Creating a simple animation in Flash


Adobe Flash CS4 Professional introduces a revamped animation engine that is easy to use and more powerful than previous versions. When you have mastered the basics of the engine, Flash gives you added capabilities to extend your creative possibilities.

In this article, I show you how to import artwork to Flash CS4, create an animation, and change an animation after you've created it.


To make the most of this article, you need the following software and sample file:

Flash CS4 Professional

Sample file:


With Flash CS4, you can import content from multiple Adobe Creative Suite CS4 applications, including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Fireworks, as well as from Adobe InDesign CS4 and Adobe After Effects CS4.

In this example, we import artwork from Fireworks. With Fireworks CS4, you can work with both raster and vector content. Raster files (or bitmaps) become pixelated when you resize them. A photograph is an example of a raster graphic file. Vector files, on the other hand, do not pixelate when you resize them. The paths of a vector graphic simply redraw no matter how much you expand or reduce it.

In Fireworks CS4, you can create assets to import to Flash CS4. For this example, I have created a vector polygon with a gradient fill and a stroke that is grouped with a text field (see Figure 1). This Fireworks file is saved as a PNG file, which can then be imported to Flash CS4.

A vector graphic created with Adobe Fireworks CS4

Figure 1. Vector graphic created with Fireworks

To import the file, you must first create a new Flash CS4 document by selecting Flash File (ActionScript 3.0) from the Create New column on the Flash startup screen.

To import the Fireworks PNG file, choose File > Import. You have two import options: you can import either to the Stage or the Library. The Stage is the main animation area for the movie you're creating with Flash. The Library is a bank of assets or graphics that are part of the project but not necessarily on the Stage. The Library contains assets that you either create in Flash or import from other applications.

Import the Fireworks PNG design to the Flash CS4 Library by choosing File > Import > Import To Library. Then browse to the file and click Import To Library. In the Import Fireworks Document dialog box, select the options shown in Figure 2.

Fireworks import dialog box in Flash CS4.

Figure 2. Fireworks import dialog box in Flash CS4 Professional

For this example, you want to keep the vector design editable instead of converting it to a raster or bitmap design. For designs that are more complex, you may want to import as a bitmap to maintain the appearance.

When you click OK, the Fireworks asset is imported to Flash. To see the imported assets, click the Library tab. When the assets are imported, the design is automatically converted to a graphic called Go.png.

To position the graphic on the Stage, drag and drop the Go.png asset from the Library panel to the Stage. Position the object in the upper left corner. If you don't position it in the correct location initially, you can reposition it using the mouse by dragging and dropping the graphic to the correct position. Your file should look like Figure 3.

The starting position on the stage for the Go graphic.

Figure 3. Starting position on the Stage for the Go graphic


Now, let's say you want to make an animation that will move the asset from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

First, you need to tell Flash that you want to tween the object. When you use a tween, you tell Flash where on the Stage you want the object in the animation to start and end. Flash will automatically fill in the frames between the start and end points that you define.

There are two types of tweening in Flash: motion and shape. Since you are moving the Go graphic instead of changing its shape, you need to create a motion tween. To do this, right-click the object in Flash and select Create Motion Tween.

Now you'll notice that the Timeline at the bottom of the application has changed.

The Timeline represents how the animation looks and behaves from the time it starts moving until it arrives at its destination. The Timeline is broken up into frames, or individual points in time, that display the animation.

By default, Flash displays individual frames at a rate of 24 per second, which means that for each second the animation is playing, 24 frames are displayed. In the Timeline, the red indicator is the playhead, which shows what frame you are currently displaying in the Flash application.

Before you added the motion tween, the Timeline was a single frame, containing the object you placed onto the Stage. When you created the tween, Flash extended the Timeline by 24 frames and positioned the playhead at the end of the tween.

Now that you are at the end of the tween, you want the Go graphic to be at the lower right corner of the Stage. To change its location, simply drag and drop the graphic to the desired location. With the playhead on frame 24, move the Go symbol to the lower right corner of the Stage (see Figure 4).

