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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 we've animated our body walking, we've animated the secondary action of the hair, and now we're going to put a bit of flexibility into the hands. So let's Open up our file in your Exercise Files Chapter 6 folder and it's the walk_10. Click in and let's just play through and look at the hands. So they're not horrendous or anything, but they're not really responding in a way that will be appropriate to such a fast action. Let's just focus on one of them. We'll hide the back one and just look at the right hand and if we go through this a little slower, you'll see what I mean.
There is little join breaks and things we have to fine-tune. So for example, this is a pretty fast action. I would expect that hand to drag a little bit. As the arm moves down like this, we would expect a little bit of a break that way. So we'll just go out through this frame by frame. Let's go into that symbol. I'm going to add some keys. This is our hand layer here. So let's label that properly. You remember we nested the hand inside the arm symbol, which really simplifies the process of the arcs.
So okay, I'm going to just retransform and go back and always look at your symbols in context. This one is looking little disjointed. You don't notice it in the full scene because it's moving so fast, but now we can go in and fine-tune that and don't forget this is a cycle. So the first hand and the final hand should be at the same position. So one, two, three into the next position here. frameEdit in using our favorite extension.
More drag on there than we would expect. Again tunnel out and see what it looks like in context. So from here to here, the opposite should happen. It'd be nice if we saw the hands moving backwards a little. It's not floppy like a rag. It is a living thing and it has some strength in it, but a little bit of reaction to these very big broad movements would be more believable. So we'll keep going. Looking more that way, maybe pull the wrist out a little.
If you find the wrist is not to your liking, it's completely okay to alter the position a little. You'll begin to expose issues with the rig. You might think oh, you know, maybe you don't need that dark line here or maybe this should be a bit longer. If you want to make changes to make it suitable, just duplicate that symbol and then do whatever business you need to make it work inside. Okay, so we'll keep moving through this and this doesn't mean we slavishly have to make the hand always drag. Obviously it can move under its own steam, but in this case, I'm just going to see what this looks like first.
Then we can go back in and tighten it up if we have to. Okay, so at this point there is a little bit of direction change. The arm begins to move screen left and then slows down and begins to move to the right so there is a bit of overlap on the hand here. And I had a little alternate, strange little timing here where I didn't line up the key. Let's just put a slight piece of drag on the hand. We can change that back to here if we want. We don't have to do that.
It's just-- it's nice sometimes while your timing isn't slavishly aligned with the primary keyframes. If you want something to drag, to be in slightly different overlap timing, you can do that. This hand was dragging nicely. Tiny errors in here. These are the kind of things that take up a lot of time as you're animating in the studio, making sure that all these little gaps are properly closed off. So there's a little bit of break between here. You can see the hands overlapping with the wrist so that's because there is very big internal movement here too.
So this is a good spot where we can go in and correct that. Be sure it's okay on the in-betweens as well. So as you can see as I'm dragging the hand and moving it over this motion tween it's automatically creating keyframes, so just beware of that. You can create a lot of keyframes. If you had a lot of violent action going on here, you might end up having to keyframe quite a bit of this. So there we go. Let's have a look at that now in context again on the outside, and you can see it's got a bit more of a kick, especially here at the back end where we really put that overlapping.
I think that I could have probably put a bit more too. Let's see. On this point where the arm begins to move from this highest position up and to down, let's do something a little trickier. I'm going to go into that point. So on this frame, which would normally be an in-between frame, let's put a big overlap in there and just have a tween down from there and see what happens. That's a very strong transition. And you're really feeling that wrist flexing at that point.
That's making him a little more limp- wristed, but that's keeping in character with the rest of the walk, which is pretty deliberately over-animated. So we could repeat the process with the left hand, again just make a lot of keyframes on the cardinal positions of the contact, recoil, passing and high point, and let's hide the upper arm and we'll put the body into outline. So we're going to drag the hand a little. Again go back and fourth so you're -- and let's see the hand is like moving down.
So let's do something different and try get out this way. And here it's moving forward. Let's really drag that hand back. It's more comic little pose and same here. Maybe now that position might be okay.
Actually let's move the hand in a bit, since we're breaking a little and then drag it here as well. Okay, so here we have the same issue as we had on the other hand. So he's going to move down from here to here. First of all, we will drag this hand and fix that little joint error there. It will gap open up at the wrist.
So from here to here it would be nice if the hand snapped again. So I'm going to make a keyframe here, F6, and let's do a dramatic little snappy overlap. So as the hand goes up, wrist goes down and the hand is still moving up. Let's put some drag, now moving to his left, let's have the hand dragging the opposite direction. Okay, and have to make sure that our contact poses, the start and stop are the same. Let's see what that looks like.
And it's much nicer. So you're feeling that nice little kick. It's something that you really sense that rather than see blatantly because it's such a fast action. It's happening in one second. But all of these things add up and the overall effect, secondary action on the hair, these little overlaps on the hands, even things like the feet tweening like this. All of these things work together to help us fight the awful effect that is the Flash-y look when it comes to animation where we're just moving flat symbols around.
All these techniques are vital tools in our war against the dead empty motion tweening of just geometrical shapes. So this is all about the illusion and helping our little flat character look like he isn't a little flat character. So I think there's one more little pass I have to make over this to add some little squash and stretch on the torso level and maybe a couple of other little things here and there and then we have to really tie this down and save our file and move onto the next chapter.
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