My first flash movie, a couple of questions

My first movie is going to be animating a comic strip that my friend wrote… shouldn’t be too hard. However, two things have come up…

The word balloons: what is the best way to go about doing these? should I make one balloon graphic and put text on top of it when I need, or should I save each individual word balloon as a new graphic (that’s going to be a lot…)

How do I make a movie clip?? I swear I’ve tried to so many times… For example… the character is walking. I want to make an animation of him moving his feet and arms. Then I want that animation to move across the screen. I know it’s very possible and probably easy, so could someone fill me in?


These questions lead me to believe that you need a little under the belt Flash experience before you may be ready for creating your production. I’d suggest first, going through some tutorials on tweening, and then asking specific questions related to those tutorials.

I’m going to look for some tutorials, then I’ll post a couple of links here so that you can find them. :slight_smile:

I know how to tween… It’s just that flash seems to ignore making movie clips in the tutorials and I haven’t found a good tutorial on the web that covers it, almost like everyone already knows how so they didn’t make one or something. Or… something.

And as far as word balloons, I just need to know what takes up less space for loading the movie… text left alone, or all text converted to symbols

thanks again :slight_smile:

I’m working on a tut that might help you… should be done by tomarrow sometime.

ok… since this doesn’t look like it’s going to be done by then… I’ll try to answer you here.

A) the balloons: Flash has three native objects which it understands. Movie Clips, Graphics, and Buttons. Graphics are not what you would think, as we are accustomed to calling just about anything a graphic. Instead a graphic in Flash, is something which has been designated as such. When you create any of these three items, they are stored in the library of your movie, and can then be used again and again, as many times as you like, without adding any file size to the movie. Flash really likes reusing things.

Creating the first balloon:

  1. create an oblong circle.
  2. in the same layer, but away from that circle, create a small triangle using the line tools. Fill in the triangle with the same fill that you used in the circle in step 1.
  3. select the whole triangle and drag it so that it sits on the bottem of the oval, where ever you think looks correct.
  4. select the line, which is now out of place on the top of the triangle, and delete it. The fill of the circle and the triangle should now be attached together. You can check it by clicking on the fill. If you see the entire thing selected, including the triangular section, then you know that no strokes are in the way. You can, using the black arrow tool, move the point of the triangle, and or bend the sides of the triangle, to make a more balloon like effect.
  5. using the black arrow tool make a selection which encompasses the entire circle and triangle.
  6. hit F8 (apple 8 on the Mac) a dialogue box will open which lets you select one of the three Flash native objects. Select “graphic” and name it “balloon1”.

If you open your library, you can now see the graphic object balloon1 sitting there. That is the origional. You can use the one on stage as is, or scale it to a different size, without effecting this origional. You can also drag multiple “instances” of this object onto the stage, and scale each independently without effecting the others, including reversing it so that the triangle is facing the opposite direction. “instances” of objects are a beutiful thing. You can use hundreds of instances of this balloon and it will add 0 k to the final swf file. Like I said, Flash likes to reuse stuff.

You will probebly have to make a couple different balloons still, as this one is not going to fit every space you need, but after making a few, you’ll probebly find that you have enough for most situations.

I actually have an FLA somewhere on my hard drive that just includes various word balloons that I’ve created. When I need one, I use the menu option “file/open as library” on this FLA, and then I drag and drop what ever balloon I need into what ever I happen to be working on. It’s good practice to start making libraries for yourself this way, either of scripts, or objects that you may use over and over again in various productions. Why do twice what you’ve already done… (flash likes to reuse objects, :slight_smile: )

B) movie clips: If you were paying attention, you’d have noticed that when you hit F8, in the dialogue box, there was an option for movie clip. In fact, you could have made the balloon a movie clip and it would have had very little effect on the outcome, but graphics have less properties associated with them, so for processor speed… you want to use graphics instead of movie clips where ever possible.

Why use movie clip at all? Well, movie clips are the meat and potatoes of Flash. They are independent time lines encapsulated within an object.

better that I explain with an example.

  1. Open a new movie for this. (it’ll just be easier this way.)

  2. create a circle on the stage, and then using the line tool, make a line from left to right, and from top to bottem, disecting the circle.
    you should have a circle with a cross in the middle.

  3. select the whole thing and press F8. In the dialogue box that opens, select Movie Clip, and give it the name “ballRotating”.
    You will see, as soon as you do that, that there is a blue bounding box around the object. If you open the “instance” panel, with this object selected, you will see that the instance panel reflects this, by showing the name of the object, and the Movie clip symbol.

  4. Double click on the movie clip. If you’ve done so correctly, you can see, in the upper left hand corner of your timeline, that there are two tabs. The first says “Scene1” and the second says “ballRotating”. You are now editing this movie clip in relation to the stage… it is a very handy way of editing, as you can see how the object will relate to other things on the stage. The timeline that you see, is no longer the main timeline, but the timeline of the movie clip itself. It has one frame, and one layer, and you can see the first frame is filled in with grey, and a black dot.