Setting the Go graphic's final destination in the animation.

Figure 4. Setting the Go graphic's final destination in the animation

After you drop the object, you'll notice a line with dots appear from the graphic's starting location (the origin) to the final location (the destination). That line is called the motion path. It won't actually show when you publish your file, but it is a visual cue to show you the path the graphic will take as it moves from the origin to the destination.

Now that the destination has been set, you can click and drag the playhead to show the animation on the Timeline. Click and drag the playhead to frame 1, and then press Return to play the animation in Flash. You'll see the object move from the upper left to the lower right.

Now, you can preview how it will look in Flash Player. It is a good idea to test your animations in Flash Player as well as in Flash CS4, since the Flash Player preview more accurately represents the timing and actions you may use to control and update your animation. To preview in Flash Player, Choose Control > Test Movie from the main Flash menu.

Now you'll see a new window appear that displays the animation. The animation will simply loop because you haven't told the animation when to stop. We'll take care of that later.


Now that you have created the initial animation, you can modify and extend it using Flash CS4. First, let's change the direction of the animation.

Your current animation moves the Go symbol from the upper left to the lower right corner of the Stage. But now you want to change the destination from the lower right corner to the upper right corner.

To make this change, make sure you're at the destination point by dragging the playhead to the last frame of the animation: frame 24.

To move the destination of the Go symbol, and therefore the direction of the animation, simply click and drag the symbol to the new desired location. For this example, move it to the upper right corner of the Stage.

Now the motion path has been updated. If you run or test the animation, the animation will now move the graphic across the Stage from left to right instead of down the Stage diagonally.

You can also change the origin of the animation using these steps, but you need to move the playhead to the first frame, or frame 1, to make that change. In this example, let's move the origin from the upper left to the lower left corner.

First, move the playhead to frame 1. Then click and drag the Go symbol to the lower left corner of the Stage.

Now the animation and the motion path reflect the new origin of the animation. You can continually update the origin and destination of your animations using the same methods. Simply move the playhead to the beginning or end of the tween and then move the object to the new desired location.


Creating point-to-point animations may be easy, but they are relatively boring. More complex animations usually have several midpoints in the tween to give the desired effect.

For instance, in this example, you may want the animation to move from corner to corner to corner, starting in the lower left, moving to the upper left, and ending in the upper right.

To do this, you need to add an intermediate location at the middle of the animation. The process is the same as setting the origin or destination points, however you now need to move the playhead to the middle of the animation.

Move the playhead to frame 12 (see Figure 5).

Adding an intermediate location, or midpoint, to the animation.

Figure 5. Adding an intermediate location, or midpoint, to the animation

At the bottom of the Timeline is a small text indicator that shows the current position of the playhead. You can click and drag your mouse to scrub to a specific point or double-click the indicator and enter the location manually.

Now that the playhead is at the correct location, the animation shows the symbol in the middle of the motion path. If you look carefully, you'll notice tiny dots along the motion path (see Figure 6). These dots represent the location of the object at each individual frame. There are 12 dots from the start point to the current point of the symbol because your animation is now on frame 12. The black circle in the center of the Go symbol is its registration point, which is where it positions itself relative to the location on the motion path.

The motion path displays the location of the object at each frame as well as the point the object is positioned on the path.

Figure 6. Motion path displaying the location of the object at each frame as well as the point the object is positioned on the path

To create a new intermediate destination for the symbol, click and drag it to the upper left corner of the Stage.

You now have a three-point animation that starts in the lower left corner, moves to the upper left corner, and winds up at the upper right corner.

In the Timeline, a small black dot now appears in frame 12, which shows that you have created an intermediate location that the tween will use to create the animation. If you want to change this intermediate point, move the playhead to this point in the Timeline and then drag and drop the object. That will update the motion path with the new intermediate point.

You can continue to add intermediate points throughout the animation, with a maximum of one per frame. Just move the playhead to the desired frame and then move the object.


