Flash to DVD

Alright, so watching you cartoons on the computer screen is fun and all, but you want the next step up. You want to see it on the big screen.

You'll need a couple things before we begin. First and foremost, you'll need a dvd burner, thats a given. If this is unavaliable, you can still make a vcd that will play in many modern dvd players. Secondly flash, of course. Third (Optional) is some kind of video editing software. Most Windows XP users will have Microsoft Movie Maker and most Mac users will have Final Cut. Finally, the is optional but recommended, get SWF 2 AVI 2.0 which can be found here. http://www.effectmatrix.com/. You may also want to check out http://www.goodervideo.com and get motion perfect (for smoother frame rates) and slow motion (for slow motion :P ).

Step 1: Frame Rate

You'll need to take a look at your animation settings. For best computer to tv transfer, you should set your animation to 30 frames per second, as thats the NTSC standard (actually its 29 and some change but 30 is close enough). If you live on the east side of the pond, your tv standard is most likely PAL, which runs at 24 frames per second.

"But my animation was made at 12 frames per second, the flash default"

By this point, you should consider working in a higher frame rate but if thats the case, heres a quick guide to fixing that.

If your animation is at 12 frames per second, go to the very last key frame. For PAL, it's easy, all you have to do is look at what frame its at now and double it. Meaning, if the last keyframe is at 134, then drag it to 268, and if the key frame before it is at 126, then drag it to 252. etc....

For NTSC, times all your frames by 2.5. So 134 would become 335. If the frame is odd, like 267, it'll end up with 642.5. Of course you can't place something at a half frame, so place it on either side, either 642 or 643. At 30 frames a second, you'll never know the difference.

Heres a table of common frame adjustments.

12 fps -> X 2 for PAL -> X 2.5 for NTSC
18 fps -> X 1.3 for PAL -> X 1.6 for NTSC
20 fps -> X 1.2 for PAL -> X 1.5 for NTSC

Or simply use this formula,


Step 2: Frame Size

Now we have to look at the size of your frame. The most popular tv size is the 4:3 ratio, meaning, for ever 4 inches (or centemeters) it is 3 inches (or centemeters) wide. A new format that is catching on is the wide screen tv, which is a 16:9 ratio. Either way, you'll have to figure out which ratio you want to work in. If you're working in a 4:3 ratio, what I generally do is make my window size 400 wide, 300 high. It might look a bit smaller than what you're used to, if you work with the flash default, but the good thing about flash is, you can stretch the window to any size without quality loss. If you want a little more window size, add 40 to the width and 30 to the hight as many times until you feel comfortable. eg. 440X330, 480X360, 520X390, etc...

If you are working for a wide screen tv, or like that letterboxed look, start at 160X90 and work your way up, adding 80 to the width and 45 to the height, eg. 160X90, 240X135, 320X180, 400X225, etc.. Also, if you are working in this size, you'll want to make sure the bars on top and bottom are black. On the top layer of your animation, draw a square with no fill. In the properties box my the width and height of the box the same as your frame size, and set the x and y positions to 0. Now draw a bigger box around that one (again make sure fill is off). Now fill in that area between the big box and the small one with black. This will make sure everything outside of your frame won't be seen. I recommend locking and hiding the layer so it won't get in your way.

"But my animation was made at 550X400, the flash default"

As you can see, this is not a TV ratio, what you should do is select every frame in your time line, right click and press copy frames. Now in your main window draw a box that is the same size as your window and covers it completely (same as above). Turn it into a movie clip. Now right click it and go to edit in place. Now paste all your frames and delete the layer with the box we just made. Back on the main stage, you now have a movie clip of your animation that you can stretch and move to your hearts content.

Step 3: Stripping your Video Down

In this step you'll want to get rid of everything except for the video. Menus, replay buttons, and even sounds. Make sure you save a back up of the original.

Step 4: Turning it into Video Format

You'll now want to turn it into a standard video format, as dvds can't read swf files (at least any that I've heard of). The easiest way to go about this go file>export movie and save it as an AVI file. Now give it a watch. If you're extremely lucky, this will work for you. For everyone else, you'll need to use SWF 2 AVI 2.0 that I mentioned in the beginning. Why's that you ask? Well, when flash alone renders an avi, it only renders whats on the main stage, meaning movie clips will be still graphics, which won't work for any intermediate to advanced animation. SWF 2 AVI 2.0 watched the swf file and records what it sees, so movie clips work just fine. You'll end up with a file that will most likely be upwards of a gigabyte and unless space is an issue, don't compress the file with divX or something along those lines.

Now bring that file into a video editor. This is where you put the sound effects in that I told you to take out earlier. This is so you can get better sound quality. If your proficent with adobe after effects, feel free to take it through that if necessary. When you're done export it once again as an avi file and its ready to burn. Take into your favorite buring program (nero or what ever you use) and burn it to dvd or vcd if you only have a cd-r. Enjoy. Feel free to have some fun with it too. Make menus bonus features or whatever.

Alternatively, if you have video out on the back of your video card, you can send the signal out to the input in the back of your vcr and tape your animation onto a vhs tape.