Experimental animation in Adobe Flash

A suggested mini-project for the portfolio brief was to create a short animation in Adobe Flash, synchronised to some music, in order to explore the basic concepts of animation as a discipline.

After looking at the history of animation and where it comes from (Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu, 2014), I experimented with frame by frame sequences, manifested through hand-drawn images mounted on a Spinnerscope in order to provide a rudimental understanding of what it means to animate – the results of which can be seen in my earlier post here.

I decided to focus on a music visualisation/abstract style of design to experiment with flash through, since I felt the best way to gain experience with the fundamentals of 2D animation would be to avoid factors such as storyline, plot, art assets and so forth. Additionally, we had researched early animations, and they were largely abstract (Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu, 2014). I wanted to emulate this in a more modern context.

I found an image with which I planned to use in my composition as a background (Weis, 2014) for the areas which I would animate myself, and a song to synchronise the animation to (Chicken Honk, 2013). I wanted to work around the principle of abstract image manipulation; compositing my flash sequence on top of the image. The image I chose lended itself very well to a shape based animation due to the area in the middle which was already made up of several triangles, and so I decided to build upon this and create a radial, transitional style of animation revolving around the main subject of the image I chose.

Before beginning the project Flash refused to import the music track to the library; I researched the situation (the program did not provide a reason) and discovered Flash was unable to deal with files of a certain sample rate (Help.adobe.com, 2014). I loaded the file into Adobe Audition and re-exported it with a lower sample rate, which solved the issue.

Image

I created a black triangle shape using the pen tool, then converted it to a symbol for ease of use, adding it to the project library (alongside the music track and background image). I found the library system made it easy to keep hold of assets and to organise them, improving workflow efficiency in general as well as being beneficial to the specific task of animating, as assets will often be repeated between frames – as I found was the case, and hence was easily able to drop in assets from a central location repeatedly. I felt however based on my usage of Flash that some of the creative tools were lacking in usability – for example the requirement to select the paint bucket to fill a shape drawn using the path/pen tool rather than the option provided in the shape properties, which was unavailable for this tool. Additionally there appeared to be a lack of a hotkey to disable realtime snapping when rotating shapes or moving the pivot point to counter this, however most problems were remedied by further research online into the software.

Image

I inserted keyframes based on where waveforms peaked on the audio track layer I had inserted below my animation layer, and moved them as I progressed with the animation based on previewing the track back to myself and making small adjustments – moving and duplicating shapes based on the part of the music track playing at the time. I included an opacity fade to reflect the feeling of the bass fade at one point in a visual manner, just before the rhythm picks up again.

Image

Should I repeat the project, in order to improve I would spend time researching the software more thoroughly in order to understand how it differentiates from the other products in the Adobe Creative Suite in order to be able to use it more effectively – as well as make considerations for transitions and extra effects in terms of going beyond a simple radial pattern as I have done here.

The finished animation can be viewed here

 

Sources:

Animation.filmtv.ucla.edu. 2014. The History of Animation. [online] Available at: http://animation.filmtv.ucla.edu/NewSite/WebPages/Histories.html [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Chicken Honk. 2013. Massive Chicken – Chicken Honk. Available at: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/1092059/massive-chicken [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Weis, P. 2014. Reflection of St Michaels Church, Hamburg. [image online] Available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reflection_of_St._Michaelis_Church,_Hamburg,_Deutschland_IMG_4822_edit.jpg [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

Help.adobe.com. 2014. Adobe Flash Professional * Using sounds in Flash. [online] Available at: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/flash/cs/using/WSd60f23110762d6b883b18f10cb1fe1af6-7ce8a.html [Accessed: 25 Mar 2014].

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