So far, you have changed the location of the graphic throughout the animation, but you haven't changed the duration. The duration is the amount of time that the animation runs. In this example, the duration of your tween is 24 frames. With a default frame rate of 24 frames per second, your animation will run for one second.

If you want to change the duration of the entire animation, you need to change the Timeline animation layer. Each tween is represented as an individual layer in Flash. To change the duration, simply drag the end of the tween to either lengthen or shorten the duration.

If you want your animation to play for two seconds at a frame rate of 24 frames per second, then lengthen it to 48 frames by moving your mouse pointer to the end of the tween in the Timeline. When the mouse icon changes to a left-right arrow, click and drag the tween to the right to extend it to frame 48.

When you let go of the mouse button, the animation will proportionally update to represent the new desired duration. You'll notice that the intermediate point has also moved to the new midpoint of the tween.

The motion path now has twice as many dots because it is now extended over 48 frames, and each dot represents where the Go graphic is on any given frame.

You can also shorten your animation back to 24 frames by clicking and dragging the left end of the tween on the Timeline back to frame 24.


Each segment of the motion path is editable as well. For instance, the animation now moves the symbol from point to point to point in a straight line. You can alter that and have the tween move the animation along a curve by simply dragging and dropping with your mouse.

Once the Go symbol has moved to the upper left corner, let's make it move to the upper right corner on a curved path instead of a straight path. To do this, just drag and drop the motion path in the second part of the tween.

Make sure you choose the selection tool (with the dark arrow icon) from the Tool menu.

Then move your mouse over the motion path along the top of the Stage. You'll see a curved line icon appear next to the mouse pointer, which means you can now drag and drop the motion path to build a curve.

Now let's create a curved path from the upper left corner down toward the center of the Stage and then up to the right corner. With the mouse pointer showing the curved line icon, click and drag the middle portion of the motion path down toward the center of the Stage (see Figure 7).

Changing a straight path to a curved path.

Figure 7. Changing a straight path to a curved path

When you release the mouse button, the motion path updates and shows you the curve. Now when you preview the animation, the symbol will follow the curve you just created. You can click and drag the curve again if you want to change the curve ratio between tween points.


You can also manipulate the motion path using the Transform tool. The Transform tool enables you to resize, rotate, skew, or stretch objects in Flash. You can rotate the motion path of the animation, changing the locations of the origin, intermediate, and destination points, without rotating the symbol itself.

To do this, select the motion path with the Selection tool. The path will darken to indicate that it is selected.

You can now move or reposition the motion path by clicking and dragging it. For this example, however, select the Transform tool. Make sure the motion path is selected and then choose the Transform tool.

Once you select the Transform tool, a box with squares along the edge appears around the motion path. This is called a bounding box, and the squares are called handles. If you click and drag a handle, you can resize the contents of the bounding box — which in this case is the motion path — in various directions. If you position your mouse pointer slightly outside the corner handles, the mouse pointer will change to show that you can rotate the contents of the bounding box.

When the rotation icon appears, you can click and drag to change the rotation of the motion path for the animation. For this example, click and rotate the animation 90 degrees clockwise.

Then let go of the mouse button, and you'll see that the motion path has changed (see Figure 8).

Rotating the direction of the animation.

Figure 8. Rotating the direction of the animation

Now let's adjust the height of the bounding box to keep the animation within the confines of the Stage. Select the top handle and move it down. Then move the bottom handle up (see Figure 9).

Resizing the motion path of the animation.

Figure 9. Resizing the motion path of the animation

The animation has now been rotated and resized. If you test the animation, you'll see that its path has been updated, but the symbol itself doesn't rotate because you only modified the path, not the object on the path.

To finish the animation, all you need to do is add your stop action to the end of the Timeline. Click the New Layer button at the bottom of the Timeline to create a new layer.

Now make sure you are on the last frame of the animation, select the new layer, and create a new blank keyframe by choosing Insert > Timeline > Blank Keyframe from the main menu.

