Okay, for those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve stopped using Flash for animation. Before I explain why, allow me to be clear—I haven’t stopped using Flash for other projects (web design, motion comics, etc.), I just no longer animate with it.

For animation, I switched over to a product from Toon Boom called Animate – right out of the box, Animate does things for my animation work flow that Flash only can do with plug-ins, and, in some cases not well, or not at all.

Though I’m sure there are other advantages for animators to switch from Flash to Toon Boom, for me and my workflow, there are three reasons worth mentioning – character rigging, a true 3D camera, and automated lip sync. If you are into website designing as well I strongly recommend seeing this list of website platforms that contains a lot of tools for developing good sites!

Character Rigging
Flash CS4 did add the Bone tool, however, Animate’s IK system, IMHO. is a much better solution. Cartoon Smart did an awesome comparison of the two here.

Flash, to date, has no camera of its own unless you know how to “fake” one or program one using Actionscript. Though I can’t talk about Flash’s lack of camera without mentioning V-Cam. V-Cam is a free movie clip that creates a pseudo-camera for Flash. However, when compared to Animate’s True Space camera, V-Cam lacks Z-depth and the ability to create multiplane scenes.

All of this can be faked in Flash (trust me, I’ve done a few), but having the ability to create camera moves in minutes by simply moving the camera instead of moving your object, scene or symbol is much less tedious, and far more efficient.

Lip Sync
Last but not least, automated lip sync. Almost all of my animations involve some sort of lip sync, from simple dialogue to song lyrics. Typically, in Flash, this process for me can take anywhere from two hours to a full day, or two, depending on the level of complexity or number of characters. However, Animate can automate this for you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a stickler for lip sync, so my preference is to go in after the automation and tweak a few things. The bottom line: I can now get my lip syncs done in a fraction of the time.

In closing, I realize the Flash vs. Toon Boom discussion is one of those conversations that can be lumped in with sex, religion, politics, Mac vs. PC and, more recently, Apple vs. Adobe, but IMHO, there is no reason for discord.

Both Adobe Flash and Toon Boom Animate are amazing tools, and I use both. A hammer and a wrench are also great tools, and again I use both; however, I do not hammer in nails with a wrench, nor will I animate with Flash, for that I use Toon Boom Animate.

Don’t take my word for it; try out the free PLE (Personal Learning Edition) of Animate.