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Animation in Macromedia Flash By Ali Dastagir

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Animation in Macromedia Flash

By Ali Dastagir


  • We create animation in a Macromedia Flash MX document by changing the contents of successive frames.

  • We can also make an object move across the Stage, increase or decrease its size, rotate, change color, fade in or out, or change shape.

  • Changes can occur independently of, or in concert with, other changes. For example, we can make an object rotate and fade in as it moves across the Stage.


  • There are two methods for creating an animation sequence in Flash: tweened animation, and frame-by-frame animation.

  • In tweened animation, we create starting and ending frames and let Flash create the frames in between.

  • Flash varies the object's size, rotation, color, or other attributes evenly between the starting and ending frames to create the appearance of movement.

Tween Animation

  • In motion tweening, we define properties such as position, size, and rotation for an instance, group, or text block at one point in time, and then we change those properties at another point in time.

  • We can also apply a motion tween along a path.

  • In shape tweening, we draw a shape at one point in time, and then we can change that shape or draw another shape at another point in time. Flash interpolates the values or shapes for the frames in between, creating the animation.

Frame-by-frame animation

  • Frame-by-frame animation changes the contents of the Stage in every frame and is best suited to complex animation in which an image changes in every frame instead of simply moving across the Stage.

  • Frame-by-frame animation increases file size more rapidly than tweened animation.

  • In frame-by-frame animation, Flash stores the values for each complete frame.

layers in animation

  • Each scene in a Flash document can consist of any number of layers. As we animate, we can use layers and layer folders to organize the components of an animation sequence and to separate animated objects so they don't erase, connect, or segment each other.

  • If we want Flash to tween the movement of more than one group or symbol at once, each must be on a separate layer.

  • Typically, the background layer contains static artwork, and each additional layer contains one separate animated object.

  • When a document has several layers, tracking and editing the objects on one or two of them can be difficult.

  • This task is easier if we work with the contents of one layer at a time.

  • Layer folders help us organize layers into manageable groups that we can expand and collapse to view only the layers relevant to our current task.

Creating keyframes

  • A keyframe is a frame where we define changes in the animation.

  • When we create frame-by-frame animation, every frame is a keyframe.

  • In tweened animation, we define keyframes at significant points in the animation and let Flash create the contents of frames in between.


Animation’s Representation in the Timeline

  • Motion tweens are indicated by a black dot at the beginning keyframe; intermediate tweened frames have a black arrow with a light-blue background.

  • Shape tweens are indicated by a black dot at the beginning keyframe; intermediate frames have a black arrow with a light-green background.

  • A dashed line indicates that the tween is broken or incomplete, such as when the final keyframe is missing.

  • A single keyframe is indicated by a black dot. Light-gray frames after a single keyframe contain the same content with no changes and have a black line with a hollow rectangle at the last frame of the span.

  • A small a indicates that the frame has been assigned a frame action with the Actions panel.

  • A red flag indicates that the frame contains a label or comment.

  • A gold anchor indicates that the frame is a named anchor.

About frame rates

  • The frame rate, the speed at which the animation is played, is measured in number of frames per second.

  • A frame rate that's too slow makes the animation appear to stop and start; a frame rate that's too fast blurs the details of the animation.

  • A frame rate of 12 frames per second (fps) usually gives the best results on the Web.

  • QuickTime and AVI movies generally have a frame rate of 12 fps, while the standard motion-picture rate is 24 fps.

About frame rates

  • The complexity of the animation and the speed of the computer on which the animation is being played affect the smoothness of the playback.

  • Test our animations on a variety of machines to determine optimum frame rates.

  • Because we specify only one frame rate for the entire Flash document, it's a good idea to set this rate before we begin creating animation

Extending still images

  • When we create a background for animation, it's often necessary that a still image remain the same for several frames. Adding a span of new frames (not keyframes) to a layer extends the contents of the last keyframe in all the new frames.

To extend a still image through multiple frames:

1 Create an image in the first keyframe of the sequence.

2 Select a frame to the right, marking the end of the span of frames that we want to add.

3 Choose Insert > Frame.
Tweening instances, groups, and type

  • To tween the changes in properties of instances, groups, and type, we use motion tweening. Flash can tween position, size, rotation, and skew of instances, groups, and type.

  • Additionally, Flash can tween the color of instances and type, creating gradual color shifts or making an instance fade in or out. To tween the color of groups or type, we must make them into symbols.

