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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.
There is a technical issue that I'd like to address. This is going to affect your character and your animation and the visual style that you choose. If your animation is going to be played online as an SWF file, like on the phone or any kind of way that keeps it as a vector image, then your file size and your frame, they're going to be very important and they're going to set constraints to some degree on the choices that you make. Your characters should be optimized, not too complex, or the frame might slow down and become choppy.
So for example, you're currently looking at a scene from a short film that I've been working on. This is a scene that actually can't play in Flash because it has gradients. It has all these color layers and effects and transparencies that slow down the Flash Player. If I try to play this in the Flash Player, it gets very ugly. I'm going to show you the scene straight through. It starts well. The little guy doubles and he keeps doubling. But each time he doubles, his numbers double, as you can see the gradients double, until soon we have too many symbols, too many gradients, too much stuff going on.
By this point we are not even getting one frame per second. So effectively we're stuck. So what do we do? If our target audience is going to be watching this on a DVD or television, then there is no problem. They can simply export it in the AVI file or an MOV file or a PNG sequence, bring them into After Effects and do our work in there. So now I'm going to show you the same scene rendered out and we're going to play it in Media Player. That's it. So, as you can see, no problems with frame rate there.
So, again you should bear that in mind when you are building your character. If you're going to be keeping it as an SWF file all the way through your production right to your final destination, you don't want to go too heavy with gradients. You've just seen what happens when you overload your rig with fancy effects. You could probably have one or two or three or four characters looking like this, lots of nice little effects and things, but if you had a crowd scene you'd be in big trouble. So this is a pretty good example of how you're going set your limitations based on your audience and the format that they're going to be watching your movie on.
We'll proceed on to talk about the Line tool and other stylistic limitations that you might face.
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