Most Honest Book Title Of The Year

How To Cheat In Flash

I like the honest name of this new how-to book: How to Cheat in Flash CS3: The art of design and animation in Adobe Flash CS3. Forget honing your skills and mastering the craft of animation like those classic artists, just cheat your way into thinking you’re an animator by moving some crap around in Flash. Why not, everybody else is doing it.


  • http://www.froststuff.com Tim Frost

    Wow. Bitter. Not all flash animation is ‘moving crap around’. Not all ‘classic’ animation is worth the price of the ticket.

    Flash is just a tool. Get over it.

  • Zach

    Flash is a great tool, but there are too many people out there who just make some shape or motion tweens and then upload it to Newgrounds.

  • purin

    Cheats, in and of themselves, aren’t necessarily a bad thing. I think learning certain cheats is the secret to doing a lot of things. If you haven’t honed your skills yet, and don’t have time to, you can skillfully apply a few cheats to make something look good. If you are a skilled animator, cheats can save you time and effort where you need to.
    Or, more importantly: If you’re someone who hasn’t learned Flash and your employer suddenly says he wants one of those newfangled flash things from you, can at least do a mock up of one that will at least satisfy.

  • http://www.froststuff.com Tim Frost

    I forgot that there was a quota system for animation. It’s just as well something like Newgrounds exists, for all those who don’t make the grade, or just move stuff around.

    And hey, it’s not just Flash that people make crap with, it’s 3DS Max, Maya, XSI, ToonBoom, Anime Studio. And computers! And pencils!

    I completely agree: Newgrounds is the home of an amazing amount of useless animation. That’s why I don’t go there.

    Cheap, effective software (ie. Flash) allied with a cheap, global distribution network (ie. the www) is the best thing to happen to the animation industry ever. So what if teenagers use it to produce rubbish. Why do you care?

  • http://pauloflanaganartblog.blogspot.com/ paul

    yikes! the ‘cheat’ i’d use in flash most often would be a swipe or a pop to an overshoot and settle. those looney tunes fellers did that every now and then right? i’d like to think that animation is inherently a big ‘cheat’.

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C. Edwards

    I love how they use the word “Cheat”, but then use the words “Art” and “Design” in the subtitle.

    Never “get over it”, Amid.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    Keep on keeping on, Amid. You brought a smile to my face this morning. This “tool” hasn’t brought us ONE bit of character animation, yet. Just a lot of movement. Oh, and it’s also brought TV execs a way to get cheaper budgets. They don’t care.

  • Andrew

    Definitely the most honest title I’ve seen of this industry. I should check it out. And probably show it to others.

  • http://www.danyboom.com dany

    just cheat your way into thinking you’re an animator by moving some crap around.

    holy smokes. you just made my day.

  • Baron Lego

    Heh heh. Sad, but unfortunately true.

  • http://www.commanderkitty.com Scotty A

    And you promote the Hanna Barbera Treasury over there?
    What would an honest title for that book be if this were the 60s and you’re a die-hard Disney fanatic?

    “Twice the Profit, Half the Drawings”
    “Same Format, Different Talking Dog”
    “The Robonic Stooges Is Too A Brilliant Show”

    C’mon now…

  • http://www.pixeltoon.com Gina Kamentsky

    I took a quick look at the book contents over at Amazon, actually seems to be a nice intoduction to using Flash for animation, the title seems misleading although memorable, applies more to marketing than content . I agree that the problem with filters ( cheats? ) is that any monkey can press a button, if something looks and moves badly, no amount of drop shadows or motion tweens is going to change that.

  • Danielle

    Agreed with Tim. It’s not like there aren’t several ways to cheat in other forms of animation. Flash is simply a tool like any other, and it can be used both very well and very poorly.

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank

    tim, i agree. this comes off as another pop shot at modern day animation. i think there’s a ton of quality flash shows out there. there’s also a bunch of crap, but im not willing to lump it in all together.

    zack, the only thing i can say about newgrounds and the content there is that 99.9% of it is done by thirteen year olds with zero training.

  • http://rockitpack.blogspot.com :: smo ::

    ZING!!!

    i miss paper too Amid. i know so many people/studios who rely on shortcuts and don’t plan. one of my friends who’s been animating a lot longer that I described the mentality as:

    “ready, go, SET!”

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank

    hah i should also go on the say that i agree with amid’s point that books like this are pretty terrible. my bro has one where it says something like “if a character is talking, dont show him or show him from the back so you dont have to animate the mouth”. i havent actually seen THIS book, so i cant say for sure.

    cheats are good, but only when used sparingly.

  • Jay

    I’ve been to several classes and seminars by the author, Chris Georgenes — he knows the best ways to “cheat” at Flash, and by that I don’t mean faking your way through animation, but using the tool to get hand-drawn, smooth, lifelike effects without learning from scratch or doing frame-by-frame animation.

    Full disclosure: I hate using Flash and loathe what Flash has become to the web and animation industry, but I also know how much effort and talent goes into the best Flash-made animation. If using Flash is just “moving crap around”, then I guess Aardman’s just “moving dirt around”.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    As a guy out there scrambling for every dollar, I appreciate anyone taking the time to share their short cuts with me.
    I’m buying the book, but I won’t be trying to do ” Pinnochio ” in Flash.

  • http://www.lippy.com Lippy

    OUCH! I’m trying not to take the bait, Amid.. I’m just bitter because you guys didn’t post a link to my latest Flash-created animation for Nick Jr.’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” show.

    Anybody who wants to see my “Bedtime Lullabye” short can go here: http://www.lippy.com and click on the “lullabye” button.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Funny title but not a great commentary. Flash is all about cheating, if you don’t find clever ways to get around it’s absurdly horrible interface and insane limitations you’d never be able to animate anything decent.

  • Benjamin DS

    Well, in essence, even Yuri Norstein just moves things around (I’ve heard him mention in a documentary that his wife often does the painting).

    Though I have to say I’m not a big fan of how Flash is mostly being used either.

  • http://www.flyingiguannaproductions.com Zee

    I used to use cheats even back in the traditional days, anyone remember “shift and trace”? Programs like flash and Harmony are great tools. You can get great quality animation out of those programs if you use all your traditions skills and the traditional principals of animation. The problem is; studios and broadcasters are constantly trying to get shows done for cheaper, faster, and they don’t know how to distinguish good animation from the crappy tweened puppet animation. Don’t blame the programs. Flash and harmony are wonderful tools that make creating your own animation possible, unlike 20 years ago where you needed huge, expensive camera equipment, splicers, line testers, cel paint, light tables, tons of pencils and paper, and a lot of time.

    As for the cheating stuff; you gotta do what you can to meet the crazy deadlines forced upon you by the industry. Of course I had the time, I would not resort to using the cheats and shortcuts.

    My issue is that broadcasters and studios, are completely ignorant about animation. As long as something moves on the screen, they can’t distinguish if it looks like tweened puppet animation or if it looks like good classical animation.

  • http://www.coldhardflash.com Aaron

    I don’t think you can blame software for bad animation anymore than you can blame pencils or legos. I’ve seen literally thousands of unwatchable traditionally-animated shorts and mountains of dreadful films done with legos or play-dough. If “the medium is the message” we should equate equal time for the half-assed crap that a number 2 pencil is responsible for.

  • http://robindavey.blogspot.com/ Robin

    Flash is less a tool than a medium, I’d say. And just like traditional 2D, stop-motion, CGI or shadow-puppetry, it has it’s inherent strengths and weaknesses. Flash’s chief advantages are its relative speed, simplicity, and inexpensiveness, and it is largely responsible for the democratisation of animation craft we’ve seen in the last decade or so, which many here would agree is a Good Thing. Much is made on this site of animators working independently of major studios, and rightly so, but we can’t have it both ways. The same technology that allows the Chris Hardings and Joel Trussells to operate has also enabled the Tom Winklers of this world. The cream rises to the top, but some turds float too.

    On the subject of cheating, half the skill of animation is to judge how much work the budget and time will allow and take the appropriate shortcuts. Then again that’s not something you can learn from a book.

  • http://billsart.blogspot.com Bill

    I have to agree with the comments here. I saw this book at Siggraph and ended up ordering a couple copies for our office, where we produce Flash games. So far I’ve found it incredibly useful and full of time-saving hints and easy ways to accomplish things in Flash. I’m not sure how ‘cheating’ with Flash is a bad thing – is it cheating to color drawings in Photoshop rather than paint them on cels? Who cares what shortcuts you take as long as the final animation looks good.

  • Mike

    “Cheats” allow for animators on a tight budget/schedule (most of television) to pour more work into some scenes while using shortcuts to optimise their time. I think as a whole, Flash (and computers in general) are huge time savers. That ultimately will allow for better animation, at least in a limited budget environment. Even if you still draw every frame in a traditional sense into Flash you will still save time not having to pencil test things then go back to your desk, adjust it, then reshoot it all… etc, etc…

    Flash is just a tool, I agree with Tim Frost. Very bitter.

  • http://www.designerwhite.ca designerwhite

    I can’t wait until they remove that anti skill honing function from flash. Hopefully it’s gone by CS4. Don’t even get me started on the craft mastering javascript they included. By default it’s set to disallow. Why even bother including it?

    And you’re simply wrong Tim Frost – all classical animation is amazing. The pencil strokes imbue it with magical beauty. Likewise flash uses an algorithm to permeate exports with pure evil. You could do the EXACT scene both ways, and you’d only get to watch the flash version, because it murdered the line test in it’s sleep.

    Wait… maybe you’ve got a point:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatonium

  • Sebby

    Mmmm, taste the bitterness! Ya know, hacks have put pencil to paper too. Its not like crap didn’t exist before Flash. Granted, Flash has enabled the current over-saturated market of animators and designers, but if animation desks and cameras were only $700 a set (or if one could Bittorrent them) you’d probably still have a ton of crap to annoy your delicate taste buds.

  • Paul N

    Yeah, those classic animation artists were the best. Take Harman and Ising for example… oh wait… yeah… Cartoon Dump #6.

    There’s plenty of crap to go around…

  • http://classicanimation.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    Personally, I don’t see what the appeal of Flash is. Why are we using technology that’s getting worse results than Hanna-Barbera got in 1957? Aren’t we supposed to be moving forward?

  • Art F

    I don’t think it’s bitterness as much as pointing out the age of “amateurism” that we live in. I don’t think I’m overexaggerating when I say that there’s a large portion of people who call themselves “Animators” who don’t know how hard it is to really earn that title. Flash tricks and cheats do not an Animator make. Flash is an awesome and invaluable tool if you, first and foremost, have a solid animation foundation to use it on. I do my own taxes every year, but I don’t call myself a C.P.A.

  • red pill junkie

    I think you’re reading more in the title than what was intended to. Flash is a great time & cost-saving tool. And the best web pages are the ones animated with Flash. That manual is aimed at web designers, not wanna-be-animators.

    And if fooling around with Flash makes some kid more interested about the potential of Animation as an art form, what’s wrong with that?

  • Daniel

    “Why not, everybody else is doing it.”

    And everyone is hiring people that can. It’s the unfortunate truth about the industry.There are not a whole lot of places to get info on classical animation aside from books and blogs and expensive schools. There aren’t a whole lot of places are hiring people with classical skills. I’m not downplaying the need for classical skills as I practice and try to hone them on my own time every day and knowing the fundamentals will definately make us all better at what we set out to do. It’s just that many places seem to not care or aren’t even looking for that. Just knowing the application is good enough for many places. It’s sometimes distressing as I know a lot of great artists that are out of work simply because they don’t know flash and a lot of guys that can’t draw circles that are working because they do know flash.

  • Steve Gattuso

    To Amid, Michael Sporn, and all the other naysayers about the ability of Flash to be used as effective character animation tool, I have five words for you:

    “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends.”

    ’nuff said.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Thanks Amid for defining my existence as a guy who just moves crap around. Are you really that ignorant about Flash or just what this book was getting at? The book is to learn Flash secrets and cheats within the program to maximize the efficiencies of the program itself. it isn’t an endorsement to not learning how to draw. But of course those of us that have decided to learn Flash to survive in the market have also given up drawing altogether. That’s right John K., the guys over at El Tigre and us over at Foster’s just move crap all day long – and none of us know how to draw. BUt if we were to propose tha budgets and schedules for pure traditional nowadays – guess what line we would be standing in.

    And for that matter South Park moves crap around too – but with different tools, yet they have produced more entertaining stuff than a pencil has in a decade. I’ll take Terry Gilliam over most anything nowadays.

  • http://www.coldhardflash.com Aaron

    Michael Sporn – that’s ludicrous. “ONE bit of character animation”? You must be lathering on the hyperbole for effect here. There’s dozens (if not hundreds) of brilliantly animated shorts produced in Flash (not to mention other 2D digital software like Toon Boom) that boast superb character animation. If you’re not kidding, you should do a little research on the topic – plenty of artists use Flash for more traditional purposes, employing the software more like an ink and paint tool. This bandwagon mentality you’ve blindly latched onto will read funny 20 years on, and I suspect you’ll eat your words before long.

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com amid

    I thought the tongue-in-cheek nature of the post was evident but perhaps not. Quite obviously this was not a broad-scale condemnation of Flash animation…I was simply amused by the title of the book. Nobody is denying that there is a decent amount of quality work creating using the software. But there is far too much poorly designed and animated work, and a large part of the blame belongs on the software’s ignorantly designed tools, which allow animators to take shortcuts in places where they shouldn’t be any.

