Friday, October 3, 2014

Flash Animation Overview Part 2: Symbols

So, we've gone over what Flash is, and what it's been used for. Now it's time for how it's used.
Flash can be used to make frame by frame animation, but what makes it so efficient is the ability to use symbols.

Titmouse Animation's "Superjail" is done in Flash

Symbols are similar to animating on cels. Cels, short for celluloids, are transparent overlays that are painted on, producing parts of animation. Cells allow for pieces of a character or scene to be animated, while other pieces are kept the same. They're like layers.

Symbols are like cels. They're vectors stored in Flash that when put together, form a character or object, or whatever you're animating. How the symbols fit and move together is called a rig.
Each individual piece of the rig is a symbol. Animating with symbols allows for jointed movement, which is much faster and streamlined than drawing the same bit over and over again. How well this works can depend on the skill of the animator, the rig itself, or even the design of the character and how it translates to being a flash puppet.

For example, the show El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera uses Flash well. All the characters are rigged well and are expressive.
However, more often than not, Flash is used more as a crutch as opposed to a tool. Canadian-American show Johnny Test has dull character designs that barely move much. Things are static and dull in the show, with the same animation popping up often.

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