Open the Actions panel by choosing Window > Actions. Make sure you have selected the correct layer and that your playhead is on the new blank keyframe you created. In the Actions panel (see Figure 10), type the following script:


Adding a script to the Actions panel.

Figure 10. Adding a script to the Actions panel

When you're finished, you'll see a small a appear in the blank keyframe in the Timeline.

That's it. Now when you preview your animation, you'll see it run from start to finish and then stop instead of looping the way it did before.

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Insert or overlay clips from the Project window


Turn on Project window thumbnails.

By default, the Project window thumbnails are turned off. However, turning them on gives you a quick look at your footage and helps you view an In point.

After you have captured your clips, and they are all listed in the Project window, click the Project window menu and scroll to Thumbnails. Make sure that there is a checkmark next to Large. If not, choose Large to maximize the size of the footage thumbnail. Then, click the menu and choose Thumbnails again. If there is a check next to Off, choose it to deactiviate it. If you want to preview your video, click the play button next to the preview thumbnail or drag the slider below the thumbnail.


Set an In point.

You can now perform a basic trim in the Project window. First, click the Project window menu and choose Edit Columns. In the Edit Columns dialog box, make sure that Video In Point is selected. In the Project window, select your target clip. Locate the Preview thumbnail in the upper left corner of the Project window and make sure that the slider beneath the thumbnail is all the way to the left. Then, click the Poster Frame button. Drag the scroll bar at the bottom of the Project window until you see the Video In Point column appear. Then, when you release the underlined Video In Point value, the footage thumbnail updates to a new In point for your footage.

Note that the poster frame you set is considered the beginning of the footage. For example, if you set the poster point to be 10 seconds into the footage, then when you drag the Video In Point value, the displayed time for that value is measured from the location of the poster frame, not the actual beginning of the footage. Set the poster frame as the first frame of the footage in order for the In point value to be accurate in relation to the actual beginning of the footage.


Insert or overlay the clip in the Timeline window.

To insert the clip and subsequently ripple all the clips in the sequence, hold down Ctrl and drag the clip to the sequence.

To overlay the clip, drag it over a section in the sequence. While still holding the mouse button, note the Program view of the Monitor window. In it, you see two images. These images show the range of frames in the sequence that you will replace when you release the mouse button and overlay the clip. When you are satisfied with the placement, release the mouse button.

In the Program view, you see the two frames between which you will be inserting the dragged clip. Drag the clip until you find the exact point where you want to place it, and release the mouse button. Repeat either method for each clip you want to overlay or insert.


Preview and refine your sequence.

After inserting or overlaying the clips, define a work area and preview your edit. To quickly define a work area, drag the current-time indicator to the point in the sequence where you want the work area to begin and press Alt + [ . Then, drag the current-time indicator to your desired Out point, and press Alt + ] . Press Enter to begin the preview.

When setting your source clip’s In and Out points in the Source view, you can still use the Program view to preview their placement in the sequence if you drag or Ctrl-drag the clip from the Source view. You can further refine your edits by dragging the head or tail of the clips in the Timeline window or by using the Trim view. See the Adobe Premiere Pro User Guide for information on trimming in the Timeline window and using the Source and Trim views.


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Correct color in video


Optimize your workspace.

Optimize Adobe Premiere Pro to work with color-correction tools by choosing Window > Workspace > Color Correction. This command docks the Effects and Effect Controls windows in the Project window and opens a Reference Monitor window next to the Program view.

Open an existing project that contains clips that need color correction.

Sync the Reference Monitor and Program view.

The Reference Monitor window allows you to view the waveform monitor or vectorscope and clips simultaneously. Choose Gang To Program Monitor from the Reference Monitor menu so that both windows show the same frame in the timeline. Then, choose Waveform from the same menu.

To navigate between frames, use the playback controls in the Reference Monitor window to keep this window in front of the Monitor window.


Apply the Color Corrector effect to a clip.

