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Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?

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James Roberts
Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 13, 2008 at 5:43:54 pm

Create rich content this, interactive actionscript that. All well and good, but I simply use Flash to create animations to be brought into video projects. It's always seemed difficult to find anyone else just talking about that process, it's always the website content creation functions that get any press.

I am having a major problem after upgrading from Flash 6(MX)running on an iMac to the latest Flash "professional" CS4. Do today's demanding professionals insist on their clips having god-awful sound sync issues? That's what I'm working with now, and so far not a single response by anyone who's had the same issue. Really? It's just me then? I find it hard to believe I'm so unique that I'm the only one with this problem. Flash is used to produce many animated TV series, could I really be the only one having this problem?

Maybe the search function on this site needs work, since I tried searching for help on this and got all the nothing I could never use.
I'm fast approaching frustration peak over this. It's too basic a question to get any attention on these forums(and perhaps it is a simple fix I'm overlooking), but right now it's stopping me cold and depressing me greatly. I was looking forward to finally having a new, legitimate version of Flash, and using the new features as well. But the new "Sync Timing Destoyer" tool is a feature I could have done without.

Feel free to ignore this, I'm just continuing to try with the questions anyway. It gives me something to do in lieu of using
Flash successfully.

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Richard Williams
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 13, 2008 at 8:44:55 pm

Hey James,

i share your frustration, i also posted a similar question which has now moved to page 2 of the froum with no responses.
I spent hours moving animations around matching it to backround sound and testing it in the flash environment, then on publishing it it all went out of syc.
What i then did, was looked at the settings and saw that the publish settings were changeable, but i tried every possible combination to try to get it to match the test environment, but still nothing. (have you tried changing the publish settings to match version 6 and see if it works better)?
I have also found things change depending on the action script setting you apply, even if you are not running any action scripts.

The only way around this i could find, without knowing the answer, is to alway test on publish preview (F12 on windows using CS3) rather than test movie. I am wondering if it might have something to do with matching the sound bps to the frame rate, but to be honest, i don't know enough about the subject to talk sensibly about it.

I am happy to bounce ideas around and try to find out where, if anywhere we are going wrong if you like...? If not, but you do eventually work it out somewhere away from here, would you mind letting me in on this secret?

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James Roberts
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 14, 2008 at 12:34:56 am

Surely, if I find a solid fix I'll report back. What I haven't been able to try yet is a newly created piece. I've been in more of an acquisition and learning phase that's been making it harder to switch over to creative mode. I'm hoping to take some time over the weekend, do something quick but precise, and see if it works any better.

That doesn't really help me utilize the number of things already started in the old environment, though, so I still want to find the cure.

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Pieter Helsen
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 14, 2008 at 6:18:40 am

I'm -not- an animator, but didn't Sync: Stream in the audio properties panel used to solve that in all older versions of Flash?

Kind regards,

General notice: from now on, I would like to ask everyone to put [AS2] or [AS3] (corresponding to the version of actionscript you are using on your project) in front of their post titles when the question is actionscript related! Please help us help you faster. Thank you.

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James Roberts
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 14, 2008 at 3:44:36 pm

That's already selected in all my projects. It's the only way to to able to scrub the sound to enable lip sync animation to begin with.
I don't know if it's designed to maintain the sync throughout the export to quicktime process, but if it is it's failing at that.

In the Flash editing environment, the sync is perfect. Exactly as I set in up in MX. It's all in the codec or export settings.

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Andy Bauer
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 14, 2008 at 6:45:10 pm

Wow... and I was looking forward to purchasing CS4 from CS3 when I have the funds. But, now I'm not so sure.

And yes, I agree with you James. It seems like all you hear about Flash is rich content this, interactive actionscript that. I use Flash as an illustration tool and I do a constrained-style of animation simply b/c I don't have the patience for frame-by-frame animation. And I'm not much of a programmer because ActionScript hurts my head.

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James Roberts
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Nov 14, 2008 at 7:53:21 pm

I agree that Flash is a fine illustration environment. I've used it just for the clean vector lines, I've tried illustrator before (and since the newest version came with the Production Premium, I have access to it again), but I haven't gotten a feel for it yet. The new "Blob brush" seems to make it more friendly to just sketch with, though.Flash's drawing tools are still the most comfortable to me, despite the brush's tendency to put in plenty of points and dents to fix. The abilty to pull and push the lines around after they're drawn has practically spoiled drawing on paper for me! I'm not too patient with animating either, even a simple walk cycle can be an overwhelming amount of work.

