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Like this article? We recommend Converting to a Symbol

Converting to a Symbol

You should have the hang of animating objects, so let’s animate some of the text. Specifically, let’s make the text Pacific Ocean slide in from the left.

There’s only one problem: Before you can animate any item in Flash, it must a) be on its own layer; and b) be a symbol in the Library (there is an exception to this rule [called Shape Tweening], which is discussed in a later chapter). Although the text is on its own layer, it’s not a symbol in the Library, which is really odd from an After Effects point of view. In After Effects, if you create anything, it automatically goes into the Project panel (e.g., if you make a solid, it’s listed along with all your other footage). Not so in Flash. Imported items (such as the Photoshop images in this lesson) get inserted in the Library, but artwork and text you create in Flash doesn’t. If you want to animate it, you have to manually add it to the Library. This is easy to do.

  1. Continue working in the same file or open easing_done.fla from the Chapter02 Project Files folder. Switch to the Timeline then select the text Pacific Ocean.
  2. Choose Modify > Convert to Symbol.
  3. In the Convert to Symbol dialog, give the new symbol a name, for example, Pacific Ocean. Choose Movie Clip for the type.
  4. The two other types are Graphic and Button. Graphic is an older form of Movie Clip (still available from early versions of Flash that didn’t yet include Movie Clip); Button is for interactivity. To work with buttons, you need to program them with ActionScript, which is explored in Chapter 13, “Creating Interactive Controls.”

  5. Select a Registration Point by clicking one of the small square icons. We like to click the Registration square in the upper-left corner, setting the movie clip’s registration at its top left. This simplifies X and Y coordinate calculations, letting us know that if we place an image at 10 (X) and 30 (Y), its top-left corner will be at those coordinates.
  6. Flash Registration Points are similar to After Effects anchor points. They place a pivot on your object that it rotates around. The Registration Point is also the origin for scaling and position changes. You can always change its location later. Click OK.

Pacific Ocean is now a movie clip symbol in the Library. You can animate it the same way you animated the boats and planes.

Creating a Symbol in the Library

You can add a symbol directly to the Library without first placing it on the Stage. For instance, say you wanted to animate the text ”News of the World.” You might not want that text onstage now, but you want it ready for you when you need it later. The solution is to type it directly into the Library.

  1. Click the New Symbol button at the bottom of the Library.
  2. In the New Symbol dialog, create a name (e.g., News of the World), select Movie Clip for the type, and click OK.
  3. Everything on the Stage vanishes because Flash takes you to a special “symbol editing” screen. You can return to your main animation by -clicking the Back button (or the text Scene 1) in the upper-left corner of the Stage (but don’t do that yet).

  4. Select the Text tool and click near the crosshairs in the middle of the screen. Type News of the World.
  5. In the Properties panel, adjust the text settings as desired.
  6. Click the Back button in the upper-left corner of the Stage.

News of the World is now a symbol in the Library, but it’s not on the Stage. You can drag it to the Stage when you’re ready (remember to first add a layer for it if you want to animate it).

In step 3, you clicked with the Text tool next to the crosshairs. Those crosshairs represent the Registration Point. To adjust the Registration Point, double-click the icon next to News of the World in the Library. (If you double-click its name, Flash will think you’re trying to rename it.)

This will take you back to symbol editing mode. You can drag the text to a new location so that it has a new positional relationship with its Registration Point (the crosshairs). Note that in Flash you move images around static Registration Points (in After Effects you’re more likely to move anchor points).

Click the Back button when you’re done editing the symbol.

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