Timeline Block To Symbol


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



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.

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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