Don't let my current frustrations with this one issue spoil your enthusiasm for CS4, though (I still think it's a settings issue, if
not a compatability issue with Flash 6), the new layout and new tools are a plus. I'm looking forward to utilizing the "Bones" tool more once I get a good feel for designing with it mind. Whether you're thinking of just getting the new Flash or one of the suites (I think it's in every one of them), it's worth getting.

For a sample of what I've done with Flash you could look at my first
attempt. It's on YouTube under the title "Money For Cheezums".

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Mike Overbeck
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:37:11 pm

I came across your post since I am having similar problems. I use Flash for broadcast commercial and television and share the frustration of Flash catering to programmers and turning its back on the film/video industry that relies on it more and more every year. As I meet more people in the industry, I've learned that every studio has developed its own workarounds to Flash's weaknesses. Here is my workflow:

1. Bring my animatic with dialogue and sound cues into After effects.
2. Export reference quicktimes and aif files of each shot.
3. Work on each shot as its own fla file with those quicktimes and aif files as reference.
4. Export png sequences of shots and bring them back into After Effects over original animatic, updating same png sequences as I revise.

This process allows me to keep my project chopped into bite-sized chunks and the sound stays synced and I'm ready for final output. Now if you have to deliver a swf, it's a whole new can of worms.

5. Go into your shots and rename assets to avoid library conflicts. (usually a [###] prefix by shot to every asset. There are scripts to help automate this.)

6. Assemble shots into one fla, checking cuts to frame numbers in AE, like a negative cutter. Your project will get clunky an likely crash now and again. Save new versions often.

7. Bring final audio into Flash. Theoretically, this should work, but if you're doing something around 2 mins or longer, you'll notice that your audio file is a few frames shorter in Flash than it is in AE, and your lip sync looks like garbage. (????) Two solutions!

1. Chop that audio up with 5 or 10 frame handles and lay it into Flash. Now you can adjust you audio's in/out points and make crossfades and hopefully you can wrangle that sloppy beast back into sync.
2. Use your friend shift-F5 to trim your picture cuts to match your main audio.

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James Roberts
Re: Does anyone use Flash to just animate anymore?
on Feb 11, 2009 at 1:54:56 am

Thanks for your reply, it sounds like you're building your projects in a different way from me, but I'll keep the tips in mind if I get in similar situations.

Then again, my own methods are changing quite a bit. Up until last Oct. I only used Flash MX for animations then exported a quicktime to bring into iMovie/Final Cut Express. Now I'm running CS4 Production Premium as well as Final Cut Studio and Shake, and I'm moving to a more varied approach.

I just started bringing swf files into After Effects, and I'm already really happy with this new method. I guess I don't have to bother setting up a solid green background in Flash then using green screen keying to layer the character anymore (and I can use green in the character models if I want!) I'll use Flash for animated characters and scenes, then bring those into After Effects for assembling into composites and further animation that makes more use of Ae's features. Files rendered from there will be brought into Final Cut Pro (or maybe Premiere, haven't even tried it yet, though). I think this flow gives me the ability to fix any sync issues along the way as well.

My main goal is broadcast level video content, with web clip versions as a secondary. I've never done ActionScript on anything, it's all keyframing and tweens. I appreciate all the "rich interactive content" Flash does, but it's not my thing as a creator. For me it's all about film/TV animation, and I know Flash has been accepted into the big leagues, being used for mainstream shows and even the occasional feature. Not bad for a little app made for web banners and rich content (at this point, I want a definition of what they feel "rich" even is).

Even though I'm liking the new symmetry of the Fl+Ae combo, I was looking over the Toon Boom apps while passing some time at work today. I see all the Fox animated shows are in their demo reel now, I wonder what else they use in production. I'm wondering if the combination of Flash and After Effects would be considered equal or better than any of their confusingly tiered product line. I'm guessing as a one man-one computer operation, I wouldn't need to bother with Harmony, but there's still three other versions. I had a demo of Toon Boom Studio a few years back, but I found it less inviting than Flash at the time and didn't do much with it. I'm not looking to get into it now , but I wonder if it's become a stronger animation platform since I tried it.

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