Author Topic: !!! FLASH BEGINNERS - CLICK HERE !!!  (Read 4968 times)

GoldenClock

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!!! FLASH BEGINNERS - CLICK HERE !!!
« on: February 19, 2010, 05:20:33 AM »



Hello there!

I'm glad you've checked this thread out because that means you want to know how to make Flash cartoons, the Clock Crew pass-time. This is a thread, which started out as a response in another thread, which will help you to understand the basics of making a Clock Crew Flash movie. This will not teach you fancy special effects or anything advanced, it will merely lay the foundation for what you need to be a successful Flash animator here in the Clock Crew.

Before we begin, I'd like to make a few things clear. First off, I would encourage you to read this whole thing and try out all of these things in Flash, even if you think you know them already. If you're confident that you do have a solid basic knowledge in Flash though, feel free to skim through. If you are very new, be sure and experiment a lot with the concepts I teach here until you know them all by heart.

Second, I want you to understand that there are two basic categories that Clock Crew Flash cartoons fall under: Quality and Silly. The two are very different, and as you will notice, it's very much easier to teach how to make a Quality cartoon than a Silly one, despite the fact that Silly cartoons require less technical effort. This all will be explained later.

Third, I'm currently using Flash 8. If you're using a different version, don't worry, because the concepts that I'm going to give you will be able to be utilized in any version of Flash. I'm not going to go into detail about 3D, Actionscript, or even that much detail about Filters. This is basics.


Quality



Part 1: Absolute Basics


First off, I want you to be familiar with the Flash program. Here is a very very basic map of the program (Keep in mind I'm using Flash 8, and I have the different panels arranged to my liking):

I'M THE MAP!

Because of the likelihood of problems from all of us using different versions, I will not be explaining what each and every part of the whole Flash program is. I will however, explain some key things that are in all versions, such as:

- The Stage. The stage is the big white area in the middle, which lets you know where everything will be shown. Think of it as a movie screen, or a TV screen; anything beyond the white area will not be seen in your final, exported .swf project.

- Tools. These tools are mostly drawing tools, and not all of them will you need to use. Being honest here, I don't even know what some of them do, such as the White Arrow, but since I've been making Flash cartoons since 2003, it's obviously not something that I think is essential. Experiment with what these tools do. If you're having trouble understanding some of them, consult Help.

- Layers. A layer is pretty much what is says: a layer. When you're making a cartoon, you will need to use a bunch of different layers that serve different functions. The background will be on a lower layer than a character walking, for instance.

The eyeball above the layer area on the Timeline makes everything invisible if you click on it. (If you click on the dot in a layer below the eyeball that lines up with it, it will only make everything on that specific layer invisible. The same applies for the two other tools.) The Lock makes it so that you can't move anything around or edit anything within the layer(s), and the Square will make everything in the layer(s) appear as an outline.

An understanding of layers and how they work is absolutely essential of you want to animate anything, so play with the layers for a while.

- Zoom Level. This is pretty self explanatory, I think.

- Frame rate. A frame rate lets you know how many individual units, or frames, will make up one second of animation. The default frame rate in Flash when you first open it up is 12fps (frames per second). This means that each second of the animation contains 12 frames. You can change the frame rate, as well as other settings, by double-clicking the "12 fps"

A higher frame rate, such as 24 which I highly recommend, will thus contain more frames, but it will be much smoother-looking. More suggestions on frame rate usage will be found later on.

- Timeline. The timeline lets you control what happens in time for your animation, as the name indicates.

- Keyframe. A keyframe is what lets Flash know where something begins or ends. Tweens will begin and end with a Keyframe, for instance. A Keyframe is where something happens, unlike a frame, which will be merely a continuation of the last Keyframe. A frame is kind-of like a filler.

Take a look at this screenshot. The long gray or white areas are frames. The frames with dots on them are the Keyframes. The frames with squares are either at the very end of a line of frames, or right behind a Keyframe. You can click and drag the square frame and change the amount of frames a section has.

Sound complicated? It seems that way I will admit, because it's difficult to describe, but it really is very very simple once you get used to it. Trust me.   Play around with frames and keyframes and see what they do.

