Friday, 4 May 2007

Top Ten Tips - practical advice for finishing off a flash movie

You may be interested in my teaching notes for my classes as they move towards completion of their animations:
  1. Ensure that you screen off your stage area by placing rectangular blocks of fill colour, without the stroke colour, to surround the stage area. Therefore when viewed in full screen mode, only what is seen on the stage is visible. It also neatens up the whole appearance of the animation. Copy the frame you first produce and paste it as the first layer on each subsequent scene. You can also experiment by placing an extra border around the stage to give a thin strip of colour that acts rather like a frame for a photograph. Remember you can experiment with the thickness of the frame using the appropriate tool in Properties – just ensure the fill is not active as you will mask everything.
  2. Ensure that all your text is the same font and size throughout the movie. Experiment with fonts, sizes and colours first to see what works and make it consistent in all frames. Check your spelling using a spell checker on “Word” first then paste into animation.
  3. Your opening and closing credits should complement the animation not totally overwhelm it. Too many flashy tweens spoil what you produce. Ensure too that you work out exactly how much time is needed for someone to read the material. Sometimes a plain and simple static title and concluding credit is best.
  4. Transition between the different scenes is key. You may have to create an extra scene or scenes to make your story clear to the viewer. Ask someone to view the more or less finished product and where they are in doubt think what you can add to clarify things. You may also need to put in a fading alpha shape tween between the different scenes. Once created this can be copied and reused.
  5. Your use of your library is an essential element in polishing your movie. Graphics or tweens can be reused, perhaps having duplicated them, to build up your scenes. This is particularly true with the credits. But consider playing one individual scene. This creates a movie clip and can be imported into your library and reused. For surprisingly little effort some spectacular effects can be created.
  6. Some of your scenes may be too bare and detract from the overall movie. Create extra bits of interest, perhaps as movie clips, and import them in to brighten up a scene.
  7. Some of your most interesting artwork may simply be missed because you do not make the most of it. For example, by changing a detailed city scene into a motion tween and zooming in and out you can add much more visual appeal to your movie.
  8. Stop or replay buttons can add visual impact and a touch of professionalism to your movie. Remember that they can be something more than a circle with “Replay” added to them. Duplicate a particular graphic image you have worked on earlier. Perhaps you should change the colour. Use this as the basis for your button.
  9. Music fills in the gaps and establishes atmosphere. Scenes that may seem slow on their own can be transformed into a thing of beauty by the correct music. The music you choose should suit the animation. You are not choosing music you wish to listen to on your iPod. You are choosing music for a purpose. Sometimes classical music is perfect. Don’t dismiss it.
  10. Finally, give your animation a distinctive title. Don’t simply call it “Change” or “Persian Carpet” if this is the general title for all the students.

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