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Organizing Frames and Layers

If you've ever wanted to learn how to do Flash animation editing, you've come to the right place. This two-part series offers you a crash course. It is excerpted from chapter four of the book Flash CS3: The Missing Manual, written by E.A. Vander Veer (O'Reilly, 2007; ISBN: 0596510446). Copyright © 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

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By: O'Reilly Media
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 9
August 28, 2008
  1. · Organizing Frames and Layers
  2. · Working with Frames
  3. · Moving Frames (Keyframes)
  4. · Editing Multiple Frames
  5. · Adding Content to Multiple Layers

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Organizing Frames and Layers - Working with Frames
(Page 2 of 5 )


Copying and pasting frames is a great way to cut down on your development time. Here’s how it works. Say you have a series of frames showing a weasel unwrapping a stick of chewing gum. It’s a gag scene, one you want to repeat throughout your animation for comic effect. Instead of having to insert all the keyframes and regular frames every time you want to slip in the weasel gag, all you need to do is copy the weasel frames once and then paste them onto your Timeline wherever you want them to go.

Furthermore, copying and pasting isn’t just useful for those times when you want a carbon copy of a scene. If you want to change something in each pasted scene—the brand of chewing gum the weasel’s unwrapping, for example—you can do that, too, after you’ve pasted the frames.

Copying and pasting frames works almost exactly like copying and pasting words or drawn objects—with a few twists. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  1. As usual, you must select what you’re going to copy before you set off the command. You select frames in the Timeline (see page 88 for a refresher).
  2. If the frames you’re selecting span more than one layer, make sure you select all the layers for each frame, as shown in Figure4-1.

    Figure 4-1.   To select multiple frames, click the first frame of the series you want to select; then Shift-click the last frame. Flash automatically selects all the frames in between. If you know you’re going to be copying and posting frames in the same document, you can speed up the process by pressing the Alt key (Windows) or the Option key (Mac) while you drag a copy of the selected frames from their original location to where you like on the Timeline.

  3. If you’re copying a series of tweened frames, beware: While Flash displays tweened frames as separate, distinct images, they’re not. As you learned in Chapter 3, only keyframes contain distinct images. So if you copy a series of tweened frames beginning with a frame (as opposed to beginning with a keyframe), you get an unexpected result when you go to paste those frames. Instead of the contents of your first frame, Flash begins pasting with the contents of the previous keyframe
  4. Flash doesn’t limit you to pasting within the same document. After you copy, you can open any other Flash animation and paste the frames right in.

Note: Although Cut, Copy, and Paste usually travel as a threesome, in Flash things work a little differently. The Cut Frames command on the Edit -> Timeline submenu doesn’t actually cut frames; instead, it cuts the contents of the selected frame. To get rid of the frame itself, you need to use Edit -> Timeline -> Remove Frames, as described in the box on page 117.

The process of copying and pasting frames follows the same basic steps every time:

  1. On the Timeline, select the frames you want to copy.

    You probably want to make sure that the set of frames you choose begins with a keyframe, as described in the third bullet point above. Either way, Flash highlights the selected frame(s) and moves the playhead to the last selected frame. 
  2. Choose Edit -> Timeline -> Copy Frames (or press Ctrl+Alt+C on Windows; Option-c-C on The Mac). Select the keyframe where you want to begin pasting the copied frames.

    In other words, select the frame after which you want to add the copied frames. You can paste copied frames into the document you currently have open or into another document (select File
    -> Open to open another Flash document). If the frames you copied contain multiple layers, make sure the keyframe you select contains the same number of multiple layers.
  3. Select Edit -> Timeline -> Paste Frames.

    Flash pastes the copied frames, replacing the currently selected keyframe with the first copied frame. If you pasted frames into the middle of a Timeline, Flash repositions your existing frames after the last pasted frame.

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