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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.
If you use some other programs, you will know that there are different ways of handling animation space. And Flash, there's no way of being nice about it; it's fairly crude. It doesn't have any kind of visual camera, or a system for moving through the space. It's all flat, it all happens in one layer, there is no real 3D or even 2.5D space in it. There are some options starting to creep in, where you can spin symbols around, but nothing that you could do with the actual Stage itself. There are some third-party developers who have worked on this, and this is a really great Web site by Bryan Heisey. I hope I am pronouncing his name right.
Basically it's a virtual camera all done in ActionScript and Flash. And this does allow you to move this object which you can see here on your Stage, and what gets rendered out is what you see inside the rectangle. So if you rotate the rectangle, you rotate the rendered image. And here is another example that he has created for us. So you can do big rotations and camera zooms; you can blur the object and it will blur the rendered image. There are some things to bear in mind about this.
I've set up this file, and this is just a demonstration. So if you want to play with this I would say go to Brian's Web site, and you can download it from this link here: VCAM AS3. there is an older version here for ActionScript 2 if that one isn't compatible with you. So what I have done is set up, from a previous animation that we have done, here's a sample of the Stage, so let me just switch that off. So here's what's happening on the Flash Stage, and I've built a little vCam, a virtual camera, using his tool.
So to see the result let's go Control> Test Movie>Test, and as you see, this is what's exported. Now it's not matching the frame rate because of all the gradients; that's to be expected. The next step in this solution would be to export say an AVI, or a PNG sequence, and what will happen when you do that is this; pretty much nothing. The exports doesn't recognize the virtual camera, so Bryan recommends the solution is to export an MOV file, and then you get this. The first frame on this test render that I did was definitely weird, but the rest of the shot seems to work fine.
Now he recommends you then convert this into a different format, so this is up to you. I haven't taken this any further, but this is definitely something that you might want to look into. Whether or not it works for you is completely dependent on your skill set in terms of taking these MOV files, and doing a conversion into either an AVI or a video format. So the other thing to bear in mind, of course, if you're exporting to a SWF file, and you're not using a lot of gradients, and it's a fairly simple project, then this might be ideal for you as it is.
I did notice, however, that -- I did a couple of little quick passes with this. I want to guide in at that different layer that I created, so again here's the scene. Now notice the little man walking in, and his mouth is smiling, and everything there is fine, and then he goes, ooh. So when I did this particular shot I just framed in using the little blur on the camera. So I am going to Control>Test Movie>Test. Now watch his mouth; it's flickering. And so there is definitely the potential for some odd behaviors, again, depending on your individual scene, and the complexity of your scene. So something in there is reacting poorly to the virtual camera.
So how would I do a shot like this in Flash? And we'll be covering this in the rest of the course. I don't use the virtual camera because of those limitations, unfortunately. I'd love to able to use it. So when I do these kind of shots, what I do is I just -- actually no camera layers at all. And I go View>Pasteboard. All I am seeing on the Stage is -- there is no spillage around the edge of the screen. And if I wanted to do those kind of shots, I do them backwards. So essentially I would move the object on the Stage, and then scale it, position it, rotate it. And now I've got to switch pasteboard off, of course, because I need to have access to the corners to rotate it; to do these kind of things.
Essentially it's doing it backwards, and you can get all the same effects, but it can be confusing. So it's something that I've gotten used to doing, and we will be covering some of these tricks in this course. So let me just quickly apply a classic tween here, and there we have the basics of a camera zooming out and rotating. Not as easy to do, or as intuitive to do, as using a virtual camera would have made it, but nevertheless we can work around it. So understand about the virtual camera, know about its limitations, but we're going to move on and pretty much ignore it. But I want you to know about it so that it actually works for you.
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