[Rd] SWF animation method

Mike Lawrence Mike.Lawrence at DAL.CA
Wed Aug 8 15:52:59 CEST 2007

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  

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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"The road to wisdom? Well, it's plain and simple to express:
Err and err and err again, but less and less and less."
	- Piet Hein

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