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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.
Let's start building on our head turn scene and go into your work folder, Exercise Files, Chapter 4 head turn. I am going to open 06. That's probably where we left off. And let's turn and click into the symbol. I am going to look out. It's a little floaty and we are going to speed it up a little bit. Not right now. It's actually nice to have it a little on the slow side, because it is the way of looking at and seeing if it's too fast. Sometimes it can be tricky to see things, so certainly for your first scene when you are looking at all the different kinds of tweening working together.
That gives you a better chance of seeing the bending symbols work and how they all nest inside one another. So let's go into the head symbol. I padlocked it earlier, so now I am going to reverse that. Just go in and look at that. We have to do the same thing inside the head. Currently this is all what's happening in there and that's already sufficient to sell the head turn on the outer clip. So what we really want to do is to get a little bit more intricate than this. So just right click on the head and go Edit, and that way we will go straight into the head.
Let's go a bit closer. And so what I want to do here is to actually turn and skew some of these symbols inside the head. Very crude. This should give you an idea. I am going to select, Shift+Click and select a few of these objects. What I am going to do is move them around like this and tween this movement and that will make it look like the head is actually rotating in three-dimensional space. So let's set a key here, F6, and this would be your most extreme turn to this direction and then we will snap to this.
So let's just do this part first. And you will see exactly what I mean. Let me get this working. Insert > Classic Tween. So let's begin the process. So we are starting from here and rotating the head as far as we can along this axis from here, to here. He is going to move from this direction through this direction. Now obviously with these symbols, we can only go so far. There is only so much magic we can do with this, but let's just start to see how far we can get away with it. So I am going to pick say the eye and the eyebrow.
Let's do a Shift+Click. I like Shift+Clicks for this, because they move in bigger increments than the tiny one. So let's make it one, two, three, four that way. Click the nose. You can be actually pretty rough with this. Don't be too precious about it. Let's test that already, see what happens. So you are getting some idea about the effective we are looking for. So let's take the ear. Move that over and we are and we are going to actually use free transform, the Q key, to make it seem like the ear is moving in three-dimensional space.
So what we are trying to do is imagine that the skull is more or less fixed and we are going to be sliding the eyes and the eyebrows around the skull, trying to get as close as we can to this. So obviously there are things here that need to be changed. There is too much skin here. That's kind of weird looking. So let's select the eye, pull it out a little bit. Maybe do the same thing with this, let me be skew them slightly, same thing with the eyebrow.
Now what I have just noticed, when I switched this to motion tweening, it automatically symbolized the eyebrows. And I don't necessarily wanted to do that, because I want these to be shape tweens. So let's switch this tweening system from motion. It won't let me. Okay, just delete this. Make a new key. That's slightly annoying and that's a new quirk that's crept into the program, I am afraid.
Okay, as you can see it's a shape tween. It works fine. We will have more control over that as a shape tween than as a motion tween. So let's do the same thing here. I am going to move that over again and I don't know if there are any other parts that we wanted to maintain. We didn't want that to be symbolized. It's important that we will keep this as a shape tween, because we are going to be playing with the shape of this object quite dramatically.
As you can see this isn't a precise science. There's no mathematical equation going on determining how many degrees I push these eyes over. It's very much a matter of your artistic tastes and how far you think you can get away with it. I've seen some people push these head turns really remarkably. You may be a bit intimated the first time you do it. It's worth your while to really shove these elements around, try to break them and see. I am always amazed by how difficult that is to see some of the wonderful effects.
You make a turn like this and then you look at in the outer clip and oftentimes that's pretty noticeable. It looks extreme when you look at it inside the symbol; when you look at it outside the symbol it's quite subtle. Still very much worth doing. My point being you really have to push these moves to make them readable. So let's go back into this head. Okay, I think to move that mouth, maybe the nose over some more, oops! Wrong way. And let me pull the jaw around a little.
And I would expect that cheek to move slightly. And this is where outline mode is also very handy. We also wanted to keep the skull as a shape tween. Because we will be actually changing the structure of the skull slightly to match this. So let's keep Snap on for of these joints here, and I back off again.
You can't really make these kind of very fine alterations with motion tweening. Okay. So you notice the ear; the ear is getting smaller. It seems to be wrapping itself around the form of the skull. Maybe we can move it over a little bit more and now we can go in and maybe match the hairline up. That's something I didn't want to be as a symbol, such a big area. And one thing that really helps this move is if the hair is on the top.
Then we have to make an adjustment to this area here. I will go into outline mode for this and with the widow's peak here. Now we will just try to line up as best as we can, this area with that, and the split will be hidden behind the big tuft of the forelock. Here we go. So that's first part of the turn done. Now I think we can push this quite a bit further, but for now I just want to get us to a place where we were reasonably happy with it and that's the turn, snaps into this.
Now what we want to do is to complete the turn, basically have a mirror image of these frames on this side. So whereas here we were moving from the facing far screen left to look into the middle, jere I want to begin the character with his nose somewhere around here. I will move him into this position. So what I am going to do is keyframe here and do the opposite, try to pull these frames back into the center here. So there is a couple of ways we can try to shortcut it. I could try to copy these keys to this and just flip in horizontally. That might work.
I will try it and see what happens, no guarantees. Sometimes worth trying these. Hey, how about that? So we can also make this a bit smoother by repositioning this slightly. There is a center of mass pop here. So I am going to see if I can help that by moving the entire stack over by Shift+Clicking and moving the numeric keypad. It's a bit smoother. Don't forget too, this entire movement that you are seeing here, it's all going to be moving anyway on the outer clip here, so let's see what that looks like in place.
Nicer, it's really helped to smooth that out. There is one more thing I want to do. You may remember, I made that click and dirty copy of frames from this side to that side, which means all these frame numbers on the stack will be the wrong number. We are on frame 16, you can see here, and if you click on any of these symbols you'll see its frame 15, because I copied it from frame 15 stack. So you must not forget to correct that number and that's really going to be something you worry about on any graphical symbols or comps that are going to be animated internally, and that means the two eyes and the mouth.
If you don't correct these then what will happen is if you do internal animations inside these, for example timing the eye blinks, they will occur one frame too late or one frame too early at the wrong point. And if you begin copying these stacks and moving them around dramatically, you can have some extremely inaccurate performances. So that's our first pass over the head and I think we can save it at this point. We can make further passes that will fine-tune the animation of the head.
And then we will add eye blinks and tilts to the head animation and that will add another layer of believability to the animation.
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