The good folks at Trick or Script have released a new freebie plugin, which brought me to think about all the little things one can do to juice up productivity in Flash.
I wrote a little review of the plugin at the CHF forum, saying:
What does it do?
With the new plugin from TOS, you'll "never again have to copy a sound into a symbol" because you can scrub a second sound timeline from the main timeline inside the symbol.
Did you like it?
Over all, disappointing. First, the plugin hogs so much real estate you have to wonder if the developers have *ever* seriously used Flash themselves.
Second, it actually exports the main timeline first before you can scrub it. This means you'll want to change publish sound settings either up so that they are listenable, or down so that they don't take so long to render.
Thirdly, while hitting "play" makes the plugin do what it says, scrubbing the 2nd timeline --at least on my couple-years-old computer-- give choppy and useless results.
While on the whole I like TOS and I am grateful they are so good as to offer free plugins (like autosave), I think I'll stick to just copying and pasting.
That pretty much says all I have to say about that particular
plugin, but I must say that I am mostly happy with their AUTOSAVE
TOS does some great stuff, but not without faults: they seems to design their plugins first for aesthetics, then practicality second. They seem to find it important to have all their plugins managed with their own proprietary install wizard, instead of using the lean and mean Macromedia extension manager. As a result, they end up installing ALL the plugins by default, even if you don’t want them.
The autosave is a real life saver. Why on Bob’s green earth doesn’t Flash come standard with auto save? How many feature films’ worth of work have been collectively lost by the multitudes of Flash animators too wrapped up in the magic to remember to save often? But alas, autosave has a big flaw: it quietly disables if you redock it. Minimize it, and it also might stop saving. And to a lesser degree than sound sync, it is bulkier than need be.
I once read an article some years ago about a condition where sometimes people fall in love with inanimate objects, that some people were literally falling in love with there Macs. After a very long hiatus from using Flash a good while back, soon after loading it up again for the first time in ages, it occured to me that this condition might also be true with software. I felt a little pitter patter in the heart and I knew that I missed her terribly. But then we got back to fighting about space.
Real estate is a huge issue with Flash, to a degree entirely unknown to those who’ve only worked in Photoshop or Illustrator. Working in Flash is a constant battle to make room on your cramped monitor. You have the actual stage, then the timeline with its myriad of layers. Tools on the left by default, properties on the bottom, library, colors, and everything else docked to the right. Any plugin that can’t respect how important it is to be ultra compact is already shitty from the giddyap.
ANIMSLIDER is a friggin’ brillig plugin that does get this, and does an incredible trick too. And why not? It was programmed by a real animator. You know how the stage properties of a graphic object lets you type in a frame number from the timeline of that object? Animslider lets you scrub though those frames to pick the right one. It’s not hard to see how this can make, for example, the soul-crushingly sysiphisian task of synching up the mouths into something that is just rather tedious instead.
Still on the subject of real estate, some keyboard shortcuts etc that I try to use:
- Ctrl + Alt + T minimizes the TIMELINE (remember: CAT)
- Ctrl + F3 minimizes stupid PROPERTIES (stupid properties, always in the stupid way…)
- F4 hides every thing but the stage and timeline.
- Hold down space and click and drag to move around the stage. F*ck the scrollbars.
- Hit Z then drag a marquee to zoom in fast.
- Ctrl + minus to zoom out, or double click the zoom button to go to 100 %.
- The stupid playback controller won’t dock where it should, so rather let it float up top if you must.