Timeline Block To Symbol

Functionality

Converts a selected block of frames to a Symbol, preserving its relative position and layer structure.

There are two modes:

  1. Single Frame mode 
    If the selection is strictly limited to multiple objects/layers spanning only one frame, the command behaves just like the discontinued (as of v.3) Convert To Symbol Preserving Layers. A self-explanatory dialog box pops up and the user is required to choose certain options.
  2. Timeline Block mode 
    Selection can be any block of frames. A self-explanatory dialog box appears and after the user chooses what they need the frames are nested inside a container.
    As of EDAP Tools v.6 there is also an option to preserve the original content in place.
    The command can slice through tweens, preserving easing, but this should be used with care*. (Please, see notes below.)

Suggested use

Should be used when content needs to be treated as one Symbol and buried a level deeper

Where does it work?

Mode 1. Symbols on Stage or vertical Timeline selection across multiple layers, single frame only
Mode 2. Timeline; block selection of frames

EDAP Tools shortcut

Shift+F8

Notes

Important! Depending on the complexity of your selection this command might take up to a few minutes to complete your request.
If Flash pops up message(s) asking you if you'd like the command to continue working, just press 'Yes' as many times as necessary.

* Timeline Block To Symbol can split tweens and slice through all kinds of layers.
Depending on many circumstances (masks, motion guides, synced Symbols, etc) in certain situations this can produce undesired differences from the original selection. Use this option with care and ideally double-check.

The best practice that would guarantee nested content identical to the original selection would be to prepare your block by manually creating keys on both ends so that the block is clearly defined before you begin. 

Safely-defined block (below)

TBS result (below)

Known issues

Elements disappearing when using Single Frame Mode:
A long-standing known issue with all versions of Flash and Animate is that data stored temporarily in the System Clipboard can be exposed to interference by other programs running at the same time as Flash / Animate.

If on the background you are running Macromedia Director, OpenOffice or Oracle VM VirtualBox, the command may fail in various ways, resulting in an error message or elements disappearing. These applications seem to steal or alter the clipboard. Just close Macromedia Director, OpenOffice and/or VirtualBox. You may need to restart Flash/Animate, but more likely not.
There may be other applications that do this also and the list may be incomplete.

Video demonstration


All our videos are 1080p. If for some reason full HD is not available here, try watching them on YouTube.

This command is part of the Flanimate Power Tools package. Download the latest version from the Downloads page.
 
Comments

This set of tools is fantastic. I've been wanting to get into 2-D rigging for a while but this is the first system that works. 

One challenge I found was understanding how to get a character that uses IK Effectors to work after making it a symbol. Just using Create Symbol forced all layers down onto one layer. The standard SMR rig still worked but IK Effectors broke. 

This article helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. I needed to use the "Timeline Block To Symbol" command to capture the layer structure required for SMR_Controllers. I was very careful to learn how to work with the nested symbols as suggested but adding IK required "Timeline Block To Symbol" to function.

Is it "best practice" to use that command when converting a fully rigged character to a symbol, or am I missing something? (I haven't fully mastered nested symbols for the head and such, yet.)

Hi Dean,

Thank you so much for the kind words!
We're really glad that you discovered our work and are exploring the various aspects of EDAP Tools.

Nested symbols take some time getting used to, but after a while things fall into place and then nesting and structuring your rigs to get the desired functionality becomes second nature. A 'common sense' approach is usually the best while you don't have much past experience to rely upon. Things that logically belong to a 'whole' are nested inside. For example the facial features belong to the head and are therefore put inside the head symbol, where they can stay relatively static among themselves, while the head can be tilted and moved on the outside as a whole. According to the same logic we should put a walking character inside a container, if we need to move it across the screen, because we have to deal with just one element on the outside, while inside we can keep polishing and re-timing our walk cycle. (This article may give you some additional information.)

I tend to advise people to never do anything on the main timeline. Normally, I create a placeholder box, convert that to a symbol, enter it and build the new rig inside.
But if you have already created your layer structure on the main timeline, Timeline Block To Symbol is exactly what you need to put it inside a container, preserving the layers structure. It is what this command is designed for.

My suggestion is to look at the EDAPT Movie Template and some of our sample character rigs and study how nesting is done there. It takes some time to get comfortable with nesting. Then things will suddenly click.

IK Effectors must always be placed on a layer called SMR_Controllers. Otherwise they will not work. You can create the layer manually and name it. You can have multiple SMR_Controllers layers, if you would like to separate the Effectors in groups and lock the pinned ones, for example.

EDAP Tools have been around for 10 years now and there are many tools in the package. It will be worth it to gradually get familiar with what each of them does, even if at this stage you have no practical need for this or that functionality. It is good to know what is available for the time when a problem arises.

Have fun!

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