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Thread: [Resolved] Tips on making a better flash cartoon

  1. #1
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    Tips on making a better flash cartoon

    I've picked up on a few thing over time and I thought I'd share what I've learned. Feel free to add your own.

    1) When using the pencil tool aviod the combination of straight corners and hairline width. This often looks very amature.

    2) Do not over use radial gradiant shading. Especially if it goes directly from a primary color to black, like the default ones. Radial gradiants can look great if used properly.

    3) Never use Times New Roman font. IT LOOKS BORING. Be creative.

    4) Up the frame rate. 12 works for beginners but you should use at least 20 if you want it to look great. It means more work but leaves a much better product. I often work around 30.

    5) Change the frame size. 550 X 400 is too common. Make sure you choose your size from the start because its very difficult to change half way through the project. 400 X 300 is full screen and 555 X 300 is wide screen if you're thinking in tv ratios.

    6) If you're making a stick man cartoon DO NOT MOTION TWEEN. This can't be stressed strongly enough. Its gonna create a lot of extra work for you and the finished product will not look as nice.

    7) When choosing sound effects, try to avoid the ones that come packed in with flash. Everyone's heard them and it shows you didn't take the effort to find new sounds.

    8) If you add in voices, a better mic does make a difference. Try to eliminate background sounds. A good way to do this is in a closet or a sleeping bag, somewhere where the sound will be insulated.

    9) Use lots of layers, but make sure you label them. It may become a little crowded after a while, so use multiple scenes to address this.

    Well I hope this gets you on your feet. Feel free to add your own.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    stick figures rockz0rz.
    actually i used a combination of movie clips and motion tweens on my friend's upcoming site
    Fork In Your Eye.com
    and i think it came out ok for the intro animation...
    nice tips man, keep em coming.
    Have a wonderful day!
    http://www.gpathmedia.com!

  3. #3
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    Here's a few new tips I just picked up on.

    10) Use lots of movie clips. They can cut down on the amount of layers on your main frame. This is good because a lot of layers will become overwhelming.

    11) When using the line tool, take a minute to check out the custom line utility. This feature often gets overlooked.

    12) Background music and voices should be stream, and sound effects should be event. This way you can compress them seperatly when you go to publish your file.

    13) Take a minute to learn basic button commands. Play, stop, goto and play. Nothing is more annoying than when the play button doesn't work, or if there is no restart button.

    14) And of course most importantly, watch your cartoon before submitting it. Try every button to make sure they all do what they should, and take comments seriously, no matter how bad they might be.

    15) When doing frame by frame animation, make a skeleton first. Have a stick man run through the entire animation first, then draw the character in a frame above it.

    16) While I'm on frame by frame, watch continuity. Draw your character really good, then keep him in its own layer. Now for every new drawing you make, try to stay true to the good drawing, so your character doesn't get bigger or shaped improperly.
    Last edited by pooon; 12-18-2003 at 08:30 PM.

  4. #4
    no noise means no bees xup878's Avatar
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    generally good tips...
    but i'd say not to increase the frame rate above 15 if your doing frame by frame... unless of course you want to be drawing hundreds of frames everytime (nothing looks worse that when one area of animation is smooth and the next isn't)

  5. #5
    zephyr Olly K's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pooon
    8) If you add in voices, a better mic does make a difference. Try to eliminate background sounds. A good way to do this is in a closet or a sleeping bag, somewhere where the sound will be insulated.
    Lol, this one's fine if you live on your own or are happy with people thiking your crazy
    If you gots nowhere to go thats nice and quiet invest in a good audio editing program.

    Good tips pooon.

    Another reason not to use Times New Roman is it's harder to read on-screen. Supossed to be better to read on paper but I prefer Arial and VAG rounded for all!

    Also, use higher frame rate 20 min pref 25-30, yeah it means a lot more work but it means a lot better finish.
    - I made this!
    http://www.okkle.co.uk - creatures, art, animation and toys!
    Toilet Trumps

  6. #6
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Originally posted by xup878
    generally good tips...
    but i'd say not to increase the frame rate above 15 if your doing frame by frame... unless of course you want to be drawing hundreds of frames everytime (nothing looks worse that when one area of animation is smooth and the next isn't)
    Silly. Shoot on 2's.

    Better to have more frames so you can put in detail where it's needed than sell yourself short and have to force in and strech out an action.

    The advantage to Flash that you don't get from cels is that you can move a static pose slightly in-between frames to interpolate the action and have no jerky-looking motion.

  7. #7
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    I have a question about the "shoot on 2's". I've been trying to do frame-by-frame at 20fps and it's just been killing me, everything moves way too fast (I'm still learning frames vs speeds vs how it actually looks when you watch it).

    If I "shoot on 2's" does that mean that I'm drawing every other keyframe (unless it needs that intermediate frame? And in that case should I be at 20fps or should I bump it up higher?

    This forum has been incredibly helpful -- I'll post some animations soon, right now they're just 5 and 10 second clips of things while I get used to doing things frame-by-frame rather than motion tweening everything
    .: tekchic :.
    www.tekchic.com

  8. #8
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    I do a lot of frame by frame work and the absolute minimum I work in is 24, twice the default. If I plan to make it for television viewing I work in 30fps because the native fps for television is slightly over 29.

  9. #9
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    Do you shoot on 2's or every frame?

