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Animating clouds

From: Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional

Video: Animating clouds

Now we're going to apply the basic techniques that we saw in the previous section of using shape hints to create a very nice little gentle animation of a cloud. Let's just hit Play, and as you can see, nothing is happening in the main Timeline. That's because it's set to play as a movie clip; that's how we access this nice filter effect that softens the edge of the cloud. So to see the animation, we have to go Control+Test Movie, and in later versions you've got to also select this Test thing. Control+Alt+Enter might work as well for you, depending on which version of Flash you're using.

Animating clouds

Now we're going to apply the basic techniques that we saw in the previous section of using shape hints to create a very nice little gentle animation of a cloud. Let's just hit Play, and as you can see, nothing is happening in the main Timeline. That's because it's set to play as a movie clip; that's how we access this nice filter effect that softens the edge of the cloud. So to see the animation, we have to go Control+Test Movie, and in later versions you've got to also select this Test thing. Control+Alt+Enter might work as well for you, depending on which version of Flash you're using.

So as you can see, this is really nice. It's a very gentle, soft, natural feeling undulation. One of the big problems that you might have, depending on how you're going to output your animation. If you're ever going to render a movie, you might hit the awful problem that it does not render out. So be aware of this depending on your final output. If you are going to make an MOV file, or an AVI file, or a PNG sequence, I don't think you're going to have much fun accessing the Photoshop filters. And these are only accessible by clicking on your symbol, making sure in the Properties panel it's a movie clip, and then under the Filter section we have access to the different blur settings, and that's what I used to create that little blur effect.

So I have to warn you about that before we go any further; before you could waste an awful lot of time and work targeting an output format that doesn't support some of the internal features of Flash. Be aware of this, and if you're going to take on a project of any size, take one scene, and test it through the entire work process to the end to make sure it outputs correctly, because you can really get hurt with that. If you're going to output an SWS file, this will be great. If you are going to output an AVI file, it's not. I'm going to assume for now that you want to see this in a movie file, or a PNG sequence, and maybe do some more work with it.

So let's click on this, and we'll get rid of the blur. I'm just going to change the symbol from a movie clip to a graphic. And you'll see immediately we've lost the blur filter. I think it still looks pretty cool. Now I could render it out as a movie. Now we can see the animation working in realtime inside the symbol, and this has been a complaint of artist for years, so don't worry; you're not the only one. So here we go. And this should look familiar now. We have two keyframes; the Start Frame and the Stop Frame are the same.

I could have made them differently, but I wanted this to cycle. And I could've put other frames in here to break it up, but for the purposes of the course I want to keep this simple to teach the basic principles of what we're doing here. So I want show you again how this is constructed. So I made one layer; it should be familiar if you've done the section on gradients, using the Gradient Transform tool, and that's bleeding off to a slightly opaque edge. Let's see here. I'll look in the gradient, and see what is; that's set to 0. And again, by sliding these colors around I can alter the falloff of the opacity of the cloud. And then on top of that I have a solid color area, and that's where all the shape tweening business is going on.

So let's make a new one. To follow along, essentially all that you need is a symbol. Call it cloud, and make a rectangle. And let's make the rectangle solid white, and make sure that you've got the line set to this red diagonal stripe so that you don't have a line around it; you don't need that. And this doesn't have to be 100% precise. We're working with something that's pretty translucent. You can be a bit squishy with it. And let's zoom in a little more.

And now with the Selection tool simply drag these corners. Actually let's just do it freeform. I won't even use reference. Now I'm going to hold down the Alt key and just pull this around; let's make a cloud shape. If you accidentally click outside the area and you tunnel outside, happens a lot, just click back in. I think I made one point too many, Control+ Z, and now I'm just going to pull these curves to make something cloud-like.

The more gentle you make the curves, the easier it will be to make a pleasing undulation. Doesn't mean you can't go a little more aggressive with your shapes; it's something you're just going to have to toy with. It will depend on your project and your style. So there we have a fairly decent cloud shape. So the next step is to hit F6 here; make another keyframe anywhere in the Timeline, right-click, and create shape tween. It'll look green, and you should see a solid line.

If you don't see a solid line, if you see dots, it means you've got something else; a symbol, or a group polluting the Stage, so you might want to reconstruct your cloud shape. Okay. So now that that's done, let's apply some shape hints, Modify>Shape>Add Shape Hint, or Control+Shift+H, and pop them down at that points that you want to be fixed. I'll make another one. Control+Shift+H. Pop it there, and you want them at the beginning and the end. The same point and the same place on each.