    Imagine if you had a pencil that automatically made your inbetweens look worse unless you fought against it. That would not be what I call a good tool. Some of the tools in Flash (including some of its most widely employed ones) are designed to a.) expedite the animation process (or allow you to cheat), but b.) to also make your animation look worse. I mean, the software has all but destroyed one of animation’s most basic principles: squash and stretch. The most successful cartoons made with Flash, like this short by Jamie Mason, are made by artists who don’t cheat, and time their animation traditionally as any hand-drawn, CG or stop motion animator would.

  • skyman

    man,
    if y’all don’t like crappy character animation done without skill, and money isn’t any consideration. DO SOME AMAZING ANIMATION. Michael Sporn, you’ve just insulted a whole lot of people that can animate circles around you in ANY medium. I’m really greatful for all the historians, and what they’re doing to push the medium forward, but seeing as for the most part, they aren’t the people who personally created the medium, maybe the enlightenment could be done without the perjorative close-mindedness. Or at least, if you’re gonna sound like milt kahl, DRAW like him.

  • http://eggheadcheesybird.co.uk Alex

    Yep. That’s what I do.
    And it’s great!

  • Art F

    I wonder if the tax preparers over at 1040 Brew are having the same discussion about Turbo-Tax.

  • http://www.micahtoons.com Micah Baker

    “Imagine if you had a pencil that automatically made your inbetweens look worse unless you fought against it. That would not be what I call a good tool.”

    That’s just about every tool in animation. A young inbetweener introduces himself to Bill Tytla and gets “How many scenes have you ruined” barked at him (paraphrasing) On the other hand the so called gold standard of modern theatrical animation, Pixar, employs machines and electronics that do that. So there’s really no good tool?

    A ratchet is good for getting a spark plug in or out of your engine. But not if you are a doof and hold it backwards.

    It’s just the intelligent use of any tool that makes the job good. You started in on that very point while referencing Jamie Mason. Animation is all about cheating, m’friend. But do you cheat well or do you cheat badly.

    First the advocation of sub-standard (if titillating) slash porn, now coy elbows in the ribs of all animation history. My oh my.

  • http://www.cartoonsolutions.com Ryan Simmons

    You know what disgusts me the most, is that all of these negative comments about Flash are made by traditional animators who like to look down on Flash as an ugly step-sister that they are clearly so much better than. When I worked in traditional feature animation and was also learning Flash, my co-workers attitudes towards the program were condescending and elitist. As if Flash doesn’t require any drawing, timing, illustration, editing, or character design skills!
    I am so tired of these blanket statements that anything made in Flash must be crap. I could say the same about any medium: I’ve seen some nasty, aweful 3D short films and feature films, but do I make a blanket statement about all 3D being horrible? No, there is fantastic work being done in the field by Pixar and Blue Sky Studios for example.
    I’ve also seen plenty of $4.99 direct to video movies that are animated traditionally, and they are anything but high quality. The characters are butt ugly, the animation is choppy and there is bad, unessesary animation all over the place…so should I say that everything animated traditionally is bad or useless…No!
    Grow up people, and get off your high-horse and try to open your minds.

  • Jay

    The most successful cartoons made with Flash, like this short by Jamie Mason, are made by artists who don’t cheat…

    That’s ridiculous. I love that goofy little frog short, but it’s chock-full of cheats. More than half of the animation used is simply flip-flopped and repeated, there’s tweens — all kinds of stuff you learn to do in the “How to Cheat” book. That doesn’t make it bad, just a good example of how limited animation can be successful.

  • http://cartoondavid.blogspot.com david

    yeah. i use flash, and animate in it traditionally. What i don’t get, is while there are a bunch of dudes pretending to be animators “moving shit around” for better or for worse, I have yet to see any older traditional animators pick up the program (or other new programs for that matter) and decide to animate their own shorts. Instead they complain about their computer-phobias, complain about how it isn’t traditional, and complain about how young punks are stealing their jobs. Or they complain about how crap is being produced. Maybe if they took the time they spent complaining and sat down to learn this powerful fucking monster of a tool, and made their own short films, and animated shit, and realized how much time it saves (how they no longer have to paint cels or work out multiplane problems) they wouldn’t have this attitude. if the tools are their why not embrace them. But its all good. cause ill make real cartoons in flash, and i’ll just keeping laughing when i hear dudes complaining about how shitty the animation industry is, and how they are sick of seeing crap from flash or otherwise.

    If you don’t like what you see, step up to the plate and animate some shit yourself. Whiners.

  • http://www.cartoonsteve.com Steve

    Actually, Chris Georgenes (author of the character animation part of the book) is one of the best friends we have as animators – influencing Adobe to improve their products and make them more user friendly to traditional artists. I encourage everyone to go check out his blog: http://www.keyframer.com/

    Ive found Chris to be helpful and responsive to user comments there as well.

  • Mike

    Tongue in cheek my ass Amid, your opinion is pretty clear to anyone who reads this site. I would like to see you post something about Flash created work that is not a snarky condemnation.

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank

    you know what i do everyday when come in to work? in flash, there’s a button called “crap it out”, where it destroys all my work and i go to lunch.

    im not going to defend flash because its just a piece of software, but its obvious that those in here who are trashing the application are the ones who are clearly displaying their ignorance of it.

  • http://classicanimation.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    I’m not saying those who work with Flash have no talent. The results of the technology simply make it look like none went behind it.

  • David

    Cheats are common to all mediums of animation. If you read the excerpts on amazon it looks as though it is giving you secrets to a fast workflow that will get you the best use out of Flash. It is already assuming that you have the skills to draw and that you know what good design is.

  • Kyle Maloney

    Any good artist cheats. sometimes cheating involves tracing one eye in order to flip it over the the other eye of a character. other times your cheating the laws of physics or anatomy.

    Cheating is not a bad thing in animation, just so long as your not stealing, which is a different thing entirely. but if you can cheat and get away with it, by means, why not?

    Of course, when it comes to crappy flash animation, often times they Don’t get away with it. its why most of it doesn’t flow well.

    but the title of the book is just fine.

    Flash shouldn’t be looked down upon, just most of the artists using it. at least in mainstream, like disney channel, cartoon network, and nickelodeon. newgrorunds animators are usually still learning themselves, so I gotta give them a break some times. most of them aren’t even attempting to animate well though. they just want to get a cheap laugh from some crewd joke.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    So I guess everyone has forgotten that limited animation that looks crap existed BEFORE flash was ever popular? So lets blame the software as opposed to the people using it. Oh ok. That makes sense. :)

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Geez, for a minute there, I thought this book was similar to this YouTube link (among a sea of other YouTube videos containing amateur flash efforts the likes of which mankind thou shall not see)…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKe7ZPBTKmo

    Seriously, if I was half my age and didn’t have anything better to do, I could move crap around and call it ‘art’ to my friends, then look back on it now and say it was all s__t and end the argument there! Perhaps I’ll need some practice if I can fool people by making crap move for a living. :-)

  • A_B

    Have you actually read any of the book, Amid? The author is good at what he does, and it’s not just “moving stuff around.” I’m an animation student, and I used to be totally against Flash. I still work in paper most of the time, but I’ve learned to love working in Flash as well. But honestly, it is just a tool, and animation snobs need to get past this idea that all Flash animation is bad.

    I know you exaggerate sometimes, Amid, but please. This is just juvenile. If you have something to back it up, please do. But you’d just ignore the examples of good Flash animation, wouldn’t you?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWKVmCX6SKY Hasdrubal

    Cel animations done with limited frame rates are a cheat, yet many find the practice universally acceptable for nearly any project.

    Legitamacy is largely a matter of wide scale commercial use. Sometimes it’s no more than being a good salesman.

  • Gerard de Souza

    I have not read the book but I would bet this post is grossly out of context. Chris Georgenes is a kick-ass premiere Flash animator.
    Y’ever use Flash? It’s not an animation tool per se but a motion graphics software that has been co-opted by animators and producers because of its inexpense and accesibilty. (Adobe afaik has not really marketed or acknowledged the cartoon animator but web designers and graphic artists). So even to the traditionally trained animator it is a programme full of work-arounds. Cheat? Yeah, you bet. One has to. One can do traditional animation in Flash but comercially that is not taking advantage of its killer app, symbols(“digital cut-outs”). I notice more and more bursts of full animation in Flash cartoons series but in the long run Flash is most feasible when using symbols….and yes, cheats and work arounds are needed….. not that I wouldn’t rather be drawing…..
    At least view it as a necessary evil for the time being.
    Anyhoo I have the impression looking at Amazon that there may be a series of Cheat books as there are for Dummies.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    so high strung in here!

    this post gave me the giggles!

  • Jorge Garrido

    David Gemmill’s done some spectacular Squash & Stretch and character animation in Flash because he used the program as a flipbook. More people should try it.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Animation is ALL cheating!

  • Vector Enhancer

    Here’s me moving crap around:

    cintiq stylus up to “boolmarks”
    cintiq stylus down to “cartoonbrew.com”
    right-click for properties
    delete shortcut to cartoonbrew.com
    windows notifier: “delete shortcut? are you sure?”
    click “yes”

    return to Flash CS4 FTW!

  • http://www.sixpointharness.com Brendan

    I am really getting tired of this nonsense. Bad animators are the only people to blame, not Flash. Traditional Animators: I offer to you a solution. Six Point Harness will hold another class before the end of this year and hold spots for any of you that actually want to learn about what it is you are bashing all the time (I’ll save a front row seat for you Mr. Sporn)

    Wake up animation world.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    To all those who defend Flash and claim that “it’s just another tool” and can produce wonderful results in the hands of a skilled artist, I have this to say: An old Etch-a-Sketch is also “just another tool” as well, yet I could practise with it for months or years on end and never produce an image with the same control or visual appeal as I could with a pencil on paper. Like it or not, there are those of us traditionalists who see Flash for what it is: a “tool” for creating computerized cutouts using replacement parts, not fluid character animation.

    Even the examples being cited here as superior, such as the dancing frog short and “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends”, may well be entertaining but they are not in any way comparable visually to the best of traditional hand-drawn classical animation. In “Fosters” for example, while I’ll grant you there may be a certain visual appeal in terms of graphic shapes, it is still just predetermined replaceable character parts being shifted around on screen. Any “Squash and Stretch” you see is not the real deal either, as it is achieved simply by distorting the image along its X or Y axis. When a character on “Fosters” turns his head from the front to the side, there are no inbetweens allowing for a gradual turn, just a *whoosh* sound as the head immediately changes views in a single frame. At best, there may be an attempt at contriving a 3/4 view inbetween by sliding the features gradually along the the front face cutout before replacing it altogether with the profile. Again, the Flash software is not conducive to subtle animation.

    If these limitations are all perfectly fine with you folks, then go ahead and enjoy it as a medium. But please don’t try to convince the rest of us that, in the right hands, somebody could produce a film that rivals “Pinocchio” using Flash. I’ll admit, I’ve seen a precious few examples where an animator is drawing frame-by-frame directly into Flash, but even those results, while noble in the attempt, do not produce anything that has the sensitive rhythmic linework I associate with the best of pencil animation, due to the clunky line quality that I always think looks like a brush inked line that’s been hacked out on both sides with an Exacto knife! I’ve had my own brush inked line art ruined in a similar way by technicians who imported it into the “Illustrator” program, leaving it in a mangled mess, all in their quest for it to be a vectorized image. Sadly, everything has become a slave to the needs of the computer.

    Yes, Flash may be “just another tool” in the eyes of some, but don’t kid yourselves regarding its inherent limitations. And to those who maintain that only a poor carpenter blames his tools, please don’t hand me a plane when I need to saw through a piece of lumber…

  • A_B

    Is anyone claiming that Flash can help create a film that rivals “Pinocchio”? I’ve yet to read any pro-Flash person say that the program produces animation that is as good or better than a Disney classic. All I ever see within this community is constant bashing of the program, despite the fact that no one in the Flash community is looking for some sort of debate or fight. There’s no reason Flash and traditional animation can’t coexist. Why the hell is there even an argument?

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Wow Pete – so do you draw better with a Blackwing or Eberhead? Cause you know the best pencil makes you draw better. Why is it when we see bad traditional animation we don’t blame the pencil and paper?

    You are pretty off base on how we do things at Foster’s. We do a lot of popping as you stated but we also have folks that will key frame those precious little head turns you love. As a matter of fact we have a Mac model that has around 48 points of head rotation. The thing of it is if we did things the classic way we wouldn’t have production here. Also the graphic styling of the show and pacing lend to the style of animation we do and so far the main man is pleased with the results or isn’t it important to follow your director and exec producer. And as AB said – who the hell is saying we are trying to produce Pinocchio?

    Why not slam stop motion guys for not producing Pinochio – oh yeah they don’t use pencils either – they must all suck too. For that matter let’s tell our buddies at Pixar that their stuff doesn’t hold a candle to anything done with a pencil cause only pencils can produce real animation.

    For those who know TV animation, know that cheats have been used all along – limited movement of limbs while reusing a held body, pop poses, limited lip sync, reused cycles, overlays, turntable BGs etc. Yet they have found a way to entertain audiences while keeping deseving folks employed as we struggle with today.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    To Bob Harper,

    With all due respect, Bob, you’re still missing my point. First of all, there are those who are saying that Flash is quite capable of key-frame animation if the animator has the desire to and is able to give the effort to drawing all those individual pictures, either on paper and importing it in or drawing directly into the program. Fine. Yes, I’ve seen several of those approaches and it is not satisfying to me in terms of the resulting awkward line quality that seems to be an inherent limitation in the program, much like the “Illustrator” program for print art. To my eyes it just looks unpleasant with those lines that have been digitally tranformed into choppy lines not quite as the artist intended. That was where I was making the comparison to the look of a feature like “Pinocchio” – it just doesn’t compare.

