Mini Project 2: Flash Animation

For my flash project I designed an octopus spinning around on a rotating stick. The design also included music that I made on Garageband. This design attempt was completely spontaneous as I had never previously used Flash so the interface was new to me and I felt too uncomfortable to formulate an idea beforehand as I wasn’t sure what to expect from the program. I found that Flash was enjoyable to experiment with, after about half an hour of being introduced to it I had created the simple animation of a man who had circular eyes, which changed colour, ( I found early on that it was extremely fun to create somewhat psychedelic and obscure animations on the program.

For my main animation I accidently created the music first because I was messing around on Garageband and anytime I’m near a music program or instrument I have the tendency to start playing something, this turned out to be a happy accident because I wrote the music that I used for the animation. I wasn’t supposed to write the music first as I didn’t think that the music was the most important part of the project. I firstly used one of the drum kit loops that are provided in Garageband, I then spent an hour or so messing around on the keyboard (using the ‘musical typing’ option in Garageband which allows you to play music on a computer keyboard). After I had an idea of what I was going to do from improvising I wrote the 15 second piece, I used the Garageband presets ‘future flute’ and ‘tight synth bass’ for the keyboard sound. I also used pitch bend and the modulator that made the music what I would describe as more wonky. The music turned out quite psychedelic and also had elements of 8 bit music from games. (

I created an octopus because it was the first idea that came to me and at the moment I have been drawing a lot of animals on paper so it was probably something to do with that. I made the octopus look like it was spinning around by moving the position of its face by one frame at a time until it came back around to its original position. Because I was so focused on creating a spinning octopus I didn’t notice that I had only used one half of the workspace. I filled the empty space by including another octopus in the animation. After this I felt that the background was a bit empty and the animation looked a bit bare as the octopuses had no colour. I didn’t really want to go through the exasperating process of couloring in each octopus frame by frame so I decided that I would create a growing circular background using different coloured circles much like I had done with my practice animation. (

After some feedback I decided to get rid of the colours and focus on trying something else. I attempted to make the second octopus do something different from the first and move up the pole vertically, this didn’t work all too well as I felt that this was too confusing for the eyes as the octopuses were doing two completely different things, too much was happening and there was no unity or balance. (

What I then did was delete the second octopus and try moving the original octopus horizontally. I liked this more than the vertical octopus however it seemed that when the octopus moved horizontally the lines on the ‘pole’ that it was attached to didn’t look like they moved. You can see in the animation, that when the octopus stops and moves its tentacles, the moving lines of the pole are visible, but when the octopus is moving horizontally, they appear to not change. This was interesting because it showed that when introducing another direction of movement another was less effective. (

I didn’t find simple animations too challenging and it was a good way to practice with the interface. Although when I started to do more complex animations I found that Flash could be quite temperamental and frustrating. It was simple enough to create the illusion of the octopus spinning on a stick, but because of my basic knowledge of the program I was unaware that to progress further with the animation I would most likely have to create new layers which ultimately meant creating new timelines, which I wasn’t aware of. In my basic repetitive animation on one layer I had not experienced the tediousness of working with separate layers. I found myself deleting sections of the animation to replace it with another still in each frame, only to realize that afterwards the parts I had carefully deleted would somehow return, I wasn’t aware at first that when I deleted one frame of section, all the other frames would move back one, and this ultimately would put the animation out of sync or make it look wrong. I also found syncing up the music to the animation wasn’t as easy as it could have been, because the audio isn’t represented in frames like each drawing. I had to keep on listening to the entire audio every time I played the clip, which means for longer animations I would have had to wait until the audio had ended to look at that one particular section again. This meant that it was difficult to perfect the synchronization and extremely time consuming. I’m not sure if there is a way around this or if this is just a general problem in Flash.

It is a shame that flash is now outdated as I think it has the potential to be a useful animation program if it was developed to acquire to the needs of present day web design/development, e.g. the ability to be used on smart phones and tablets, better audio synchronization, to name a few. As a designer it was great to experience using it because I know of its past popularity on the web and have heard people mention they respect or enjoy using the program.


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