4a) select this frame, and use menu option “Insert/Create motion tween”. Select frame 20, and use menu option “Insert/KeyFrame”. You’ll see the the second keyFrame apear, and the tweening blue with the arrow, pointing from frame one to frame twenty.
4b) select frame one again. Open up your “frame” panel and there will be some new options there. Select rotate clockwise, and enter “1” time into the feild there.

now if you grab the play head on the timeline and pull it back and forth you should see the ball rotate (this is why I had you place the lines in an “x” pattern on the circle so that you could see it rotate.)

4c) locate those tabs in the upper left of the timeline and click once on the tab called “Scene1”. You’re tweening frames disapear from the timeline and the tab called “ballRotating” disapears. You’re now back on the main timeline.

if you do a test movie at this time, you’ll see the ball rotate. Even though there is only one frame on the main timeline, because the ball’s timeline is separate from the main timeline, it plays independently of what ever is going on on the main timeline.

  1. Select the ballRotating movie clip, if it is not already selected and hit F8 again. In the dialogue box that opens, select Movie Clip, and give it a name of “ballUpNDown”.

5b) Double click on the ball to open it’s timeline again. Now the tabs in the upper left corner of the timeline should say from left to right, “Scene1” and “ballUpNDown” respectively. but there is no tween on the timeline. :slight_smile:

5c) Click on frame 1 and use menu option “Insert/Create motion tween.” Select frame 20 and use menu option “Insert/Key frame”. Select frame 10, and use menu option “Insert/Key frame”. With frame 10 selected grab the ball and drag it up to the top of the stage.

if you grab the play head on the timeline now, and move it back and forth, you should see the ball move up and down.

do a test movie. What you should see is that the ball moves up and down, and rotates. That’s because you took the first movie clip called ballRotating and placed it inside another movie clip called ballUpNDown. Both timelines are working independent of each other.

I’ll wirte more in a minute

Wow, I think I compeltely understand the movie clip thing… awesome and thank you for taking the time to write that!

One last thing… ok, so I have my instance of the word balloon. I drag it onto the stage and put text on top of it. Should I leave it this way, or select all of it and convert it into another separate instance?

you could do so, but there is no particular reason to, unless you were going to have the same text repeated in multiple places. You could just group them as well, which would let you move them together without repositioning, but even that seems unnecessary for what your’e doing.

The only thing that I wanted to add to the Movie clip stuff was this. Just because you named the movie clips as you created them, does not mean that you gave them “instance” names.

If for instance, your ballRotating movie clip had a stop(); action in the first frame, you’re ball would bounce up and down, as per the timeline of the ballUpNDown movie clip, but it would not rotate. Likewise you could put a stop action in the beginning of that movie clip as well. Since the movie clip ballRotating is inside the ballUpNDown movie clip, it would not be affected by that stop action, and vise versa.

So, lets say that you had a stop action on frame one of ballUpNDown, and one on frame one of ballRotating. If you did a test on the movie you would see the circle sitting there doing nothing. If you wanted to tell these movie clips to do things at various times, lets say by a button, then you would need to give each an “instance” name. The reason for this should be pretty easy to understand… because you could technicaly put three or four, or however many of these on the stage that you wanted… the Flash player wouldn’t know which to tell to do something unless it had a name to reference. That is where the instance panel comes into play.

Lets say that we gave each of our movie clips the same “instance” name, as it had in it’s library. So ballUpNDown, has an instance name of “ballUpNDown”, and ballRotating has an "instance name of “ballRotating”. Each one has a stop action in it’s first frame, AND there is a button on the main “Scene1” stage which we are going to use to make the ball start bobbing up and down, AND rotating.

The button would have a script like this


these commands are called “tell targets”. As the name implies, they are telling a target movie clip to do something. In this case, to play.

you might be asking yourself, unless you’re really swift, or already familiar with dot syntax naming structures, why does the second tell target say “ballUpNDown.ballRotating”?

If you’ll remember the ballRotating movie clip is INSIDE the ballUpNDown movie clip. So when we call to it, we need to call first to the movie clip which is on the main timeline, and then add a period, and then the name of the movie clip that is inside of it.

open the library, and take a copy of ballRotating and place it one the stage next to the other ball. Give it an instance name of “ball2”.

now we can call to ball2 directly to make it rotate. Since it is not inside a “ballUpNDown” movie clip, you can’t make this one bounce though.

confused yet? I was at this point.

the point is, you could create a movie clip called “Man” which has in it a five movie clips called “torso”, “armL” “armR” “legL” and “legR”. Each of these legs and arms can be set up with a tween to swing back and forth, but with a stop action on the begining of each of their timelines. Then “Man” movie clip which contains all of these can be set to tween from left to right across the screen.

Now, if you had actions set up correctly, you could have him walk, and swing his arms and legs appropriately, but ONLY while he’s walking. When he stops on the right side of the screen, you can have a commands which tell each of the limbs to stop moving.

The nice thing about this set up is, that the legs and arms will move with the “Man” movie clip as he goes along… so they don’t need to be tweened left to right… only in their swinging motion.

Like I said… I’m working on a tutorial… but that should at least get you started.