I've been a game designer for awhile now and I've recently decided to take up spriting so I won't have to rely on others for art resources. I've mostly been using the program ProMotion 6 for animation, but I find that 'hand' drawing every single frame is quite cumbersome... I have some limited experience with 3d animation, and I know that when you have an image that is meaningful to the computer (in that context as a set of vertex matrices) it is possible to automate much of the animation process using keyframes etc. so what I'm wondering is this: is there a way (preferably using Flash, but if other programs could do the job please name them) to similarly automate 2d animation? What I'm picturing in my head is functionality that would allow me to apply a 2d 'skeleton' armature to a sprite and then move its various parts as I've defined them like in 3d modeling. If I could get that, I expect I'd be able to then use Flash keyframing and Tweening techniques to achieve my animation automation. I don't know a lot about vector graphics other than that they are essentially images composed of paths that make them meaningful to the computer; this would seem to make them a good way to go, and I would certainly be interested if someone knows how to do what I've described with vector graphics, but I am mainly interested in somehow applying this concept to rastor graphics. Since I'm only a novice artist, most of my art comes from editing and adding to existing sprites, and almost all of these are in rastor formats. Even though rastor images aren't collectively meaningful to the computer it still knows where all the pixels are so I expect I should be able to define an armature and keyframes for them somehow, right? In messing around with Flash CS5 I got some interesting results, but nothing I could call conclusive one way or the other since I'm still a noob with it...
Also, another quick question- is it possible to have animated behaviors coded in AS3 show up in export formats other than .SWF? I tried exporting a few examples in different file formats [.gif animation and .swf movie clip] and the AS3 code to produce organic movement did not do anything in the former (the image just remained still since it was technically only one frame).