A Ball Hog in Pong?

Confused paddle is confused

My movie is entitled “Pong Ball Hog,” and I wanted to tell a humorous story about a game of Pong, probably the simplest video game in existence, taking on a new layer of complexity and emotion. The key characters, all of which were made (at least at some points) with reusable symbols, are the two paddles and the ball.

I got the chance to learn about the Bone Tool, and I quickly fell in love with it. The first resource I used was a YouTube video by online animated comic designer Chad Troftgruben, and that was a great start. Unfortunately, I was having trouble getting it to work with my paddles, and Flash was giving me some cryptic error message about using the Bone Tool on a stroke. After several minutes of Googling, I found the answer in the comments section of this page by user simranzenov1. Unfortunately, no other information about the author of this helpful comment was available. Overall, it probably took me 45 minutes to get a good grasp of the Bone Tool.

I also learned to use the stop() command to keep my animation from looping, but it took me a long time to find a method that worked for CS5 specifically. Eventually, a support page written by an anonymous author on Adobe’s official website provided me with a walkthrough. This probably took me 30 minutes to find and properly implement.

Probably the simplest bone structure ever

The audio wasn’t hard. I just guessed how it would work, and guessed right the first time. The biggest challenge was finding the audio (more on that later). The Pong sounds I found were in a composite audio clip, so I downloaded an audio editor called Audacity to clip out the three different sounds needed for this animation. All told, audio probably took 20 minutes.

I encountered a number of problems along the way, some of which I worked through or around, and some that forced me to backtrack and rethink my animation. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to make a movie clip symbol stop looping. A lot of websites told me to add stop() in the Actions window of the last frame of the clip, but it appeared that Actionscript 3.0 wouldn’t let me. Eventually, I gave up on that particular animation. I also had some trouble transitioning from a movie clip back to my main timeline. For example, I have a movie clip of the left paddle breaking in half and the ball flying out towards the right. In my main timeline, I had to create a new layer with the ball to allow it to interact with my right paddle character, but I couldn’t use the onion skin tool to line it up with the last frame of the movie clip, since movie clips don’t animate in the main timeline, which is incredibly confusing. I only achieved a seamless transition through a lot of trial and error. I also had trouble getting the shape of the paddle in the final frame of my kicking animation transferred back to the main timeline for a shape tweening operation. Eventually, I just came up with a hacky workaround that involved outlining the final frame of that movie clip with the pen tool, and copying that path to a new layer in the main timeline.

My looping "ball trapped in circle" animation.

All of the artwork was original with the exception of the pong sounds, which I found linked on a an Atariage forum posting by user Quadrunner. No, these sounds are probably not licensed under Creative Commons or anything, but I’m fairly certain their role in this animation would constitute fair use.

If I could go back and do it all again, I’d probably strive to have a cleaner timeline. I probably didn’t make the best possible use of keyframes, and ended up creating a lot of layers that could probably be compressed. I also should have created a storyboard beforehand, rather than figuring it out as I went along. Mostly though, I’m happy with how it turned out.

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About shep979

Junior at Trinity University. Editor of HackCollege.com
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