The Flash Animation Process in a Nutshell (What is it doing in there!?)

One of the greatest feelings one can have as a Flash animator is to see all of your hard work and effort come together to make a complete animation. There’s nothing nicer than hearing “good job!” when your work goes from an illustrated collection of meaningless clips to a working animation with sound, movement, and convincing lip sync.After all, it’s not like I just sit down at the computer and – “voila!” – animation happens.  A lot of planning and dedication has to go into every 30 second piece. After we have an initial concept and design done, the actual process generally starts with the storyboard, which gives us a “blueprint” to work from. The storyboard is probably the most critical piece, as it allows the animators, illustrators and writers to be on the same page as far as overall style and tone of the piece.For Flash, the next part of the process usually involves creating your static graphics, or “movie clips.” These can be drawn directly in Flash but, for best results, are usually created in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop and then imported into Flash. One of the best things about working at DDA is having an incredibly talented illustrator like Melissa to create your graphics – it’s always done on time and with special attention paid to the needs of the animation. In other words, she keeps the illustrations flexible enough so that they can be converted into Flash and animated with minimum hassle. Thanks Melissa!Next comes the importing and organizing of clips. Each individual art asset is broken down into layers and arranged into movie clips. For instance, if a character is imported, you might separate the head, body, arms and legs into different movie clips. You would also put the eyes, nose, mouth and hair into their own clips. Then you can sort all of these into one movie clip that is broken down into layers, achieving maximum organization in case another animator needs to work with your file.Then it’s time to make stuff move! A lot of this stage is trial and error. In cases where audio is provided (like a dialog track) it can be a great help to act it out and get a feel for the motion going on in the scene. If you can multi-task, you can even count out the seconds it takes to perform an action (or just use a stopwatch!) Timing is everything in animation, and if you can nail that, you can animate anything.So there you have it. The greatest thing about animating at DDA is that it isn’t just me making an animation by myself. With the help of Laurence, Vinnie, and Melissa, we are able to create convincing animations that are comprehensive, entertaining, and can convey their messages clearly and concisely to the audience.