Finishing Up Flash

When you have a shot done it’s often helpful to see it play at full speed. Unfortunately, Flash is unable keep up with all of the sounds, bitmaps, and complicated vectors that go into broadcast-quality animation. Plus it’s impossible even with the most macho of processors to play the shot at full speed, without hiding a bunch of elements. But, hey, you’re the director of this masterpiece, it’s time for dailies, and you need to see it all.

The best way to do this and to cut down on file size is to export a raster video at 320 × 240 pixels, using the standard QuickTime Video codec (Mac) or the Microsoft Video 1 codec. These codecs are for draft purposes only, so it may have banding and artifacts from compression, but the point is to generate something that even a machine that’s ill-equipped for high-end video output can display easily at full frame-rate speed. This method will be of great help in revealing those areas of the animation that still need further tweaking and work before going out to the final published version. The general movement and pace of the shot will make itself known. Look for errors such as unintended jumpiness in frames, and color shifts or inconsistencies between views. Furthermore, your lip-synching efforts will either be a glory to behold or a disaster in need of medical attention. Other things, such as sound clipping (pops in high volume sound) also become apparent here. To put it bluntly, if the preview makes you cringe, then it needs work if not, you’re ready for final output.

Final output
Now, after checking endlessly you’re ready for the final video file of the shot to be rendered. Back it up one more time. Then, when you’ve safely archived your final project file, it’s time to choose the codec that your playback equipment can use and render one out for the tube. Then, when you have rendered all your shots at full screen, you can take them into Premiere or After Effects for more detailed editing and tweaking, utilizing all the power that these applications offer. For example, you might want music to play gently in the background across all of your scenes. Although this would be impossible to piece together with separate Flash project files, it’s a snap in Premiere. Again, the possibilities are endless.

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