Even with them, some shapes; strange things can happen. Always test it to make sure that you're solid. Now I'll make a third, and that will be C, and just put out the first point here. We'll make another C point, and just push it a little bit further on, like that. This would great for like a chimney fire, a horse rider you know riding from right to left and he is kicking up a cloud of dust; that would be just perfect for it. But I think what we want here is a nice Spring day. So something extremely slow that can be cycled over and over again, hopefully without catching the eye. And it's really nice to not have to worry about all of this by hand.

So actually now we can just hide the original reference layer that I was using. And notice too, as I selected the lower layer, I'm seeing the shape hints for the lower layer transposed on the top layer. It can be really confusing. You can actually end up accidentally pulling points around from a lower layer when you're actually working on a top layer. So always be careful when you work that your active layer is the one that you're modifying. And it's just something that you've got to watch out for, I'm afraid. As you can see, when we add the lower layer, now we have -- and I hit Play. That's a really cute little cloud effect.

Notice there's, like, a little lip happening there, where it doesn't quite overlap properly. My solution, the quickest for that would be, move the lower layer up. I'm using the arrow keys just to push that up a little bit. I could also have pushed the entire upper cloud layer down, but always be sure when you do that, when you move these elements around, that you keep an eye on the hints. If you do have to push that, make sure that the hints have followed by hitting Control+Shift+H, or modify shape hints. Because -- I find they are getting much better with this. In the earlier versions the hints would have stayed behind; in later versions they move with.

Again, it's something that may change; it's slightly different with different versions of the program, so I'm just going to hit Control+Z to restore it back to normal; there we go! So, I think I broke something. I'm going to go back in here; hit Control+Z a couple of times. See how easy it is to break things. I think it's a C thing; how bizarre. So let's see, I'll move that hint, move A back there, move C in here, and there we go.

So it was a nice demonstration of what can go wrong if you're not careful. Watch your hints very carefully. So now on the outer Timeline, we have our cloud. That's the basic principle on how we can use the same technique to create liquid, to create a gas, or a cloud, or something that's a blob. So with that, we move on to the next thing.

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This video is part of

Image for Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional
Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional

46 video lessons · 13327 viewers

Dermot O' Connor
Author

 
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  1. 6m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Using the exercise files
      51s
    3. Common keystrokes and shortcuts used in this course
      4m 40s
  2. 1h 24m
    1. Understanding video versus SWF
      2m 30s
    2. Overview of shortcuts, extensions, and setup
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding linear and radial gradients
      2m 39s
    4. Overlapping and animating the colors
      3m 53s
    5. Lighting a scene
      10m 24s
    6. Creating lens flares
      10m 40s
    7. Animating ripples
      7m 2s
    8. Creating a gradient globe
      11m 41s
    9. Creating a gradient bottle
      10m 26s
    10. Applying gradients to a character's eye
      10m 2s
    11. Applying gradients to a character's skull
      8m 49s
  3. 56m 53s
    1. Tweening a circle to a square
      10m 9s
    2. Using thumbnails
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a magic carpet jump
      10m 12s
    4. Setting up a magic carpet walk cycle
      7m 41s
    5. Animating a magic carpet walk cycle
      9m 33s
    6. Shape tweening hair
      3m 50s
    7. Intro to overlapping hair
      1m 57s
    8. Animating overlapping hair
      8m 52s
  4. 1h 8m
    1. Animating waves
      8m 7s
    2. Animating clouds
      7m 48s
    3. Animating a flame
      11m 38s
    4. Animating an explosion
      9m 1s
    5. Adding in-betweens to the explosion
      4m 36s
    6. Adding explosion clusters
      6m 43s
    7. Optimizing the explosion
      7m 30s
    8. Animating smoke with particles
      12m 45s
  5. 32m 18s
    1. Introduction to staggers
      1m 5s
    2. Animating a simple stagger
      5m 8s
    3. Animating a diving board
      6m 15s
    4. Animating a tremor
      5m 56s
    5. Animating a scream
      7m 12s
    6. Refining the scream
      6m 42s
  6. 47m 49s
    1. Introduction to Virtual Camera
      5m 4s
    2. Animating parallax
      6m 9s
    3. Animating a crane shot
      6m 26s
    4. Animating a zoom and rotate shot
      9m 30s
    5. Animating a track shot
      11m 0s
    6. Lighting a 3D shot
      9m 40s
  7. 19m 48s
    1. Animating a cross dissolve
      6m 10s
    2. Animating a wipe
      3m 34s
    3. Animating a fadeout
      10m 4s
  8. 20s
    1. Goodbye
      20s

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