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Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating parallax


From:

Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Animating parallax

So this is a section where I'll talk about parallaxing a scene, or basically it means -- fancy word for moving different parts of your background at different speeds. In other words, objects far away will seem to move slower to you than objects that are close up to you. So let's look at an example of this, and this is a cityscape, and we're moving the camera, panning the camera across the screen. Actually, this gives us the impression that we are in a car driving alongside a roadway, maybe. And as we move, the objects that are in the foreground, like say, follow this point, for example; appear to move faster than objects that are further away. So the levels in this scene that are moving the slowest are the stars, of course; they are the furthest away. And then we have this part of the cityscape on its own layer, and that's on the separate layer from this darker skyline, and if you watch carefully you'll see of course that they all move at slightly different speeds. I think we have about five layers in this particular shot.
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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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Animation Tips and Tricks with Flash Professional
5h 16m Intermediate Aug 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Dermot O' Connor introduces a variety of real-world issues that animators commonly encounter and offers practical solutions to them in Flash. The course covers how to apply gradients to create subtle texture and light characters, reducing the flat look of most cartoons; how to simulate natural phenomenon such as wind, fire, and clouds; how to mimic 3D space; and how to add fades and transitions to create custom cuts between scenes. The course also includes a look at staggers, which can be used to create camera shake, tremor effects, and extreme character reactions.

Topics include:
  • Overlapping and animating colors
  • Creating lens flares
  • Animating hair with shape tweens
  • Animating an explosion
  • Animating smoke with particles
  • Animating a scream
  • Using Virtual Cam
  • Lighting a 3D shot
  • Animating cross dissolves
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation
Software:
Flash Professional
Author:
Dermot O' Connor

Animating parallax

So this is a section where I'll talk about parallaxing a scene, or basically it means -- fancy word for moving different parts of your background at different speeds. In other words, objects far away will seem to move slower to you than objects that are close up to you. So let's look at an example of this, and this is a cityscape, and we're moving the camera, panning the camera across the screen. Actually, this gives us the impression that we are in a car driving alongside a roadway, maybe. And as we move, the objects that are in the foreground, like say, follow this point, for example; appear to move faster than objects that are further away. So the levels in this scene that are moving the slowest are the stars, of course; they are the furthest away. And then we have this part of the cityscape on its own layer, and that's on the separate layer from this darker skyline, and if you watch carefully you'll see of course that they all move at slightly different speeds. I think we have about five layers in this particular shot.

Let's see what the scene looks like if we don't do that. And as you can see, it feels flatter. Everything is on one layer. It's not horrible; it just removes some of the depth that we experienced in the previous one. Let's look at that again. So the parallax free shot gives the impression that we're standing in place; that our physical position isn't moving very much, and we're just turning around moving our feet. So you might want that for some shots, and you might want the other option for others.

This is actually taken from one of the public domain movies from the 1940s called 'Destination Earth'. I think Maurice Noble is one of the background designers on this, and this was the scene that I used as reference to create that background. And as you can see, it's pretty scratchy and dirty, so I rebuilt the whole thing in Flash as best I could using the Vector tools and the gradients, and I used this in a short film that I was working on. So what I'm going to do is show you the process, it's pretty simple, of creating this little parallax effect.

So first thing I'd like to do is go to do View>Pasteboard; in older versions of Flash, this won't say pasteboard. It will say workspace or work area; something like that. They changed the naming convention of this in some of the recent versions, so if you don't see that, don't get lost. So this opens up the Stage, so we can see beyond this workspace. Yours may look slightly different, but there will be an area that you can work within, and this is mine. So let's double-click on this symbol, have a look inside, and see how it's structured. Again, I guess that was right: five layers. One at a time, we have the sky scape, we have the distant city, the foreground city, the rural-far, the and rural-near. And then simply by moving these on different speeds, we get the parallax effect.

So what I'm going to do to keep this fast is just delete this, clear keyframe by right-clicking, and let's look at the start frame, and then now we're back to just the regular flat background. If you don't have the Exercise files, then I would just make a series of very simple shapes; you don't have to be too elaborate with them. And as long as they're long -- if your Stage is going to be about, you know whatever length you choose, just make these backgrounds about twice as wide as that, and that should be enough for you to be able to move these around at a decent speed.

So make a skyscape, a city in the distance, and I would turn this into graphical symbols. And the one on the foreground, slightly darker. And then the old medium foreground, and then the near foreground. Once you have those set up and turned into symbols -- and if I click on any of these, they all have their familiar blue line around them, then you are ready to get that started. Okay, so let's go to, let's say Frame 100, or 101, good enough. And just set some keys. And the first thing I do - oh, there is really no need to move the sky.

The sky is not going anywhere. So what I want to do is take the far end of the city, and hold down the Shift key and the left arrow key. And move that once, and then the next one move twice, and then the next one, Shift and 1, 2, 3, maybe 4, and then the top one 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Let's try that and see how it feels. And just by sliding the Timeline back and forth, I'm just clicking and -- click and drag, and it feels pretty good.

So on the outer Stage, we obviously see the same thing, but to see if it really works, we go View>Pasteboard, and then it hides everything that's off the edge of the screen, and there we go. So obviously it's not moving very far, so if you wanted to, you could do some work out here too. Being sure that you're a symbol is set to loop and play once, otherwise you'll see a static frame no matter what you do. Hit F6 and we could move that.

I'm holding down Shift and moving the arrow key, and then we can a create a classic tween, and let's see if that works. And of course, it does. And we're dealing with subtlety here. It's just something that registers at a very low level, but it's definitely there. And very handy just to give a little bit of extra depth and illusion to your work. Last thing I would do will be to slow in to the end, and I do that by clicking on this little pencil guy here in the Properties panel. So essentially what I will do is select somewhere on the blue area where we see the motion tween. And you can use the old- fashioned tween system here by clicking and dragging, or by typing in numbers, but I much prefer this method. So I click on the little square, and what pulling this spline will do is create a slow in to the final frame. And by clicking on this one, we'll slow out a little bit too. Or ease in, and ease out.

You can make these more extreme by pulling the splines back and forth. So let's do that. Now you see it's slowing in. And now I'm going to play again, and that's how simple it is.

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