- Add frame = F5
- Add keyframe = F6
- Add blank keyframe (like an empty sheet of paper or flimsy) = F7
To flip through positions, frame-by-frame – as though you flip and roll through animation drawings – use the:
- Period Key [.] to move ahead one
- Comma Key [,] to move back one
To preview your animation:
- First for the initial, at-your-fingertips preview, press the Enter Key (Return Key on a Mac)
- For a more precise real-time preview:
- Windows = Control + Enter
- Mac = Command + Return
- Or, go to the Main Menu > Control > Test Movie > Test
Creating a New Project
When you launch Flash and create a new project, the program will open with a Timeline, Tools, and a Stage / Work Area. If not, you can open various palettes and windows by using the the workspace options. Click on the Workspace pulldown menu at the top of the window or go to the Main Menu > Window > Workspace. For digital cutout animation, Essentials or Classic are useful. You would need the following palettes (which you can also locate by going to the Main Menu > Windows).
- Colour Mixer: Stroke and Fill palettes, HSB (and Alpha) values, and colour mixer (to make non-web safe colours).
- Info: Width & Height, X & Y entry boxes, RGBA values and anchor point positions.
- Align: To align objects, together as groups and/or individually to the stage.
- Transform: Entry boxes for Scale & Proportions, Rotate & Skew.
Flash is designed primarily for the Internet, and therefore for screen resolution at 72 dpi. However, as we already know, for animation production, we can overlook “dots per inch” because we don’t necessarily print the material. What is more important is that we can change the dimensions. Consequently, if we wanted to, we could create high-definition files with Flash.
You should work with full-resolution images.When you create a project, you should make sure that the file dimensions are:
- 1080p: 1920 (wide) x 1080 (high)
- 720p: 1280 (wide) x 720 (high)
- SD: 720 (wide) x 540 (high)
To do this, refer to the main menu and go to Modify > Document to set the resolution. Alternatively, you can context-click on the Stage or Work Area and select “Document Properties.” From there, you can also change the “Size” and “Background Colour.”
Use the Document Settings Window to change the frame rate: Main Menu > Modify > Document.
Go to ”Frame Rate” and choose/enter:
- 24 fps for single-frame animation
- 12 fps for double-frame animation (which you would then import to After Effects or Premiere and interpret the footage as 12 fps for typical character animation)
By using the Properties Inspector, or by going to Modify > Document, you can change the background colour and , as a result, change the colour of the Stage. The Work Area will not appear on movies that you export; the area is outside of the camera field.
Similar to Premiere and After Effects, Flash uses a Timeline, which includes a long series of potential frames. The Timeline also consists of layers. As a default, a new project will start with one layer and a blank key frame at Frame 0. However, you can add more layers, very simply. There is an “Add Layer” button located on the left-hand side of the Status Bar at the lower edge of the Timeline. You can also make a new layer by referring to the Main Menu and going to Insert > Timeline > Layer.
As is the case with programs like Photoshop and Premiere, you can rename, hide, and lock layers. You can also change the order of a layer by clicking on it and dragging it up or down a stack of layers.
Frames and Keyframes
Obviously, an important feature with Flash is that you can animate with the program. You can use it to do drawn animation, to create digital cutouts, or you can set the software to animate moves for you.
As part of the process, you will apply key frames when you design a movement phrase. For example, when you make drawn animation, with each frame that you mark, Flash will assign a key frame. In another situation, when you set specific key frames (for example, one at frame 24 and another at 36), Flash will interpolate the calibrations between the two points and calculate in-between positions, including slow-in and slow-out movement.
Flash utilizes a variety of frames and key frames. Here is a brief overview:
- Blank key frame, indicated by a “hollow circle” icon on a frame. When you create a new project, as a default, Flash starts with a blank key frame on Frame 0 in the Timeline. A blank key frame is a key frame that does not have content on the Stage. It is a key frame “without content.” In a sense, a blank key frame is, figuratively, the digital equivalent of an empty animation sheet or cel, waiting to be used. Once you draw on it or place an object on one, it will become a key frame.