    I realize that you are doing TV production and I am not trying to suggest you should strive to do the equivalent of “Pinocchio”. But using the Flash program, you aren’t even able to do the aesthetic equivalent of an old H-B show like “The Flintstones”, and that IS a fair comparison. When Fred changes expression, sure, maybe only his head moves, but there is real animation on that head in terms of squash and stretch and expression change. It is not simply pre-drawn symbols shifting around on the surface as I usually see on “Fosters”. Maybe there are some cases where new expressions are drawn to create a distinct attitude, but they would seem to be the exception to the rule.

    Also, I don’t doubt that you have “a Mac model that has around 48 points of head rotation” that allows for a gradual head turn. Great, but how are you going to show him turn when his head is tilted up or down slightly from that pre-fab position? Fred Flintstone can turn his head gradually at any tilt position, squashing and stretching his features while in dialogue. Beat that!

    Please don’t think I’m coming down hard on your show. Frankly, I think it’s quite good for what it is. But you seem unwilling to admit to the obvious limitations of Flash – namely that even in limited TV animation, the results are mechanical, replaceable cutouts for the most part, not as “organic” as even an old Flintstones or Yogi Bear cartoon. I’m not blaming you, but rather trying to make those who seem to love Flash to at least concede that there is that inherent “cutout” look to it all. And there are some people out here, including me, who just don’t find that approach visually satisfying, that’s all.

  • Nic Kramer

    Bob, would it be enough for me to say that while Fosters is not my favorite animated show, it’s the best show on Cartoon Network right now? If so, I say keep up the good work but I do agree with Pete that you might need to improve the animation just a little bit more, somehow.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Hey Pete,

    With all due respect maybe you should rewatch the HB cartoons for the animation quality. Notice the limited head movements and expressions for what was called “acting” and notice the lipsync and do an honest comparison to that on “Foster’s” The reason I bring it up is that we do watch HB cartoons regularly to get those principles down and improve upon them. The thing of it is we are required to produce 3 times the footage in the same amount of time those guys were given, often with many more characters and setups – BEAT THAT! Also Bob Singer was very impressed with our work at Foster’s and felt it was on par with classic HB, so that’s good enough for me.

    Foster’s does have a cut out look – I concede the point – I don’t design them I just animate them. Even more the reason that the comparison between Flash and traditional is off base. Would you like to draw and traditionally animate a paper cut out looking show? Give me your budget and schedule and we see how it compares.

    I am a limited animation fan and have studied those cartoons and have swiped some of their “Cheats”. I got my start traditionally animating back in the day and haven’t missed it yet. Also our lead director has worked with John K. and applied many of his techniques and principles to our production.

    It’s cool that you don’t like the visual approach we take as much as it is that I don’t like the visual approach of Classic Disney. But I ain’t ragging on about what they do – because if it works for them and audiences appreciate it, then kudos for all. Sorry if our existence offends you.

    I’ll be sure to try to do a super subtle head tilt just for you – especially when it ain’t called for. ;)

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Wow – I can’t belive the Flash bashing going on here – I’m amazed. I thought this argument died back in the days of Flash 5. Fosters is great – what kind of comment is that to say it needs improvement in the animation department? How does that make it a better show? The writing is great, the character development is great – but damn it all to hell because it doesn’t use enough purist traditional animation techniques from beginning to end. I used to like Cartoon brew but if this conversation is any indication of its attitude, then I consider it a loss to the animation community. This about the most masturbatory attitude I have seen in a very long time.

    Fosters rocks – so does El Tigre – so does Pinocchio and all Warner Brothers cartoons – it’s all good. The concept displayed here that anything in Flash is “moving crap” is extremely close-minded. Too bad. This is a great site with an awful attitude.

  • A_B

    Pete, I don’t quite understand your comparison to Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons. The studio reused animation constantly. Do you honestly think they didn’t have a library of poses for Fred? I think you’re kidding yourself if you believe they didn’t try to get away with as much recylcling as they could, even on their best shows.

    They reused animation because it was economical, the same reason one might use Flash today. See, either a small team of artists animates in Flash over here, or a huge chunk of hand drawn inbetweening work is done overseas. Clearly, the smaller studios have opted to keep it over here, and frankly, I don’t blame them.

    I sincerely believe you couldn’t make a better comparison between Hanna-Barbera and what many studios are doing today. There were a heck of a lot of very bad Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but there were some real gems, as well. And sure, some of the Flash cartoons out there do rely too heavily on artificial squash-and-stretch, some aren’t that great. Just like some 3D films aren’t so great. Just like some stop-motion films aren’t so great. Just so some hand drawn films aren’t that great. Every medium has its highs and lows.

    But that’s not the fault of the medium.

  • Old Fogey

    you yung’uns is so spoiled! back in MY day we din’t have no cartoons or animations, so suh! all we had back then was comics. you brats think yer all so high and mighty. none o’ you “animators” know the true value of a still image on a piece of crumbly paper. Pinocchio? feh! gimme good ol Katzenjammer Kids any ol’ day! sittin by the fire, smokin tobaccy and readin Yellow Kid. Them’s was good times.

    Ya’ll animators should all be ashamed. Takin drawings and movin’ em around! Ain’t right! Ain’t proper!

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Bob said: “Foster’s does have a cut out look – I concede the point – I don’t design them I just animate them. Even more the reason that the comparison between Flash and traditional is off base. Would you like to draw and traditionally animate a paper cut out looking show? Give me your budget and schedule and we see how it compares.”

    I honestly believe that it is the budget that dictates the decision to use Flash or some likeminded software to produce a show, rather than somebody saying that this is the design style he likes, now what is the best medium to achieve it. Of course Flash is the way to produce “Fosters”, given that the style is all straight lines and geometric curves. To try and achieve the same look with pencil on paper would drive somebody crazy with the equivalent rulers, french curves and ellipse templates. But I see this as a clear case of the tail wagging the dog, as they say. Personally, I have little regard for designers who want to limit themselves to inorganic, geometric forms in their character and show designs. Really, where’s the fun in that? Assuming I was an animator with the option of working on either “Fosters” or “The Proud Family”, I’d choose the latter because it’s still good fun cartooning with organically designed characters, nothing personal, Bob.

    Again, going back to my example of “The Flintstones”, as limited as the animation was, it was still organic forms, not limited to perfectly straight lines and curves, therefore far more pleasing to the eye and, if I were working in the industry back then, I’d have a lot of fun drawing those characters too. For the record, I resent this steady takeover of the TV cartoon industry by graphic designers. Here’s where I am firmly in the camp of my fellow cartoonist, John K., and will continue to lobby for cartoons to be put back in the hands of cartoonists with all of their arbitrary decision making on where the line goes to make something look real shnazzy! The cold calculations of computer technicians posing as show designers is bringing this industry to ruin, in my opinion anyway…

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Pete Emslie says: “For the record, I resent this steady takeover of the TV cartoon industry by graphic designers. Here’s where I am firmly in the camp of my fellow cartoonist, John K., and will continue to lobby for cartoons to be put back in the hands of cartoonists with all of their arbitrary decision making on where the line goes to make something look real shnazzy! The cold calculations of computer technicians posing as show designers is bringing this industry to ruin, in my opinion anyway…”

    Point taken but clearly spun in your own words in an inaccurate tone. First, this isn’t a “takeover” as in a mutiny or some militant strategy to undermine the animation industry – that’s a bit over the top. The industry isn’t being designed by graphic designers either – there are many talented artists and character designers working on these shows. Referring to anyone using software for animation as “computer technicians” is an obvious attempt to help you prove your point by exaggeration. The point you are making is clear enough with out all the political spinning and inaccurate name calling – that is in its simplest form sensationalism and your point would be taken more seriously without the all the back handed comments. I like this conversation but am embarrassed by the tone and nature of the purists here as to how they are trying to make their point. Ok ok – we get it – but we get it without the bitterness as well. It’s clear you guys have serious issues about software. Not all of us are technicians – in fact some of us actually have fine art backgrounds.

    When I read past the bitter jabs and name calling, I can see your point as valid and have no issue with it – maybe this would have been a better conversation if the tone was more mature. maybe I’m just getting old :)

    -peas and carrots

  • Jayster

    I knew this post would have controversy around it.

    Lighten up, no seriously lighten up.

    I think what Amid is best pointing out are people who only use Flash and only do lame tweening. There is nothing cheaper than seeing one shape moving around using tweening. There are people, mostly kids or teenagers who get egos based on their Flash “skill” and think they are high and mighty animators and of course hate Disney and WB but love Anime. I’m not one to judge but using Flash for what takes about a week to learn is not good. There are people who use Flash and develop a skill for animation and design and all of that, it’s a whole studio in a sense. But to take one software and use it to replace an actual studio is ridiculous.

    Anyone who feels they need to defend Flash is stupid and took Amid’s post way too seriously. Most of the people who use Flash download it for free (including me!) and want a quick way to get their ideas out, no one contest that it’s wrong just nowhere near as good as “traditional”. Don’t argue that Flash is as good as a team of very talented artist working together by traditional means. You sound immature.

    Foster’s stinks too, what a lousy show, but it’s not for me it’s for children. Seriously, who laughs at that show? 4 year olds do. No really, that show is not funny for anyone over 10. I figure some retard like me could work on that show I know many people who agree, but when I see “real” animation I know I got my pee-pee tucked away because I can see how good it is.

    Amid even put a link to buy the book, how he must hate the writer.

    No seriously if you took this post as a serious threat to the future of Flash you’re dumb. Really, really dumb. Like a stack of furniture dumb. Flash is a tool and a system, just an inferior system that is cheaper. So cheap it’s free! Who buys Flash? Who has that much money?

    I’m sure the book is good, it’s not a slam just a funny title. Flash is made for “cheating”, so it’s humorous to see How To Cheat at Cheating basically. I love Flash, I think it’s great. I’m sure Amid likes what can be done with Flash (it makes timing really easy and faster) too, only the best that can be done with Flash can’t compete with the best of other means of animation.

    HB also used jokes, funny drawings, and story structure occasionally, something that I’m puzzeled to find missing in Fosters, El Tigre, The X’s, Mucha Lucha, and other really, really, really bad television shows. Although there is a soft spot for the Secret Show. Even Family Guy has jokes!

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Pete – did you miss the point that the Flinstones animators had more time for the footage than those of us nowadays or did you just choose to ignore it? That’s why the comparison isn’t justified.

    I have little regard to Milt Kahl wannabes how design washed down classic Disney stuff. I’d take working on something graphic like UPA than to work on than Pinochhio any day – hey nothing personal. :)

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Wow – too bad the maturity level around here is thankfully something I am not used to. The controversy is being propelled by the traditional purists here. i have read many of the comments and it is clear those that defend Flash have a passion for creativity, design and animation across many mediums, including traditional animation. Those that are slamming Flash are coming across like anything that isn’t traditionally animated sucks – no gray area whatsoever. Again, that’s too bad but that seems to be the attitude here. Bummer.

    “I’m sure the book is good, it’s not a slam just a funny title.” I’d like to think that’s what Amid was trying to say – but the way he worded it makes it very clear that his attitude stands that anyone using Flash is merely cheating their way into thinking they’re an animator by moving some crap around in Flash. That’s a pretty strong statement against anyone using Flash – he’s entitled to his opinion for sure – as are you – but subtle is certainly not his strong suit.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    You know, I’m actually trying not to make any personal attacks here, and I don’t belive that I have. But I’m finding it very difficult to keep walking on eggshells so I don’t, perish the thought, OFFEND anybody’s sensibilities. So I apologize for nothing I’ve said, Chris. You’re just acting like one of those holier than thou audience members on the Springer show, and I have no time for that. Go preach to someone else. For the record, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I think my argument has been well-reasoned and I fully admit to my bias against “Graphic design” type shows. I know others really like that style and they’re welcome to their opinion too. It seems that Mike Barrier is right when he says that good honest discussion of art is being replaced by superficial niceties online. People like Chris just love to put others in their place so that no one is inadvertantly offended. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve endured a few barbs on here myself, but frankly I don’t really give a damn.

    I’m also very well aware that there are many fine, talented artists out there working on these shows that I personally don’t care for. Fact is, I’ve seen many a personal blog and website that attests to this fact. So I ask you, if I’m seeing a lot of great cartoon art on so many blogs of artists I know who are working on many of these shows that leave me cold, why is that? Why aren’t we actually utilizing their talents and letting them design the shows? Why are so many of the shows all over the dial in a style that is clearly a slave to the software being used today? Furthermore, why is some of it so ugly and devoid of artistic integrity like “12 Oz. Mouse” and “Squidbillies”? At what point do we take a stand and draw the line at what is and isn’t art? According to people like you, Chris, apparently we don’t. To raise a voice of dissent is considered bad manners in today’s PC world, huh sport? Sorry, but I believe in taking a stand and I try my best to articulate my reasoning. By the way, I’m not suggesting for a moment that “Fosters” is in the same category as “12 Oz. Mouse”, so don’t pounce on me for that either, Chris.

    I know the answer behind all of this production being created for less and less and less is basically because the folks holding the purse-strings want something for next to nothing and we’re all at their mercy. Flash and similar software make it possible to churn stuff out quickly and at an ever reduced budget, but is it anything that will have lasting value? The reality is too, that very few animation artists I know are really happy in their work. Most all of the ones I know can’t stand the shows they’re on but it comes down to the decision of work or don’t eat. None of them feel that their talent is being properly put to use. Now seriously, isn’t that sad when you know what all of these people are truly capable of? I think it is.

  • http://billsart.blogspot.com Bill

    Wow, what an interesting discussion! Oh and real quick for Michael Sporn and others who think there are no ‘serious’ artists out there using Flash…

    In 2004 I attended a Masters Class at Ottawa with Chris Hinton, where he raved about how Flash had made it easy for him to animate his films faster and cheaper and they look great.

