CAP 101 - Concept & Character Development

Lesson 9 - Libraries and Pixar Requirements


This lesson discusses using symbols nested in other symbols. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Creating nested symbols
  2. Libraries of symbols

In chapter nine, The Art of Flash Animation begins with a discussion about nesting symbols. Mr. Smith changes terminology a few times in this discussion, so try to stay with him.

The text begins a method for making nested symbols. It is an aborted method, as you will see:

  1. Make a rough sketch. (Why he does this on paper instead on his beloved tablet is a mystery.)
  2. Scan the sketch
  3. Open Flash, and use File, Import to Stage to put the scanned image on the stage.
  4. Mr. Smith emphasizes that the imported image is only a guide. To remind us, he names the current layer Guide layer.
  5. Lock the Guide layer, and insert a new layer for the feature you are drawing. In the example, it is a face.
  6. Name the new layer. (His is called Face layer.)
  7. Mr. Smith now reveals that he should have drawn the features that might move (are there any that might not?) separately.

Mr. Smith proceeds to make a plan for his animation as he should have before he started drawing. What parts of the face will likely be animated, and therefore, should be drawn on separate layers?

  • neck and convenient neck border
  • upper skull, lower jaw, nose, and ears
  • hair on side of head nearer the viewer
  • hair on side of head farther from the viewer
  • eyes
  • eyebrows
  • mouth

Mr. Smith suggests that you should make your own list based on your character and the needs of the scene. If the list above fits your needs, you should make each of those components of the character's face separate symbols.

  1. Back to the exercise, Mr. Smith reveals that he now has a version of the character on his stage that is composed of a few symbols. He must have drawn these symbols on the Face Layer while he was lecturing about face parts. He has separate symbols for the face and hair, which he "breaks apart" with the command Modify, Break Apart.
  2. He puts component symbols on new layers by right-clicking the symbols, and choosing Distribute to Layers.
  3. We are told that it is good to place a folder on a layer, so we can place multiple symbols in the folder.
  4. Mr. Smith tells us to create a new Eyes layer, then he becomes utterly confusing by talking about two approaches at the same time. We would do well to follow the set of directions about drawing each new feature on a new layer, tracing from the Guide layer. Remember: to make each new element, you draw a symbol.

As he continues by adding new eyes to his scene, it becomes more difficult to follow Mr. Smith's thoughts. It would be easier to follow his process if we were following a script that said what the character was meant to do in this scene. For our lesson, assume she is going to begin by looking to her left, then look into the camera.

  1. On page 353, Mr. Smith alt-drags the current frame (1) to create a copy as frame 2.
  2. He then removes the eyes from frame 2, turns on Onion Skinning, and redraws the eyes in their new positions.
  3. He tells us how to insert a frame across all layers: put the mouse pointer where frame 5 would be (if it were already there), drag down across all layers, and press F5 to insert a new frame.

Page 357 gives us a new definition. An asset is any object that you have made into symbol. (So what's wrong with the word symbol?) I think he just wants to use the familiar phrase asset management to describe keeping track of the versions of each symbol he has created.

On page 358, the text continues with a lesson on animating lips to synchronize with a dialog.

Read the answer to the question "What do you look for in Animators?" in the FAQ document at the Pixar site. Consider what you would do to apply for a job with Pixar. This is the first CAP class in your CAP program, so you will not have met all their requirements yet.

Assignment 15: Make a list of what you would change about your pitch and storyboard so they show what Pixar is looking for.

Assignment 16: Write a one page statement explaining what you are doing that would meet Pixar's requirements. Include what classes you are going to take, and what you can do personally (outside of class) to prepare yourself for a job.