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The Outsider's Featured Tutorials are selected from a variety of sources including the best tutorials from the impressive archive on The Xara Xone (created by Gary Priester), Guest Tutorials submitted by Xara enthusiasts and new material created by Xara.


A Beginner's guide to Flash animations in Xtreme Pro

Xtreme Pro's approach

Xara Xtreme Pro takes a traditional animator's approach to Flash animation. You create key frames (or 'snap-shots') of your animation through time, and Xtreme Pro automatically creates all the in-between frames for you.

Xtreme Pro does not have timelines (which is the approach used by the Adobe Flash authoring tool). We feel our approach is far simpler.

An example start frame.

The next key frame has the star shape moved, rotated a little,
reduced in size, and changed to a different color.

Xtreme Pro will create a smoothly animated Flash file automatically creating
the in-between frames. This process is traditionally called tweening.


And this is the resulting animation.

The six core tween transformations

The Flash format does not support some of the advanced effects that Xtreme Pro offers, for example complex graduated transparency, feathering, bevels and most of the advanced color fill types. However it does support a range of effects that include simple transparency.

In order to keep Flash files very compact, the types of shape tweening supported by Flash that can be used between key frames is limited to six core transforms:


Your first animation

In your animation you are likely to have some objects that remain static between key frames (i.e. no tweening is necessary) and other objects you will want to animate.

To tell Xtreme Pro which objects you want to animate it's necessary to give each object a name, which is simply done via the Create New Names button on the Selector Tool InfoBar.

An overview of the typical process to create a new animation from scratch, is this:

Step one

Star a new animation document. Select File > New > Animation (Ctrl+Shift+N) or click the New Animation button.

Tip: it is recommended that you have the Frame gallery open when working on an animation. To do this select Utilities > Galleries > Frame Gallery (Shift+F12).

Step two

Draw your first frame. Let's say a simple star shape.

With the object selected, click the Create New Names button on the Selector Tool InfoBar.

Give it a name like 'star'.

You can also create a rectangle if you wish your animation to have a border. In this example it's a simple rectangle made with the rectangle tool. Remove the fill color by left clicking the No Color area.

As the rectangle won't be animated, it doesn't need a name.

Step three

Create a new key frame. While you could create a blank frame, it is easier to copy your existing frame. That way your named object is on the new frame, and you can alter it without naming it again.

To copy the current frame, click the Copy Frame button on the Animation button bar . Or in the Frame Gallery click the Copy button.

Step four

Move and transform the objects as required. In this example we'll rotate the star, change its color and add a transparency.

Step five

Repeat steps three and four, building up your animation.

In our example, we want the star grow larger but not go beyond the border.

To crop the animation to the frame, the answer is to use ClipViews. By using a rectangle as a ClipView object it means your animation never strays outside the frame. So just select the star and (making sure the rectangle is at the back) select the rectangle, then choose Arrange > Apply Clipview. The star is then clipped:

A ClipView is like a 'viewing window' onto your animation.

Step six

To preview your animation in a browser click the Preview Flash Animation in Your Browser button.

If you are happy with your animation, click the Export Animated Flash button.

Here is the above animation, with a couple more key frames. The finished animation is a mere 2K.

Tips

For those familiar with the animated GIF features of Xara Xtreme Pro (or its predecessors) the whole process will be very familiar. The difference is that with Flash files Xtreme Pro can automatically create all the tween steps, to produce smoother and much more compact animations than animated GIFs can offer.

Note: objects that you want to animate from one frame to another need to have a name. All other objects will remain visible, but static, for the display period of the frame until the next key frame. So to delete an object from an animation, just delete it on the first key frame on which you no longer need it to appear.

Examples and help

For full help on creating a Flash animation in Xtreme Pro, check the Xtreme Pro help guide (available by selecting Xara > Xtreme Pro from your Start Menu or by pressing F1 in Xtreme Pro). When the help guide is open select Flash Animation under the Contents tab to view a list of Flash help topics (the Creating Flash Animations topic is the best place to start).

To see some great examples of what can be achieved with Xara Pro Flash, open the Clipart gallery (Utilities > Galleries > Clipart Gallery or Shift+F10) then click Get Clipart. A new folder of examples titled Flash Animation Examples will be downloaded.

Plus for to see what other people are creating, and to get help and advice if you need it, check out the Xtreme Pro Flash forum at TalkGraphics.com.

2006 Xara Group Ltd.