Enjoying the “Simple Life”

For this animation, I wanted to tell a very simple story, or rather, create an animation of a process. The title of my animation is “Simple Life.”

The vector background I used loaded into Flash Illustrator before I edited the background.

The basic story outlines the growth of a patch of flowers. My inspiration for this particular story came from the vector background that I saw at vectoropenstock.com after searching for “free vector backgrounds.” I downloaded the background into Adobe Illustrator and found that I could edit out certain elements of the background. I found this enjoyable, so I came up with the idea to animate a story about the life of a flower in the meadow.

I wanted to stick with simplicity throughout the animation therefore I narrowed down my main elements/characters to the background, a set of clouds, rain, a sun and flowers. The reusable symbols I used were the rain drops and the flowers. The rain drops and the flowers were instances of the same respective movie clip. I used Adobe Illustrator to draw the rain drop and the sun. Then I transferred the colored symbols into Adobe Flash in order to animate them the way I wanted. The flower symbol was downloaded into Adobe Illustrator from a vector flower package, found on the public domain site DeviantART.com, edited and then also imported to Adobe Flash to be animated.

Throughout the animation process, I researched different ideas with which I was not comfortable. Including how to incorporate audio files into the animation. I began with referencing Flash CS5.5: The Missing Manual by Chris Grover, a technical writer, advertising copywriter and product publicist, which gave me the basic idea of how I was going to be placing the audio file into the timeline via importing the file into the library, which only took about 5 minutes to understand. I ended up searching “nature sounds” in order to find the rain and wind. Unfortunately, much of what appeared as a result of the search was either sound files of nature for relaxation purposes, not what I was looking for, or items that I could use upon purchase. After 20 minutes, I settled on sounds that I thought helped to illustrate the story, including the triumphant sound that comes after the flowers reach optimum growth (I felt the sound was ironically appropriate for expressing my feeling of completing this animation, adding a little humor to the story).  I had an issue with  getting the audio file in the animation to stop if the clip was longer than necessary. Initially, I began by trying the different Keyframe basics that we have learned in class, but I eventually turned to help.adobe.com‘s about “Using sounds in Flash,” written by the creators of Adobe Professional (therefore credible), website to address the issue. This resource also lead me to learn about the new technique that I utilized for the animation.

On the website, it mentioned the idea of editing and adding effects to the sound files that are imported into the timeline of the animation. I read about the different effects that are possible in Adobe Flash, then began testing out the effects myself. In the animation, the rain sound file had to be repeated and the transition between the repeated file were not seamless, therefore I used the fade-in/fade-out as well as the custom tool to make the sound file more smooth sounding to the ear. Much of my learning came from testing out different combinations of fades to achieve the effect I wanted. This aspect of the animation took more time than I would have liked, around 30 minutes, but it was worth learning the tool for future reference.

As mentioned before, many of my frustrations were with the use of sound files and trying to get the audio to make sense with the visual aspects of the animation. Another frustration that I had was stopping the animation from looping when the .SWF file is uploaded to the Google site for the class. I began by searching “stop loop in flash” in the Google search engine which lead me to a forum created by Internet.com: The Network for Technology Professionals where people can post issues and the IT Professionals will respond to the problem with suggestions. This forum lead me to using ActionScript’s “stop()” function to solve the problem. The forum suggested creating a new layer for the script, but I found that with my animation it did not work and did the exact opposite by stopping my whole animation. After messing around, I discovered that it was necessary that the “stop()” function needed to be applied to the layer with the last (latest) motion keyframe.

The last shot of the animation as the triumphant sound finishes out.

If I were to start again, I would have laid out a more creative and unique storyline. Much of the time was spent looking for vectors and/or ideas that I thought would be a good animation. I would have benefited more from realizing that I could create my own characters. In addition, I would spend more time on finding and editing the audio.

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