- Key frame, represented by a frame with a “solid black circle” icon on a frame. Quite simply, a key frame is different from a key frame in that it has content (e.g., a line, shape, text, etc.).
- Frame. You can add a frame to a key frame or blank key frame, to lengthen the duration of an image; for instance, from one frame to two frames. After you have added a frame, you can click and drag its right edge to make a hold of several frames. In addition, if you assign a “tween” option to a series of frames between key frames, Flash will interpolate the positions.
Keyframe Context Menu
Select a frame in the Timeline (blank keyframe, keyframe or frame) and context-click (Windows = right-click; Macintosh = control-click) to reveal the following menu:
- Create Motion Tween
- Insert Frame
- Remove Frames
- Insert Keyframe
- Insert Blank Keyframe
- Clear Keyframe
- Convert to Keyframes
- Convert to Blank Keyframes
- Cut Frames
- Copy Frames
- Paste Frames
- Clear Frames
- Select All Frames
Inserting and Modifying Key Frames and Blank Key Frames
For animation, you will probably find it useful to use the Onion Skin option, to make your drawings translucent, as though you are working on an animation light-table.
- To activate this function, click the Onion Skin button located along the bottom region of the Timeline.
- If you look at the lower edge of the Timeline, you will find a series of buttons — Centre Frame, Onion Skin, Onion Skin Outlines, Edit Multiple Frames, and Modify Onion Markers. Onion Skin is the button with a “white and blue square side-by-side.”
- When you select the Modify Onion Markers button, you can change the range that the Onion Skin function reveals. By setting “Anchor Onion,” the left-hand bracket will stay in one place while you move the right-hand bracket. “Onion 2″ will highlight the two frames before the Playhead and the two frames after. Similarly, “Onion 5″ will highlight 5 frames on either side. “Onion All” will select all of the frames in a sequence.
- On the Timeline, move the End Onion Skin bracket toward the last file in the sequence to select a series of frames.
To Change a Line to a Fill
Using the Selection Tool, pick the line. Then, go to the Main Menu, and choose Modify > Shape > Convert Lines to Fills.
To Import Sound Clips
In order to use a sound clip in your project, it must be an MP3 or Wave file. Furthermore, you must import the clips into the project Library (the Library is similar to the project window in Premiere or After Effects).
Before you import a file (or files), you should create a folder for sounds in your overall project folder, and to place the MP3 files in the folder. As you already know, the project folder is the “briefcase” that you will move back and forth from your network space or portable hard drive to the local drive of the computer station you work from.
To import a sound file (or files), refer to the main menu and select File > Import > Import to Library. Select the MP3 files (or to select more, hold down the Shift Key and choose more), and then press the “Import to Library” button.
The items should subsequently appear in your Library. To better organize your project, you can make a sound folder in the Library to house the MP3 files.
To Add a Sound Layer
First, you should establish a new layer for sound in the Timeline (and label it “Sound”).
At the point where you want the sound file to begin, insert a keyframe (context-click on the protoframe and choose Insert Keyframe). After doing so, refer to the Properties Inspector and use the Sound pull-down menu. From there, you can choose one of the sound files that you recently imported to the Library.
Flash uses several ways of synchronizing a sound file with images, which you will find in the Properties Inspector > Sync. You should choose Sync > Stream for this particular project.
In order for the sound to play properly, you must set a duration for the file. Therefore, at an appropriate point on the timeline (e.g., 30 frames hence), insert a frame (context-click on the protoframe and choose Insert Frame).
You will probably notice that, on the Timeline, Flash has not only inserted the MP3 file, it’s represented on the Layer with a waveform image.
N.B. With the sound synchronization set at Stream, you can scrub the sound by dragging the playhead over the wave file.
To Change the Height of a Sound Layer
Sometimes you might need to clearly review a sound waveform (e.g., if you want to animate to a soundtrack). To increase the height of a layer, context-click on the layer and choose Properties. In the Layer Properties, you can set the Layer Height to 100%, 200% or 300%. Press OK after you have done this.