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Using the Timeline

From: Flash Professional CS5: Animation Projects

Video: Using the Timeline

Before you begin animating, it helps to have a good understanding of how the Flash Timeline works, because currently, for this project, if I look in the Timeline panel, there is only one frame in the timeline. And what I want to do is I want to extend out the timeline for all of my content, each layer, to appear at a certain point in time. So, it's going to build this final image. So in order to do that, what I need to do is, say, for instance, for this background layer, I can go down to frame 90, and I can do a right-click, or Ctrl+click if you are on a Mac, and I can insert frame.

Using the Timeline

Before you begin animating, it helps to have a good understanding of how the Flash Timeline works, because currently, for this project, if I look in the Timeline panel, there is only one frame in the timeline. And what I want to do is I want to extend out the timeline for all of my content, each layer, to appear at a certain point in time. So, it's going to build this final image. So in order to do that, what I need to do is, say, for instance, for this background layer, I can go down to frame 90, and I can do a right-click, or Ctrl+click if you are on a Mac, and I can insert frame.

Watch what happens when I do that. It extends out the contents of this layer clear to frame 90. So if I go back down to frame 1, I will just click right here, and I will hit the Enter key, and I can see the playhead moved through all of these frames. In fact, if I do a Control > Test Movie and I test this in Flash, you can see my playhead move through all of these various frames. It will hit frame 90, and then it restarts.

Keep in mind that I actually have the Bandwidth Profiler turned on, so you can see this process. Again, this spike right here is all of the content. So I need to extend out the rest of the contents, so I will close this SWF file, and it's the same process of just right- clicking on the frame you want to extend the content to and then selecting Insert Frame. That looks pretty good, but what I can also do is just do a click and drag and select frame 90 for all of those layers, do a right-click or Ctrl+click and Insert Frame.

Now everything is extended out to frame 90. Take a look at these little black dots, because there is a little black dot on each layer. This is actually known as a keyframe. For instance, if I don't want this Replay button to appear till later on, all I need to do is click and drag that keyframe to about frame 90 just right there. Now, that Replay button doesn't exist until frame 90.

So I can start to stagger out this content. I will select this text layer, that keyframe, and just move that down to frame 50. I will do the same for this rectangle layer underneath it. I will drag that out to about frame 40, and then even the trees, what I can do is just click and drag that out to about frame 70. All right, notice now that all I have in the first frame is the ecostyle studio logo as well as the foreground and the background.

So let's take a look at what this looks like if I do a test movie. Again, you can see it move through all the content and notice how the content builds. All right, now what I want to do is I want to go ahead and add some keyframes and really start to control each one of these images and graphics a little more. Say, for instance, this logo. I actually want the logo to be really big initially. So I will just kind of move it to the center, and with the Free Transform tool selected, I can just expand out the size of that logo, and I can make it about that size roughly.

So, I want it to be that size until about frame 70, and at frame 70, I want it to be smaller. So, I can do a right-click and insert a keyframe for frame 70. What I am doing there as I am saying to Flash I am going to define new properties for this object at that point in time. So, now I can scale it back down and position it in the upper right-hand corner. All right.

So now this first keyframe tells it to be pretty large for most of the time until it hits this second keyframe, and then it pops down into place. Well, what if I want this logo to appear large for about the first one second, and then I want it to go away entirely. Well, in order to do that, what you will need to do is do a right-click or Ctrl+click, if you are on a Mac like me, and what I can do is insert a blank keyframe, because that's all this white is.

Sure enough, that takes away the logo entirely, and it actually doesn't exist from this moment forward. That's basically keyframes in Flash. You can start to adjust this even further. In fact, I am going to clean this up a little more. I am going to move this text layer down so the text layer and the rectangle are close to each other. But you will often run into a case where you are going to want to extend out your timeline even further. Initially, what I did is I inserted frames.

If you want to insert frames within any part of the timeline, you can easily do that as well. So I could just do a click and drag, and I can select a chunk of frames. So let's select about 10 frames. With those 10 frames selected, what I can do is I can insert 10 more frames. So I am going to do a right-click, and I am going to select Insert Frame. Look what that does is that pushes everything down, and now I am about at frame 100 or 101 for my content.

But again, it extended out this section of my timeline to allow for more animation, because ultimately, that's what I want to do is have some more animation room in here. So remember, it just a click-and-drag and you can select as many frames as you want. I will do a right-click and Insert Frame. Conversely, what you can also do is remove frames if you need to remove frames as well, so your animation goes faster. But again, Insert Frame, and that stretches out your animation even more.

Okay, I'll finish the cleanup because I can go ahead and grab this foreground keyframe and move that down to right about frame 24 because I want this logo to appear, and then it goes away the same time you see this foreground image. So that's an overview of the timeline in Flash. I want you to remember to always keep each graphic on its own layer, because it's going to be easier to work with, as well as some tips, as far as staggering out your graphics so they appear when you want them to appear.

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Flash Professional CS5: Animation Projects

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