip: call it Scene1, Scene2, Scene3, etc. You'll find faster what you need (for example Kamishibai tells you there is a mistake in Scene16 you'll find this faster as Scene where the little man kicks the big man's butt. But if you would like to use Multiple Path (more ways to choose than just one) or something like that you have to call the scenes all by individual names. For example if you want the viewer to be able to choose one of two different ways you could call the scene he/she sees when going to the left [Scene7 Left] and the Scene he/she sees when going right [Scene7 Right] (for example if you have a story where the viewer is an adventurer and stands on a cross-road).
After the @image = you just type the name of the image (in your images-folder). You don't have to type the name of your folder again, because your [SEUP]-definition tells the other scene-definitions where those images are. Simply type the name of the file for example picture8.bmp.
The same you (can) do for @music = and @sound =. Just type the file's name with the extension (.mid for music and .wav for sound). But there's one special thing about music and sound. If you want your backgroundmusic to stop in one special scene you have to type STOP after the @music =. If you don't want your music to stop but to be replaced by another music just type @music = as usual followed by the name of the new music-file. The music will change with the scene.
You want your soundeffect to be looped? If so you can do that, too. Simply use the tag @soundloop =. For example:

@soundloop = FOREVER
or
@soundloop = number of loops

If you use FOREVER after @soundloop = the sound will be played until you change the scene (the sound will be played forever if you don't change the scene,... or until your PC-Boxes burst to pieces ^-^).
If you want your sound to be looped a few times (for example you have the sound of a shooting weapon but want to hear this shooting noise three times because the sheriff shoots three times) then you just type this number of loops after @soundloop =. This number tells Kamishibai how often the sound should be played (in our example with the sheriff shooting with his gun you have to type 3).
With backgroundmusic (Midis) it's a lot easier: if the music comes to an end it will just start again.

Back to scene definition. If you want text to appear on your screen (and that will be in most of your scenes) you simply type this text after @description =. But watch out: the text shouldn't be too long because it then could happen that this text could flow behind the option text or the Kamishibai window simply isn't big enough for your text. But it shouldn't be a problem to write short because you got picture's "supply with telling your story".
Last but not least you have to type text that redirects you to another scene after you clicked on it, just like with HTML for Internetsites. This will happen if after @optionnumber = you type the text that can/should be clicked. It's imprtant for you to know that you can use more than just one option text. You can use up to four option texts! @option1 =, @option2 =, @option3 = and @option4 =. The text for @option1 = will be in the middle of the Kamishibai window, the text for @option2 = a bit under the middle of the window, the text for @option3 = will be nearly at the bottom of the Kami window and for @option4 = the text will be at the bottom.
After typing the option's text (and after telling Kamishibai where this text should appear (1, 2, 3 or 4)) it's important to tell Kamishibai to which scene it should redirect if you click on that text. For that purpose you have to type @linksamenumber = after @optionzahl. After the = you just have to type the name of the scene (WITHOUT the brackets!) and the viewer will jump to this scene after clicking the option's text. But it's important that after @link you have to use the same number as with the @option. For example if you have option text at place number three (@option3 =) you also have to type 3 after @link (@link3 =).

Now you know the basics of making your own Kamishibai-stories. But most of the Kamishibai-stories out there use animations. So, if you would like to know how to make cool animations by yourself then read on:

If you want to use an animation in one scene then you won't have to type a single image's name but a whole "Combo" of image names that are your animation. This means that you don't use the tag @image = but three other definitions for the animation. This could look like this:

[Scene3]
@anim = image1.bmp,image2.bmp,image3.bmp,image4.bmp,... (name all the images in the order they should appear in you animation)
@animspeed = SLOW/MEDIUM/FAST (how fast your animation should be)
@animloop = number/FOREVER (how often should your animation be looped)
@description = text
@option3 = option text
@link3 = scene's name
@option4 = option text
@link4 = scene's name


After @anim = you just type in the names of all the images that should appear in your animation. For example if you have an animation whre one knight throws another one from his horse and your files are called horse1.bmp to horse10.bmp it should look like this:

@anim = horse1.bmp,horse2.bmp,horse3.bmp,horse4.bmp,horse5.bmp,horse6.bmp,horse7.bmp,horse8.bmp,horse9.bmp,horse10.bmp