  • If we apply a motion tween and then change the number of frames between the two keyframes, or move the group or symbol in either keyframe, Flash automatically tweens the frames again.

  • When tweening position, we can make the object move along a nonlinear path

The second, third, and fourth frames result from tweening the first and last keyframes.
Tweening motion along a path

  • Motion guide layers let we draw paths along which tweened instances, groups, or text blocks can be animated. we can link multiple layers to a motion guide layer to have multiple objects follow the same path. A normal layer that is linked to a motion guide layer becomes a guided layer.

Tweening shapes

  • By tweening shapes, we can create an effect similar to morphing, making one shape appear to change into another shape over time. Flash can also tween the location, size, and color of shapes.

  • Tweening one shape at a time usually yields the best results. If we tween multiple shapes at one time, all the shapes must be on the same layer.

  • To apply shape tweening to groups, instances, or bitmap images, we must first break these elements apart.

Tweening shapes

  • To apply shape tweening to text, we must break the text apart twice to convert the text to objects.

  • To control more complex or improbable shape changes, we use shape hints, which control how parts of the original shape move into the new shape

Creating frame-by-frame animations

  • To create a frame-by-frame animation, we define each frame as a keyframe and create a different image for each frame. Each new keyframe initially contains the same contents as the keyframe preceding it, so we can modify the frames in the animation incrementally.

Using mask layers

  • For spotlight effects and transitions, we can use a mask layer to create a hole through which underlying layers are visible.

  • A mask item can be a filled shape, a type object, an instance of a graphic symbol, or a movie clip. we can group multiple layers together under a single mask layer to create sophisticated effects.

  • To create dynamic effects, we can animate a mask layer. For a filled shape used as a mask, we use shape tweening; for a type object, graphic instance, or movie clip, we use motion tweening.

  • When using a movie clip instance as a mask, we can animate the mask along a motion path.

Using mask layers

  • To create a mask layer, we place a mask item on the layer that we want to use as a mask.

  • Instead of having a fill or stroke, the mask item acts as a window that reveals the area of linked layers that lie beneath it.

  • The rest of the mask layer conceals everything except what shows through the mask item.

  • A mask layer can contain only one mask item. we cannot have a mask layer inside a button, and we cannot apply a mask to another mask.

  • we can also use ActionScript to create a mask layer from a movie clip. A mask layer created with ActionScript can only be applied to another movie clip

Editing animation

  • After we create a frame or a keyframe, we can move it elsewhere in the current layer or to another layer, remove it, and make other changes. Only keyframes are editable.

  • Tweened frames can be viewed, but can't be edited directly.

  • To edit tweened frames, one of the defining keyframes is changed or insert a new keyframe between the beginning and ending keyframes.

  • we can drag items from the Library panel onto the Stage to add the items to the current keyframe.

  • To display and edit more than one frame at a time, onion skinning is used.

Onion skinning

  • Normally, Flash displays one frame of the animation sequence at a time on the Stage. To help we position and edit a frame-by-frame animation, we can view two or more frames on the Stage at once. The frame under the playhead appears in full color, while surrounding frames are dimmed, making it appear as if each frame were drawn on a sheet of translucent onion-skin paper and the sheets were stacked on top of each other. Dimmed frames cannot be edited.

Moving an entire animation

  • If we need to move an entire animation on the Stage, we must move the graphics in all frames and layers at once to avoid realigning everything.

True / False

  1. In tween animation, you create the image in every frame.

  2. Frame by frame animation does not increases the file size.

  3. In frame by frame animation flash stores the values for each complete frame.

  4. Working with different layers at a time is easier.

  5. A dashed line indicates the frame is a named anchor.


  1. You can also apply a motion tween along a _________.

    1. line

    2. button

    3. path

    4. documentation

  2. In frame by frame animation, each frame is define as __________.

    1. layer

    2. form

    3. frame

    4. keyframe

  1. To display and edit more than one frame at a time____________ is used.

    1. tween animation

    2. frame by frame animation

    3. onion skinning

    4. eraser

  1. You can also use___________ to create a mask layer from a movie clip.

    1. object

    2. flash light

    3. action script

    4. matrix

  1. Only _________ frames are editable.

    1. tweened

    2. key

    3. action

    4. main

Short Qs.

  1. define frame by frame animation ?

  2. what do you define in motion tween ?

  3. what does layer folder do ?

  4. what is a key frame ?

  5. why it is a good idea to set the frame rate before animation ?

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