    Have you seen Michel Gagne’s work? Beautiful.

    And another Ottawa favorite, Lorelei Pepi, is working on a 1920′s style black and white cartoon with character animation produced in Flash.

    What about Nina Paley? Her stuff is great!

    Obviously none of these artists are just ‘moving stuff around’ and they all work in vastly different styles (not just paper cut-out or graphic-designed flatness.)

    I haven’t heard anyone else mention it here, but Flash is unique as a a 2D animation program because it incorporates computer programming right into it. (called Actionscript…) This allows us to do all sorts of cool things with interactivity and gaming – wake up and smell the 21st century. :D

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com amid

    “I’m sure the book is good, it’s not a slam just a funny title.â€? I’d like to think that’s what Amid was trying to say…

    Chris, that’s exactly what I was trying to say. The comment was in no way a critique or review of your book, which I’m sure is quite good. I just found the title to be ironic and indicative of trends in Flash; to do a book that is proud to promote animation ‘cheats’ and then to subtitle it “the art of design and animation…” is funny (and quite telling) to me.

    Anybody that knows me or reads the site on a regular basis should obviously know that I would never seriously dismiss ANY group of artists simply based on the tools they use. Flash has benefitted the animation industry in numerous ways, and the art of animation in lesser but still significant ways. There are artists like Chris Harding and Michel Gagne who do terrific work using the software, and I’m sure many more will come along as the years pass. My original comment was tongue-in-cheek but the serious discussion that has followed leads me to believe that this is a resonant topic worthy of more in-depth analysis from all angles.

  • brumak_gow

    Shame!!! great website review things like this. Shame on you!!, you insult flash community. F$@#$#@$!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Ahhh – thanks for the clarification Amid – I’m happy to know i read it wrong – sorry for jumping to conclusions.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Pete Emslie, like I said, I get your point – it’s your tone that is disapointing – and trust me, to call me “holier than thou” is about as 180 degrees from my sensibilities as possible – I have always admitted (and in the book) how much I owe and appreciate the traditional animator and feel I am riding on their coat tails (barely) in most cases. As remain as humble as possible. So you read me completely wrong. All I was trying to say was – I get your point, once I weed through the bitterness and name calling. You generalize a bit too much in a very negative way – but it seems you have your reasons for that.
    I think your work is terrific – I visited your site. I respect your opinion and would never place myself above anyone.
    rememebr – what you consider ugly and with lack of artistic prowess – others may consider beautiful – it is subjective. So lets agree to disagree? I respect traditional cartoon and animation just as much as i am in love with the art direction of Foster’s, El Tigre, HB, Disney and even South Park – I get it, I appreciate them for what they are. They are art forms whether you like them or not – I would just never refer to the ones I don;t like as some kind of militant regime that is taking over the industry in a sterile and ugly way. But if I read you wrong on that point then I apologize.
    I think this is a great discussion overall – now back to my humble hole in the web…

  • skyman

    Pete, I think graphic designers are taking over the cartoon industry too, there is now little or no professional distinction between motion graphics people and animators in the freelance world of nyc, except animators make half of a motion-graphics day rate, to work well below there abilities on shows that were created so that people who would never be able to draw traditional animation can animate them. I don’t really prefer the exported animation of saturday morning cartoons to Fosters either though. I just think that it’s sad that animation and cartooning, as defined and evolved through a long tradition, is being forced out of the marketplace. There’s a place for Foster’s and a place for the Justice League, but where the f*#k is everything else? Make some cartoons people, i con’t care if you use flash, or hand draw with your own bloody feces, just show me something different and inspirational. ’cause i’m real bored…..

  • skyman

    ps: if i hear one more person say that animator’s make bad designers i’ma piss.. Design is a boring focal point for animation. sorry t’all y’all working on the stuff, but all this upa influenced cut-out, flat, geometric, objectified character design i see everywhere……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz What is this animation’s post modern age? gimme a break

  • Joe

    Hey Amid, I’m sure you didn’t mean to come off quite the way you did, but can you at least see why some in the Flash community would get upset? Honestly, this discussion got heated less because of your initial comments and more because of the stuff people like Michael Sporn said. While I really can’t agree with some of the angry traditionalists here, it has been an interesting discussion, and I appreciate the Brew’s willingness to allow such a discussion.

    What I do find ridiculous is that there’s this paper vs. flash argument at all, or a 2D vs. 3D argument, or an American vs. anime argument…I guess it’s still not as bad as the John K vs. Everything Else argument.

  • http://torontoanimation.blogspot.com TempleDog

    Wow, way to stir up them masses, dood. Here, here, let me try…umm:

    ‘UPA was a haven for failed draftsmen’.

    ‘TopCat really, really, REALLY sucks.’

    ‘John K. is a total pussy.’

    Is Jerry rollin’ on the ground yet? Kickin’ puppies? Damn. I’ll try harder next time. Uhh, peace.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Amid – At first my response to you was meant to be tongue in cheek based on each other’s friendship. So I didn’t take anting you or Pete posted personally. I do recomend Chris’ book for those wanting to learn Flash and those who want to learn more efficient ways of doing Flash

    Pete – I appreciate where your coming from. And to set the record straight to- I ain’t angry. But I am tired of the constant attacks of Flash and it’s users.

    Also, so you know, Craig McCracken, Mike Moon, Lauren Faust, Craig Kellman and Lynne Naylor all had a hand in creating the look for Foster’s – all are cartoonists and artists and not graphic designers.

    And also for the record I enjoy working on the show. The differnce between us that I am open to all techniques and styles and my bottom line is pleasing the audience – so draw it , stop mo it, cg it, Flash it. It don’t matter to me just make it. You and other traditionalists have the opportunity to take over the animtion world again. Phil Nibblenik comes to mind, and good that he had an open mind to use Flash to help him achieve his goal.

    My final thoughts are this:
    When you look through the history of TV animation. The traditional way got worse and worse as time went on for obvious reasons of outsourcing and budget. But under those same rules Flash and other programs have helped artists increase the quality of animation and bring jobs back here to the Sates – which I don’t see as a bad thing.
    It’s been fun.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    What I do find ridiculous is that there’s this paper vs. flash argument at all, or a 2D vs. 3D
    Well, people just really love to argue on the internet…

    Also most animators seem to have an absurdly limited idea of what animation should be, and a total inability to admit that anything outside their specific area of interest could possibly be worthwhile. This is the real problem with the animation industry and artform, not what software people decide to use.

  • http://chrisbattleillustration.blogspot.com/ Chris Battle

    Pete Emslie says: “Here’s where I am firmly in the camp of my fellow cartoonist, John K., and will continue to lobby for cartoons to be put back in the hands of cartoonists with all of their arbitrary decision making on where the line goes to make something look real shnazzy! The cold calculations of computer technicians posing as show designers is bringing this industry to ruin”

    Pete, if you’re speaking of Foster’s, surely you don’t mean that traditional artists like Craig McCracken, Lauren Faust, Craig Kellman, Lynne Naylor, Ben Balistreri, Shannon Tindle, Andy Bialk, and Carey Yost are “computer technicians posing as designers”…. right?

  • Paul N

    There’s an amazing amount of false arguments and backpedaling going on here. Flash “can’t produce a movie like Pinocchio”? I don’t recall anyone saying it could.

    The line quality sucks? Maybe, but since when is line quality the beginning and ending of what defines good animation? I guess those Glen Keane pencil tests we all admire actually suck, because they don’t have a nice, clean line.

    I guess it’s the time of year for straw men to be set up, but there isn’t a pumpkin patch around that has as many as this thread has generated.

    Nice backpedal, Amid. Going from “moving some crap around in Flash” to “I would never seriously dismiss ANY group of artists simply based on the tools they use” in the span of a day is quite a feat.

  • David

    one of my favorite bits of character animation

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_U2yG3uZp0

  • Don

    Give Pete a break, people. Although he’s a fantastic caricaturist and illustrator, he’s never actually worked in a television animation environment. Most of his work experience has been for Disney licensing and publishing. A fairly relaxed job at best. He doesn’t know the constant stress and challenges of the television studio system.

    I hear you complaining about the lack of quality, Pete. What I don’t see however, is you in the system fighting to make a difference like the rest of us.

  • RR

    I don’t think Amid has any backpedaling to do. We all know Flash is a very cheap, short-cut tool to animation so what’s wrong with pointing that out? It’s the equivalent of riding a bicycle with training wheels on. It’s a tool for low budgets or amateurs. Yes, if you are clever enough you might be able to pull off something good in Flash, against the odds. However that doesn’t change the fact that it remains a tool for low budgets or amateurs.

  • http://www.negative13.com Geordie M

    actually. I bought the book. it’s got some pretty good tips in there.
    I don’t know about the other silly arguments going on here.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Bob Harper – I met Phil Nibblelink at the Best in the SW conference in New Mexico 2 weeks ago and he’s still using Flash 4 and completed an original animated film using Flash 4. He doesn’t nest anything and uses Flash in a traditional animation process – really cool stuff:
    http://www.romeoandjulietfilm.com/

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Chris Battle said: “Pete, if you’re speaking of Foster’s, surely you don’t mean that traditional artists like Craig McCracken, Lauren Faust, Craig Kellman, Lynne Naylor, Ben Balistreri, Shannon Tindle, Andy Bialk, and Carey Yost are “computer technicians posing as designersâ€?…. right?”

    Nope, you’re wrong in your assumption, Chris. I’ve already addressed the situation of artists whose personal work I like toiling away on shows that leave me cold. I’m not familiar with each and every one of those names you mention, but don’t try to convince me that they are all collectively responsible for the overall show design. I like Lynne Naylor’s work on her website, but I much prefer her sexy girl contributions to Timm’s “Batman” and John K’s “Ren and Stimpy” to anything she may have designed on “Foster’s”. Likewise, I think Ben Balistreri’s own cartooning is absolutely brilliant, but I see nothing on “Foster’s” that is indicative of his handiwork. While all of the artists you mention may have contributed to the show, let’s be fair and attribute the show design itself to creator, Craig McCracken. For the record, I don’t know Craig and I’ve nothing against him personally, but that design style of characters and sets all comprised of digitally produced straight lines and geometrically perfect curves just looks sterile to me – I know others like it, but it leaves me cold, that’s all.

    By the way, I’m really not trying to slam “Foster’s” here either. As I said before, it’s pretty good given the parameters it has to work within based on what I perceive to be major limitations of the Flash medium. I just personally don’t like the look of cutouts being shifted around on screen, as it just doesn’t seem to be living up in any way to the potential of the animation medium that has been well established by earlier generations of animation artists. It just feels like the industry is moving backwards to its more primitive roots. Again, just my opinion.

  • http://classicanimation.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    Artists should be pissed that Flash is such a horribly cheap process that it makes their hard work look like hell. How can we steer away from such a blight if none of the people working in Flash will admit that?

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    Paul N,
    The Pinocchio comment was mine. What I meant was that Flash is a tool, and there are things it’s great for. I make my living with it.
    But, I realize that it has limitations.The cool thing is figuring out how to get around those limits.
    I’m not going to use Flash to make a pastel background.
    ( You know, the chalk kind, not the color).
    Like I said, I did buy the book. I always like to learn new tricks to speed up the pipeline.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    The word “brilliant” is being thrown around a lot these days for some really third rate flash crap. I’ve always found it to be incredibly ironic that something that LOOKS like animation but often is barely animation would be called “flash”. It’s like a steakhouse that makes lousy steak being called “Sizzler” or something.

    There are some good flash cartoons out there, but most are lame at best. People who champion these as “brilliant” remind me of wartime housewives substituting canned ingredients for fresh and pretending there is no difference in the end result. There is a difference, believe me.

  • red pill junkie

    Hey David, thanks for that link! That was a great animation, no matter what tool it was used.

    I will go now and get some red paint ;-)

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    Just my 2 cents . . .

    I recognize that Amid never meant to condemn Flash in general. I already know that he has linked us to some breathtaking work done with Flash on this site in the past, and that he has absolutely nothing against Flash as a medium. But if you didn’t know that, his article was very easy to take out of proportion.

    I personally think Flash is a wonderful medium, and I use it (I also learned more Flash techniques at college), and although I haven’t used it yet, I also love ToonBoom (after becoming a fan of shows like GROSSOLOGY and 6TEEN, both of which have a beautiful style that couldn’t be matched as well in Flash; After seeing some behind-the-scenes materials for both shows, I wouldn’t really call them “easy to do”).

    I know that Flash won’t make you into, say, Richard Williams (anyone who can, good luck with that!), but I wouldn’t say that Flash will replace traditional hand-drawn animation. I highly doubt that hand-drawn animation will go away, and it’s over-the-top to even think so. I mean, there’s still stop-motion being used! And people thought that’d go “out of style.” I’m using tools (digital and 3D) that’ll make traditional artists cringe with horror, but that doesn’t mean I won’t dabble in hand-drawn animation, which I have experimented in from time to time. Hell, I frequently do pencil sketches and colored pencil illustrations! I am neither ignorant of the craft, nor am I one of those young hacks who just use Flash to “move stuff around.” (And I already find most of that stuff pretty boring.)

    In fact, back when I got Flash in about 1999 or so, it was in maybe 2000 that I actually attempted to do an entire episode of a series (and the animation was crude), and while I recorded audio for an entire scene, I only finished the first 30 seconds! It drove me so crazy that I had an emotional breakdown, and this was back when I was still new to the medium.

    Flash, easy? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.alienanimationstudios.com TimB

    Wow! What a great topic!
    I have worked on Disney’s Treasure Planet, Fox’s Titan AE, have taught both traditional and digital animation on a college level for over 3 years, and currently work creating curriculum using Flash. I have read Chris’s book and attended his sessions at the Best of the South West Conference. I Think his book is fantastic for both the digital and traditional animator! Flash is just a tool and it’s limitations are only limited by your own imagination. Before you judge, download a trial copy of Flash, read the book, and see what you can create.

