Today’s’ article covers a few key points to remember when working on Flash animations. There are obviously many factors to take into consideration when working in Flash. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. By following some simple guidelines however, you will find that the process can be made much simpler. No matter if you are working on a small project or on a much larger scale; consistency in workflow is a key.
Let us take a look at some key elements improving your workflow and the overall end results they achieve. One of the largest problems in Flash development can be related to bulky file sizes. This can be caused by many things, yet we will discuss the use of symbols. Symbols can be composed of many parts, so the opportunity to build them incorrectly arises very often. You must ensure that the graphics and other elements you use when creating your symbols are appropriate for that specific use. So what exactly are the appropriate ways to create symbols you ask?
First of all you should be ensuring that the graphics used are either vector for scaling or bitmap for space saving. You must also beware of multiple symbols that perform the same duties. This is why there is power in the use of instances; you can reuse multiple copies of the same symbol by utilizing different instance names. For example, you can build many different things within Flash in space saving ways…if you know how.
Let’s say you create an animation on your timeline. You can then convert those layers of animation into a Movie Clip. Now you can place an instance of this Movie Clip on the main timeline, thus only requiring one frame to contain a Movie Clip symbol. Now if you need a button to activate this Movie Clip to play, you can simply use a rollover actionscript that would initiate the clip to play at a selected frame. This would allow you to have a functional button based off of your Movie Clip without even creating a button; how’s that for space saving! You can of course create animated buttons by using separate or multiple copies of a Movie Clip, or Graphic instance nested inside each other.
Remember also that at any time you wish to change any of the elements on your timeline, you simply use the Scene panel for navigation. This will allow you to easily inspect the nesting structure of your symbols. When you double click a Movie Clip, Button, or Graphic symbol you are entering into its timeline to edit it. To exit out you simply click on the name of an element in the Scene panel dialogue to backtrack to the root of that elements’ timeline.
So far we’ve quickly called out a few workflow and creation key points:
- The basic ways to save space by using correct graphic formats and utilizing symbols as instances.
- How to utilize a Movie Clip that takes only one frame on your main timeline.
- The ability to use that same Movie Clip as a button by use of action script.
- What steps to take to view symbols when nested, as well as edit them.
Now we will look at an example of a complex Flash animation shown below in Figure 1. There is a lot going on in the animation in terms of complex mechanics. There are many repeated elements, animated graphic symbols, movie clip symbols, file sizes optimized, assorted, reusable animations, and so on.)
The above element consists of multiple Movie Symbols nested within Movie Symbols to create various effects. In essence, a slideshow, scroller, rollover animations, tweened animation, links and multiple text effects are all controlled with proper use of Movie Clips and instances. Bitmap graphics were utilized as necessary to save file sizes. Minimal frames were added to the main timeline to prevent clutter and maintain organization.
In conclusion, it is true there are many factors to take into consideration for Flash animation. The ways in which we create these complex projects plays an integral part however. The proper use of symbols and their instances are a key to creating effective complex Flash. By minimizing clutter and file sizes you enhance load times, appearance, function and overall…enjoyment.
Until next time, peace. -RJR-