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Chapter 10. Animation Techniques > Character Animation Basics - Pg. 179

Animation Techniques 179 Another option is to consider using Macromedia FreeHand as your storyboarding tool. In the years that Macromedia has owned FreeHand, a number of features have been added to this already rich illustration environment that make it a valuable productivity tool for Flash. To begin, FreeHand en- ables you to define multiple pages inside a single FreeHand document, much like a Microsoft Word document can contain hundreds of pages in a single document. Although this might seem insignif- icant, if you are trying to create storyboards in some other illustration packages, you'll need to create several documents to accomplish the same task. Note FreeHand is simply one of the best drawing tools on the market. Really, this translates to a richer and more flexible set of illustration tools than you will find inside of Flash. Because the two programs are so tightly integrated, you can copy your illustrations directly from FreeHand and paste them into Flash in the standard Flash format. And, yes, this includes the Flash style gradients. Now that you've got your storyboards in place, it's time to talk about animating your characters. Character Animation Basics Animation is simply the illusion of movement. But in the world of animation, stark realism doesn't necessarily make for a successful animation. If you faithfully reproduced a photographic sequence by meticulously tracing the cycle of images, the resulting animation would likely be a little mechanical and stiff. Professional animators take advantage of techniques that exaggerate and embellish motion to cre- ate a more interesting story. There are certainly different degrees to which you can use these tech- niques to affect the presentation of your story, so it really comes down to the kind of emotional response that you're trying to elicit from your audience. Before you can dive into animation, you need to become familiar with the language of animation. As with any profession, animation has its own set of jargon that you need to know. Some of the basic concepts are outlined here: · Keyframes. In the world of hand-drawn animation, keyframes represent critical moments in the timeline. This same concept holds true in the Flash environment. Keyframes in the application timeline are the points at which changes in a character or object's orientation take place. · Tweening. The term tweening is derived from the old animation industry term "in between," which referred to the profession or duty of creating the animation sequences in between the keyframes. In Flash, tweens also take place in the space between keyframes, but they can be used to automate transition effects such as scale, rotation, visibility, and so on. · Easing. Easing in and easing out indicate the acceleration or deceleration of an object or char- acter when it begins or ends a tween. · Action and reaction. These refer to exaggerated qualities such as "squash and stretch" when a character or object interacts with force or motion. · Timing. Both a mechanical function and an aesthetic quality, timing requires you, as the ani- mator, to set up an event and then give it plausible timing as it occurs. · Posing. This communicates mood, emotion, and attitude. Posing helps orient the audience to a character or object's disposition. · Anticipation. This is used to forecast to the viewer what is about to happen or what has the potential to happen. If a character is preparing to run, anticipation is the wind-up that he does before bolting off. · Mechanics. In the physical world, objects tend to behave in predictable manners. More often than not, animated characters follow arcing motions because they are hinged (swinging arm) or are reacting to a force such as gravity.