- Tweens. This is a term you will see and hear about a lot in relation to flash, especially Clock cartoons, because tweens are so heavily used in CC flashes. A tween is a basic animation effect that makes an object move in a staight line, unless you're using a guide, which I may explain at a later time.

- Shapes. Let's say you set out to draw something. You draw a triangle. That is a shape in flash. You can't animate with it unless you want it to look stupid (Shape Tweens are almost never acceptable). Shapes can be used as background or foreground objects that don't move, but even then it's good to have those things changed into Symbols.

Let's say you draw something that's two-toned though. One side of the triangle is green, and the other side is red. Split down the middle. Each half, even though it's all connected, will be a separate Shapel. Areas of colour separated either by a line, or by the fact that they're a different colour, will always be individual Shapes.

- Symbols. This is a bit difficult to explain, but I suppose you could say a Symbol is a Shape that's grown up and gotten a job. It will allow you to use motion tweens, and will allow you to move around a single object with ease. That two-toned triangle from before will be able to move as one if you convert the whole into a symbol.

Right clicking a shape, and selecting 'Convert to Symbol' will bring up the symbol dialogue which will allow you to choose what kind of symbol to turn that shape into. The most common types of Symbols are 'Movie Clip' and 'Button'. We won't worry about buttons and graphics right now, because the vast majority of what I use is 'Movie Clip'.

What is a Movie Clip Symbol? It can be two things: It can be a) a solid object that you simply turned into a symbol, such as a ball, or it could be b) a separately animated scene or animated object. We won't go into detail about that second function though, as using movie clips for animation is more advanced. Right now, we'll just focus on solid object Movie Clip Symbols.


Most of the other tools are rather self-explanitory. I understand that there is a ton of other things to explain, but that is not necessary now. However, to make things in the future easier, here is a further screenshot showing the very basic parts of the properties tab when animating a symbol:
Click Me!

- Frame Labell. Don't worry about this just now, it's not important.

- Tween Menu. When creating a tween, this will let you choose what kind of tween to use: one to affect a shape (Shape Tween), or one to affect a symbol (Motion Tween). Shape Tweens are almost never used, by me anyway, so the Motion Tween is going to become your best friend.

- Sound Select Menu. Once you've imported your sound files, you will be able to choose which ones to use from this menu. How to add sound will be explained later.

- Sync. This will affect how your sound behaves. It should 99.99999999% of the time be set to 'Stream'.


There's a few extra things you have to know before we go any further. There are two different main types of Flash files: The .fla file and the .swf file. The .fla is pretty much your work station. If you open it up, you will be able to edit the animation. The .swf file on the other hand, is the final product.

Once you've finished your animation, and you want to put it on Newgrounds, go to File -> Export -> Export Movie, select where you want it, choose a name, and then a dialogue will come up. Don't worry about what's on that dialogue just now, just click 'OK'. The longer and more complicated your Flash is, the longer it will take to export. You will only be able to upload .swf files to the Newgrounds Portal.


Part 2: Making a Tween

All that explanation business aside, I want to tell you how to make a tween. Here is a step by step process of animating a square that will travel from the left side of the stage to the right side:

1. Draw a square.
2. Highlight the whole of the square and convert it to a Symbol.
3. Place the square where you want it to start in the animation.
4. In the timeline, create a keyframe at the point in time when you want the square to stop. Let's say, for now, frame 20. To create a keyframe there, click the rectangle underneath the little '20' so that it's highlighted, then press F6 on your keyboard, or right click -> Insert Keyframe.
5. Highlight the new Keyframe.
6. On the Stage, drag your square to where you want it to end up at.
7. On the Timeline, click the first keyframe so that it's selected and highlighted. This won't always mean the very first frame of the animation, but this means the first frame of the current animated tween, which in this case happens to also be frame 1.

Now there's two ways of doing Step 8: You could go down to the Properties Tab, and select 'Motion Tween' from the menu, or you could right click the first Keyframe of the tween and select 'Add Motion Tween.'

After successful completion of all of these steps, your timeline should look something like this. You can tell that your tween will work because it's a solid arrow. If the blue space had been filled with a dotted line, that means you've done something wrong.

