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11016 - 256 colors palettes

by - Dietrich Schultz (former Authorware engineer)

Article appears courtesy of Danny Engelman’s Gems and Jewels of the AWARE list

Here are two things to check in your palette(s):

1) Make sure that the first 10 and last 10 entries in your palette match the standard system colors exactly. If they don't then Authorware & Windows will conspire to force those 20 colors into the palette (unless you also turn off the Preserve System Colors checkbox).

2) Make sure there are no duplicate entries in your palettes.

If you don't set up your palette according to these rulesyou may get palette flashes. (Also, Authorware will rearrange the palette to enforce these rules, but that in itself isn't the cause of the flashing.)

The "optimize bitmaps" option stores extra information with each bitmap that allows it to draw faster on most video cards. However, this information is keyed to the palette loaded into the file. If you change palettes while running (via SetPalette or DisplayDIB) then this extra information can't be used and the bitmaps will draw slower.

Dietrich Schultz Macromedia

Another message from an Authorware users:

I hesitate to write this reply because everything we've learned about palettes has been in the "school of hard knocks", so our answers may be just work-arounds and not "the real answer". Anyway here goes.

Number ONE - if you (meaning your customer) can run Windows in 64K (16 bit) color, do so! Your palette problems will reduce logarithmically and all of your artists will be smiling!

256 color palettes have two separate issues you should be concerned with: the colors themselves and the color registers.

Note: If there is a true "Windows" 256 palette, I haven't seen it, all graphic software packages (including those you mentioned) use default palettes. We build our own, but any .pal file you begin with is okay if it satisfies your needs. Microsoft's PALEDIT is a simple and effective palette editing package, I use this one extensively.

A register is the physical location within the palette that contains an individual RGB color value. When Authorware responds to your SetPal call, it simply replaces the current contents the 256 registers with the new palette register values. The hardest lesson learned about registers was that just because you have, say Black (0,0,0), in the old AND new palette, if the register positions don't match, the Black on your screen will suddenly become whatever color is in new, corresponding, register number. The point of all this register "stuff" is that you have to be concerned not only with what colors are in a palette but also where they are located.

Now for the important stuff - When you select "Preserve System Colors" from the File Setup screen, Authorware applies "Windows" colors to the first 10 (0-9) and last 10 (246-255) registers! If you load a 256 color palette, Authorware "pushes" the palette from the top (0) register down. You lose the last 20 colors (236 to 255) of your new palette. As you can see the mess potential is huge!

The fix is to create a palette with only 236 colors! Be careful here as some graphics packages, such as Autodesk's Animator Pro, save 256 even though you only used 236. The check and fix is done in PALEDIT. If you see 256 (you will probably see 20 black (0,0,0) registers) select "unused" colors and delete them. Remember, because of the way Authorware fills the registers, your 20 empty registers must be at the bottom in PALEDIT. PALEDIT is semi-user friendly, so play with it a while and you should pick it up.

Tips and Tricks - To hide a full screen wipe (a momentary blank screen), such as between Pal calls, build a border screen with ONLY the "preserved system colors" and a background that's also one of these colors. Set this graphic and play all others over it. Because the "preserved" colors are always in the same registers, you create an illusion that hides the wipe prior to SetPal.

This thing is WAY to long and I've only scratched the surface but that's my option though not necessarily based on fact!!!


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