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In Flash Professional CS5: Character Animation, Dermot O' Connor explains the process of character animation in Flash, using nested symbols and motion and shape tweening to create believable characters. The course covers the process from start to finish, from rigging a character to creating a walk cycle animation. Along the way, Dermot demonstrates techniques such as animating eye blinks, head turns, and mouth movements during dialogue. Exercise files accompany the course.
So let's start to animate some dialogue. So let's go into our Exercise Files. Let's open up the file called dialog_01. This is our same old rig. This is the rig that we worked on in the previous chapters. I'll make sure that everything inside is nice and clean and properly placed in their folders. We're going to add a line of dialogueue. Let's just get into that and start it. So it's a good practice to get into the habit of duplicating your symbols. So in this case, let's just go directly into the head symbol.
We're going to use the six shapes that we've created here for our dialogue. I don't want to work inside our mt or our mouth comp. Let's do that on a new one. So let's just right-click on this, and duplicate it. We're going to call it mt dialogue. So now when we toggle into that, you'll see it up here. Always good to check as well. So we need to access our line of dialogue. I've recorded a line earlier. It's just short and simple. So let's umport that, Import to Library.
I've got two lines, dialogue_1 and 2. Let's just open dialogue_1. Here it is. Let's have a listen. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So it's only a few words. I've designed this line, so that it uses all six of these shapes so we don't leave anyone out. The other thing I like to do is to make a folder for our sound files, even though we only have one sound file here. Let's have a good practice from the beginning. So we'll make a sound folder and just drop our audio into there. Nice. So next thing to do is make a layer for the sound and drop that in. Let's label it.
Not picky. So I like to color it too with white. All my layers that aren't actual active art layers, I like to just give them a white outline color. It's easy to pick them out. The next thing to do make sure we're on 30 frames per second. If you prefer to work on 24, that's fine. As long as you have a consistent and a good frame rate that you work from all the time. Don't mix and match, just pick one or the other. So let's stretch out the Timeline, so we can see the entire line of dialogue. Don't need to go too far past that.
The other thing you need to do is when you click on the first frame of the sound file, go into your Properties panel and make sure your Sync setting is set to Stream. If you set it to Event, it'll be harder to synchronize with your sound file. So, all is set to Stream for your dialogue. Let's give it a play to make sure. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So you get an idea for the rough placement of everything. Our next step is to position the correct mouth shapes to correspond with the dialogue. There is any number of people who have their favorite ways of doing this.
I've done quite a bit. So I'll show you mine. So the first thing I do is clean up the Timeline a little bit. So let's grab all of the dialogue and just pull it. If you had a very long line of dialogue that was running well off the screen, if it was several minutes long, I just work in chunks like this. Sometimes I like to make the panel a bit longer of course, by shifting the Library pane over. So I have a longer Timeline. That's ideal for this. So you get rid of these and just have your entire screen filled with Timeline, because you're going to be moving quite fast through all this business here.
So let's pull this back in. So this is where we use our best friend, the Alt or Option key. We hold down the entire vertical stack of keys and drag. We know our first month is probably going to be either a closed mouth or just very slightly the open mouth. So let's see which. I think starting with a slightly open mouth might be a little more appealing. Let's do that. So then let's have a little listen. Switch off the animation of the mouth for a minute. Let's put a new layer down here. What I like to do is listen through and find the most important mouth in the mouth shape or phonetic sound in the line of dialogue.
That's the one thing you can't cheat. That's the closed mouth. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So that's the P sound in "happening." The mouth has to be closed on that. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So that's somewhere about here. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Right there. So put down F7. Make a blank key. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) You can see if you're hitting it just by looking at the blank key. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Excellent! So that's our closed mouth. So let's select this vertical column of keyframes. Alt/Option and drag a line that with our blank.
Don't even bother looking at it. We are a long way away from even testing the animation now. I find that the second most important and striking mouth shapes are the ooh sounds. We have a couple of them. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) We have one on "what's," the W sound. (Audio recording: What's happening now? What's happening now?) So there is one here, and roughly one here. (Audio recording: What's?) So I'm hearing that "wha" around this point. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Just by tapping the Enter key. I can play that.
(Audio recording: What's?) Until I'm happy with that placement. That looks pretty good. Let's get the second one. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So I'm seeing that "ow" sound about here. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Don't forget we'll be tweening into the shape. We have a little bit of wiggle room here. That's the F mouth shape. So let's select this column of shapes. Hold down Alt/Option and paste both of those blank keyframes. Those are the shapes that we really cannot fake.
They have to be pretty obvious and solid in their position. We can probably move them a couple of frames one side or the other. But this is good. So the next thing we do is the open and the closed mouth. I would think that the next most important shape are the quiet points in the sounds. So for example "what's," the S sound will be this mouth shape. If you actually make that shape yourself, "what's," you can actually feel the corner of your mouth closing and your corners of your mouth moving back. So, that's going to be somewhere between the F and the A.
Wha-t's happening? So it's pretty fast. (Audio recording: What's happening?) So, that S sound is somewhere about here. (Audio recording: What's happening?) There is another one after "happening." The G sound in "happening," "happening now," about here. Just drop in F7 at the middle note mouth. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) What's happening now and that B, let's put these B's in. Again, hold down the Alt or Option key and drag. You'll notice that I'm also being sure that I copy the labels.
These are critical, because these will prevent me from getting lost. If we didn't have this layer, it would be absolutely impossible. I wouldn't know where to begin with doing that. I've actually seen people who do this system and not use the label layer. That's a great way for a headache, so let's keeping. What's-- (Audio recording: What's happening now?) We need to look at the thing. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) I think the other big point to have this B shape after the now. I think you'll come back and end in that position. So let's just put that in here.