Click the Effects tab in the Project window and type color corrector in the Contains text box. When the Color Corrector effect appears, drag the effect icon to the clip in the Timeline window.

Move the current-time indicator to a frame in the clip and then select the clip in the Timeline window. Click the Effect Controls tab in the Project window to show all effects associated with the selected clip and then expand the Color Corrector effect to view the controls.


Adjust the black, white, and gray points.

The waveform monitor in the Reference Monitor window shows a graph that corresponds to your video image. The horizontal axis corresponds to the width of your video scan lines and the vertical axis corresponds to the amplitude of the signal, measured in IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) units. Dark values are on the bottom and light values are at the top. If your video exceeds 100 IRE for white or 7.5 IRE for black, you’ll need to correct your footage to prevent loss of detail and to stay within U.S. broadcast requirements.

To alter the luminance, use the Black/White Balance control. Drag the Black Point eyedropper to an area of the image in the Program view that represents true black. This value should cause the graph to meet the green line that represents 7.5 IRE. Release the mouse to select the color. Repeat this procedure to set the white point to a value of 100 IRE. If you reduce the graph below 100 IRE, your image will lose highlights and appear dull.

To remove an overall color cast in your footage, set the gray point by dragging the Gray Point eyedropper to a color in the video that represents a neutral gray. You can also use the HSL Hue Offset color wheels to remove color casts from specific tonal ranges such as highlights, midtones, and shadows.


View tonal ranges in your video.

While your entire image may need correcting, often you need to change only the highlights, midtones, or shadows. For example, you may need to remove blue from shadows in a snow scene without turning the highlights yellow.

To see which areas of your image are defined as highlight, midtone, and shadow, select the preview option in the Tonal Range controls. Shadows are shown as black, midtones as gray, and highlights as white.

While Adobe Premiere Pro uses default ranges to define tone, you can adjust these ranges if your image leans toward excessive shadows or highlights.


Alter colors for highlights, midtones, or shadows.

Expand the HLS controls and choose the tonal range you want to adjust from the pop-up menu.

To view your adjustments, choose Vectorscope from the Reference Monitor window. Hue is indicated by the angular orientation; color values range from 0 to 360° in a counter-clockwise direction. The strength of the color, or saturation, is shown as the distance from the center of the display. Blacks, grays, and whites appear at the center and vivid colors appear towards the outside of the display.

Adjust hue and saturation values by dragging the values or entering new ones. To prevent vivid colors from appearing smeared on NTSC monitors, lower the saturation values.


Limit your video footage.

If your clip still exceeds acceptable luminance or saturation values, select the Enable Limiter option and enter maximum and minimum values for chrominance and luminance to match your broadcaster’s requirements.


Preview video footage on a television monitor.

Be sure to preview your corrected clip on a television monitor using the same hardware you’ll use to export your final sequence.

Adobe Premiere Pro includes other effects that you can use for color correction, including Color Match, Broadcast Colors, and Gamma.

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Create a looping soundtrack


Import video into Adobe Audition.

Launch Adobe Audition and choose View > Multitrack View. (If this is the first time you are launching Adobe Audition, Multitrack mode opens first, with initial loop files. If this happens, choose File > New Session and do not save the initial session.) In Multitrack mode, you can mix up to 128 different audio tracks, including tracks from video files you have. Select Track 1 by clicking in any empty space on that track, and choose Insert > Video From File. Choose the video file you want to augment with music and click Open. Adobe Audition places the video on Track 1 and places the audio on Track 2. You also see a window that displays your video so that you can watch the video as you edit the audio.

You can include footage from only one video per session, but you can mix the audio from several videos in a session, up to the 128-track limit. To mix the audio from several videos, select an empty track and choose Insert > Audio from Video File.


Import an audio file to loop.

Looping a sampled audio file is the quickest way to create a seamless music soundtrack, and Adobe Audition makes it easy to combine several files of this type. A short audio file works best for loops. To import a file for looping, right-click the next empty track below the video track and choose Insert > Wave From File. Adobe Audition imports the file at the location of the cursor on the track. Right-click and drag the imported file to the location where you want it to begin playing, in relation to the audio track in your imported video file.

