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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 as you may know, there are two ways of creating animation in Flash: shape tweening and motion tweening. And in this chapter, we are going to cover and compare both of these systems and see some of the strengths and the weaknesses of each of those. So, if you've opened from a previous Flash file, you may be in this layout with a tall timeline, but right now, we are going to try some animation. So let's switch our workspace back to the more animation friendly timeline that I have set up, and here we go. So let's create one layer for our tween animation and we will make one for the shape.
So we will call the top one motion tween, and the bottom one shape for shape tween. So let's make an object that we can motion tween. Now to do that, if you create, for example, a box or a column on the stage, this won't motion tween. There has to be a symbol first. So let's select all that. Hit F8 and let's call it box. It's pivoted around the middle. If this was like an upper arm or an upper leg, we'd pivot it here. So let's just make a simple motion tween.
So we can hit F5 to extend our timeline and maybe hit F6 here. That will make a second keyframe, and now we want this to motion tween. So we'll go Insert > Classic Tween. We are not going to use the new Motion Tween. We are staying away from that. This course will work entirely with classic tweening because we have a finer level of control over this process. Now, we take the second keyframe, and just move it around. This is, obviously, the most simple kind. Just translating or moving the object from left to right.
We can rotate the object and that will also be created very easily. We can squash the object. Let's make it closer so we can see the squashing a little more easily. So as you can see, there is a lot we can do with this, but the big disadvantage is it's still parallel lines. We can't take this and distort it wildly. We can't turn the square into a sphere.
So let's do a comparison with shape tweening. I am going to create a similar object, just a box shape, and let's make a second keyframe. I am hitting F5 out here but this time I am not going to make a box. I am going to make a completely different symbol. Let's do the Oval tool and just make a sphere. Then select our timeline. Insert > Shape Tween. Now we can transform something as radical as a square into a sphere and indeed we can do far more complex objects than this. This is something that you really have to play with yourself, but I have shape tweens, astonishingly complicated objects.
Now, the problem that you'll see immediately is that the corner, this point if you follow it, it's moving in this direction, not really the way you would want. Even if you were to center at the sphere, there's a pretty good chance of it, and it really won't do exactly what we need. So even, for example, this point here is moving to a nine o'clock position. So let's see if we can play with that. So you go into Modify > Shape > Add Shape Hint.
This gives us the letter, A, and the more of these hints you make, the more they are lettered sequentially. A, B, C, D. So let's drag the A to the corner that we want to correct. Then we move to our second keyframe and drag the A to the point that we want that point to move to. We have a little bit of unusual behavior. So this is what drives people crazy about shape tweening. Things can happen that are unpredictable and erratic. This is the point where most people simply give up and go, "Oh, this is no good." So let's stick with it.
I am going to move the A to different point, and now you see the problem is solved. So this is why you should stick with shape tweening and not give up on it and you have to have a little bit of patience, but it's worth it. So let's make a second point. Modify > Shape > Add shape Hint and this time we will try this corner. As you can see, with just those two, we can already morph and tween a square into a sphere. So, a quick recap of the pros and cons of both of these systems with motion tweening.
This is one of the issues you see with shape tweening. The redraw of the A, Bs and Cs is a little peculiar sometimes. If that happens, you just right-click on the A or the B and go Hide Hints. So the pros and cons of motion tweening, it's stable. You can throw this symbol around. It's not going to turn. It's not going to go nuts. It's always going to do what you more or less tell it to do. The disadvantage is you can rescale it, you can squash it, or you can skew it, but you cannot turn a square into a sphere or a donut.
With shape tweening, you have the advantage of flexibility. You can take a square, turn it into a circle or any number of objects, depending on how aggressive you are with your hands in your tweening. The disadvantage of shape tweening, you have already seen, it can be erratic. It can require a little bit of tender loving care to make it do what you want it to do. Sometimes I have on rare occasions thought, okay, this is not going to work. This shape is something too complex. But for the kind of things we are going to do in this course, shape tweening is ideal. So that said, we are going to show you a system where you can take the strengths of shape tweening, combine them with the strengths of motion tweening, and nest your shape tweening inside a motion tween symbol.
This will help us to offset some of the disadvantages of motion tweening and the disadvantages of shape tweening to create some really cool effects.
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