What are Electric Dog Flash Animation Power Tools?
Electric Dog Flash Animation Power Tools (EDAP Tools or just EDAPT) are a collection of plugin commands, panels and optimized keyboard shortcuts for Macromedia / Adobe Flash which address some of the most severe deficiencies of the software when used as a character animation environment.
EDAP Tools come in one neat package, which is easily installed and deinstalled via Extensions Manager.
Who can make most out of EDAP Tools?
EDAP Tools require intermediate to advanced level of Flash knowledge, however beginners and students can also use many of the commands.
The tools are designed to improve comfort and precision, and speed up the workflow of all animation designers, Flash build creators (riggers) and character animators.
The advantages of EDAP Tools will be more obvious to experienced users. It is a professional toolset, which requires professional drawing, design and animation skills to gain optimum results.
EDAP Tools can be used in a studio environment, at schools, universities or by individuals.
Which versions of Flash work with EDAP Tools?
EDAP Tools v.2 can be used with Macromedia Flash 8, Adobe Flash CS3-CS6 on Windows or Mac.
(Support for Adobe Flash Professional CC is planned for a later release.)
Digital Vector Cutouts
There are 3 ways of using Flash for character animation:
- As an ink & paint cel-replacement tool to clean up rough animation drawn on paper.
- As a frame by frame tradigital tool to simulate multi-pass traditional process by doing rough keys first, then cleaning them up, in-betweening and finally coloring and compositing.
- As a tool for digital vector cutout animation.
From a creative point of view all three approaches are artistically challenging.
From a technical point of view, the digital vector cutouts are Flash’s native format and present the most serious technical challenges as well as the most serious economic advantages. The latter is the reason for the mass adoption of Flash by so many studios all over the world.
Although, compared to some other vector applications, the program may seem quite simple providing only basic drawing tools, they have proved to be so flexible that almost any visual results can be achieved within Flash.
Macromedia’s invention of Symbols – universal and independent containers of media that have their own timelines and can be nested creatively into one another – gives endless possibilities to create complex hierarchical structures.
Motion and Shape Tweening in the hands of capable animators save time, allow quick and easy experimentation and timing flexibility.
The problem with all timeline based computer programs which allow instant playback is that it takes inexperienced animators a lot longer to develop sense of timing compared to working on paper and filling in timing charts.
A few words about the history of Flash
Resolution independent output, small swf sizes, interactivity, browser integration and cross-platform availability have made Flash a hugely successful product.
Unfortunately, even after it became widely known that many TV-series and even feature films were produced in Flash, Macromedia and later Adobe have ignored the most obvious flaws of their program. Instead they continued developing ActionScript and adding poorly implemented versions of otherwise potentially great tools (bones, IK, new tweening, etc.)
The character animation community was left to deal with the issues alone for many years. There has been no significant improvement in any of the character animation related tools since Flash 8, the last Macromedia release.
Electric Dog Flash Animation Power Tools – the Project
After many years of work with Flash (since 1998) in endless ways, working with many different people at many different studios, the Electric Dog team have decided to address some of the most common and reoccurring issues by releasing one neat extension package, called Electric Dog Flash Animation Power Tools and supporting this package with the necessary documentation, workflow suggestions, sample source files, tutorials, tips & tricks.
Over the years we have accumulated a lot of knowledge.
We have noticed that all books on Flash cover pretty much the same basic methods and techniques and none of them goes much beyond that.
We have decided that it is time to start sharing our knowledge and invite other advanced users to do so too.