KEEP IN MIND:

When making tweens, you can only have one tween per layer. If you want to animate two objects moving at the same time, each object will have to be on a different layer for the animation to work.

You cannot motion tween a Shape, you can only motion tween Symbols.

MORE SUGGESTIONS:

- Ease your motion tweens. Clock movies, by nature, are very tween-centric, and one thing that separates a high-quality flash from an amateur-looking one is proper tween easing. Here is another screenshot, which shows the area where you decide the easing.

 Easing determines how an object begins or ends to move. If you set it all the way to "out", as I did, which is about 99% of what every movement of Clocks and objects should do, it will make the object slow down at the end of the tween. If you moved it all the way to "In", it would start slow at the beginning and then speed up.

-Here is a square, animated at 24 fps of course, with a normal tween, absolutely no easing:

Click Me!

You will notice that it looks pretty static and boring, and not very life-like.

-Here is the same square, but with a 100% "Out" ease:

Click Me!

Notice how it looks nicer? You should do this with all clock faces if they're to be moved around.

- Here is the same square, but with a 100% "In" ease:

http://files.myfrogbag.com/hqhorc/BlockIn.swf

"But Golden Clock! What if I want the square to start slow, speed up, but then slow down again at the end?!!? What kind of voodoo do you need for that!!?"
No voodoo! Just one extra keyframe, and about 5 extra seconds of effort! All you have to do is:
1. Make a tween of an object, as you normally would.
2. At the first frame (as with all easing), set the easing to 'In'.
3. Place a keyframe in the middle of the tween.
4. On that new keyframe, set the easing to 'Out'.

The result should look like this:

http://files.myfrogbag.com/hqhorc/BlockBoth.swf

It's not very often that you need to use both like that, though. For animating a clockface moving, for instance, you only need to set it to 100% Out. Certain things, although they're rare, require no easing at all, such as objects that don't start or stop within the stage area.



Part 3: Adding Sound


"Mr. Golden Clock Sir!" you say, "I want to add some funky fresh sounds to my animation! How do I do that!?" Well if you would calm down and let me explain I will!

You've heard me talk about 'importing' sound, right? If you don't know how to Import sound, don't worry, it's very easy. Go to File -> Import -> Import to Stage, and then select from your computer whatever sound or song you so desire.

To add the sound as part of your animation, you will have to follow these steps:

1. Add a new Layer. Make sure you don't put anything else in this layer, as long as the sound is being played anyway.
2. Click the first frame, or create a new Keyframe later and select that, highlighting it.
3. Go down to the Properties Tab, and choose your sound from the Sound Select Menu.
4. At the end of your sound, or wherever you want it to stop, place a keyframe there.

If you've completed all of these steps successfully, your timeline should look like this.

If your sound is longer than that, just add a bunch of frames by going far on down the timeline, adding a keyframe somewhere (ex. Frame 500). Working with layers and the timeline is a tricky business, one that is difficult to explain, so I would highly recommend playing with the timeline for a while to get used to what it can do.


- Stream your audio.  Here's a screenshot of what I mean.

Why stream the sound? It's all about file size. Let's say you have a song you want to put into your flash. If you finish the flash, and upload it to Newgrounds, it might only be 500KB if you streamed all your sound. Could be even less depending on what you've made. If you didn't stream your sound, however, the exact same flash could probably be 5000KB, and take much, much longer to load. Streaming will slightly reduce the sound quality, but it's worth it.

GoldenClock

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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 05:21:05 AM »
Part 4: Suggestions and What-Not

- Don't expect to be extremely popular on Newgrounds with Clock Movies. While certain clocks have made popular flashes, it's not often that people will enjoy a Clock flash. Even on those really good ones like 21 O'Clock Street, I'm sure there's tons of people who hate it just because it's CC-related. You can still get a degree of popularity, as I got Daily Feature once with what I think is an average CC movie, but things of this nature are extremely rare.

- Take pride in your work, and put time and effort into everything you draw and animate. Look at popular flash works like Bitey of Brackenwood or even the high-popularity CC movies for inspiration. I'm not saying you should copy these styles by any means, but take time to notice the amount of detail and skill, and obviously time, put into making these things.

