Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making a Flash Introduction Video Clip

I have been mucking around with the new Photoshop CS3 package quite a bit lately. In particular I am trying to get back into Flash. It is not easy at all and I do not think I could ever build a complete Flash web site but I am content being able to create a few animations to plug into home video productions that I am editing, mostly using ULEAD 11. For now the main mission has been to figure out how to make a cool animated introduction clip. My first project had to be simple just so I could utilize the elements and make sure they all work and plug in well together, so my concern was not around the images themselves but rather just to get smooth animations going.

1. I created a couple of images on Photoshop of circles in different colors. I saved them all as separate PNG files with no background. I did the same with the picture of the Ganesha.
2. I imported all the images into Flash. As they are both Adobe programs they are designed to work well together and you can even import more complex images in as separate layers.
3. Flash is not the simplest program to utilize but once you get the hang of ‘motion tween’ you can start to animate objects. By inserting each of my objects onto separate layers in the Flash software I was able to create a separate animation path for every circle. Visually Flash is extremely user friendly and basic knowledge of Photoshop is enough to manipulate your objects.
4. Once the animation was complete I published it as and SWF file. There are loads of publishing options available in Flash to suit whatever editing software you are going to be using afterwards. The cool thing about saving your file as a SWF is that it is without a back ground, so you can place your animation over any plain color or picture back ground. Even over streaming film.
5. My clip was looking alright by this point and the animation was smooth but without sound it is just boring. I know it is easy to lay in any music track with the animation but it just did not pop that way. So I scoured the web for sound clips. There are loads of clips available online for download, from sirens and gunshots to giggles and farts.
6. My video editing software of choice is Ulead 11. It is extremely user friendly and gives me the flexibility I need for the time being. There are multiple layers available for video and sound. The more I use the program the more mobility I find within it. I imported my SWF Flash file into Ulead 11 as an animation. The quality is very crisp this way.
7. Once a file is in the library it can be placed on layers, moved around, and even edited for volume and quality of sound. You can overlap 2 or more sound clips or video clips and individually alter the volumes and effects of each. I imported a few of the sound clips I wanted to use into the library as well.

With all the ammunition in place I proceeded to beef up my flash clip. I added in sounds of rain, thunder, and wind separately, adjusting the volume of each. I also managed to find a sound clip of swords that I plugged into every instance the circles passed each other. I think that has a pretty awesome effect. I could probably do something a lot better that this if I take the time to be creative and design unique images to work with. It is actually possible to import the sound effects and video clips into flash and create a complete project using only Flash as well but that prospect is just way too complicated for my brain right now. As usual I am open to all advice from the more learned amongst us.

Here is another one I just whipped up this afternoon. Now that I got the basics down I think I actually need to buy a book to learn how to do real animations. I seem to have hit a wall now.

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