Intro to Animation in Flash CS4 - Page 2
       by kirupa  |  28 October 2008

In the previous page, you started creating your animation. We got up to the part where we have our image sliding from left to right. In this page, let's continue making some more modifications to our animation.

Let's pick up from where we left off:

  1. Currently, this animation is a little too fast. Let's fix that by increasing the number of frames it takes for our animation to complete. To do that, hover over the right-most edge of your frame sequence (at Frame 24). Your mouse cursor will change to display the horizontal resize cursor:

[ drag your tween's last frame to the right to increase the duration of your animation ]

Once you see that cursor, click and drag to the right until you hit Frame 50:

[ don't stop dragging until you hit frame 50 ]

  1. Now that you are at Frame 50, if you happen to preview your animation again, you will notice that it takes about twice as long for the animation to move from one edge of the screen to the other.
     
    If you want to preview your animation independent of your stage, press Ctrl + Enter where your animation will be displayed in the Flash Player window.
  2. Getting back to my example, I actually have the image fading in and then fading out. Currently, your image is visible throughout the entire animation. Let's fix that. While you are at Frame 50, make sure your image is selected and look over in the Properties pane.
     
    You should see the Style drop-down inside the Color Effect category:

[ find the Style drop-down under the Color Effect category ]

  1. Click on the Style drop-down, and select the menu that appears, select the entry for Alpha. Once you have done that, you will see the Alpha slider appear below it. Slide that slider all the way to the 0 position:

[ set your image's Alpha property to be 0 percent ]

Notice that once you have done that, the image on your stage is now invisible:

[ setting the Alpha to 0 makes your image invisible ]

  1. If you happen to play back your animation, you will see that it starts out as visible and then becomes invisible. This is good, but we want it to start out invisible, fade in to visibility, and then fade back into invisibility towards the end.
     
    To fix this, drag your playhead to Frame 1. Once you are at Frame 1, make sure your image is selected. From the Properties panel, repeat what you did in Steps xiii and xiv to set the Alpha of your image at Frame 1 to be 0 as well:

[ your image at the starting point is also invisible with an Alpha of 0 ]

  1. If you preview your animation now, notice that you nothing is displayed. This doesn't seem like we are heading in the right direction, does it? Actually, we aren't doing too bad.

    We have our starting and ending state of our image set. It is fully invisible at Frame 1 and Frame 50. What we need to do is make sure it is fully visible somewhere in-between those two frames.
     
    Click on Frame 25 to move your playhead slider to that location:

[ move your playhead to the center of your tween at around Frame 25 ]

  1. Once at Frame 25, click on your image again. Because your image is invisible, click somewhere in the middle of the green transition dots to select your invisible image.
     
    With your image selected, look at the Color Effect category of your Properties pane. You should see the Alpha slider already displayed. Move the Alpha slider all the way from 0 to 100:

[ this time, set your Alpha property to 100 ]

  1. Right now, if you look at your stage, notice that your image is fully visible:

[ with an Alpha of 100, your image is now fully visible ]

Better yet, preview your animation now. Notice that you have created the animation that you set out to create! You have an image that starts out invisible, becomes fully visible, and then disappears again.

Conclusion
This tutorial was a broad overview of some of the animation features you have in Flash CS4. If you are familiar with previous versions of Flash, none of the terminology in here was particularly new. What was new is how you actually created your animation.

In the past, you had an instance of your object at your starting point and another instance of your object at the end point. You also inserted two keyframes to represent that. The tweening system calculated the differences between those two objects and presented them to you.

By default, animations you now create in Flash CS4 are property-based where the properties of your object are modified over a period of time. You have the same object throughout the lifespan of your tween, and at various points in time, the properties that make up your object are altered instead of the actual object itself. In our example, it was our image's X and Alpha properties that were changed over a period of time. That seems trivial and the end result doesn't look dramatically different, but this is a major change that this tutorial does not even attempt to address.

Future tutorials will focus on that change and other parts of the animation functionality in CS4, so with that, here is the source file for the animation you just created:

Download Final Source

If you have a question about this or any other topic, the easiest thing is to drop by our forums where a bunch of the friendliest people you'll ever run into will be happy to help you out!

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