To import one of the installed Adobe Audition files, navigate to the program directory and choose a .CEL file from the Audition Theme folder. A .CEL file is an .MP3 file with modifications to it that make it suitable for looping. Adobe Audition includes several such royalty-free .CEL files. In addition, there are roughly 2,000 other loop-ready files on the supplemental CD included with the product.


Prepare the file for looping.

Select the imported file and choose View > Loop Properties. In the Wave Block Looping dialog box, make sure that Enable Looping is selected. (If you imported a .CEL file, it is already enabled for looping.) Set the time ruler to display in bars and beats by choosing View > Display Time Format > Bars And Beats.

Aligning your looped audio files is easier when you choose Bars And Beats as your time format. This allows you to time your music according to the number of beats the passages have. See Adobe Audition Help for information on using the Bars And Beats time format.


Loop the file.

Once you have enabled the file for looping, a series of diagonal lines appear in the bottom right corner of the loop. Position the cursor over these lines and drag to loop the file. Vertical dotted lines appear at each segment of the completed loop. Continue dragging to encompass the area where you want the loop to play.

If you import a .CEL file, it also includes an icon in the bottom left corner of the clip that signifies that the file is a loop file.


Preview the loop.

After dragging the loop, you can now hear how it sounds with your video file while you watch the video. To make sure that the preview plays from the beginning, press the Home key. Then, press the spacebar to begin the preview. To stop the preview, click the Stop button or press the spacebar again.

To begin the preview from a point in the track other than the beginning, position the cursor where you want the preview to begin, then press the spacebar. Once you have listened to it, you can adjust the volume of the track or add effects to further refine it. See Adobe Audition Help for information on adjusting the volume of a track or adding effects to it. As mentioned earlier, you can add up to 128 tracks. To add and adjust more audio tracks, repeat steps 2 through 5.

Import the video into Adobe Premiere Pro.

Once you are satisfied with the mix, choose File > Save Mixdown To Video As. Navigate to a location to save your file, name it, and click Save. You can save the file only as an .AVI file. Then, import the file into your Adobe Premiere Pro project and drag it to the Timeline window. The file appears as you mixed it in Adobe Audition.

If you need to remix the file, select it in the Timeline window and choose Edit > Edit Original to open it again in Adobe Audition. Modify the file, save it, and it will update in Adobe Premiere Pro. You can extend the functionality of the Edit Original command by configuring Adobe Audition to link mixdown files with related session files. Simply choose Options > Settings, click the Data tab, and select Embed Project Link Data For Edit Original Functionality. Then, when you save mixdown files, select Save Extra Non-audio Information.

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Interactive Fit Text to Path Tool


The applications and features described in this tutorial require CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 or newer to be installed.

Since CorelDRAW X3, it's easier than ever before to attach text to a path with precision — a common effect used in creating signs and logos. The interactive Fit Text to Path tool lets users simply select text, move the pointer along a path, and click to set the text's position. Users can also easily control the text's offset distance from the path.

In addition, users can scale the text after it has been placed on a path by simply selecting both the text and the path and dragging one of the handles.

Using the interactive Fit Text to Path tool

  1. Click the Freehand tool, and draw a curved line to use as a path.

  2. Click the Text tool, click anywhere in the drawing window, and type.

  3. Click Text > Fit Text To Path.
    The pointer changes to the Fit Text to Path pointer. As you move the pointer along the path, a preview of where the text will be fitted is displayed.

  4. Move the pointer along the path, and click to fit the text.
    With a closed path, the text is centered along the path. With an open path, the text flows from the point of insertion.

  5. On the property bar, adjust the value in the Distance From Path list box.

  6. On the property bar, adjust the value in the Horizontal Offset list box.

  7. In the Mirror Text area on the property bar, use the Mirror Horizontal or Mirror Vertical buttons to choose the text's orientation.