    This topic has inspired me to write my own book. I call it “How to Cheat with a Pencil: The Art of animation” It basically is just showing you how to cheat your way to becoming an animator by creating graphite shapes and then moving that crap around!

    hehehe ……… just my 2 cents.

  • anon

    I think Flash has helped the animation industry stay alive, otherwise we’d all be looking at CG animal characters.

    Don’t use Newgrounds for Flash examples. Go to:
    http://www.coldhardflash.com/

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    “Artists should be pissed that Flash is such a horribly cheap process that it makes their hard work look like hell.”
    Interesting perspective – I got my BFA back in 1989 as a fine artist and it wasn’t until I found Flash (and other software programs) that I found my niche and really came “alive” as an artist. Flash has given me a career I otherwise would not have for a variety of reasons. I’m an artist and I am the complete opposite of “pissed” because I found Flash. So I really have no clue what you mean here :)

  • Ken Griffin

    Shut up and draw!

  • Some Psychology Minor

    Didn’t Amid or Jerry say something about how Flash was one of the reasons why it’s so exciting to be an animation fan these days?

    (Diagnoses “Cartoon Brew” website with bipolar disorder…)

    PS – “Everyone Else Has had More Sex Than Me” is wonderful. Thanks for the link.

    PPS – “Foster’s Home” is indeed the best thing on Cartoon Network right now.

  • Some Psychology Minor

    Addendum: Thanks for the Cold Hard Flash link. I, for one, have already fallen in love with them thanks to this:
    http://www.coldhardflash.com/2007/10/product-review-pencil-pro-studio.html
    Bwahahahaha…

  • http://www.froststuff.com Tim Frost

    I just love to have my work dismissed as that of ‘low budget and amateurs’ because I use a particular piece of software. Thanks RR. You’re a brick.

    I doubt if many of the pro-Flash comments here are being made by evangelists. I guess that they, like me, are just fed up with their work being denigrated by ill-informed curmudgeons. A few, like Peter Emslie made the effort to write a considered defence of their point of view. The rest of them were just plain lazy, but then they’re probably busy doing ‘proper’ animation.

    Don’t like Flash?

    Get over it.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    Now, Tim, don’t get your knickers in a twist. I think a lot of us here are saying that BY AND LARGE the flash animation we see is pretty clumsy looking and crummy. That doesn’t mean that all flash animation is cruddy. There’s enough lousy CG and traditional animation out there too, and it doesn’t automatically make those animation platforms irrelevant. Not by a long shot.

    The problem with Flash seems to be that it’s very easy to gain the skills to be a lousy flash animator, and that’s where a lot of people stop their education. As a result, the accepted public tastes for animation are on something of a downward spiral. It’s not an indictment of Flash itself to say that most Flash animation is bad- it’s an indictment of Bad Flash Animation. and unfortunately, due to the relative ease (of making bad flash animation) and low cost, there seems to be a hell of a lot more Bad Flash Animation than bad animation of any other discipline.

  • Tim

    This is crazy. The animation community needs solidarity not division right now. As we bag on each other’s work, EVERY cartoon out there is getting its butt kicked by shows like “Hannah Montana.â€? Whether it’s vector or volume, if we don’t start producing cartoons that kids like to watch, there won’t be any animation jobs left in the states. And if anyone calls me a Pollyanna, I will kick your ass. I have to go to work in 4 hours and I’m reading a cartoon blog. That’s right. I’m CRAZY!

  • Fonce Falooda

    Okay, I’m gonna go write a book “How to cheat at JOURNALISM with a COMPUTER.”

    You keep typing up your stupid op-ed pieces like this on your MAC and let the *REAL* journalists write the *IMPORTANT* stuff in NEWSPAPERS.

    If it’s too loud, you’re too old. ;)

  • http://edwood.byethost13.com/ Edwood Grant

    My opinion, this post my become something else than the original

    Right now I’m just a student, studying computer science and with an approach to digital imaginary, particularly 2D animation and design and web development…

    I’m a so called “computer technician” or “technical artist” really, not an animator… yup I guess I am one of those that want to “ruin the animation industry” today… I have no strong arguments nor experience to back up nothing said here… nevertheless I’ve always liked the animation industry… first i got into 3D, but then I decided to research in 2D, because i really love 2D animation and feel that theres a lot of things to do in that field.

    However it always saddens me that in 2D, we as engineers are always rejected… we try to create a new product to enhance 2D animation, or to extend other products, such as flash or toonboom or retas or whatever… and we tend to get bashed… simply because we are engineers and dont have nothing useful to bring to the industry…

    But in 3D its a completely different story… animators in 3D are always asking for research, to develop new paradigms, or to achieve a new effect that they need, new tool to improve their results… its alway something impressive and animators speak equal to an engineer, the engineer is always ready to serve, and ready to (the same usually happens in video game design, which i also love… but the direction usually is managed by the programmer or designer)

    Multidisciplinary work is always something great to do (Movie industry, game industry….etc)

    When we engineers offer ways to “cheat” in 3D is something that is always welcome…

    But when we create a tweening tool that might help other people to improve… or when we create ways to create effects that are more complicated in real life (eg filters for example, blur, 3d camera) we are named called and shunned away…. we attempt to serve and get beaten… athough we sometimes nail it (Photoshop being a good example i believe)… but these… animators… designers…. grab the tool and start using and start yelling that everything is “crap” and instead of helping the engineer understand what is WRONG with the tool, they just complain and complain and complain….

    This is one of the big problems that i feel in animation, in 2D animation specifically, in todays world… they dont respect engineers… they don’t understand that we engineers, dont have o good eye, or a good hand to make good animation… but we love what they do and want to help them…. Flash, ToonBoom, Retas, etc, are attempts for that… for example Flex, is a way of saying that they want to keep flash as an animation tool, and leave the programming to the programmers (well theres also the RIA battle but this has nothing to do here)…

    In 3D animation studios, the good ones, and the video game studios… the good ones.. people from multidisciplinary fields always interact with each other… they just don’t buy Maya and expect for them to do everything they want… they always have an engineer to help them out to create tools they need to compensate the “limiting aspects of the computers”… In the end they obtain a solid tool for animating the way they need to animate…
    That’s what exactly Studios like Pixar do…. and thats why there are many ways to extend tools in Maya.. 3Ds MAx… ToonBoom… Flash…

    Thats why many purists always bash flash…. because they believe that flash is supposed to have everything packaged and make miracles with it… well it will NEVER happened with any software… thats why the 3D animators have an engineer at their side asking them for tool and enhancements…

    There an amazing example in 2D an in Flash…. Adam Phillips’ “Prowlies at the river” …
    Th animation here…
    http://www.biteycastle.com/prowlies.html

    He, fortunatley, understood that flash is not a complete package that offers everything he wants to… so he asked an engineer to model some tools for him which he did… heres the article on that matter

    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2004/08/17/flashhacks.html?page=1

    THIS is what makes flash… and software for that matter a very strong tool…. you hate something about flash? Ask an engineer to create a tool for you!! We offer you an amazing advantage, that is to create tools that allow you to “cheat” your way in order to make better animation and better productivity….

    The 2D animation is lacking in multidisciplinary work… please we engineers don’t pretend to ruin the industry…. you can bash our tools… but could you please tell us how to improve them? how to enhance them? go ahead and do what Adam did in Prowlies… don’t be stubborn, or purist and ask for help!!! Ask for a cheat!!!

    Please don’t get me wrong start to believe that I’m trying to justify my existence here… there are many other interesting fields in computing… we engineers are here to serve… but I want to say is that many engineers don’t like to work in 2D because they are never very well received… and thats why maybe 3D is improving in a better way than 2D….

    This is what I believe… and no i have no “work” or “experience” but some examples, to back up my opinion… but I believe somehow this is true…. as for me I will continue to attempt to help the 2D animation industry as I’ve been doing… understandign animation. (learning how improve my drawing, which are not good at all).. how artists use tools and how to improve those very tools… and studying of course…

    We are trying to help… please don’t hate us engineers…

    Okay ill shut up now xD…

  • red pill junkie

    That was a great input for this discussion Edwood. Fortuntely, with the help of people like you, someone in the future will be able to make another Pinnochio with a 2D software and put an end to this biased view.

    Impossible? Heresy? Well, people thought simmilarly 15 years ago when the first experiments in 3D CGI were presented at computer conferences, and look where we are today! And think about where we’ll be tomorrow…

  • http://UncleEddiesTheoryCorner Eddie Fitzgerald

    Flash seems to work best with the graphic, cut-out style or the loaded-with-effects-and-gimmicks anime style. Maybe the depressing Chris Ware style too. That’s fine for fans of that sort of thing; the problem is that these three styles are completely dominating animation now.

    Personality-driven comedic acting is disappearing from animation. That’s unacceptable. Art is supposed to allow us to express what we think about life. Flash narrows that freedom to just the emotions expressable by Flash.

    Flash liberates animators whose thoughts can be expressed in these three styles and puts handcuffs on everybody else. That doesn’t sound like progress to me.

    Is Flash cheaper? The answer is yes, but so what? Would you like to see live-action features shot with home video because it’s cheaper? Should all live-action be shot the way “Blair Witch” was done, just to save a few bucks?

    Do Flash films generate the kind of toy spin-offs, books, consumer products and theme parks that 2D spun off? Then where’s the savings? Flash is a money loser, not a money saver.

  • just some dude

    Who wrote the article? Are you even an Artist or Animator yourself? Nobody can pretend to be an animator. Flash like it has been said many time is a tool. And it has helped keep Animation jobs in our local studios.

    I mean I must say I do truly love those koreans…the TV animation that they produce for our TV shows is by far more superior than ours, not to mention the convenience such great control of the animation direction thanks to the proximity of the overseas studios. Oh and when directing we dont need to be able to communicate. Hand gestures and translators have proven extremely effective in many cases.

    Just out of curiosity how many classic animators are still animating on paper for actual TV production in this country? All the animators I know though many prefer to use paper such as myself have come to times.

    In fact its alot faster to do TV animation production in flash and that includes the moving shit around way and the traditional way

  • http://www.prophetbuddy.com Prophet Buddy

    So because Prophet Buddy cartoons at http://www.prophetbuddy.com are made in flash means that they cannot show personality driven acting or expressable emotions? Oh no, Prophet Buddy is also geometric, which apparently means it is garbage and cold. Also Prophet Buddy is animated out of a house and takes only a few days. How is flash not a benefit again?

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Hi Pringle!
    Love prophet buddy – but alas…as far as the animation elite seems to be concerned, you have simply added to the “cheapening” of the entire industry because you didn’t do pencil tests with peg boards and film cameras and spent 6 months on each episode. The industry would have been much better off if these kinds of rogue animation gems didn’t exist at all or were done by hand because a large corporation paid you gobs and gobs of cash because it took a really long time to make with traditional tools. Too bad you revealed your use of Flash to make this – it’s price just got marked down 98%.
    (Did I say that out loud?)
    KIDDING :)

  • Mike

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. Check out what they posted over at coldhardflash.com.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    People really are not listening to each other here very well. And I must say especially the flash side isn’t listening very well to the “purist” side.

    The thing is this: flash is perfect for the thing it’s perfect in doing. Purists are not complaining about progress or computers. Many have been using other programs such as Animo, Photoshop, After Effects and co for years. Flash works great for cut-out like animation, and when used well, this can be great too. Like I mentioned earlier, Yuri Norstein basically just moved shapes around. But it also limits you. It is perfect for the thing it’s perfect for, but it isn’t for anything else (duh!). As a result, design choices are made with the software in mind (flat geometric shapes, etc), and the same counts for animation (use of tweens and the like). Good thing is, it’s quick, it’s cheap, it’s apparently sufficient for the shows or projects you’re working on. Problem is, because producers are used to it, shows now HAVE to be made this quick and this cheap and as a result, you CAN’T go all Yuri Norstein with it. And even if you can do frame by frame animation in flash, it’s simply not a great artistic decision. Your line quality is less organic, and since you’re doing frame by frame, you’re not really saving much time, so the quick and cheap aspect is lost.

    When the purists are talking about flash creating a lower standard of quality, or a lessening of diversity, they’re not saying it’s impossible to use flash otherwise, they’re complaining because it’s insensible to use it otherwise, which as a result has pushed the industry in a certain direction that makes it more difficult for the type of work they appreciate to be created.

    Flash is sort of to animation what the sitcom is compared to film/television. Imagine a world where suddenly the vast majority of films and television fiction were shot with high-key lighting on 180° sets, and imagine how you as a writer, director or cinematographer must feel.

  • Crystal

    Wow, I can’t believe it. I come to this website everyday because I really love animation in all its forms and mediums. To see such blatantly rude remarks about the animation made in Flash is so sad to me. Flash can produce some really wonderful cartoons! And it’s not all “blocks” and “pieces”. That’s so insulting to all those hard-working animators! Smooth animations and characters can be done in this medium and still have a traditional sense of style and movement. Here are some animations I think can show this is true: (and not to be judged equally in quality) :P

    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/374298

    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/405792

    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/394903

    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/399636

    (And sorry if you don’t like Newgrounds….a site that carries a lot of gems if people paid to look BEYOND the front page. A lot of international art students post work there, so it’s a small gateway for me to see animations outside the US.)

    But anyway, I guess I’m just a little saddened to know that some people, (in particular it seems to be “Pete� a lot), discouraging animators from embracing new mediums because it doesn’t visually have the same senses as pencil and paper. And I see no benefit in condemning a person’s skill level, since they need to continue to work if they plan to get any better. Encouragement and openness combined with teaching and practice are what make good animations, not the medium.

