Creating Animations in Xara Designer

Hi I’m Gary Bouton and welcome to another
XaraTV tutorial at this month I’m going to show you how to
create an animated bouncing ball using fills, shapes, and transformations that
all conform to the Shockwave standard in other words Flash animations. But do indeed go to the Xone and check
out the specifications for Shockwave animations because there are some things that you
can and cannot do and I’ve listed them on XaraXone’s tutorial page for
February 2012. Why? Because someday you’re gonna wanna create
animations of your own. If you’ve never experimented with Xara’s animation features
you’re gonna like this one, promise, uhhuh. Come on You’re going to build this animation in a
special animation file but for now just press Control N (Ctrl+N) to create the
default document in which you will build the actor, the ball that’s going to bounce. With the Ellipse tool hold Control and
drag and then choose the Fill tool. Choose Circular, circular fills are legal
in Shockwave animations. Start your drag at about eleven o’clock and drag down to
about five. White is an OK color for the fills start.
Open the Color Editor and choose a medium blue for the end color and then double
click the control line to add a color stop. Make this a slightly deeper blue. The effect is a catch light, a secondary light
source, and it makes round objects just look rounder. Let’s decorate the ball now with a few
stars. Choose the Quick Shape tool. Choose five sides in the InfoBar and click to Star shapes button. Then
drag the shape. Let’s fill the first star with yellow and
then with the Fill tool drag on the face of the star, so a linear gradient
from white to yellow is made. We’re doing this because the star
shading should match the underlying balls shading, so the balls a little
lighter on top, so the overlaying star should be too. To make two stars, lets drag and drop a
duplicate and then fuss with the gradient handle here. Make the top darker than the bottom. By
the way, a linear gradient can have up to eight unique colors stops
in Shockwave files. Let’s create a third star, color it up
appropriately and position it. Now with the Selector tool, hold Shift to additively select and get all three
stars. Press Control G (Ctrl+G) to group. And now I’m
going to distort this group using the Envelope function of the Mould tool. To make it look as though the stars are
conforming to the shape of the ball; so that they are on the ball and not
just above it. Let’s click the Circular envelope preset. Now I’m going to simplify this group to
remove the dynamic mould property. Choose Arrange>Convert to Editable Shapes. An envelope is a special effect and
Shockwave files don’t like special effects. To trim the stars to the ball, Select All
(Ctrl+A) and then press Q to make it a Clip View
from the bottom circle shape. What remains to make this ball a
character in an animation is to name it. Don’t laugh, in Flash files there is a
Stage, the document; and actors. You need to name the ball, so you
right-click over it and choose Names and name the ball something clever, like Ball. Flash animations are created by defining
keyframes, points of extreme actor changes and then Xara tweens these
keyframes. OK after Actor1 needs Actor2 to play against and this will its shadow. Flash animations can only work with flat
transparency, so to make a soft edged shadow you make a blend of two flatly
transparent shapes. I’ll create two semi-transparent ovals,
one smaller and one larger. We will want to go to wireframe quality
view now because it’s real hard to find mostly transparent shapes to drag the
Blend tool, from and to. Now that the links been made, go back to high
quality view and up the number of steps to about twelve. In the next step, it is critical to
animating the shadow. Because it is a dynamic blend shape, the Flash
animation engine is going to get confused by this non-standard effect and mess up this blend
when you try to scale it. So you need to clip the shadow to an
invisible Clip View shape. Create a large ellipse over the shadow. Give it no fill and no
online and then press Control B to put it to back. Marquee select the blend and the invisible
guy and then press Q to make the Clip View. So let’s name the actor now, ball shadow, was very inspired, so do
this. Before we open up a new animation document,
the stage for this action, put the shadow Clip View group to back, Control B, and then position the
shadow slightly to the right of the ball. Got the actors? Great. Let’s take a look at
the script now. Anatomy of a Bounce Frame 1 is the start position for our
hero, the ball. Note the size and position change
of the shadow as the ball moves, OK? In Frame 2 the ball descends and hits the ground plane. The shadow moves toward and beneath the
ball and gets larger because it is closer to the parent object. Frame 3 is the squash frame in a
squash and stretch cartoon animation, like this one. You don’t have to do a lot with the
shadow size, but get the relationship, the distance between the ball and the
shadow right in this frame. The ball distorts as a reaction to its impact.
