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Chapter 1. Building Complexity

The key to creating complex animations in Flash is to build them from simpler parts. Just as the movement of a runner is essentially a collection of rotating limbs, you should think of your Flash project as a collection of simpler motions. Isolating individual components of a much larger, complicated motion allows you to treat each component with the most appropriate technique, simplifies the tweening, and gives you better control with more refined results.

For example, to animate a head that's quickly turning to face the camera, you would first consider how to simplify the animation into separate motions. Animating the entire sequence at once would be difficult, if not impossible, because the many elements making up the head change in different ways as they move. The outline of the head could be a frame-by-frame animation to show the transformation from a profile to a frontal pose. Some of the features of the face could be symbol instances that you squash and stretch in a motion tween to match the turn of the head. And the hair could be a shape tween that lets you show its flow, swing, and slight bounce-back effect when the head stops.

Learning to combine different techniques and break down animation into simpler parts like this not only solves difficult animation problems, but forces you to use multiple layers and establish symbols of the component parts. By doing so, you set it up so the animation is easy to manage now and revise later.

This chapter describes approaches to building complex animations through the layering, combining, and extending of basic Flash capabilities.


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