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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.
So now what I'm going to do is take the previous animation of the smoke cloud clusters, and find a way to make it a little easier for Flash to handle this. There is an awful lot of layers going on here. Let me switch off the sky, and just look at these in Outline. So let's take two of them, and as you can see, where they cross the material on the yellow layer is actually mostly invisible. There is no need to have that being thrown around by the engine, so there are various ways we can flatten this out, so let's take a look at how.
So I'm just going to go into one of these symbols, let's right-click on the top one, and we go Edit. And again, we have yet more nested symbols. I want to find a way to flatten these into one completely self-contained image. The first step to do that is to go as deep as we can, and remove anything that's not needed. That will be for one, this reference layer. And I'm assuming at this point that you don't delete any of your previous work. I would do all of this work on a new FLA file, just in case something goes wrong. So let's delete the reference ring, and now we'll go back into here. And I think probably the quickest way to do this is just select everything, and hit F6; that's a lot of black dots.
So the next step will be to Edit Multiple Frames, and then to the right of the multiple frames icon -- they've changed the naming of this in the latest versions of Flash, but you will have something like Edit Multiple Frames, or some other word there, and I would select that. Once that's done, you should see this grayed out area with these little black brackets at the top of the screen, so that means everything is now potentially selectable. So we'll hit Control+A, and you'll see a lot of lines surrounding all your symbols. And then hit Cintril+B and wait a moment. Depending on the speed of your computer, this could be a fast or a slow process.
If it's really a slow process; sometimes I do it layer by layer, and it does require a little bit of patience. So there we have our explosion. Let's switch off Multiple Frames now, where you'll see everything at the same time. And we're still on layers; the only difference is they're not symbols anymore. So this is actually maybe a little less efficient if anything. So the next thing to do is to flatten all of these columns of symbols into a single layer. So at this point, I think it's good to know about this great Web site called toonmonkey.com, and these are free extensions for Flash.
And the one that's super useful would be Merge layers. Very simple to download from here, and you install them using the Extension Manager in Flash. Once that's done and installed in Flash, you'll find that under your Commands menu. We covered in an earlier section how to install extensions, so no need to do that now. I'm actually not going to do that, because once in awhile, merged layers doesn't like something, and it won't work. So I would say it works maybe 95% of the time, but that's why it's good to know how to work around it when it doesn't.
So first of all, let's make a new layer. Fill it full of empty keyframes by just hitting F7. And what I'm about to do is change the outline color, right-click on that layer, and this new layer, let's give it something strong like black that we can't miss. I'm going to change all these lower layers to Outline, and then in the first column select all of them, copy them, and in the top layer Control+Shift+V, and you should see the new artwork pop down, and it should match exactly the one beneath. Same thing, very carefully to the next one, Control+C, and then on the top layer, Control+Shift+V. As we move from one to the other, these might be a little bit confusing, because some of these outlines are different colors.
So you might find it easier to make them all consistent. So make them all red, or green, or whatever. So again, when I copy here, you'll see that's beautiful; perfect! So where before we had, in this case, seven layers, Control+Z, Control+Shift+V: we have one layer, and it is helping us to remove all of the intersections. Okay, that was great fun! I want to scrub back now and check everything; make sure all my cutting and pasting went okay.
So basically if I switch off my upper layer, this black outline should pretty much match the one beneath it. So I'm just going to pick a few of these. Make sure everything went normally; looking good. So as you can see I've got many of these, and where before there were 12 layers, now I can delete them, and I've only got one. And Flash will thank us for that when it's starting to create larger clouds. So now each one of these symbols, which used to be 12 nested symbols, is only one symbol. So now we have four nested symbols, where before there were 48, or 50, or whatever it was.
So we can now, guess what? Do the same thing here, and we're almost there. So let's hit F6, for all of these, same with these, and here, and there. Look at these one by one; I think just test that they pop out at the right point. So if you want, you can make a blank -- F7 for an empty frame there, so we see exactly how much stuff we have got.
Identical Procedure: Edit Multiple Frames, Marker Range All, Control+A to select them all, Control+B to break them apart. And then switch off Edit Multiple Frames, make an empty layer, a lot of F7s up there to make our new flat layer. And the same process as before: Control+C, Control+Shift+V. I'm going to put the top layer into Outline mode, so that as I go I can just very quickly double-check to make sure -- and actually let's make it black like the other one; right-click Properties, black outline, there we go.
So I'm not seeing it until I actually paste it in. I'll make it solid instead then, that way I see it immediately. So now we have our top layer done, and it should be identical to the four nested layers beneath, so I can delete them now. And now we have one layer, and this one layer will definitely be played faster than the ones beneath. There's things that we can do on top of this now. We can optimize the shape, Modify>Shape>Optimize. And depending on how you want this optimizing to work, sometimes you can be more aggressive with it than might be needed, so be very careful with that.
Let's go into the Full mode now so we can see where we at, and that's probably pretty clean. And if let me go into Outline mode; you can see, it looks like a single drawing. So at this point I would save this as a final project file, and I think that gives you a very good idea of how you can do some traditional animation, but use some of the Flash tools to help you construct extremely complex forms.
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