Frame 4 is the stretch part, the ball releases its energy and travels upward. What you can’t see in this video is that
I’m holding shift when I scale the ball, which for example scales both of the
left and right side when I drag on the left or right handle. The shadow needs to go up to the right
here also. In Frame 5 the ball regains its shape
and starts heading downward after expending its energy. Now Frame 5 may
look like Frame 1 but it’s not. This animation will loop. Frame 5 returns to
Frame 1 over and over as the whole thing is played, so Frame 5 and Frame 1 cannot be
duplicates in the animation, or it will pause, and we don’t want this. Animation cycles need to be seamless, so
when you building this you might consider showing rulers in Xara, Control L.
So let’s get to animating now. Copy the ball and shadow from your
pre-existing document and then choose File>New Animation. The Animation Gallery will appear and you
have a new page. But the page is too small for this tutorial. Press
Control-Shift-O to display Options and on the Page Size tab make this
640 by 480 pixels which is standard definition television size.
Press Control V now to paste the two actors into the document at Frame 1
according to the animation gallery. Scale them down, so if you want, the actor
can have the background. Now double click Frame 1 to bring up
properties and make this frame 0.2 seconds instead of half a second. Click Flash options and make this movie
30 frames per second. Think ahead, this animation can make a nice video
file and digital frame rates for movies are 30 frames per second. Now
that Frame 1 is set up, click Copy and a copy is now your current frame,
0.2 seconds into the animation. Rearrange the ball and the shadow to conform
to that Frame 2 you saw in the Anatomy section earlier. Click Copy and this is the squash frame
or adjust the shapes. Take your time and when you’re done
click Copy and Frame 4 is the stretch part. This needs a little finessing. And then click Copy and we have Frame 5 now. Make the
shadow a little larger and bring it closer to beneath the ball. Undistort the ball. Now that you have five frames, preview it. It looks pretty good, but there’s a
hesitation as the animation loops and this is technically unavoidable with
Shockwave files, to have zero rewind time. But you can hide most of the damage by
double clicking Frame 1 and knocking down the play time to 0.1 seconds. and do the same to Frame 5. And you’ll notice that the animation is
more fluid now. Save this file as, bouncing ball one.xar and then save it again as
bouncing ball two.xar. What do you say we had a background to
the animation. Please say yes! Diner.jpg is available on XaraXone’s
February 2012 tutorial page. Click Frame 1 on the Animation Gallery and
then choose File>Import and import the diner image. Right-click and
name the background, press Control B to put it to back and then press Control C to copy it. Click the Frame 2 title on the
Animation Gallery and then press Control-Shift V to paste in place, so the
background doesn’t move between frames. Put it to back, Control B, and do this for the three remaining
frames. That looks pretty classy now doesn’t it? With
the semi-transparent shadows and all that. You can export this file File>Export Animation and choose
Animated Flash at any time. But Wait There’s More! There is a reason why the
file is as large as it is. Open bouncing ball one.xar now and you’ll see that any
animation built in Xara can be exported not only as an avi
file but as an avi file with an alpha
channel. With transparency! So choose file export animation.
Choose AVI from the Save as type drop-down list and then click Options Choose uncompressed, because only
uncompressed files can be saved with transparency. Click the Make background transparent
checkbox. Click Close, name the file, choose your destination and
then click Export. Now look at this, you can hand this file
to anyone who owns a high-end video editor or composition suite such as
After Effects and the editing software recognizes this. I’m using red is the background here to
show you that the ball is indeed floating in this video because even the
best artists can’t see transparency, and I’ve also imported the diner and
another image and some sound effects. The neat thing here is not just recreating
what you’ve done in Xara in another program but how you can integrate Xara
exports work with files generated from other programs. and even digital cinematography. Xara plays nice with other programs
and the results are totally professional and this is the kind of stuff you do in

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