I don't want to switch off all this tweening business. We don't need to have anything in there. That'll be a solid end. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So the next thing is the open mouth. We have two of these to pick from, and at least in these larger keys. Bear in mind that whichever one of these frames that you use, we should correspond roughly with the degree of the volume with the character. So if he is really yelling, you'll be wanted to use the wide open D mouth. If he is a little quieter, maybe the C or even some of these in between fames, so we can also keyframe these, and use them on the Timeline.
So let's find the biggest broadest sound. (Audio recording: What's happening now? What's happening now?) I think the "now" is the loudest of the sounds, so let's pull that in here. After he says, what's happening now?, "what's happening," which is this point here, I think we get to hold that for a little bit. So again, Alt/Option and drag that. Let's switch off those tweens, make the Timeline easier to see. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) You can already see the "now." "Now" is nicely articulated.
Now you might find when you're doing this-- I've been doing this for a long time. It's something I'm already familiar with. Another way that you might be able to help yourself keeping your position and all this is making other label layer and writing the words. So in the Properties panel. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So they're pretty tight here. These are going to get a little scrunched. I used to do this. As you get more practice with it, you find you'll do this less and less.
(Audio recording: What's happening...) Let's pull this "what's" back a little bit. It doesn't have to be super exact. Just give us a rough placement. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Excellent! Because I'm very picky, let's keep that white. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Okay, so now we have the beginning of the scene. What's. So if you go from this B into the F, the B mouth shape into the F mouth shape, you'll see it's a very weak transition. I'd like to have the mouth open a little bit before I go into this ooh shape. So we could go into the C mouth. This might be a bit too broad. But let's try it.
Alt, Option, and then drag again. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Actually, that's pretty good. By going into this shape, it's like he is like he is taking a little breath. He is taking in some air. He is preparing to make the shape. This is also a good time. You might want to look into a mirror if you're not sure about how the line should look. Actually, you just say the line yourself, "what's happening now," and see how your mouth moves. So anyway, we went to this ooh, and now we are into the "what's happening." So this is the F into the B. So this is "what's happen," and this is the B. So "what's happening?" So we should have like an open shape in here.
I'm going to pick a bigger one. I don't like to use the same shape, if I can avoid it, so like to vary them a little bit. So let's make an in between shape maybe this one. Hit F6. This won't have a label, because it's an between. But I think we can figure it out. Let's see if this works. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) It's a bit poppy. So this is going "what's happening." "What's happening?" So one of the things that you will find when you do dialogue is this dynamic choice process. You don't want to under animate it or over animate it. So this may be overdone. Let's have a look.
(Audio recording: What's happening now?) Do we have enough frames to do this smoothly, or should we take out this little B mouth? Again, we have to get from "what's happening," "what." So this is called phrasing and how much emotion can we do with the outer mouth. Don't forget a lot of the articulation happens inside the mouth with the toungue. You don't have to create a mouth shape for every single syllable on the Timeline. If you do, it'll look like a little clockwork machine. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So I want to get this guy to say "what's happening." So from F to B, I think we can change the sequence of these.
So if you go "what's" as one smooth move, and then from this into the wide open mouth. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) And the closed month will read if we go from open mouth into a closed mouth. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) It goes from this P sound in hap and we want to get to this sound for ing. So that's a very poor transition as you can see. So let's put a little wide open mouth in there. I'm going to use the C mouth.
(Audio recording: What's happening now?) I'm feeling like it's too choppy. So I'm actually going to delete this B mouth here. It's just too much happening. That's another good rule of thumb when you do dialogue is to go from your closed mouth and quickly into the open mouth shape, and that have more frames slowing into the closed. So you open fast, and you close a little more slowly. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Much better. So there is one the most common issues that you're going to encounter. Don't make it too complicated.
You can cheat over some of the syllables and the sound forms and the phonemes that we're going to be hearing. (Audio recording: What's happening now? What's happening now?) If you see that chatter effect that we saw earlier, then that's a warning sign to you. I've got too many shapes in there. Again, break it down. Go back to the core frames that you can't cheat. You have to have the ooh, which is the F shape. You'll have to have the closed mouth, which we call the A mouth. So these are locked. We might be able to push them one frame to the left or the right, sometimes maybe little more.
I hate to use the word cheating. It's a little cruel. But it's certainly about not over animating the shape. It's mistake number one that you'll probably end up committing. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So then the last thing will be to add some ease-ins and ease-outs to make this look a little more natural. I find this very tedious. So in a previous chapter, where I have created some commands, generate our own tweens. But you can also do them manually if you don't want to mess with those. So let's do that here. I'm using the classic tween.
You can also use the slightly more sophisticated one. The nice thing about using this system is that it's easier to keep them precise. I like that these all have to match. If this tween is easing out 100, basically to slow into this pose, then all these must do the same. So let's do that. Let's make them all 100 and that one. I've already made these scripts, which I have mapped onto the numeric keyboard. So I'm going to using these. It'll be a lot quicker. So I'm going to Ease 50 on all of these and ease in on this side.
Just make it be a little more natural. You can apply a few more. Every time you see if you're in between frames here, that's a good spot. I'm easing into this frame here. Okay, let's see how that changes. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) So the last step. Once we are reasonably happy with that is we can delete if you like the source frames out here. (Audio recording: What's happening now?) Okay, so that's it. That is the dialogue line. I think we're ready to move on to some other techniques that'll help you with dialogue.
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