12 Replies Latest reply on Dec 17, 2009 10:48 AM by Rothrock

    Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?

    WooingSkills.com
      Should I use Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols for Character Animation? What do people who make TV shows use. If I'm not planning on manipulating any symbols with ActionScript and I'm not using a symbol that requires it's own time line like a walk cycle, is there any reason to use movie clips symbols? If I put my animation on the web will it download noticeably faster if I use graphic symbols instead of movie clip symbols?
        • 1. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
          Walter Elias Level 2
          Until now all studios have used Graphic symbols in Flash for character animation. This was due to Flash's inability to export animated movie clips to Quicktime or AVI. Flash CS3 has apparently fixed this issue (I'm not sure, though, since I stick with Flash 8), so it shouldn't matter.

          If the animation is purely for broadcast, you can be safe sticking with Graphics. If, however, you also intend to deploy the same animation on the web, animation done with Movie Clips will typically make smaller SWF files and faster downloads.
          • 2. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
            WooingSkills.com Level 1
            Thanks for the tip. Where did you learn that about graphic symbols? For now I'm putting it on the web, but I'd like to maybe make some DVDs or sell it to a TV station. Play my dating game as a thank you present http://www.wooingskills.com/WooingSkillsTrivia.html
            • 3. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
              Walter Elias Level 2
              I know about what animation studios use because I work with studios to produce Flash character animation, and also train animators out of all the inappropriate habits they pick up in television production, in order to produce better web animations.

              I learned the astounding fact about movie clips making smaller SFWs than Graphics right here in this forum (See? Even trainers need training). Take part here regularly and you'll find out lots of things that aren't in the manuals. And hopefully share some of your own tips and tricks.
              • 4. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                Rothrock Level 5
                I have never heard of MovieClips making smaller swfs than graphics. I've heard the opposite since a MovieClip class has extra methods and linkages and all. The number 40 bytes or something sticks in my head as how much bigger each MovieClip is rather than the same symbol as a graphic.

                There is also another reason to use graphics for animation. When you have a graphic you can use the, loop, play once, single frame, and start options in the properties panel to control the playback.

                I had never really noticed those because I mostly work with code and with code you really need MovieClips so you can access the symbols. But a year ago I worked with some amazing animators and they would use those to jump to specific parts of their animtions, get specific facial expressions, etc. Now I use it all the time when I'm doing timeline stuff.
                • 5. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                  Walter Elias Level 2
                  If you use something multiple times, movie clips make smaller files. So, for example, if the character's shoe is copied and pasted 50 times during various walk actions, if the shoe is a movie clip, it makes for a negligible increase in SWF file size. If it's a graphic, the SWF file size will increase by the number of bytes in the shoe Graphic, multiplied by 50.

                  Since studio character animators are in love with the copy-paste method of repeating symbols, it makes sense that they be movie clips.

                  I was never aware of this difference between Graphic Symbols and Movie Clips until others on this forum pointed it out. Here's a living example: An animator working for me submitted an animated e-card that was 1.2 MB. WAY too large. I had him go through, turn every object into a movie clip, then rebuild the scenes. The resulting e-card, without sound, was 100KB. More than 90 percent savings in file size. That's how dramatic the difference can sometimes be.

                  The main advantage of using Graphics is that when they contain their own timelines, you can view the animation in the UI. That's why for web animations I advocate creating a first build with Graphics (in certain cases) and then turn them into Movie Clips at the end, using ActionScript to control the internal playback, such as holding on a single frame.
                  • 6. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                    WooingSkills.com Level 1
                    Well I think for my purposes I should use Movie Clips then since I'm distributing this animation via the web.

                    I didn't quite follow when you said, "Since studio character animators are in love with the copy-paste method of repeating symbols, it makes sense that they be movie clips." Is this after the CS3 Quicktime fix? Because you said, "Until now all studios have used Graphic symbols in Flash for character animation."

                    Both of you thanks for all of the great information.
                    • 7. Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                      Walter Elias Level 2
                      What I meant is, there are different ways of setting up a workflow for Flash animation. Studio animators are trained in traditional frame-by-frame animation. So their workflow is usually to do the same in Flash: make every frame a keyframe, then copy and paste everything from one frame into the next, then make whatever changes are needed. A classically-trained animator can get a good momentum working this way.

                      But for making the most streamlined SWF files, this method is not the best. It's much better to rely on library assets, place major parts or sets of parts on different layers, and only keyframe those things that need keyframes. If good planning is done in advance, it can be just as fast as doing straight-ahead keyframed animation.

                      Either method may end up with the same result. But when you want to go back and tweak things, it's a whole lot easier to do it when method 2 is used.

                      I'm sure I'm not very clear. PM me and I'll send you a list I created of "best practices" which I give to e-card animators.

                      One of these best practices is: place a thumbtack on the "G" key on your keyboard. The very WORST habit that is taught to studio animators using Flash is to use neither Graphics nor Movie Clips, but to immediately click Ctrl-G every time they draw something. This creates a Group. It's faster than hitting F8 and typing in a name, but it causes ENORMOUS problems, especially when doing retakes and revisions. And it results in gargantuan SWF files.

                      I literally GLUED a thumbtack to one one animator's keyboard, since he seemed unable to remember this rule. Luckily this wasn't in America, or I'd have been charged with grievous bodily assualt.
                      • 8. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                        WooingSkills.com Level 1
                        What does PM mean? Yes, please e-mail me your best practices. You can send it to this e-mail address on my site... http://www.wooingskills.com/Contact.html

                        Thank you.
                        • 9. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                          Simmonds Bros

                          Hi Walter.

                           

                          I'm just starting to work with Flash CS3 doing 2D cartoon animation for video so currently not looking at any interactive aspects of Flash.

                           

                          I have made a wide animated scene that involves a pan from left to right. The scene has some audio.

                           

                          I made a graphic symbol of the scene, and placed the symbol at the start of the timeline. At this stage the audio still plays in synch.

                           

                          Next, in order to get the camera effects (left to right. then a bit of a slow zoom in) I make some keyframes, adjust the image at those keyframes and apply motion tweens.

                           

                          This is where the sound gets out of synch. Both playing it in real time within Flash and also when exported as Quicktime or swf.

                           

                          I should perhaps mention that the audio I'm playing is not part of the symbol but on a layer in the timeline (if you know what i mean).

                           

                          Perhaps there's a better way i should/could be getting pans and zoom?effects?

                          • 10. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                            Rothrock Level 5

                            Please don't hijack other people's threads.

                            • 11. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                              Simmonds Bros Level 1

                              oops, sorry Rothrock. I've not been on any forum site before... 

                              didn't know i couldn't do that bro... better go read the rules  (-:

                               

                              u got any thoughts about my sound synch problem with animated symbols 

                              tho?

                              • 12. Re: Character Animation: Movie Clip or Graphic Symbols?
                                Rothrock Level 5

                                Additionally reopening threads that are months old -- especially if they are only tangentally related to your topic -- is not the way to get help. Start your own thread.

                                 

                                Which I see you've done and recieved a response from Kglad, but haven't responded to it.