Types of Flash Cartoon Animation
May 9, 2004
In our last article in our series on producing Macromedia Flash cartoon animation we looked at the basic production steps before working within Flash. In this article we'll look at what type of Flash cartoon we can create. By type of cartoon projects, we don't mean things like Webisodes, greeting cards, games or Flash cartoon for televison. We're talking about the available techniques.
Some of the most popular cartoon animation techniques with Flash use 3D, hand drawings, ActionScript and motion graphics. Because of our specific animation background, we'll discuss another technique that people rarely use with Flash but are as interesting and may inspire you to attempt something else than the standard Flash look.
Several 3D animation software export contents in Flash. You create your project as a 3D animation and render it for Flash. If adopting such a technique, remember that you should probably optimize your renderings within Macromedia Flash and not just publish them for the Web. 3D renderings in Flash are often too large and waste your viewer's time.
Professional animation programs that work with traditional hand drawings allow you to export the contents for Flash. Again, as with 3D animation, the projects will not be optimized Flash files and you should reedit them in Flash. Check if the 2D and 3D animation programs render your Flash projects. Make sure they look good and that if they use bitmaps that they are small and clean.
As traditional animators, we favour working with visuals rather than code. However, many people prefer to program interactions and motion within Flash. Our rule of thumbs is simple. If it takes more time to script a motion and if it's heavier, animate visually. We believe that ActionScript works best for planned motion sequences, like in video games rather than total animation.
For example, using ActionScript to set the behaviour or a character when faced with an obstacle is probably a better use of the technology. Since the possible reactions are drawn in advance and saved as movie clips, recalling a specific behaviour from a library makes more sense than scripting a walk sequence with ActionScript.
For us, hand animation is our favourite and ultimate animation technique when working with Flash. That's because planning an animated project in Flash or for television should be no different. Hand drawing is great because animators make mistakes and add imperfections. Imperfections are what makes cartoon animation lively. Perfectly smooth animation is boring.
Flash works very well with traditional animation unlike other programs such as Adobe After Effects or Live Motion, as we discussed earlier. Each frame contains a different drawing that brings variety and breaks the mechanical aspect of cartoon animation done with computers. Hand animation takes more time, cost more but usually makes compelling and attractive projects.
By Puppet animation, we refer to animation with a library of objects, like our Quickquack animation. In our case, we built our Quickquack puppet animation on a hand-animated version. We put the clean digital parts on top of the pencil draft. While many people use puppet animation for lip sync, few go beyond that.
Puppet animation is fun because once you have the motion and gesture of the character set, you can replace the standard parts with anything, like papier mach®, a child's crayola scribbles, painted parts or photos. Since all you do is add the parts on top of a guide, creativity and experiments are encouraged.
Having discussed the type of Flash cartoon animation once can produce, we'll focus on the aesthetic parts of those techniques in upcoming articles. Specifically, in the next article, we'll round up the top 10 Flash cartoon animation design clich®s that one should avoid to produce new exciting contents for our viewers.
Coolstreak Cartoons Inc.
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