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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.
Okay, so let's finish the mouth, some last little finishing touches. So that's in charcter_rig_ 05 in your Projects folder. Let's double-click on head, double-click on mouth, and let's have a look at how we finish it. And if we've done everything else stably and all these shapes are clean and if Flash likes this, then we can create the in-between frames by simply hitting F6. So I like to, instead of picking things just here, I would like to be a little more subtle with it. So for example, between the D mouth and the F mouth, we have a series of shapes that are increasingly pursed.
I like to take this one as the key for the E mouth just to give us a little more texture in our shapes. So I select these frames and hit F6, and then pull them until they are under the E, and that becomes our E shape. You don't have to do this. You can go right in the middle if you prefer. Now the critical thing to do is to test these shapes, and you know that they're good, that they are stable, if the rest of the animation in betweens properly. If it doesn't, it means something somewhere is annoying Flash, and you are not going to have much luck. So if that does happen to you, I would advise trying again. You've made a mistake on one of the shapes, most likely the F or the D mouth.
There could be an extra point. You may have to reposition some things slightly. In extreme cases, I've just redone them. Now, the reason why it's worth this kind of aggravation is because once you get the six shapes correct and stable and locked, you can do anything with them. You can play them on any number of sequences. So let's just continue this process and what I want to do is get the C mouth, I would like to be halfway open between the A and the D. So I am just going to pick something in here, and then just pull them over. I like the B mouth to really be a little bit closed.
So it's more like, imagine, you are smiling with your teeth clenched. It would look something more like that and that will be great for little E sounds. So, the C, so the E element on that word. So let's do that. We can pick any of these. In fact, if you want, you can finer things, you can use just go in and you can pick a lot of very fine gradations for your B mouth if you want to even be sweeter on it. So let's pick this one, F6 for that, pull that in, and then just delete these tweens.
Let's play that slowly and make sure everything is stable. There's no lines flickering. There's no colors appearing where they shouldn't appear. This looks great. You could add more details if you want. You could add a black for the back of the throat. You could add lines in the teeth. But for now, we have a limited amount of time for this but I am just giving an idea about what's possible with this method. We could play it a couple of times, looks great. So that's it. We've done it. There are no shape hints. This is all working smoothly. I think one reason why this is so stable is because maybe I am being suspicious or superstitious, I don't know, but Flash seems to like certain amounts of numbers more than others.
I've tried of doing these shapes with eight points and more, and it just doesn't like them. Six is the smallest number of points I think we can get away with. Eight becomes a little less stable and you end up having to use, or I have anyway, having to use shape hints. You do not want to use shape hints for this, unless you're doing a custom mouth shape. So this is six points for the lower shape, six points for the upper shape, and if you look at the inner mouth, I think that is also six points. Click on that. Yup. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It's hexagon.
So Flash like hexagons. They seem to be more stable shape tweening objects. So let me show you the cool stuff about this. Let's say I was going to do a dialogue scene or a scene with some mouth movements. Well, first thing I would do, I wouldn't mess with this symbol because this is not my final symbol. I'll make a new one. Call it mouth test. Always keep the original. Don't mess with that. So now, we can basically select these. Hold down the Alt/Option key. Copy them.
Actually, let's switch on. I am going to switch on tweening for everything. So let's say you want to go from the B mouth, and notice I am copying the labels as well so I can see which mouth I'm working in. I am just grabbing these at random and pulling them in and dropping them anywhere. This is also a part of the testing process. It's a great way of making sure that everything is working nicely. No two combinations are going to take a dislike to one another. Lo and behold, each other shape blends into each other shape.
If you wanted to, you could even make another set of A-F mouth shapes that are angry. Just take the corner of the mouth, pull it down, press till you have a little angry A-F library which can also blend into any of these. If you feel constricted by only having these six shapes, well, consider the fact these six shapes are your core. If somebody comes up with a unique line of dialogue that needs something more extreme, you can take any of these shapes, duplicate it, and push it even further than this. You can do some remarkable shapes and you can snap into custom mouths. You are not limited to these six, but these six are a very good safety net and you will always have these to build up the bulk of a dialogue-heavy project.
I would like to say that they're completely open to customization. Something rough and ready here, but let's say if I wanted to pull this, I don't know if this will work or not, but it's worth trying. Yeah! That seems to work. Let's padlock it. It's a very solid system. There is no guarantee that when you do this tutorial, you will get this working the first time, you may have to do it more than once, but you'll have this Flash file in your folder and you will be able to play around with it and see how it works and hopefully duplicate it.
If you feel this visual style might be inhibiting, let me get rid of this. I will make a quick and dirty example of how you can have maybe a slightly more stylized version, for example. Because not all projects will be as realistic as this one. You could construct an animated mouth from-- let's give this more volume. That can be your, for example, close to your A mouth. That could be your D mouth. Something like this can be your ooh mouth.
So if you had a simpler project or something with a more stylized look to it, you can still repeat the techniques in this tutorial, but working at a much less detail oriented level. Because obviously, we are working with fills, not lines, and they do pose more challenges. Definitely, there is a lot of fun to be had using shape tweening for the creation of dialogue. You can imagine this colored and with the teeth layer masks inside that looking pretty good. So the head is rigged, the mouth is rigged, the eye blinks are rigged, and we are finally ready to proceed to actually animating the entire character.
So in the next chapter, we are going to move on and do a complete head turn, which is going to move the body, the head, the face, everything, and we will integrate all of the elements in the lessons we have learned in the previous classes. So that's it and I hope to see you in the next chapter.
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