    —Just my 2 cents…

    And by the way, “Old Fogeys� comment made me laugh with glee!

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Wow Eddie – I’d thought working with John would enlighten you to Flash. His Fash stuff is far from cutout looking. That Tenacious D Video he did recently was BEEootiful and full of expression. I’d watch that over Animaniacs any day.

    How does a program that can incorprate tradtional keyframe animation handcuff you? Do cells and an Oxberry handcuff you?

    Flash does not prohibit any tradtional technique you wish to do. That’s where the purists aren’t listnening the Flashers. The program does not dictate style. Foster’s was designed before they even thought about using Flash.

    As far as cheap looking animated features go – audiences didn’t have a problem flocking to the big screen to see South Park or Beavis and Butthead. And many more were glad to watch the Simpsons over the other big budget stuff this year.

    Flash content has spunoff merchandise – Foster’s is doing nicely, Homestar Runner is doing quite well. Wow Wow Wubbzy is a juggernaught for licenising. El Tigre is on the way.

    Flash content does not dominate the airwaves. The majority of productions are still done with traiditional methods – so go find a job on one of those shows. A lot of us tried and you know what – they told us that those things are done somewhere else.

  • http://www.coldhardflash.com Aaron

    Benjamin – your comment about Flash being only for cut-out style shows is just wrong (okay, partially true). Flash is great for pose-to-pose style animation, and it’s advanced at several studios where they’re merging frame-by-frame and re-use into something just spectacular:

    http://www.coldhardflash.com/2006/11/six-point-harnesses-medium-for-nbc.html

    Sure, lots of shows (okay most) use that style you’re talking about, but there’s really no limit with the software. Flash is being used in myriad ways, and every year brings new advances in technique.

    And then you blame producers’ comfort level with Flash on new lows in budget size – absolutely wrong. It was the other way around. Flash rose to the occasion as studios’ budgets plummeted (I was at WB as this was happening), and ended up keeping scores of jobs in the States – something Flash teams never get credit for.

    And I understand that purists are clinging to times gone by when gorgeous Looney Tunes-esque animation was achievable on TV, but the economics changed the production methods – not the other way around. The lower licensing fees studios are getting are the result of the overall TV climate – lower ratings due to the internet, video games and other issues like low-cost formats (reality TV) emerging. I, like you and every other industry vet, wish TV animation budgets were 2 million an episode, but we all know that’s not gonna happen. Flash is offering a solution, and in-turn has helped create new jobs and a thriving independent animation environment right here in LA.

    Your sitcom analogy is perhaps fair – but I just wish traditionalists would focus their ire on the overall entertainment climate and not on the technology that adapted to meet the times. Don’t blame umbrellas for the rain.

  • Wendell

    A pencil line and a Flash line are both “just a line”. The “cheating” comes in when that line, whether it be created on paper or on computer, suddenly seems to take on a life of its own. I remember when the first Muppet movie came out. I was watching a puppet, made of green cloth and ping pong balls, along with other puppets move around on the screen. Suddenly, at one point, they were alive and real! I went back to that theater the next 7 nights to try to figure out at what point that switch flipped for me and turned puppet objects into believable characters. Anyone can create objects and pictures that appear to move around. It’s when the line is crossed between objects being moved around and characters dancing around conveying a compelling story, that the magic of animation takes place. Animating pictures is easy – no special tools required. Getting those animations to talk back – That’s the real trick.
    Volumes have been written about the Mona Lisa smile – and she’s not even animated!

  • Grannygoodguns.com

    Wow! Chris G.’s ears must be beet red. Though I don’t think attacking an industry based on a cover title (“How To Cheat” just happens to be a series of titles for several programs including Photoshop), I do agree that the Flash community is quick to stand behind just about anything made in Flash, good or bad. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network isn’t helping with their late-night lineup. Which leads to the eternal question: Can’t we all just get along? (insert melancholy music here)

  • Anne Walker

    Yeah, you’re right, Amid. All I do all day is move crap around and pretend to be an artist. Oh yeah, and all the other talented artists who work on the second floor? They’re just faking it too.

    Where would I be without your boundless insight and wisdom?

  • jbizzy

    Pete Emslie….do ME a favor and MAKE SOMETHING MOVE!!!!!!!!!!

  • jbizzy

    ps- maybe what was ignorantly designed was this post.

    Amid was Cartoon Brew in such dire need of ‘comment’ attention?? MARCIA, MARCIA, MARCIA!!!!

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    Bob, Aaron: I agree with you. I agree that you can create great work with the program, in various diverse ways (that link and John K’s work being good examples). However, I think you must agree that there are certain ways of doing things that use the program in the most efficient manner. For example Fosters (even if it wasn’t designed for flash). It makes great use of many things that Flash does best, and as a result, there’s quality on the screen. The program doesn’t handcuff you, but it does push you to think of working more in a certain style, which many shows have done. Simply because that way you can get everything on the screen in the best and most complete way, while John K. for example has to sacrifice certain aspects of his work to be able to do other things. So even though flash did save part of the industry, as you say, it has caused an evolution towards these sensibilities, and some artists miss other ways of doing things. I don’t agree this is clinging on to times gone, but rather it is a desire to have the ability and chance to use the full spectrum of the medium (thus the sitcom analogy). It’s not saying “look at those Looney Tunes from 50-60 years ago, I wish we could still do that”, no no… it’s saying “argh! I have all these great ideas I think I could do, but I don’t get the chance to do them! I don’t get the chance to use all of my skills and really push myself to express the things I want to express.” It’s a subtle but I think very important difference.

    Of course it’s wrong to put the blame on flash, rather than a whole meeting of various events, but I think it is an understandable reaction, which is why I think many here are overreacting and feeling overly offended. Really, this is one artform and we’re all in it together, so the last thing we need is fights between artists because both have different sensibilities. As with all communication, it’s difficult to be nuanced enough to really say what you want to say, and misunderstandings are easy, so I feel we really need to think a bit more and try to listen a bit more to eachother. This forum seems to have a tendency to attract gut-reactions which aren’t usually the most constructive, so either we should change that, or try to take the forum as such and not take everything so damn personal.

  • http://eyo.animateharder.com Eyo

    I’m a flash animator and I kind of take offence to this. I may be fairly new to the industry, but one thing I’ve noticed in every medium is that everybody cheats. Flash animators cheat, traditional animators cheat, 3d animators cheat, designers cheat, everybody in the industry cuts corners to save time and money. And sometimes it even looks better to cheat. Only a handful of studios have enough money to afford to make everything perfectly.

    And by saying “just moving crap around,” you’re basically saying that anything that’s not traditional 2d animation isn’t animation. Stop motion is just moving clay and wire around, cutout animation is just moving pieces of paper around, sand animation is just moving sand around, 3d animation is just moving shapes around. Animation is about bringing life to a character or scene. Yeah, this book will inspire thousands of terrible flash animations, but in the end, if it looks good, who the hell matters how it was made?

    I know this comment will probably never get read all the way down here, but I think you’re just being a picky, stick-up-the-arse art snob.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Can I pose a question for the traditionalists here? What features (added or removed) would help Flash shy away from the temptation to simply move stuff around and inspire a higher level of animation from its user. Totally serious question as I think the point you guys/gals are making is a valid one – Adobe is trying to incorporate new animation features into the next version – it ain’t no secret that IK and a new method of tweening might be implemented – but since Flash is a cel/keyframe based timeline with Onionskin – how can Flash be made better in your perspective – all i am hearing is how bad Flash *can* be when in the “wrong” hands so to speak – so, how about some ideas for solutions? Side note: do you feel the same way about Toon Boom’s Digital Pro software – totally paperless vector animation program with IK, 3D stage and gobs of other features that support cut-out style animation to traditional full animation? it’s price tag is $3000 US which exceeds the weekend animator’s budgets – so, is it not committing as much of a crime because it isn’t as popular? Is it animation software in general or how it is being used? We can debate this forever or until Amid exceeds his monthly bandwith but to make this conversation most useful – let’s discuss possible solutions…?

  • Lenny

    Wow. This all reminds me of the old “East Coast vs. West Coast Rap arguments.” I hope you guys don’t start shooting each other.

  • http://inklingstudio.typepad.com David Nethery

    Chris,

    Good questions about “what do traditionalists want” ?

    I guess I’m a “traditionalist” in terms of my training and how I like to draw, but honestly I’ve barely touched a piece of paper since I got my Cintiq last year .

    I admire artists like Jessica Borutski and Copernicus Studios , Six Point Harness Studio, GhostBot (among others) who can make Flash get results that approach the look of classical hand-drawn. (although a lot of that work is ‘hybrid’ work that starts as hand-drawn roughs, scanned into Flash and then cleaned-up/inbetweened and colored in Flash) I personally can’t get those kind of results without really fighting against the drawing tools in Flash , “cheating” them to get the kind of results I want. For me I’d rather spend my time drawing unencumbered with an app like TVPaint or if I need vectors ToonBoom Digital Pro which give me more of a natural pencil/pen feeling to the drawing and I don’t have to do a lot of adjusting of the lines after the fact . What I draw is what I get . Of course I can also do my roughs and clean-ups in TVPaint, then vectorize the final line art for coloring in ToonBoom if the piece needs to be in vector format.

    The high-price tag of ToonBoom Digital Pro is a major deterrent , but in comparing one vector app to another ,other than the extremely high price tag I think how Flash could be better for doing traditional hand-drawn frame-by-frame character animation is to be more like ToonBoom Digital Pro/ToonBoom Harmony . Why do you think Disney picked ToonBoom to do their return to full animation 2D shorts and features instead of Flash ?

    Again, what I really like is that I can draw a variety of line textures in TVPaint (and somewhat with ToonBoom Digital Pro) and my line can be a big fat China Marker-like textured line, a thin Col-Erase blue line, or a slick looking brush inked line , and the program doesn’t do that annoying little “tweak” as it smooths out my line. I don’t want the program to smoothen it out for me . I want the line I put down to be the line that is used.

    Oh, and one more thing: I would want Flash to have an Ex-sheet or at least a timeline where it was super easy to insert new drawings and re-time drawings. ( Actually ToonBoom’s Ex-sheet sets the gold standard in that area ; it’s the easiest most intuitive Ex-sheet to use , about the only thing I like better about ToonBoom than TVPaint. )

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    Arj and Poopy’s “Congo Windfall” is a great example of some great animation that was done in Flash.

    http://www.arjandpoopy.com/ep10.html

    People who say Flash isn’t a legit animation tool obviously don’t know what they are talking about.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    David Nethery: Thanks for that – I tried Solo a while back and loved its features but had a hard time with the overall UI – Digital Pro is next on my list but only because Toon Boom wants me to try it, I couldn’t really afford it otherwise – I haven’t even opened the wallet for a Cintiq since trying it 4 years ago. It’s not that I am cheap but with 3 hungry kids I have to really justify the expense.
    Thanks for the feedback about your specific needs – i think we may be getting somewhere :)

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Chris – I will respond to the questions you are now posing in the interests of fair play. Anything that can make Flash more responsive to doing full keyframe animation with greater ease is what’s desired. One should be able to draw a character on the screen just as if it were with pencil on paper with absolute control of the resulting linework.

    Admittedly, I am not an animator, but in my role as a character illustrator I’d find Flash completely unsatisfying in regard to line control. Just last evening a friend of mine brought round his laptop to give me another demo with Flash to refresh my memory on what I’d seen before. He showed me again how the brush tool and the line tool worked and then let me try my hand at it too. The brush tool does indeed produce a thick and thin line with varying the pressure on the stylus, but it is not completely controllable so you end up with a line that is not exactly what you intended. Also, there is a split second delay from the point that the stylus makes contact with the screen to when you actually see the mark you’re making. Even that split second makes a difference, as by then it’s too late to change the pressure. Because of this lack of total control, you either have to settle for the line you end up with or you have to go back in and manipulate it into shape. This can be both time consuming and frustrating, especially when in my case I can do a perfectly controlled ink line with great ease using traditional brush on paper or board. So Flash creates a very complicated way of achieving the same thing. As for the line tool, forget it! Sure, it’s fine I suppose for doing geometric lines of consistent thickness, but it is of no benefit to me whatsoever. For the record, my animator friend also has a low regard for Flash, as he isn’t getting to draw anything, but merely shift character parts around on dozens of layers.

    From what I have experienced and observed of Flash so far, it seems to be full of the same hindrances I have encountered in the Adobe Illustrator program, both being vector based. As one who does illustration for the print medium, I personally find Photoshop to be far more intuitive in its handling, though I still continue to use it only as a colouring tool, as it too is rather hopeless to try to do linework with. I do question whether these vector based systems of Flash and Illustrator can get over this hurdle of incomplete control of line quality in a single stroke, as it may just be inherent in the vector process. Anyway, that is what my wish list would include if you have any pull with the Flash engineers.

    On a side note, my friend also showed me Alias Sketchbook Pro, which I found to be much more responsive to getting a feeling of pencil sketching on paper with the pressure sensitive stylus. However, it too seemed unsatisfactory when it came to trying to get a controlled ink line. So there you have my honest assessment of both programs from the standpoint of one who illustrates, not animates. I’m hoping that some traditional animators will be able to provide more suggestions as to how Flash could be improved for their needs.

    Before I go, I’d also like to respond to this statement from Jbizzy: “Pete Emslie….do ME a favor and MAKE SOMETHING MOVE!!!!!!!!!!”

    Are you implying, Jbizzy, that I have no right to criticize the Flash software and the cutout animation which it is primarily being used for simply because I am not an animator? If this is so, would you also extend that same absurd notion to notable animation critics such as Mike Barrier, Leonard Maltin, or for that matter, Jerry and Amid? After all, none of these fellows have, to the best of my knowledge, actually animated anything themselves, let alone within a studio environment. Again, what an absurd comment to make.

