Talking Canvas Junior is a simple multimedia presentation application, provided free with the Sonor sound editor. It has been designed to allow the creation of simple pages which can be animated. Speech and other sounds can be placed on areas in the pages, and triggered when the mouse clicks on these areas.
Installing Talking Canvas Junior on a hard disc or network is very easy. Create a directory on your hard disc or network, and copy !TalkCJr from the floppy drive to the hard drive by dragging the icon between the two windows.
If you are using RISC OS 2, then you may also need to update your !System folder. This is the same procedure as for updating the !System folder detailed in the !Sonor manual.
Talking Canvas Junior (or TCJ) is the main editing application. This is the application that allows you to create Canvasses.
A Stand-Alone Canvas is an application that has been created by TCJ. It can be loaded into TCJ in order to edit it.
A Canvas is a page which has been created by TCJ.
A Frame is a part of a Canvas which can have an image placed in it, and also a sound. It is possible to create frames which have only sound stored in them, and no image, or even just an image and no sound.
Loading Talking Canvas Junior
Just like any application, double-click on the !TalkCJr icon in a filer window. An icon will appear (after a brief pause) on the right-hand side of the icon bar. The one on this machine currently looks like:
The Talking Canvas Junior icon is the third from the right hand side. If you press MENU on this icon, the following menu will appear:
This is the Talking Canvas Junior icon menu. You can find out the version number and quit the application from this menu.
Loading a canvas
On the disc with Talking Canvas Junior are some example Canvasses. These have been created using TCJ, and saved as stand-alone canvasses.
Here, we must draw a distinction between Loading and Playing a canvas.
Loading a canvas can be achieved by dragging a canvas onto the TCJ icon on the icon bar (or the TCJ canvas window).
By double-clicking on a stand-alone canvas, you will play it. It becomes a self-contained RISC OS application, and can interact with the desktop in the same way that other applications do.
To begin with, load the application called !AboutTCJ. Drag the !AboutTCJ icon to the TCJ icon on the icon bar. After a brief pause, the canvas has been loaded.
Two windows will appear, the smaller one looking like:
This is the Talking Canvas Junior Toolbox window. It displays the most useful tools as icons.
From left to right, these are:
The larger window looks like:
- Create Frame - This allows you to create new frames.
- Delete Frame(s) - This allows you to delete any selected frame(s).
- Frame information - Clicking on this produces information on the last frame to be clicked on.
- Save canvas - Clicking on this icon produces a RISC OS standard save box.
- Record sample - This icon allows you to record a sample into the last clicked frame. Note that it produces another dialogue box before recording.
- Play canvas - This allows you to see your canvas in action, before you save it. This is the same as if you had just double-clicked on a saved canvas.
This is the Talking Canvas Canvas display window. This window shows the current canvas, and all the frames, which are outlined in black.
Note that this canvas was an example canvas on the Acorn User cover CD-ROM No.1.
The first thing we're going to do with this canvas is to play it.
If you click on the Play icon on the TCJ toolbox, then the toolbox window and the canvas display window will disappear, and a new window will appear, which is the canvas. It will look exactly like the canvas display window if it was fully-opened.
If you click on the text About Talking Canvas Junior, some speech will be heard, saying Click on the words and icons to reveal the answers.
Other areas of the screen also have samples - try a few likely looking areas.
When you've finished, click on Quit. Once again, more speech will be heard, saying Thank you for running this application. When the speech has finished, the desktop will be restored to its state prior to playing the canvas.
Each separate piece of speech had a different frame associated with it. On the canvas display window, frames are displayed with black borders. To select a frame, simply click in its border. For example, click on the text How can I buy it? The border will change colour, and also a secondary border with rectangles in each corner will appear. These rectangles are used to resize any selected frames. The secondary border encompasses all selected frames.
Selecting and moving frames is the same as in !Draw. To select multiple frames, click ADJUST on the frame you want to add. To remove a selected frame, click ADJUST on the frame you wish to deselect. To deselect all frames, click on the background in the area outside the secondary border, or press Ctrl-Z.
The only major difference between !Draw and TCJ is the resizing of frames. in !Draw, you can only resize from the bottom-right hand corner of the selected items. In TCJ, you can change the size from the four corners of the secondary rectangles. These are highlighted, and any dragging within these regions cause any selected frames to be resized. Any other dragging from inside the secondary border will cause the selected frames to move.
As an example, deselect all the frames, and then click SELECT on the screen-shot of a window at the bottom left hand corner of the sample. Then, drag SELECT from inside the top right hand corner of the secondary border. When SELECT is released, the frame will be resized to the the new size.