- Use a 24fps frame rate. 24 is, as far as I'm aware, an industry standard that all modern motion pictures use, such as TV, Movies, and cartoons. There could be variations, but I think that's about where the industry standard is. Below 24 gives the animation a very choppy, jittery, robotic look, and a very unprofessional one. Anything above 24, while it may be smoother, generally just jacks up your file size because of the greater number of frames, and I think it's unnecessary.

- .Fla files. You don't really need to make every single character .fla in your own style either, but if you could it would make a huge difference. It would give your whole cartoon a certain visual style that will be unique to you.

- Regarding visual style, make sure you don't try things just because you think it's different. Just because something is unique and different doesn't mean it's pleasant to the eye and a good style at all. Look at what works with you, and what pleases your eye the most.

- If you plan on creating a series, figure out what kind of continuity the whole series will have. A series needs something going through each and every episode that is the same in order for it to be a series. It could be a story line that is broken up into episodes, it could be the same cast of characters, it could be a certain theme with each and every episode. If your group of flashes does not have something that will strongly link them all together to create a meaningful whole, it's not a series, and they should have individual titles instead.

- Don't worry too much about Newgrounds' reviews, because most of them don't know what they're talking about. If you want, you could request feedback on your flashes when you post the flash's threads, and if you're having trouble with improving your flash skill, you could a) look around the internet for tutorials, b) post in the flash forum here with specific help questions, or c) contact someone who you think is very good with flash and politely ask them if they will take the time to help you with your problem.



- A list of do's and don'ts with Flash:

DO: Put good effort into your flash, being patient to take the time to work out details
DON'T: let perfectionism keep you from ever finishing a project
DO: Watch classic CC movies for inspiration. Remember, Rupee doesn't count!
DON'T: Look to what's popular on Newgrounds for inspiration (unless you're mocking it)
DO: Try to keep a sense of humour with your cartoons
DON'T: Try to go over the top with offensiveness like 2-bit ripoff groups such as Kitty Krew.

- A list of things the Clock Crew flash should not contain, unless used in a mocking manner:

- Furries
- Stickmen
- Video-Game Sprites
- Video-Game Jokes (sonic vs mario etc etc)
- Anime
- Frame-by-frame experimentation
- Madness (the series of course)
- probably a bunch of other stuff I can't think of right now.





However
, a lot of clocks, myself included most of the time, choose not to go down the 'quality' path, and instead go down the silly path. This path is a bit more intuitive, and therefore much harder to teach. It requires an understanding of classic CC humour, which isn't found in abundance in most anything made after 2003. Personally, I go for flashes that are completely or mostly clean, but are just plain ridiculous and silly.

With these flashes, the intent is to be silly, so therefore you don't necessarily need to draw very well. In fact, drawing sloppy is most of what goes on in these flashes. However, certain things can have a high amount of detail and still be silly, but it all depends on how it's used.

Making silly, low-quality flashes like this may be very easy once you've gotten the knack for it, as I think I have, taking possibly as little as half an hour, but it takes a while to understand what is right and what is wrong, which is something that cannot be taught, at least by me. Just because something is silly, or badly drawn, doesn't mean it's going to work right.



QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS:

I'm fully aware that I'm not a perfect teacher, and some of the concepts and things presented in this tutorial are either lacking in detail or are wanting in clarity. If you have a question, feel free to post it here, and I will be able to help, or if you have a more detailed concern, PM me. It may take a while for a response though, bear in mind.

Also bear in mind that I would like for you to use the best grammar and spelling you can, so that I'll be able to understand your question/problem as well as possible, so that you can get help as soon as possible.

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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 09:29:43 AM »
forgot to mention stopallsounds();

AC Slater

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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 09:35:00 AM »
I'm glad you posted this. I recommend it to all of the new members! It's a long read but it's quite helpful.

LotusClock

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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 10:55:18 AM »
Quote from: Golden Clock;1731772
To add the sound as part of your animation, you will have to follow these steps:

1. Add a new Layer. Make sure you don't put anything else in this layer, as long as the sound is being played anyway.
2. Click the first frame, or create a new Keyframe later and select that, highlighting it.
3. Go down to the Properties Tab, and choose your sound from the Sound Select Menu.
4. At the end of your sound, or wherever you want it to stop, place a keyframe there.


