Annoying Birds

What a showoff.

Very few people, or penguins, appreciate being made fun of. I decided this issue needed to be addressed in a short animation titled: “When Penguins Fly.”  Poor Penguin is enjoying a pleasant afternoon when an obnoxious bird decides to make fun of Penguin’s flightlessness.  Little does this showoff know he’s about to be shown up. Yes, this penguin has a jetpack. I chose to tell Penguin’s story because I felt this moral lesson needed to be illustrated… and because I felt confident of my ability to create cartoon birds in flash.

For this animation I had a number of different reusable symbols. The most straightforward were the pink and yellow flowers. However, I also was able to reuse each bird’s wings and eyes by flipping them horizontally. Further, I created the jetpack by copying a single rocket  and placing it on either side of the penguin.

I learned a great deal about flash through this project, much of it the result of trial and error. I figured out how to create a movie clip within a movie clip within a scene and how to move my background independently. These discoveries just took a bit of thought. The one thing I did have to go searching for online was an explanation of how to stop the animation from looping. I headed straight for the Adobe forums. There I found a post from Shane Barnes who explained the steps he had taken towards ending the loop and the issues he was having with making his code work. Ned Murphy’s response to this was that the code needs to be correct; you can’t input “stop” and hope for results. It has to be stop();. Between these two posts I was able to create an action layer and place code in my final frame. This stopped the image from looping.

To infinity and beyond!

However, I was unable to stop the final audio clip. In fact, if I left the animation looping the end audio would continue to play into the beginning of the next loop. I’ve never encountered an issue like this in Adobe I did not find a solution. But, in a way it worked: allowing the animation portion to stop while the sound and penguin movie clip continue to rocket into space was a preferable alternative. Additionally I had some frustrating problems with matching the two character’s actions. This was solved with more trial and error. The motion tween for the bird in particular was a challenge and I had to recreate it a number of times.

Other issues I encountered had to do with locating sounds and backgrounds. I found one really great site, Freesound, which had a wide collection of well organized audio files. Placing the sound in the animation went smoothly. The process was intuitive after our class on buttons, and I had the sound working within ten minutes. Finding the right sounds on the other hand might have taken 30 to 45 minutes.

The backgrounds were trickier. I went through vector graphics sites but repeatedly found that the one image I wanted was not actually free. I ended up having the best luck image searching for “vector backgrounds” then taking a closer look at those that were not watermarked.  Apart from this, all of the other images were ones I created in Flash. I used a cartoon character tutorial for illustrator in order to get some basic ideas.

If I had the chance to do the project over again I might search for a better audio clip, or continue to attempt to resolve my strange sound issue. I might also go back and try working with movie clips from the start. Initially I used graphics to animate my birds, which worked fine. However, the movie clip option might have been simpler.

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