Similarly, drag SELECT from within the secondary border (but not inside one of the resize rectangles). When you release the mouse button, the frame has now moved to the new coordinates.
Try it with some of the other frames.
You can get information on frames by clicking in the frame information icon on the toolbox, or by double-click ADJUST on the frame you wish to get information on.
A window will appear, which looks like:
This window gives you information about the frame's name, the images on the frame, the animation type and information about the sample. You can also lock the frame from being changed.
A frame can only be animated if it has two images.
TCJ can accept two types of images:
Note that !ArtWorks can export Draw files, but they are slightly incorrect. To correct these, load them into !Draw, select everything, group it, move it and then resave the Draw file.
- Sprites (as created by !Paint)
- Draw files (as created by !Draw).
There are two ways in which you can load the first image. Method one is to drag the Draw file (or Sprite file) into the frame on the canvas display window. The second method is to drag the frame onto the left hand of the two boxes in the frame information window.
If you want to load the second (animation) frame, then you can only do this by dragging the file onto the right hand of the two boxes.
TCJ can accept the following sample formats:
If you wish to load other formats, then use !Sonor, and save the converted sample.
- Desktop Tracker (uncompressed)
Loading samples can also be done in two ways. Method one is again to drag the file into the frame on the canvas display window. The second method is to drag the file anywhere on the frame information window. The sample information will be updated accordingly.
Removing images and samples
The two icons labelled Remove underneath the images and also to the right of the sample information can be used to do these tasks.
Your first canvas
Press MENU on the canvas information window. The following menu will appear:
If you move to the right of Misc, then the following menu is displayed:
By clicking on New canvas, you will clear the current canvas, and create a totally blank canvas. You will be asked if you want to create a new canvas, just in case you haven't saved the old one. Click on Create to create it.
This new canvas has no images on it, except for Quit and Start. These two frames are special frames, and have special uses.
The Quit frame is the frame a user clicks on to quit the canvas.
The Start frame can be used to hold information telling the user what to do, or to reset the canvas back to the beginning.
The images stored in these frames are locked, but samples may be recorded on these.
Creating a frame
The first thing to do is to create a frame. Click on the Create Frame icon on the toolbox. If you move the pointer into the canvas display window, a pair of cross-hairs are displayed. These indicate the location of the first corner of the frame.
Click SELECT to set the first corner. Now, a box will appear, showing the frame as you move the mouse pointer around, as shown below:
Again, click SELECT to set the second corner. You have just created a frame.
If you want, you can load some Draw or Sprite files into this frame, and/or you can create some more frames.
Deleting a frame
This is very simple. Select the frame(s) you wish to delete, and click SELECT on the Delete Frame(s) icon on the toolbox. You will be asked if you want to delete these frames. Click on Delete to delete them, or Cancel to abort the deletion.
The background frame
Another special frame is the background frame. It cannot be selected, deleted, moved or animated, but it can have one image, and also a sample, for example Please click somewhere else, if the user accidentally clicked outside any frames.
Saving a canvas
Click SELECT on the Save Canvas icon on the toolbox, and a RISC OS standard save window will appear:
Type in the name you wish to save the canvas as, and then drag the icon to a filer window. Note that the name will start with a !, and if you don't include it, TCJ will do it for you. Also, use names to 9 characters or less long, even if you are using !LongFiles.
When you save, you are creating a stand-alone canvas, which can be freely distributed (with your permission).
If you have two images on a frame, you can animate between them. There are four options for this:
- Once only
This will display the first animation until the frame is clicked on; subsequently, it will only show the second animation. An example of this is a vase breaking; once it has broken, it cannot be rebroken.
Each time the frame is clicked on, the image will swap to the other. An example of this is a door opening and closing. The canvas will start with the door closed; clicking on it will open it. If it is clicked on again, it will close.
- Display #2 while playing
This option will display the first animation, until the frame is clicked on. Then, while the sample is playing, it will display the second animation. When the sample stops, the first frame is displayed once again. An example of this is a tap. If the tap is open (and water is running), then the water flows. When the water stops (ie when the sample stops), the water no longer flows, and the tap is off again.
- Animate while playing
If this option is set, then the frame will animate while the sample is playing. There are five settings for the speed. An example is someone speaking. While the sample is playing, the mouth will open and close. When the speech stops, the mouth stops speaking. Note that the animation will always end on the first frame.
Frames can have samples recorded directly from your Printer Port or MIDI Sampler. To record a sample onto a frame, click SELECT on the Record icon on the toolbox. The following window is produced:
The window is split into several main parts, from top to bottom:
This is the frame to record into. You can change the frame by clicking MENU on the frame's name.
