Category Archives: Flash

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Keyboard Shortcuts Are Your Friend

I have a piece of advice for beginning animators.  Heck, this really applies to anyone who uses any kind of computer program to do their work:

Customize the keyboard shortcuts.

I bring this up because when I was starting out I was hesitant to customize the keyboard shortcuts to my liking.  My theory was that someone made them the way they were for a reason, and I shouldn’t go messing with them before I even learn how to use them.  The theory doesn’t really end up panning out, though.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

What is Flash?

Someone asked me recently if I could describe what exactly Flash animation is, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to do that here.

Flash is a program used mostly for creating interactive web sites and animation on the internet.  It’s different from most other graphics programs in that it’s based on vectors, not pixels.  What that means is that when the graphics data is stored in memory or on disk, it’s saved as a description of lines, curves, and boundaries of filled areas.  In most programs (such as, for instance, Photoshop and Windows Paint) graphics information is stored as an array of dots called a raster.

Continue reading

Fried Ham

Allow me to introduce you to one of the films I made while I was a student at UCLA: Fried Ham.

Continue reading

Please Make Flash Rock

I’m looking forward to Flash CS5.  Let me rephrase that.  I’m hopeful for what CS5 could be.  On the other hand, that’s been true of every release of Flash since MX 2004.  They promise these great new features, but rarely do they address the real nagging problems.

CS4 introduced quite a few bugs and annoyances, though the UI rewrite also fixed a bunch of issues that have bugged me ever since I started using Flash.  You should see the list of bugs and feature requests I’ve assembled.  I’ve submitted them all to Adobe’s bug report / feature request web form, but I have real doubts about how much they pay attention to that.

There was a feature that I used fairly often when I worked on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends that disappeared in version 8: copying vector art from Flash to Illustrator.  I have no idea why they would have taken that out, since it was so useful to us on Foster’s.  The most common thing we would use it for would be to take some art that we had in Flash, bring it into illustrator, and either create an art brush out of it or apply an art brush to it.  This would make things like animating a complex striped tiger tail as easy as animating a standard Flash line.  Translation: very easy.  It was even used once (before I came onto the show) to animate an entire character – a particularly gangly and clumsy one.

Here’s my dream, though: make it so I don’t even need Illustrator.  Add art brushes to Flash.  Wouldn’t that rock?  It would potentially create very high vertex counts but it would be amazing in terms of versatility.  And, having my foundation firmly in TV animation, what do I care about vertex counts?  As long as the renderer can handle it without crashing I’m good.

And while you’re at it, add trapezoidal transformation of symbols, smarter shape tweens, and any number of other things that Illustrator does so much better but belong in an animation program like Flash.  Make my wish come true, Adobe: make Flash rock for animators!