Category Archives: Flash Commands

Art Brushes Are Within My Grasp

Oh my goodness, I’m so close. You don’t even understand. For the last week or so I’ve been using all the spare time I could find to work on a new Flash command. It’s so complex that the source file is now more than 1000 lines. To put this in perspective, I’ve never seen any jsfl command that comes even close to this length, apart from my own autotweener. To put this further in perspective, this tool will do something that Flash has never been able to do, and for which I and many of my Flash animator friends have been clamoring as long as any of us has been using Flash.

Curious yet?  The tool that I’m working on will map arbitrary art onto an arbitrary path.  That means you can create “art brush” symbols and then apply them to any path and have the brush bend itself to follow the path.  For instance, if you’re animating a tiger with a wagging tail, you’d just animate a line, then apply your tiger tail art to your lines.  Boom, you’ve got a wagging, serpentine tiger tail.

I haven’t got the tool finished yet but I thought I’d put up an image to illustrate what I’m talking about.  The image below is from the Art Inspires blog (see the original post here).  It’s a screen capture from Adobe Illustrator, which has had this feature for a long time.  I’m kind of skeptical that I can make my art brushes look as good as Illustrator’s, and it will certainly be slower (since it’s written in Javascript), but either way it’s going to be awesome.  Seriously, this is sharks with frickin’ lasers territory.

Virtual animation disc

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on a new Flash command that several people had requested, and that I’d like to have myself.  It feels good to be able to help people out with stuff like this, particularly when it also helps me 🙂  Anyway, I thought I’d talk about it a little.

Several graphics programs, particularly ones that deal with animation, have a feature where you can rotate the canvas to an arbitrary angle, in the same manner as an animation disc.  It’s very useful when you can’t get quite the right curve to a line unless your drawing is positioned at a good angle.  Unfortunately, Flash won’t do that.

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No Laurel-Resting

Today was a good day.  Let me list a few of the reasons:

  1. Kung Fu Panda World went live.  I’ve been working on this virtual world since January of Last year and it’s very satisfying to see it “ship”.  This is also the first game I’ve shipped as an animator.  Long ago I was a software engineer and I shipped one game while I worked at Treyarch Studios.  Maybe you haven’t heard of it?image Continue reading

Flash JSFL Commands: The Autotweener

For the folks who aren’t Flash animators but would like to see a little bit of my process when animating, skip down and watch the movie that I link to below.  Starting at around 4 minutes in you can see an example of how I animate one of my characters in a simple motion.

Anyone who’s followed my blog so far and read the entries on Flash commands (not sure if there’s anyone like that yet – I have an admittedly small audience) will have seen me mention the Autotweener.  Well, today’s the day – I’m going to tell you all about it and post it for download.

The autotweener is a tool that does many of the same things as Flash’s built-in motion and shape tween functions, but it works in a fundamentally different way.  It’s incredibly useful, simplifying tasks that used to be difficult or impossible.  For my own animation process it was revolutionary – it totally changed how I do things.  I now rarely use motion tweens and even more rarely shape tweens – the autotweener has taken over almost all the tasks I used to use those for.

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More to Come

I know it’s been a few days, but I just wanted to assure everyone that there’s more on the way.  I’ve actually been working on a huge blog post that involves a video that’s more than 20 minutes long, as well as 20 or so new (though related) Flash commands that are unlike anything you’ve seen before.  There’ll also be some footage in the video that’ll be of more general interest, showing some of how I work (in case you’re curious), and a few non-Flash-specific animation tips.

What have I encountered in the process of creating this upcoming monstrous blog post?  Well, video is a pain in the butt if you’re trying to make it look as good as possible.  And blogging takes a lot of time.  And I frickin’ love my home-made Flash tools, and I love sharing them with people.  Actually, I knew all of these things already, but this process has reinforced them.

Finally, I have a question for anyone reading this: How do you think I could get people to read this blog?  Specifically, I’d love to get some regular readers who are interested in Flash animation, Flash commands, and/or 2d animation in general.  Please give any suggestions you can think of in the comments or via email.

Flash JSFL Commands: Classic Motion Tween Easing

I’d like to talk about the way I use tweens in Flash.  For one reason or another, I never use new-style motion tweens and I rarely use the easing editor.  I’ve found that the easing editor is rarely worth the trouble, and new motion tweens never end up working like I want them to and they frequently crash the program.  I’ll occasionally use the easing editor if I want a really strong ease in or out, or if there’s a very particular motion I want, but for the most part I stick with classic tweens and good old –100 to +100 easing.

Actually, though, I use very few motion tweens at all ever since I created my autotweener (which will be the subject of a later post).  Fully automated tweens like those produced by motion tweens rarely produce the results I need for good animation.  They usually look too linear and mechanical or they don’t work well when multiple pieces are involved.

That said, motion tweens do come in handy sometimes, and I almost always apply easing to them – usually either +100 (out) or –100 (in).  I’ve written several commands to help with setting and removing eases.  I’m going to show you some of them today.

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Flash JSFL Command: Motion Tweens and Sync

Anyone who’s worked with what are now called Classic Tweens will have run into the Sync Problem.  Not everyone will realize what was causing the problem, though.  It’s due to a feature that can actually be useful if you know how and when to use it.

For every motion tween there’s property called “sync”.  It’s a checkbox in the properties panel that you’ll see if you select a frame that has a motion tween applied to it.  Its function is a little arcane, and I’ve run into many Flash animators who have no idea of its existence, let alone its purpose. The gotcha is that it’s enabled by default with most methods of creating a motion tween, and it can cause unexpected and annoying behavior.

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My JSFL Commands

So I’ve noticed a couple things.  First, most people who use Flash are either animators or programmers, but rarely both.  There are lots of animators who dabble in programming and lots of programmers who dabble in animation, but in my experience you’re likely to have much more passion about one than the other, leading to having much more skill and experience in that one as well.

The reason I mention this is that occasionally I think about how few people there are who produce decent JSFL commands.  I think it’s because the people who are really interested in Flash commands are the animators – particularly the professionals, who work in Flash every day.  It’s certainly true for me: I animate in Flash for 45 to 50 hours a week, and I frequently think of things that I wish Flash could do.  Earlier in my career, before I Knew the Way of the JSFL, I would just grumble to myself and go on working around that lack-of-feature or bug.  Unfortunately I think that’s what most Flash animators do, many of them not even being aware of the purpose of the Commands menu.

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