    Just seems to me that 30fps at one minute of content -- 1800 frames? So to get a plain old 1 minute cartoon you have to draw 1800x? Gah, how does anyone get anything done? For that matter how does a full length anim movie get done?

    I'm beginning to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into an FbF flash cartoon -- whew.

    Oh by the way, here's a leaf blowing that I did really quick trying to learn some new concepts... I know it's motion tweened (on the leaf), I was trying to figure some other things out too. Don't laugh too hard... http://www.tekchic.com/flash/leaf/Leaf.html
    Last edited by tekchic; 12-19-2003 at 01:17 PM.
    .: tekchic :.
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  10. #10
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    1800 frames is a lot of work, so thats why its best to combine frame by frame with symbols. My flat world clip is over 2000 frames so far and its a good example of frame by frame and symbols working together. Also programs like swift 3d help speed up production time.

    I'd just like to add another note. I said tv's run on a frame rate slightly higher than 29 (29.97) but thats only for NTSC tv's. If yours is PAL then it is only 25.

  11. #11
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    When I think of FbF where everything is redrawn by hand I think of the Ed, Ed, and Eddy (or whatever it is, hehe) cartoon that comes on Cartoon Network where the backgrounds are static but the characters wiggle even when they're standing still because every frame is hand redrawn. Kind of tiring to watch IMHO

    I see what you mean about making the symbols go FbF along with hand drawn stuff as well.. perhaps a mix of both worlds is best -- going to try and do some work with that on a toon and I'll post as I go along. pooon, could you post a link to that example you were referring to -- your flat world clip? I'd like to see what you mean.

    Thanks for the great tips everyone, keep em comin!
    .: tekchic :.
    www.tekchic.com

  12. #12
    no noise means no bees xup878's Avatar
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    hmmm i sometimes shoot on 2's at 15fps... maybe i'm just lazy

    flash has all sorts of problems with frame rates so i try to avoid setting it too high...
    but i only ever use flash with the web/computers in mind...

  13. #13
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by tekchic
    pooon, could you post a link to that example you were referring to -- your flat world clip? I'd like to see what you mean.
    Flat World Intro

  14. #14
    Always Twirling Toward Freedom pooon's Avatar
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    17) Originality. C'mon, we've all seen stick men die 1000 times in flash cartoons. Feel free to use stick men but try to have them actually doing something. Those videos are good for newbies, but if you wanna take your self seriously as an animator, you've got to move on.

    18) Camera movement. When you complete a scene, copy all the frames (select them in the timeline, right click, and press copy frames). Now draw a solid colored retangle (without outline) and make it the same size as your main stage and have it cover your main stage completely. Turn it into a movie clip and edit it. Now erase the retangle and paste your frames. You have just moved your entire scene into a movie clip. Now back on your main stage. Camera tricks are as follows.

    Camera movements
    ---------------------------

    Zoom in - Have the clip start at 100% and tween to a larger percent

    Zoom out - Opposite zoom in

    Pan Left - Enlarge the movie clip so its bigger than the stage. Line up the right side of the movie clip with the right side of the stage. Now tween so left side of the movie clip matches with the left side of the stage.

    Pan Every Other Direction - Same as above, but substitue direction accordingly.

    Focus Blur - Copy the movie clip onto a second layer and set both alpha levels to something less than 100% (between 50% - 75%). Now separate them, i.e. move one left and the other right. Have these tween so they overlap on the last frame. (Warning, this one can be computer intensive, depending on how detailed your scene is).

    19) Proper steps to making a good animation.

    -Start with an idea. Work with something you know. Are you a grocery clerk? Make it about a grocery store. Are you a video game geek? Make it about video games. What I've often done is write my stories backwards. Heres an example.

    Object: Teddy Bear
    Back a step
    What happens: Teddy Bear gets stolen
    Back a step
    Why: Something valuable inside the Teddy Bear
    Back a step
    What: Some kind of powerful object
    Back a step
    How: did the object get in the bear.
    etc.....

    Anyways work this way and you'll have a creative story in no time.

    -Now write a basic outline. Get your ideas on paper. You mind is fleeting, so lay down a hard copy before you lose it all.

    -Now write the main script. This should include characters and diologe.

    -story board. I personally consider this option, because I never do it, but it certainly can't hurt, plus it helps the actors.

    -voice acting. I have tips on this in my main post. You can do all the voices yourself, but its a lot more fun and a lot better sounding with a variety of people and talents. This can be friends, family, who ever.

    -preproduction. Very important step. This is where you choose such things as frame size (also something you should check in the original post), frame rate, and background color. Putting this off until mid production can cause a head ache.

    -Now you're ready to make the feature. Give it your all and don't hold back. Try something new. Innovation is what gets you noticed.

    -Finally post-production. Add things like a preloader (very important) a replay button and maybe some extras.

    20) Check through your library file. If you find old graphics that aren't being used, take them out. Optimization is the key. These days people are becoming impatient and if you have a long load time, because you have full uncut songs in your movie, it may deter some viewers.

  15. #15
    Patron Saint of Beatings WilloughbyJackson's Avatar
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    20) Check through your library file. If you find old graphics that aren't being used, take them out. Optimization is the key. These days people are becoming impatient and if you have a long load time, because you have full uncut songs in your movie, it may deter some viewers.
    As far as I know, the library itself is NOT exported into the SWF. Only symbols that are used on the stage, or activated at run-time.

    Director is a different matter, though.

    -pXw

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