The final new animation tool is Bones, a simple inverse kinematics system that allows you to connect symbols together so that moving one affects another as if they were physically connected. The bones metaphor is appropriate because it enables you to set-up systems such as a representation of a hand where moving the end of a finger makes all of the other parts move to follow it. It can also be used to modify single shapes by building ‘bone structures’ within them in a similar way to AE’s Puppet tool.
Bones creates more realistic-seeming structures that can either be used to make animating parts of your movie easier, or to rather nifty effect as part of your movie’s interaction (so in the previous example, if the user moved the end of the finger, the rest would follow).
Also new are improved fill options using the Grid Fill and Vine Fill options within the new Deco tool – which fills objects with simple patterns of symbols or organic branches, with elements such as leaves, flowers or distributions of any symbol you wish. You can use the Symmetry Brush option to produce patterns of symbols outside of others. It’s a simple tool, but effective if used sparingly.
Other new functions include support for H.264 video, export to Adobe’s AIR Web development format, and the ability to bring in InDesign and After Effects projects. The former works well but is really only useful for simple online versions of magazines or brochures, and the latter has some major limitations – for example, text doesn’t remain editable in Flash. Both have to be exported from the other tools as XFL files – you can’t import either natively, which will be a pain in some workflows.
While Adobe could have gone further, the improvements to Flash’s animation tools are welcome both to long-term users and motion graphics artists and animators used to other tools who would like to try the software.