It's important that after the kommata you don't use space. Just type all the images in one line otherwise the image(s) won't appear in the Kamishibai window.
If you want one image to appear longer than the others you can type this one image more times (for example: horse3.bmp,horse4.bmp,horse5.bmp,horse5.bmp,horse5.bmp,horse6.bmp,horse7.bmp,etc.) After this you have to tell Kamishibai if the animation should be loopes and if so how often it should be looped and how fast your animation should be. It doesn't matter which of these two informations you type first.
But now, let's begin with the speed of our animation: if your animation should be very slow then, of course, you type SLOW after @animspeed =. If it shouldn't be too fast, but also not too slow you use MEDIUM. And if it should be a very fast animation you just type FAST after @animspeed =.
The number of loops is actually the same as with the sounds. If you want the animation to be looped sometimes, well, just type in this number (for example you use an animation where a gangster shoots one time. If you want him to shoot four times you don't need to type your image names four times but just use the number 4 after @animloop =.) If you want the animation to be looped forever (at least until you change the scene) you just type in FOREVER. If you don't want your animation to be looped you can type a 0 after @animloop = (don't do so with younds if you don't want them to be looped. They just don't loop if you write nothing so you don't need to write @soundloop = 0).
One last important note on animations: you only have a limit of 32 images per animation. I don't know why, but that's the way it is. You have to learn to live with it (I know, that's not easy...)


Well, that's it. That's how to create Kamishibai-stories. But don't take it too easy because if you want to "snot" a Kamishibai-storie in one day the result can only be miserable. Behind most of the Kamishibai-stories lays a hard way of weeks or even months of hard work and in many of those stories you'll see that...

3) File Size So you finally got your story but the file sisze could be smaller huh? To do so you have to convert your images and sounds. Basically every picture / sound editor can do just that. Images can be resized by turning the color depths from 24Bit down to 8Bit paletted colors. Sounds can be edited in quality as well. Here's how it's done:

Images (note: image taken from the upcoming Kamishibai "The Legend Of Earl" by Ben Gordon):



This is an image from yuor Kami viewed in Corel Photopaint. As I said any other graphic program like Adobe or whatever will do as well. Now this picture is uncompressed. It is in RGB mode which means RedGreenBlue channels which allow you to create any color you like. This means that your picture consists of a few million colors. Problem is that the more colors you use the more file size do your pictures take. But you know yourself that you only used a few colors to draw your pictures - now what we do is to define the picture and "tell it" to only use those colors and thus resize the file size. To do so we click on the option bar above the picture and look where we can define the color depth:



In this case we click "Image\Conver To...\Paletted 8Bit" Your image is, as I said, in RGB mode right now which is 24Bit. Paletted means that we define a "palette" which consists of the colors you used for your picture.



After you clicked "Paletted 8 Bit" this little window pops up and asks you for what paklette you want to use. You can load your own palette, or whatever but we want the program to handle things itself. So we simply click on "Optimized" so the program will find out itself what colors you used. In the little box on the right which says "Colors" you can define how many colors should be used at max. 8 Bit can handle 256 colors, so you should always let the program use up to 256 colors. The files size won't differ here, since 8 Bit is 8 Bit no matter whether you use the full 256 colors or only 1.



Now look at the color palette above the picture. It shrinked down to 12 colors when you originally used a few millions. WOOHOO! Now safe the image and compare the file size! Before: 65,6KB After: 21,9KB! As I said nearly every graphic program can do that. (not MSPaint though that one's too simple again ^_^). As an example - here's what you do when using Adobe Photoshop. Open your image and click: "Image\Mode\" and then on the option you would like to use (for example paleted)

Sounds:



Then I did the very same thing to your sounds. Of course sounds don't have any color depths so how do we handle this one? I opened a sound in my wave editor (Creative WaveStudio, came with my Creative Labs Soundcard). Now the program tells me how big your file is. Look at the lower right corner that says "22.050 Hz; 8 Bit; Mono 29KB" Actually that's a damn good start. Nearly all of your sounds were already compressed down to a good file size. If you record a sound in CD quality it has something about 45.050 Hz, 16 Bit, Stereo and can take up several MB. Now this case wasn't that tough but still we can ressample it a little. To do so we click the right Options as we did before with the images:



In this case you have to click "Options\Convert format"



Now this wndow pops up and shows you what your sound currently is like. Here we have our 22.050 Hz, 8 Bit, Mono. The number to the right, in this case 22 KB/s is an indicator on how big your file will be in the end. It doesn't tell you the file sisze itself though, this one's about quality.



Now we pick another quality - the lower the quality, the smaller the file size. In this case we can use the smallest quality which is 8.000 Hz, 8 Bit, Mono and only 8KB/s! Of course you can't just resample a big high quality wave file into whatever you feel like without having it sound horrible afterwards. It all depends on the file itself - just experiment. Some files can be resampled to 8KB/s while some only sound good at minimum 11KB/s. Just try it a little yourself, you'll see what I mean. Now that you picked your new quality simply click okay and save your file (listen to it before you save to hear whether it still sounds okay!)

Now do that process with all your images and sounds everytime after you finished your Kami. This will decrease your size immensely!

If you want to know more about resizing files also have a look at our older articles!


Now that is all you have to know. Hope this could help all you computer illiterates. Have fun and good luck with your Kamishibai stories. We gave you the knowledge, now use it ^_~

Chris



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