Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Import flash puppet into toon boom animate [Part 1]

A few days ago I posted an image of a robot puppet work in progress. Before I spent more time finessing that one puppet though, I needed to figure out it is going to come into Toon Boom Animate Pro without any hiccups. So, I spent a good part of the weekend and today trying to figure out how to properly import a flash puppet into Animate Pro.
I started off by importing one of the finished puppets from my digicel 1 class final project from August 2010. I had intended for this to be entirely animated in flash and thus went all out. There were movie clips with effects applied to them nested inside graphic symbols. The graphic symbols themselves had different poses on different frames that I could select. So far, I only knew that Animate Pro had a pretty slick drawing substitution implementation. I was hoping the importer would be smart enough to figure out the flash substitutions just fine. However, the importer was far from smart. Saying "It did not go well" would be an understatement. Here is what my puppet looked like:
Yes, he was half naked, missing his glasses, and hands. Few things stood out immediately.

  • Toon Boom Animate Pro will not import symbols that are movie clips and have effects applied to them.
  • Animate Pro will not recognize your flash 'alternate drawings' or drawing substitution. The drawing substitutions panel is outright dumb. Observe exhibit B: A shoe substitution for the backpack.

The others however, I was left guessing at. I first tried shorter symbol names. I removed guide layers in the symbols, and I removed excess frames from inside my hands since I wasn't going to be able to use them anyways. I flattened the artwork (I have a habit of working in layers) and made all the symbols (even with multiple colors/shapes) one layer. But still, this:
  • Remove excess frames from inside the symbol timeline.
  • Remove guide layers
  • One layer artwork.

Here, I had just one layer for the hands; just one fill and one outline. To further simplify it, I took the darker outline out of the hands. Even though it made them look like amorphous blobs, I just had to get something in there. And I succeeded. (I removed the backpack and water bottle because they weren't necessary here)

  • Remove outline
  • No masks/Masking
The glasses and the eyes were the final piece of the puzzle. I did way too many things with the glasses to list here. And the real value is in telling what my big discovery was. It didn't matter how many colors or layers there were in the artwork, the problem was with lines. Once I used "Modify > Shape > Convert lines to fills" in flash, it imported just fine! Who coulda thunk it?

  • Toon Boom Animate Pro cannot import flash artwork that has lines.
  • Animate Pro will only import artwork that is all fill.
So even if you just sort of skimmed through the article, if you only remember the bulleted points, you'll save some of your hair from turning grey when you're trying to import flash puppet into Toon Boom Animate Pro.

Because I think this is already enough information to type(for me) and swallow,(for you) I will post part two of this tomorrow or something.

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