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A cornucopia of LM2 gripes

A cornucopia of LM2 gripes

A cornucopia of LM2 gripes

I'm an animator, just trying to put a narrative movie together. No interactivity, no fancy features (or so I think). I have the following bones to pick with Adobe, and wonder if you do too. Are you ready?

1. Since it's an Adobe product, LiveMotion favors importation of vector drawings in Illustrator over Freehand. Just make sure they're in Illustrator 8, not 9 or 10. But you must take my word for it; you'd never know it by a warning dialog, because there isn't any.  In fact, the AI 9 or 10 drawing behaves just fine: you can change and keyframe any attribute you want. But when you go to export it to SWF, the progress bar gets to your first non-Illustrator 8 drawing and crashes not only the export, but LiveMotion! Hope you saved first. The hint LiveMotion gives you that your drawing is unacceptible is that the Replace choice in the Object menu is grayed out -- which means you can't swap out the bad drawing (with all those wonderful keyframes you worked so hard on) for a good drawing; no, you have to start from scratch. Strangely, the instruction manual is no help here.

2. Here's some more about replacing an object in order to save keyframes. When you first place an object, it appears in actual size as you drew it in Illustrator. To LiveMotion that is recorded not as "100% size" but as the width and height of its bounding box. So when you replace one object with another, it wants to bring your new art not to the old art's size -- "100%" -- but to the old art's bounding box dimensions! Replace something squarish with something long, and LiveMotion stretches it so it's squarish. How to return it to normal proportion, you wonder? Two ways: either adjust the offending dimension until it looks right (inaccurate), or place the new object all by itself, take note of its dimensions, remove it, and type those figures in the field in the attributes pallette in the object you want to keep. Scaling down is a nightmare, because the shift key does not seem to constrain a reduction or enlargement (that might be my fault), so unless you want a squash or a stretch, get out your calculator. Why does Adobe find this acceptible here when it doesn't in any other program? Strangely, the instruction manual is no help here.

3. Let's say you lay down all the objects which make up Shot 1 in your movie. They take up a lot of depth in your Timeline, so you group them, and name the group "Shot 1." Now you do the same for Shot 2, which begins at the end of Shot 1. You group them, but later you want to change something in the Shot 2 group. So you ungroup, then look on the timeline. Where did the elements in the group go? Scroll left. They've inexplicably scooted to frame 0! Fortunately, they keep their relationship with each other. So before ungrouping, you must note the beginning frame, ungroup, make your change, regroup, and slide the group back to its proper time. Why did Adobe do this? Is this a handy feature in some circumstance I've yet to experience? Strangely, the instruction manual is no help here.

4. You've got several objects you want to rotate together, like a character's body, head and mouth. So you group them, and the timeline now gives to this group keyframable attributes like rotation, around an anchor point assigned to the group, separate from the anchor points of the individual objects. So far so good. Now you export to SWF. Ignoring this group anchor point, the SWF exporter instead notes that the anchor points of each object aren't in the same location -- then takes the liberty of moving the pieces all over the screen so that the anchor points line up before performing the rotation! If you wanted the character's mouth in the center of his face and its head on its stomach, you say, you would have put them there. Tough. When you go back to the LiveMotion file, the objects are where you put them, with the group's anchor point sitting there winking at you. Indeed, the rotation is flawless in the LiveMotion window, or you wouldn't have hit Export. You still must move the anchor points to the same location. Once you do this, you don't even need to group them, but just select them all as you keyframe one of them. Why did Adobe even bother to put Rotation as a keyframable attribute for a group of objects, if it doesn't work in SWF? Strangely, the instruction manual is no help here.

5. There are two ways of getting a sequence of Illustrator drawings into LiveMotion as a sequence. With one, you save all the drawings in separate files in the same folder, numbering them sequentially. Then in LM, you use "import as sequence" in the menu, and select one of the members of the sequence; they all import in correct order. With the other method, you save your sequence as drawings on consecutive layers of one Illustrator file, import, then Convert Layers to Frames using a menu command. The difference? The first method cauases all images to conform to the first image's bounding box, distorting your art in the process. The second does not. The first is for bringing in images meant to fill a screen, such as QuickTime frames. How about a little heads-up about this? Strangely, the instruction manual is no help here.

6. I am in the midst of finding out why I can't use a sequence to mask another object. SWF doesn't want to deal with it, but of course, it looks great in the LiveMotion window. I tried to see if the QuickTime exporter had any problem with it. It didn't. So maybe I'll release it in QuickTime instead. I'll do some more troubleshooting (during time I should be animating), and if I come up dry, I'll be back.

P.S. I won't even think about the instruction manual.

RE: A cornucopia of LM2 gripes

To Gripe #1 - When saving in Illustrator 9/10, it will prompt for a "pdf compatible". If this is checked, you shouldn't have those kind of problems.

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