This is the maximum time that can be recorded by TCJ. It cannot be edited, as it is the amount of free memory in your machine.
This is the quality of the sample. You can choose four different qualities. Low quality has longer samples, but sounds poorer than high quality, which has shorter samples. Click MENU to choose the quality.
This is the current sampler to use. By default, it is the one designed for your machine, but there is a known problem with a very few A300/400/3000 machines, and these require a different sampler driver. Click MENU to choose the sampler.
This is the current sound level in the room in which you are recording. This ranges from very quiet to very noisy. This is required by TCJ as it performs auto-sampling, the first in the Acorn market!
Cancels the recording.
Starts recording the sample.
This is a new feature, currently only available in Talking Canvas Junior. It allows samples to be automatically adjusted to the right size, based on the ambient noise levels.
Basically, it has an automatic trigger at the start, as well as one at the end. TCJ will give you three seconds to start speaking before it starts the sample. Then, if you are quiet for one second, the sample will stop automatically.
This does depend on the ambient noise levels. If you find the sample won't stop, then turn the microphone, or other sound source off, and try on a higher level. If you still can't get the sample to stop, then find a quieter area in the room.
We have calibrated this system so that Quiet is our office, but we can understand that in a classroom, it can be very noisy, so it's probably best to start at a higher level.
Frames can be copied by pressing Ctrl-C, or by selecting the Selection->Copy option on the canvas display menu.
Frames can be aligned by pressing F4 to F9, or by selecting the
Selection->Align->... menu options.
There are several options available to allow you to tailor the canvas to your needs. The canvas option window is available by selecting the Misc->Options... menu option, and looks like:
The left-hand box is self-explanatory, and allows you to change the size of the canvas. If you do change the size, then the frames will become resized, so that they take the same relative position in the canvas.
The right hand box has information about when the canvas is run as a stand-alone canvas. There are four options, and these are detailed below:
- Have icon
If this is selected, then when the canvas is run, an icon will appear on the icon bar, before the canvas is displayed. The canvas will only be displayed if the icon is clicked on. If this option is not selected, then the canvas will be displayed immediately.
- Full screen
If this is selected, then the canvas will take up the full screen. If the screen is bigger than the canvas size, then a grey border is displayed around the canvas; if the screen is too small, then the centre of the canvas is displayed. If this option is not set, then the canvas will appear in the middle of a window, and will multi-task with the desktop. This option is off and not selectable if the Quit frame has been removed.
- Quit on Close
If this option is set, then when the canvas window is closed, or the Quit frame has been clicked on, then the canvas will quit, and if it is to be played again, it has to be reloaded. If it is not set, then the canvas can be played again if the icon on the icon bar is clicked. The canvas will quit if it has no icon, and the Quit icon is clicked on, or the canvas' window is closed.
- Play on start
If this option is set, then the sample stored in the Start frame is played when the canvas is first loaded. This allows an introductory message to be played for the user's benefit. If this option is not set, then no sample is played.
Removing the Quit and Start frames
These frames can be removed by either deleting them, or by choosing the
Misc->Have ... menu options. These can also be used to recreate these, if you have accidentally deleted them.
You can export the images and samples from frames, buy pressing MENU on the frame information window. The following menu will appear:
You can decide what you want to save by clicking on the radio buttons underneath the filename.
Distributing TCJ applications
You are free to do so, as long as none of the files (except the !Sprites) file are edited. If it is a commercial release, then please contact VTi who will provide you with updates, and information regarding TCJ applications. There will be some conditions (such as copyright/acknowledgement messages).
The !RunImage inside the TCJ applications is © ARM Designs 1995, and uses their ROView WIMP library, and was compiled with C release 4, and ObjAsm release 2.00. It was compressed using ARM Designs' AppComp2 application.
The SonorSound module is © 7th ARM Systems for VTi 1995.
If you want to distribute TCJ applications, but don't want people exporting the data such as samples and image files, then you can lock the canvas. The canvas can still be edited, saved and so forth, but the images cannot be exported.
You will be prompted if you really want to lock it. If you proceed, the canvas will be locked.
NOTE : YOU CANNOT UNLOCK A LOCKED CANVAS. IF YOU DO LOCK A CANVAS, KEEP A BACKUP COPY OF IT SOMEWHERE, IN CASE YOU WISH TO CHANGE IT.
Locked canvasses are also encrypted so the files cannot be retrieved from within the directory.
We hope we have covered all the main points of Talking Canvas Junior. If you come across something new, then give it a try!