  • Davdi

    OH, yeah, Pete , Sketchbook Pro is great , too.
    If they made Sketchbook Pro with a simple ,but effective Ex-sheet/timeline it would be a cool animation tool .

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Pete:
    “but it is not completely controllable so you end up with a line that is not exactly what you intended. Also, there is a split second delay from the point that the stylus makes contact with the screen to when you actually see the mark you’re making. Even that split second makes a difference, as by then it’s too late to change the pressure. Because of this lack of total control, you either have to settle for the line you end up with or you have to go back in and manipulate it into shape.”

    Yeah I hear ya – but my experience has been pretty satisfying personally – I don’t experience the delay and I adjust the amount of smoothing using the slider in the Properties Panel – but I am not discounting the possibility I may be used to this process and its results after years of using Flash. I do agree however that Flash could clearly benefit from some better brushes. I wouldn’t describe it as hopeless to work with – just different and a bit underwhelming if you are expecting more than just clean vector shapes. I do have a little pull with the Flash team and I will bring this one up as I can agree with it as well.

    Thanks :)

  • crolyss

    Amen!

    This typifies why I haven’t gotten in to flash, and probably why still I don’t have a job I would want to work…

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Let’s all realize that flash was never originally designed for broadcast animation anyway – it was always advertised and used as a web graphics tool – it is us that turned it into a full blown multimedia/broadcast animation tool in the first place (unlike companies like Toon Boom that designed and promote their products as superior for broadcast/film/web/etc…). For years you’d be hard press to find even the word “animation” on the Flash product page on Macromedia’s site – there isn’t even an “Animation” forum on their support site (as much as i have been begging for one the past several years).

    Yet we are here tearing Flash apart for not being the greatest animation program across the board – it really was never designed to be what we have made it into.

    -just a thought :)

  • David

    Chris ,

    Do you think then that part of the wide spread popularity of Flash is because it’s less than half the price of something like ToonBoom Digital Pro (formerly known as ‘Solo’) ?

    That is , even if someone actually pays full retail price for Flash, which many do not. I think it’s fairly common to find hobbyists and students using a cracked version , so “free” (though technically : “stolen”) certainly wins out over something like ToonBoom which I think everyone admits has superior animation tools built-in. I like that ToonBoom has made a fully functional Personal Learner’s Edition of ToonBoom Digital Pro available for those who want to learn it , but can’t plunk down the $3,000 for a license (or even $599 for the Educational license) . Of course, you have a huge, ugly watermark on all your saved work , but it doesn’t prevent one from learning the program. I’d buy it in a heartbeat if they’d bring the price down to the same level as Flash.

    I’m sort of surprised that ToonBoom hasn’t been more aggressive in getting their price for Digital Pro down to the same retail price as Flash if they really want a lot of Flash people to convert. Of course, the more equivalent program to Flash is really ToonBoom Studio 4.0 which costs around $400.00 . Again, I’d find Flash a lot more attractive if it had an easily editable (click ,drag ‘n’ drop) Ex-sheet like ToonBoom Studio 4.0 and could vectorize bitmap images as nicely as ToonBoom Studio 4.0 does. (the “trace bitmap” function in Flash 8 is pretty much worthless … has it improved under Flash CS 3 ? )

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    David, I agree that Digital Pro is not priced to sell. However i do think it is worth every penny because it boasts some very cool animation features that Flash should have had several versions ago. I think DP would do better if sold at 1/2 the price it is now. Even that is still a lot but it would become a little more accessible to the masses.

    The Trace Bitmap feature in Flash CS3 is still the same – I rarely use it but only because I prefer to draw in Flash.I plan on spending some time with the Digital Pro learning edition this week. I don’t think it will be a “Flash killer” but it pretty much is the best vector animation program out there based on animation features (imo).

    I also think Flash has become so ubiquitous because it caters to so many skill levels, talents, applications and media. For me, it is instant gratification and it allows anyone to get their work to the web masses almost instantaneously – this was not very achievable a decade ago which is why I have always said Flash has given me a career I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. I always had a hard time getting my work seen by the public. Thanks to the web and tools like Flash, I can actually make a living doing this stuff.

  • http://inklingstudio.typepad.com David Nethery

    Oh, hey, Chris, while I have your ear (and you have the ear of the Flash development team) here’s one I forgot to mention in my earlier post :

    It would be great if Flash had a Rotating Work Area (“virtual animation disc”).

    The rotation makes it much easier to lay down a nice line (especially for clean-up lines, but for roughs too) . For instance, on TVPaint I have my virtual disc programmed to a Griffin Powermate controller, so I can just reach over without even looking at the keyboard and give the Powermate a turn and TVPaint’s virtual animation disc turns the image I’m working on to a comfortable drawing angle , just like on a real animation disc. This makes drawing with an Intous tablet much easier , but even with a Cintiq I prefer to rotate the “virtual disc” rather than physically rotate the Cintiq, because as you may know one of the annoying things about the Cintiq is that the more you rotate it the less accurate the calibration of the stylus tip to the surface becomes, especially as you move away from the center of the tablet . Whereas if I rotate the drawing with the virtual disc then my stylus tip is never out of alignment.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Got it David – added to my list to send to the team – just for your info, i have been on the Flash beta for years and even more involved with the next release. I can’t guarantee everything talked about here will be implemented into the next release but I can get the word straight to the engineers who love to hear this kind of stuff. Thanks.

  • http://mitchworks.blogspot.com MitchKennedy

    Flash can be improved, I agree. Digital rotation and brushwork would be fantastic.

    But the thing is this, folks: You can draw in Flash. You can keyframe in Flash. These things are easy to do. Pen on tablet = a line in Flash. F7 = keyframe. Easy. Traditional animation can be done.

    The problem is production, as always. Production calls for a lot of work being done really fast. Flash doesn’t cheapen things. Insane deadlines and bad direction cheapen things.

    Just as a side swipe: The original guys at the Nation Film Board didn’t believe in using cels for animation.

  • Gerard de Souza

    WHat should Adobe develop for Flash?
    About every plug-in that is available from 3rd parties.
    Does Adobe really care? Seems cartoon animators have been asking for years.
    The rotation is a great Idea, David Nethery, as is years ago I suggested a “retain area” option when scaling for strestch and squash. Alas, similar stuff is avaible from 3rd parties.

    The timeline is my dope sheet, though.

  • http://www.aceandaqua.com Stephen Levinson

    Mitch, I completely agree with you! I don’t know why people don’t realize it can be used for that. I wish the line and pen tools were much better.

  • red pill junkie

    Well, I do not really know how to use Flash, and I went to college to study industrial design, but I want to share something with you guys.

    Around 1996 I was part of a little mexican studio called Toon Lab (by little I mean 4 people, of which I was pretty much the only animator! I had also to do layouts, storyboards, draft backgrounds, etc etc with absolutely NO formal background except a total commitment and a copy of “Illusion of Life”). The studio had the advantage of a Toon Boom License, and they had made a great deal of investment in equipment besides the software. The people behind the sutdio had literally all their financial security invested in this thing. Not only you have to pay an incredibly expensive license, you need the special digital scanner that you feed with all your finished drawings, plus a really costly Slicon Graphics power station that could run the program.

    Well, long story made short, the studio tanked; the fact that we got robbed and got ALL our computers stolen was the biggest factor yes, but in retrospective I think that if instead of Toon Boom we would have relied on something like Flash, maybe things would have turned out different. Toon Boom seemed like a tremendously powerful software interface, but it was also tremendously time-consuming (from my perspective), and if you don’t have enough staff, and are also not familiar with the way the program can help you execute work faster (in other words: CHEATS) it really is not cost-effective enough for a lot of commercial work, like spots that last less than 30 seconds or something. Back in those days my boss was struggling with getting clients willing to pay $8000 pesos (around $800 US of those days) for a second of animation; so maybe with Flash we would have offered more sensible prices, we would have made shorts to increase our portfolio, people would have noticed us, and then maybe…MAYBE, we would have had the chance to make a really beautiful artistic short of animation just for the love of it, instead of the crap you are forced to do to pay the bills and keep a studio floating.

    Well, I had to get that out of my chest, now that the convesation has turned between comparing Flash and Toon Boom.

  • http://www.ryankramer.blogspot.com Ryan K

    Flash is a great animation tool and i can only see it getting better in the future…and by “better” i mean catered more to animation folk. I know that for as many bad artists giving the medium a bad rep, there is a growing number of superb artists raising the bar.
    I’ve also heard people bash Cintiq’s, because it’s “not paper”…the thing to remember is, it’s a tool.
    in the end, i guess for all the terrible attempts at cartoons, we appreciate the beautiful stuff that entertains us and sweeps us off our feet a lot more (depending on preference)
    btw, If you are interested in learning flash better, Chris’s book is one of the easiest “how to” books to comprehend.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    Hey Chris – to echo Mitch’s fine post. Why not, in the next book, show how Flash can assisst animators with the twelve principles of animation or at least how it doesn’t stand in the way of doing them.

  • http://www.keyframer.com Chris

    Gereard de Souza: “Does Adobe really care? Seems cartoon animators have been asking for years.”
    Keep in mind Adobe just aquired Flash (macromedia) a short time ago – Flash CS3 is the first release under the Adobe umbrella – much was changed about Flash that nobody will ever see, all under the hood type stuff, to allow for better integration for future releases. They were able to get the PSD and AI importers developed and tested for prime time though.

    Bob Harper – Awesome idea! I will try and add it into the additional list of contents! :)

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    I can understand ToonBoom Digital Pro being more expensive, because it’s definitely an industry standard. (Then again, so is Flash.) But if you’ve got 3 grand to blow, I say, go for it, man! For now, just tinker with the Personal Learning Edition for the time being.

    But I would love to see what the new upcoming version of Flash can do. Flash has gotten more and more fascinating as it developed.

  • Bill

    *Marking calendar…Flash’s period comes at the END of the month*
    Holy crap…sensitive much? It was funny. That’s it. Why does everyone have to read some sort of hostility into it? EVERY new medium goes through growing pains, guys, suck it up. Smile maybe. Quit doing those ‘circle turns into a square’ shape tweens. :)

  • http://www.4eyedanimation.com Joe C

    Hey…Great debate!…but what got me into the Flash business was being able to design in my own style, not working 2 weeks on a walk cycle. I love being able to create a piece from beginning to end in a week and give it the ‘illusion of motion”…anybody ever watch a Bill Plimpton film…hilarious and VERY limited animation…doesn’t have to be full frame & 400 animators working on it to make it good…its like the difference between a 12 course meal and a roast beef sandwich from Kelly’s (on the beach in Revere!)…that roast beef sandwich really hits the spot when u are hungry!

  • http://www.snubbyland.com Stevie Critoph

    Woops! I thought it was what the audiences wanted, not how much effort it took. You’re right, let’s draw everything by hand and take pictures of it with a camera, yeah THAT’s a great idea.

  • Daryl Boman

    So, I guess we should still be driving a horse and buggy? Come on, the technology changes! BFD! Isn’t that what Walt Disney did? He applied the industrial revolution and the principles of Henry Ford and the factory to the animated cartoon.

    Time to move on! Embrace the revolution!

  • http://crampedcomics.com Nate

    I think the real travesty of this book is not the acknowledgment that people use Flash to cheat, but the fact that merely cheating is the stated goal.

    Want to make s**t that will barely pass but still make the deadline? here’s your book.

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris

    Nate – you clearly have not actually read the book then. This book is part of a series titled “How to Cheat in…”. It’s more about how to use flash for producing full animation, cut-out style animation and combining several different techniques for a wide variety of platforms and output (web, TV, mobile, etc…). The book is the product of 8 years of using Flash and every home-grown tip and trick I have discovered or was passed on to me. To call it s**t that barely passes is pretty below the belt. Did you actually read it?

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris

    Jeez – Nate just followed your link to your blog where you wrote:

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007
    “I’ve had Flash But never used it. I already learned so much just drawing this ani-doodle.”

    So you feel justified slamming a book (regardless of its author) that provides 8 years of Flash experience, a CD full of source files and free extensions after only 2 months of using Flash yourself?

    Please, tell me you read the book and hate it and I’ll say fine – but i can’t believe your comment about the book promoting the creation of shit that barely passes. Outrageous.

  • Zebulon

    Flash is a tool, and like any other tool, including the almighty pencil, it’s the TALENT behind the tool that counts. Yelling at the tool instead of at the talent is just silly.

    Oh, and remember that drawing on twos is a cheat as well. I want every traditional pencil & paper animator to stop immediately and only draw on ones from now on.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    An Etch-a-Sketch is also just a tool.

    Good luck…

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris
  • http://www.froststuff.com Tim Frost

    I can handle a difference of opinion.

    It’s the sneering I can’t stand.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Chris – Yeah, I’ve seen some pretty incredible stuff done on Etch-a-Sketch, but think of the relative time it takes to do it like that compared to getting easier and better effects just using common pens and pencils on paper to accomplish the same thing. In fact, there’s one guy who does amazing work but plans it all out meticulously on paper before ever twisting those X and Y axes dials. The point is, the average artist is going to have a hell of a time trying to get a decent image on Etch-a-Sketch because it is a “tool” that really wasn’t created for that purpose. Like others have already mentioned, Flash does well what it was intended to do well – anything more is just fighting with it to attain the desired results. A spoon is also just a “tool” that is mighty handy for eating cereal with, but even though it may be possible to use it for removing the snow from my driveway, I think I’d have better luck with a shovel.

