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The animation tools have been greatly enhanced in Flash CS4, and Todd Perkins teaches their advanced capabilities in Flash CS4 Professional Tools for Character Animation. He shows how to master the new Motion Tween model and the Motion Editor to control easing and effects such as Squash and Stretch. He demonstrates how to use the new 3D tools to add rotation, perspective shadows, and layered animations. Complex interactive animations and walk cycles are created without a line of code using bone systems. Todd also demonstrates the power of advanced masking, sound effect syncing, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this movie we'll use a mask to apply an animated shadow to our monster. If you are following along open up Shadows.fla in the Chapter_04 folder. If you don't have the exercise files, you'll just need some movie clips to follow along. I am going to double-click the monster to enter its timeline and then our goal here is to cast a shadow of the claw on the monster's face. So to do that, I am going to need some new layers above the Monster layer. So I'll create one called Mask, and that layer will be above the Shadow layer. For the shadow I am going to use a copy of the claw. The copy of the claw I am going to use is called LeftClawNoSound.
In an earlier movie, we made this copy of a movie clip that doesn't have any sound, so that sounds don't overlap. So I am going to move this claw on to the Stage. And you'll that it's reversed from the other one. So what I am going to do is use the free transform tool and flip it horizontally, and then scale it so it's the same size as the other one approximately. And then I'll place it over the monster's face. And then I am going to apply the Drop Shadow in the same way that we created our Perspective Shadow in another movie.
So I'll go to the Properties inspector and I'll add a Drop Shadow filter and then I'll check Hide Object, change the Distance to 0 and then reduce the Strength a whole bunch. That looks good. And now we need to create the mask. So what I am going to do is actually copy the whole monster and then make it into a vector shape. I'll show you how to do that and why in just a second.
I am going to lock the Shadow layer, and we are going to click on the Monster layer to select and I'll copy that by pressing Command+C on the keyboard, and I'll select the Mask layer and press Shift+Command+V or Shift+Ctrl+V on the PC to Paste in Place. So now I have a copy of my monster. The data type for this is movie clip, so when I click on the monster you'll see movie clip in the Properties inspector. Now if I just tell Flash to set this a mask by right-clicking that layer and choosing Mask, then Flash will create a mask for me, but if I test the movie you'll see that it looks a little bit choppy.
(Snap, snap, snap.) The reason for the choppiness is because I am using a really complex movie clip for my mask. What you can do to make this work a little bit more cleanly is to break the movie clip into shapes. So what I am going to do is unlock the Mask layer, then with the Mask Layer selected, I am going to select Command+ B on my keyboard, that's the keyboard shortcut for Modify and Break Apart. What that does is it breaks apart any object to its next editable level. So for example, I had this movie clip that is a whole bunch of drawing objects. When I break the movie clip apart, then I get the drawing objects without that movie clip container. I break apart the movie clip container to reveal only the drawing objects.
So you'll see on my Stage I have a group selected. You could see some drawing objects in there. So if I keep pressing Command+B, I am eventually going to get all vector shapes. And when I have that selection, I can change the color in the Properties inspector to let's say a purple color, then I have a purple vector shape for my mask. And that will greatly simplify the mask and reduce the load for Flash in processing it. Additionally, you can select your vector shape and then choose Modify > Shape > Optimize, and then you can adjust the Optimize Strength however you want, click OK, you get the information from Flash, then you're shape is Optimized. That way you are further reducing the load for the Flash Player. So now I'll lock the Mask and I can Preview the Shadow on the monster. Now I'll test the movie to see this is in the Flash Player.
(Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap.) So using Masks and our Shadow technique, you can cast shadows on objects and mask out any parts of the shadow that don't cover the object. Further if you are using a complex movie clip as a mask. Break apart the movie clip into a shape and optimize that shape to let the Flash Player perform better.
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