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Chapter 4. Animating Sprites > Building Animated Sequences

Building Animated Sequences

An animated sequence in Director consists of a series of related cast members (Figure 4.40) that alternate on the stage to create a more realistic animation than change of position or sprite properties can.

Figure 4.40. An animated sequence is a series of related cast members that alternate on the stage.

Up to now, you have worked with sprites that display only one cast-member graphic. You can create a sprite that displays multiple cast-member images throughout its span, which simplifies the process of creating animated sequences. A sprite can display one cast member for the first 10 frames and another cast member in the next 10 frames, for example.

You can change the cast member on which a sprite is based for either the entire sprite or for a range of frames. The path of a sprite (if any) remains the same when you change the cast members.

To exchange a cast member within a sprite:

In the score, select the range of frames within a sprite where you want to exchange the cast member on which the sprite is based (Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.41. Select the frames in which you want to substitute a different cast member.


Select the entire sprite if you want to exchange the cast member throughout all its frames.

In the Cast window, select a cast member to exchange for the sprite you selected in step 1.

Choose Edit > Exchange Cast Members.

The cast member is exchanged, and sprite labels within the sprite span are updated (Figure 4.42).

Figure 4.42. The revised sprite.

The Cast to Time command offers a con-venient way to create an animated sequence by moving a series of cast members from a Cast window to sequential frames in the score, forming a single sprite.

To place a series of cast members in frames as one sprite:

In the Cast window, organize some cast members into a sequence.

In the score, click a cell as the starting point where your cast members should be placed (Figure 4.43).

Figure 4.43. Select a cell as a destination for the cast members.

In the Cast window, select the sequence of cast members that you want to move into the score (Figure 4.44).

Figure 4.44. Select a series of cast members.

You can choose adjacent cast members or make noncontiguous selections.

With the Cast window still active, choose Modify > Cast to Time.

Director creates a sprite that consists of as many frames as there are cast members in your selection, with each frame containing one of the cast members (Figure 4.45).

Figure 4.45. Director creates one sprite from the cast members.

Play back the movie to check the animated sequence.


As a shortcut for the Modify > Cast to Time command, you can hold down the Alt key (Option, on the Mac) while dragging the cast members from the Cast window into the score.


Sometimes, a sequence of cast members placed in the score may appear to jump or shift as your movie plays. In this case, their registration points may need to be aligned (see "To set a new registration point" in Chapter 3).

In the process of creating an animated sequence, animators often find it helpful to temporarily place all the cast members in a single frame in the score, so as to view them all at the same time on the stage and check positioning. When you finish checking the positioning, you can use Director's Space to Time command to convert all the sprites in that one frame to a single sprite to form an animated sequence.

To convert sprites in one frame to an animated sequence:

Select a cell in the score as the destination for your animated sequence.

One by one, drag the cast members for the animated sequence from the Cast window to the stage (Figure 4.46).

Figure 4.46. Drag cast members for the sequence to the stage—in order.

Be sure to drag the cast members to the stage in the correct order. Director automatically places the cast members in sequential channels in the score, creating separate sprites (Figure 4.47).

Figure 4.47. The cast members are placed in sequential channels in the score.

Arrange the sprites on the stage as they should appear in the animated sequence (Figure 4.48).

Figure 4.48. Carefully position the sprites on the stage as they should appear in the animated sequence.

Select all the sprites that you just created in the score.

Limit the sprites'span duration to one frame (Figure 4.49) by entering the same frame number for the start frame and end frame in the Property Inspector or the score's Sprite toolbar.

Figure 4.49. Limit the sprites'span duration to one frame.

Choose Modify > Space to Time.

In the Space to Time dialog box, enter a Separation value to indicate how many frames should separate the sprites within the new combined sprit.

Click OK.

All the selected sprites condense into a single sprite in a single channel (Figure 4.50).

Figure 4.50. The multiple sprites are converted to a single sprite.

The Paste Relative command aligns the start position of one sprite on the stage with the end position of the preceding sprite (Figure 4.51). This method comes in handy when you want to create an animated sequence moving across the stage, with each iteration of the sequence starting where the preceding one left off.

Figure 4.51. Align the sprites end to end with the Paste Relative command.

To link an animated sequence with Paste Relative:

In the score, select a sprite that contains an animated sequence (Figure 4.52).

Figure 4.52. Select a sprite.

Choose Edit > Copy Sprites.

In the score, choose the cell immediately after the last cell of the selected sprite (Figure 4.53).

Figure 4.53. Select the next cell after the sprite.

Choose Edit > Paste Special > Relative (Figure 4.54).

Figure 4.54. Using Paste Relative, copy the sprite into place.

Director copies your animated sequence onto the stage, beginning exactly where the previous sequence ends (Figure 4.51).

You can reverse the order of a sprite in the score, so that the end of its span becomes the starting frame, and vice versa. If the sprite comprises an animated sequence, the order of all cast members in the sprite reverses as well.

To reverse a sequence:

In the score, select a sprite that you want to reverse (Figure 4.55).

Figure 4.55. Select a sprite to reverse.

Choose Modify > Reverse Sequence (Figure 4.56).

Figure 4.56. The reversed sprite.

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