    Tim – There’s plenty of sneering on both sides of the debate. Several of the Flash defenders here have gleefully taken personal potshots at me, even though I am trying hard to restrict my criticisms to the program itself and the limitations I perceive it to have from what I’ve seen in the majority of its output. Stop thinking you’re above it all, or you’ll put me in mind of those high and mighty audience members on the Jerry Springer show. In my opinion, you Flash folks are like the anime crowd – you just can’t handle criticism and refuse to admit to the aesthetic shortcomings. If you like Flash animation, good for you. I don’t, and I’ve been explaining my reasons in great detail. We’re allowed to disagree! :)

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris

    Peter – i understand what you are trying to say – but if you really think flash is difficult to use for traditional animation you are 100% wrong. It is probably the easiest tool for cel-style animation – grab the brush tool and draw something on the stage – then hit F7 (blank keyframe) and draw your next drawing. That’s it. It’s probably the simplest process I can do in flash in terms of animation and it’s a joy to use Flash this way. To say Flash is as difficult a tool to to this in as it is to illustrate complex images using an Etch-a-Sketch makes me think you’ve never really opened Flash.
    Here’s a sample:
    http://pascalcampion.com/goodday_01.swf

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Chris – I’ve seen Pascal’s work before and, though I’ll grant you that the animation per se is very fluid in that clip and others on his site due to his drawing each individual frame, it doesn’t hold up in the other side of the equation, which is line control/quality. In Pascal’s case, I suspect that the only thing that is important to him is the animation, as his designs are extremely simplistic, not really “characters” in the best sense, but more like stick figures with slightly more substance. As such, the “choppy” vector lines don’t hurt it too much, but on a character that is more detailed and nuanced that lack of line control would be a hindrance. Again, my analogy to the Etch-a-Sketch, which also is not designed for line control, though some practitioners are able to achieve some degree of facility through much practice and endless patience. The average person, however, is going to end up with diagonals and curves with that “stair step” quality that Etch-a-Sketch was designed to do.

    From my own attempts at drawing with Flash using the brush tool, I found that the line you get is whatever Flash gives you, which is a chunky vectorized line that is not what I intended. Any line I make is instantly smoothed out into a sterile, curve that is decided upon by the program, not me. My options at that point are to settle for a line I never intended, or to go in and manipulate that line into what I want. This is hardly a benefit in my opinion, as it takes too much time and the result is still that sterile, harsh vector look. I can see from Pascal’s animation that the linework is comprised of short chunky lines with an unnatural thick and thin. He works that way because to draw in lines that are any longer would give him even less control over the resulting shape because of the Flash “smoothing out” process I’ve just described. By using short strokes, he at least is gaining some control over the direction of the line, but the downside is that choppy look.

    Furthermore, I really can’t stand the digital colour of Flash seen in Pascal’s illustrations. Again, I’m not blaming the artist, as he’s only capable of getting what Flash will allow. Personally, I have a major aversion to the cold, sterile look of sharp-edged digital shapes painted in “light”, not actual paints. (I don’t care for “Bitey’s Castle” for that same reason.) Again, I see this as a major drawback to creating Flash animation or illustration. Others may be perfectly happy with it and that is their privilege, but I find Flash imagery aesthetically unpleasant for the most part. Again, I am just stating my opinion of the program based on what I would perceive to be artistic limitations. I see Flash being to full character animation what a synthesizer is to symphonic music – an unsatisfying alternative.

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris

    “In my opinion, you Flash folks are like the anime crowd – you just can’t handle criticism and refuse to admit to the aesthetic shortcomings”

    I’m pretty sure this is why you may have become the target throughout this conversation. You are generalizing us way too much – we use Flash because of a variety of reasons – I sure have a list of my own which I don’t need to get into here. I can handle all the criticism in the world – I’m just a user, I didn’t create the program – so it isn’t a personal matter for me and I do believe I speak for most Flash users. We use Flash because it works and it works well across a variety of mediums and styles. Aesthetic shortcomings with Flash? Show me what you can’t do – we have shown what you can do (look at coldhardflash) and in my 8 years of using Flash I have seen an endless range of styles from Flash users – and just when I thought I had seen it all someone shows me a whole new approach/style using Flash.
    I think what you are reacting to is the stuff we saw back in the Flash 4 dot com boom days where everything was cut-out style and “cheap” looking. But go to http://www.thefwa.com and tell me Flash is aesthetically limiting.
    Well – I agree to disagree but you are making extreme generalizations that simply are not true. I ask again in all honesty have you actually tried Flash ever? If you gave it an honest effort to produce something using Flash and hated it – then cool. But the points you are making sound very much like perspectives from someone who has not seen a diverse range of what is out there Flash-wise and it sounds like you probably have never even seen the inside of the authoring tool. Just my hunch :)

  • http://www.mudbubble.com chris

    peter – i just read your latest response – I see your point of view much clearer now – it sounds obvious to me that you simply do not like any animation that is created using a software program. Whether it’s line quality or color you simply do not like what the software produces. So your problem isn’t just with Flash, it’s probably with Toon Boom, Anime Studio, or any vector based drawing/inking/animation software – is this safe to say?
    Pascal’s character in that example was just to show you the cel-style animation that is very easy to produce using Flash. The choice to make the character little more than a stick-figure was an artistic choice – I’m sure you would arguably create something with more character because that’s your style.
    In the end, I finally see the point your making and it sounds like you have a problem with vector based software in general. That’s fine – and I can agree with you on this. I wish Flash had more real media brushes myself – but there are workarounds for that and it’s not a big enough deal breaker for me to avoid the medium completely.
    -regards.

  • http://www.keyframer.com chris

    “He works that way because to draw in lines that are any longer would give him even less control over the resulting shape because of the Flash “smoothing outâ€? process I’ve just described.”

    Well i personally wouldn’t speak for Pascal but I’m willing to bet he has very little problem controlling his Flash lines – you do know you can set the brush tool to not apply smoothing right? Looks to me like he draws with very little smoothing. But we are, after all, splitting hairs right? I can’t figure out if this discussion is about Flash “cheapening” the animation world because it promotes smaller budgets and ends up too easily in the hands of animator-wanna-be’s or if the argument is less control over lines made with the brush tool or lines being to crisp because they are vector…or what? What exactly is the problem with the world using vector-based animation programs? Is animation more or less alive now than it ever has been because of programs like Flash?
    I have posed the question what traditionalists would like to see and I am getting the sense that you would ultimately like to see vector-based animation programs go away and only traditional animators continue to create animation with real pencil, paper, ink and film…no?

    :)

    Just keeping the discussion going :)

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    Chris said: “I have posed the question what traditionalists would like to see and I am getting the sense that you would ultimately like to see vector-based animation programs go away and only traditional animators continue to create animation with real pencil, paper, ink and film…no?”

    Speaking only for myself, I would say that, no, I don’t think Flash or other vector-based programs should “go away”, but I don’t believe they should be used to create broadcast TV-worthy animated shows. I see Flash as being this generation’s equivalent to my generation’s Super-8 camera, in that it’s a fine and inexpensive medium to be able to cut your teeth in animation before moving on to more professional media. What may be a fun novelty to view at postcard size on your home computer may not translate well to the TV or movie screen. Aesthetically, I find Flash relatively unpleasant and yes, “cheap” to look at, just as I would view a Super-8 home movie of the past. To be fair, I suspect that inroads will be made and the software gradually improved to be able to approximate or perhaps replicate the look of traditional animation. But quite honestly, Chris, from all examples I have seen so far, including the best of the best that you guys keep linking to, I really don’t believe the results at this time are broadcast TV-worthy. Other purists and traditionalists may be more forgiving of the limitations than I am, but I’m just giving you my personal opinion.

    By the way, I think our keeping this debate going is probably making Amid and Jerry very happy. Hopefully we can take this thread to the top 10! :)

  • Tim S

    Jumping in late….

    I believe the issue here is that Pete believes animation should have to to “approximate or perhaps replicate the look of traditional animation” to be considered “broadcast TV-worthy”. I guess I don’t understand why all animation has to look a certain way to be legitimate. Can’t there be other styles? Do acrylic paintings HAVE to look like oil paintings to be considered Art? Does all music have to be created with a full orchestra to be considered music? It seems your argument is more of a stylistic preference than anything, which is just fine for personal favorites, but it’s not really fair to disparage other styles just because you don’t like them. Isn’t there room for a variety of interpretations of an idea? Isn’t it the very core of creative expression to be open to multiple interpretations of a concept? Is Classical “better” than Jazz or Rock? Is Fauvism less “Art” than Realism just because it doesn’t look as realistic? Who cares? They’re different styles.

    One other thought- way back on the “cheating” idea: any traditional animator that animates on twos is also cheating animation. As is any animator that breaks limbs to make a movement better. As is any traditional animator that hands his “completed” animation off to someone else to clean up, who then hands it to someone else to inbetween, who then hands it to someone else to do the effects, who then hands it to someone else to ink, who then hands it to someone else to paint and who then hands it to someone else to shoot on an Oxberry. Isn’t that cheating? Cheats to me are the things that a veteran brings to his work that are smart ways of saving time by accomplishing the final goal in an intelligent way. Those are the things that impresses me in other animators’ work.

    “Cheating” may just be an easy way of saying “using your brain to make something easier and better, thereby saving yourself from getting carpal tunnel syndrome.”

  • http://onthedownlow.com Anonymously Representing The Anime Crowd

    “In my opinion, you Flash folks are like the anime crowd – you just can’t handle criticism and refuse to admit to the aesthetic shortcomingsâ€?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lIKCBCLo4U

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45_8ejTGAw8

  • http://www.keyframer.com chris

    “but I don’t believe they [vector-based animation programs] should be used to create broadcast TV-worthy animated shows.”

    I see your point – for me the Television format is probably the most crude and low-res format there is – it is a funny concept to hold the medium in such high esteem when it comes to quality. Not sure if I personally agree with you here – I actually love seeing shows as crude as South Park and Dr. Katz just as much as seeing the pop-art styles of El Tigre and the wonderful inventiveness of Fosters, Wow Wow Wubbzy and the rest of what the TV animation world has to offer. maybe I am just a less selective viewer but I don’t measure everything against traditional animation to judge whether it is acceptable or not. But that’s just me – I like seeing something new and fresh that clearly has a different point of view. I also don’t expect everyone to like what I like either – but I don’t think the industry is ever going to restrict any show concepts based on whether or not it was hand drawn by traditionalists – maybe that’s our loss – but for me it’s also about the concept, character development and storytelling above all – as I am sure you would agree.

    -peas and carrots.

  • Moyvin

    If you want to continue to take a month to create a (11 minute)cartoon episode be my guest. Chris Georgenes is giving people tips on how to make the process faster, you can use these ‘cheats’ to increase your productivity time in an industry that demands it.. or you can complain, and post this kind of stuff on your blog a la JohnK, and not get anywhere in the industry….. a la JohnK.

    This is the kind of temper tantrum I would imagine occurred when the camera was invented.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/index.htm Pete Emslie

    It never ceases to amaze me how folks like Moyvin love to deride those of us who are critical of some aspect of the industry by dismissing us as mere complainers, never able to grant us our right to having an opinion that is contrary to their own. I’ve been critical of Flash on this thread, describing in great detail what I personally feel are its shortcomings as a medium. I suspect Moyvin and his ilk are more used to simply dismissing the contrarians outright, rather than engaging in healthy debate. No, Moyvin, none of we critics of Flash are having a “temper tantrum”. But apparently serious debate is not possible in your world. Perhaps I should just stoop down to your level and tell you that Flash “sucks”, as I imagine that’s the type of language that you can more easily understand.

  • Julia

    Coming from having worked in the graphics field for over 20 years, I understand the humor in this post – believe me. I’ve watched the quality of color, composition and typography atrophy or get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of quick crap art that gets paid for! I love the computer, I love the software tools available for it – but what I don’t love is how easy it is for untrained hacks to produce shiny little graphics and animations that make a trained artist’s eyes bleed. Brochures in Powerpoint, posters in Excel, try doing pre-press on a Corel Draw file that someone used the clipart flames all over – and you get very frustrated very quickly. Flash has allowed a lot of really bad animation to come out – bad colors, timing, composition – that all we need is more cheats to help hacks puke their work all over the place. Am I a bitter artist? Yes, I am, because bad art has become a tsunami that is washing away the work done by skilled talented people. Worse, people have no concept of what good art is – if they can get it in five minutes and they can smear their ego all over it (marketing people, my favorite!) then it’s good art!

    So when you get all bent out of shape because someone gets annoyed about more easier ways for bad art to be made quickly, there is good reason. It cuts into the legitimate artist’s income, it drives the price of art down to where the good artists can’t make the living they deserve, and it creates a market that can’t tell the difference.

    Don’t ask me about creativity. Everyone is creative – but only a few are artists. Feel free to “express” – that’s what makes South Park enjoyable – but when someone who knows what they are talking about says “That looks like crap” shut up and learn from it. I have!

    Okay – rant done! Thanks for listening to a bitter old artist who in reality is a puppy riding a rainbow…

  • Matt

    flash is a great tool. there’s nothing wrong with it. people switch to it for animation because its not as expensive as traditional pencil and paper style. and its not “moving crap around”. its much more than that.

    flash is a great tool so get over it.

  • Hugh

    That’s ridiculous. So much crap comes out of flash because of the price of the software. As John Lasseter said, technology doesn’t make a movie, people do. It’s also true of crappy animations. It’s not because flash limits you and prevents you from actually animating, but because people all too often take advantage of the wide (yes, wide) range of technology. You don’t just press a f***ing button.

  • lenna

    The beauty of traditional animation was, and is, “moving drawings”. There is a delicate sense of weight, timing and movement that is exquisitely embodied in the golden age and nineties disney films.