Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back in a Flash

video
Last year it crossed my mind that I should learn how to do a bit of animation. The idea of making my creatures & letters move was tantalizing. The software & class costs were a bit daunting, though, so I applied for a United Arts Artist Project grant to help out. I honestly didn't think I had much of a chance of receiving it, but surprise! It came through!

The grant covered most of the costs & gave me the much-needed impetus to make the leap into learning Flash. What it didn't cover was the time it would take to get the hang of the program (which I found far more daunting than Photoshop or Illustrator)-- not to mention the many, many hours I'd need to invest to create actual animations! Nor did I quite realize the toll it would take on my computer... especially when I was trying to run Flash, PS & AI all at the same time. I think they might have named it Flash to rhyme with crash. ;-)

In other words, the process has been something of a struggle for me and my computer. But last night there was a reception for the United Arts Project Grant winners, & I was determined to bring a sampler piece to the event to show that their generosity was not entirely wasted! The above piece uses nearly every technique I learned in Flash 1.*

One of the hardest things about Flash for me is finding the balance between finesse & practicality. In my paintings & calligraphy, I'm all about details & subtleties. When I work in Photoshop, my files end up being immense, with many layers & high resolution. But part of the deal with Flash is making the files small enough to run efficiently, & letting the "tweens" do as much of the work as possible. Which means relinquishing a lot more control than I'd like. Looking at this piece quite honestly makes me cringe for any number of reasons. I could easily spend another two weeks refining it, except that I don't have two more weeks to spend! But I'm hoping that with more experience I'll learn where I can cut corners & let Flash do its stuff, & where I should invest the time & file-size to tweak frame by frame. I certainly hope my skills improve, but at least this is a start!

*About a week ago, I got a call from the school where I'd taken my class. Apparently they had had many complaints about the teacher, & were offering the next session of Flash 1, with a different instructor, free to those who had taken the first session. Hmmm. Now I feel a little better about my slow & steep learning curve-- maybe it wasn't just my inadequate brain! The new class begins this Friday, so we'll see if it helps... stay tuned.

2 comments:

  1. I think it's cool! I'm VERY impressed.

    If I had one suggestion it might be with the animation of the creature. Since its "leaf'-hopping, flying and landing are insect-like, I feel the need to see its movements resembling a familiar insect, like a dragonfly, rather than an unworldly creature. The beginning is so beautiful, mimicking earth's nature, that the creature's movements don't seem to belong in that world.

    My dumb opinion.

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  2. Thanks for your help, Ted! I completely agree that the critter's movements don't work well-- for a lot of reasons-- but it hadn't quite struck me that it was inconsistent with its insect characteristics. That really helps! I hope I can refine it during my class do-over-- if I do, I'll post the remake. :-)

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