Although I follow these steps, sometimes when you export the movie, Flash, being the buggy glitch bomb that it is, has the annoying tendency of playing sounds placed on the main timeline way too early, mostly when you use a lot of them. Might I suggest a different approach that will correct the situation in case this would happen to you. It's a tad more complicated, but it's the best I could find to get around that bug.

1. Create a new Movie Clip. Don't put any images in it. Instead, select the first frame and go down to the Properties Tab to select your sound from the Sound Select Menu. Sync it as Stream.
2. Once the blue sound line appears in the timeline, add frames to it until you have enough frames to contain the entire sound clip.
3. Now, go back on the main timeline and do all the steps GoldenClock described, but at Step 3, instead of selecting your sound from the properties tab, just drag and drop the Movie Clip containing your sound into the stage. Don't worry about where you put it, since it's invisible.
4. Being in a movie clip will cause your sound to loop straight back to the beginning once it's over. There's a few ways to prevent this. You can go into the Movie Clip, add an empty keyframe at the very end of your sound, and go into the ActionScript input box to type "stop()", which will prevent the MC from looping. Or you can simply count how many frames long the MC is, and back on the main timeline, make your frames block just as long by putting an empty keyframe at the end. Requires a little math, but still works fine.

Also note that you can use this trick to have a background music playing in a part of the movie where the timeline is stopped, such as a menu screen. Since it naturally loops, you won't have to worry about running out of music while the viewer makes his selection.
[FLASH=http://files.myfrogbag.com/mp4ldh/monkey_surfsig.swf]height=250 width=490[/FLASH]
January 2010 Flash Flood submissions
Clock Day 2010 movie

pop-tart

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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2010, 01:08:15 AM »
I learned Lotus' technique the hard way... after hours of kicking my computer because it kept playing a streamed audio clip from the NEXT FUCKING SCENE during playback. Finally realized it didn't happen if the audio was embedded in a movie clip..
 
I often have issues with the gotoandplay command (not for buttons, just in the timeline.) Like if you want to add an Easter Egg and then have it go back to the main movie. Any tips?

GoldenClock

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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2010, 01:46:03 AM »
Being honest here, I know next to nothing about AS =(

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2010, 02:06:39 AM »
When I started I was using Flash 5... and A.S. used to write itself. It was a very WYSIWYG interface. Why they changed it is beyond me.

AC Slater

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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2010, 09:40:39 AM »
Quote from: Dumont;1732010

I often have issues with the gotoandplay command (not for buttons, just in the timeline.) Like if you want to add an Easter Egg and then have it go back to the main movie. Any tips?


I've had the same trouble within AS3 and it had gotten to the point where it was just too frustrating so I went back to AS2. Someone told me though that you have to have the stop(); handler on the frame though before you put in the gotoAndPlay command, but I'm not sure if that will work. If you need help though, I would ask Roman (if he's still around).

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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2010, 09:04:26 AM »
Now you said thatmy clock needs heavy work, what did you have in mind?

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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2010, 12:09:57 PM »
Quote from: Emerelds5 Clock;1755794
Now you said thatmy clock needs heavy work, what did you have in mind?

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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2010, 11:05:00 AM »
Great this really helps I'll go work on a Clock Day video
Top 3 Clocks Movies
3. The Clock War Part III
2. Easy Way Out
1. Life In The Portal Clock

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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2011, 06:08:26 PM »
i want to make a gradient that becomes transparent i m using it as a glow but everytime i make a filled gradient circle the transparent part just erases the background.  how do i make it so that it starts as the color i want and becomes transparent.  is there anyway to do this with out putting it on another layer

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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2011, 06:21:43 PM »
Quote from: CheeseSteakClock;1874294
i want to make a gradient that becomes transparent i m using it as a glow but everytime i make a filled gradient circle the transparent part just erases the background.  how do i make it so that it starts as the color i want and becomes transparent.  is there anyway to do this with out putting it on another layer

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgzmlCDvGDQ

Might help you.