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In Flash CS3 Professional Essential Training, instructor Rich Shupe delves into the key aspects of working with Flash CS3 to create professional animations, design interactive websites, and incorporate audio and video into self-contained presentations. The training covers using the drawing and color tools, mastering the essentials of animation, and working with type, graphics, sound, and video. Rich also introduces the essentials of working with ActionScript 3.0. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
This brief video sets out to answer the question, "what is a keyframe?" I've segmented this out into a small video, just because of its importance, not only as a precursor for the rest of the chapter, but also to virtually all of the animation techniques that you'll learn. To help bring focus to this question, I'm going to skip ahead a bit, but if anything seems out of context don't worry. Everything introduced in this video will be reviewed shortly. Again, what is a keyframe? In a nutshell, a keyframe is one way of representing author defined information in an animation. For example, let's consider the file in front of us. We have an empty stage and, an empty timeline. So far, I, the file's author, have not to defined any new information, but I'm going to come down to my library, and choose this movie clip, and drag it onto the stage. Note that the timeline has been populated by content, and if I click to deselect the movie clip, you'll see that this frame is represented by a dark, black circle. That indicates a keyframe. If I add frames by going out to the number of frames that I want to add, and then say Insert > Timeline > Frame, I'll again click to deselect the movie clip, and you'll note that, that black circle only appears in frame 1. The remainder of the frames are unaffected until the last frame, where a vertical rectangle is simply indicating the end of the frame span.
Why then is there only one keyframe? Well, what new information have I, the author defined? Well, I've clearly defined the position of this movie clip on the stage so, its X/Y coordinate is now new information. When I click the movie clip to select it, you'll see that the entire frame span is selected. Not just the first frame, or not just the frame in which the playback head resides. Furthermore, while the playback head happens to be in frame 10 right now, if I move this circle across the stage, and look at any other frame, you'll see that the circle resides in a new location in all 10 frames. Again, this is because there's only one keyframe, as I've only introduced one bit of author defined information. Okay, so, let's talk about putting another keyframe in. Let's move our circle back to the left side of the screen, and let's go to frame 10, and select only that frame in the timeline, and then say Insert > Timeline > Keyframe. I now have another black circle. In adding that keyframe I've started the process of adding new author defined information to the animation. I'm going to move circle to the other side of the stage, and now I have a keyframe with a circle here, and then I have span of frames from 1-9, just as I had before adding the second keyframe, and in that span, the circle is always on the left side of the screen. Now, I have two bits of author defined information, an X/Y coordinate in frame 1, and another X/Y coordinate in frame 10, and I can use that information to let the computer help me create an animation. We'll look at this again in animation techniques, but I'm going to select the first keyframe of the span, and I'm going to come down to my Property Inspector, and I'm going to choose Motion from the Tween menu. I'm doing this a little prematurely just to indicate the difference between a regular frame, or in this case a computer interpolated frame, and a keyframe. So, here in frame 1, I can select this item, deselect it, etc. I can manipulate it, and in frame 10, I can do the same thing, but in frame 6 for an example, I can't even select my item. Rather it's intentionally difficult for you to select the item.
I can if I want to, select a frame, and add a new keyframe, but in the case of working on the stage, the idea behind this is that this is not an area where you have introduced new information, and the computer has interpolated all of the between frames between frame 1, and 10, and figured out the position of that circle all the way across the animation again, if you want to insert user-defined information, you need to define a new keyframe. So, we'll choose frame 6, say Insert > Timeline > Keyframe, and now this item is selectable again, we can move it down here for example, and then we can see the computer again, do the work on the interpolated frames, going between frame 1, and 6, and then between six, and 10. So, the keyframe is something that you insert to define new information for your animation, and then through various animation techniques, some of which are computer aided, such as this one, the rest of the frames are interpolated, or otherwise determined. So, we'll look at that again in detail, looking at the animation techniques in a later chapter, but for now I just wanted to stress the idea behind the keyframe, and how it differs from a regular frame.
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