Importing SWF files

When I import a SWF file into ToonBoom all the objects take the name of the file and not the object name given to them in Flash.
This makes it very difficult to rig a character since the object names no longer contain the names of the body parts.
Am I doing something wrong?

There are several approaches that you can use in importing Flash content into TBS.

Approach 1: Import one layer at a time from Flash by publishing just that layer into an SWF. Name that SWF whatever you want the TBS element to be named when you import the SWF. If you have multiple layers in Flash you can change all the layers to the “guide” type and then change them back to a regular type layer one at a time and publish that layer to a SWF, rename that SWF as desired, then change that layer to a guide type and then change the next layer to regular type and publish it to a second SWF and repeat the process of publishing one layer at a time and then importing those SWFs one at a time into TBS until you have your x-sheet filled with all the layers named by how you renamed each SWF. This method gives you very good control of the process. It is a bit tedious but works effectively.


Approach 2: This next approach works well if your elements have been carefully layered individually in Flash layers, If you have elements mixed between layers it works but requires more effort to clean up. In this approach you publish the SWF of your Flash content and import it into TBS. You will get a group of elements named for the SWF which is broken into a matrix of elements A(0), A(1), A(2) A(3) and so on depending on the layers involved. The “A” is the file name of the imported SWF. Now that you have these elements in your X-sheet you can follow this simple process. Start with the first imported element A(0) select that element column, and click on the add drawing element icon for the exposure sheet. This places a new drawing element next to the selected element A(0) in this example. Now go to each cell or exposure in A(0) and by selecting that cell or range of cells you can drag it or them over into the new drawing element you just added. Re-name this new drawing element to be whatever you desire for this element. Then repeat the process for the A(1), A(2) A(3) elements and so on depending on the layers involved. You will now have your Flash content in new drawing elements with your desired naming applied. You can then delete the A(0), A(1), A(2) A(3) elements and so on depending on the layers involved, because they no longer hold any content. And your new elements are appropriately named and easy to work with.

Hope this gives you some alternatives for moving Flash materials into TBS. -JK

Thanks JK! Why doesn’t the Toon Boom documentation explain this in a better way such as you have done. Something else that I am assuming, but think I’ve noticed, is that when I import a Flash file, each objects point of origin, or pivot point, doesn’t come along with it. ??? Would it be best to “Rig” the character in Flash first before importing it into Toon Boom or do I have to rig the character all over again after it’s imported and I’ve set up the objects using one of the methods you suggest?

The reasons for these questions is that 1) I’m a newb and 2) I’ve purchased some characters from CartoonSolutions (ie) the Butler and I’m trying to grasp how to best rig and import the character into Toon Boom from Flash since that is the format that most of their characters are in. I have no problems with the ones that were created specifically for Toon Boom. It would also be a cool feature if Toon Boom were to maintain “Groups” from Flash and create Parent Pegs for them automagically. ;D

The TBS folks have provided a very good import plug-in for moving TBS content to Flash. That functionality is well documented. They don’t spend a lot of time documenting the import from Flash to TBS which is reasonable because Flash is not their product. Just my opinion.

As to your rigging question, Flash rigging is minimal while TBS has much more robust rigging capabilities. So it is always much better to rig a character inside TBS. There is very little reason to create content in Flash and move it to TBS. It is better to create the content in TBS directly. But as I described above , for those occasions where you have Flash content that you want or need to move to TBS it is possible. But the less you try to depend on parameters set in Flash and imported into TBS the better your results. It is always best to only import art work and do all the set up and keyframing in TBS. Again that is a personal opinion. -JK

Yes I can see your point about Flash. I’ve worked with Flash for a long time (Since V3) before Toon Boom was ever created. Moving to Toon Boom is a bit weird but offers a better way to animate for videos I feel. Then next thing I’m trying to get my head around is “cells”. When I import the Flash art, the cell properties are all screwed up. I would like to create eyeblinks, hand positions, etc to be contained in cells within their respective elements but when I import from Flash they’re all screwed up. Tips?

“screwed up”, is that a technical term, like flambooziled? Seriously, when you look at a cell in drawing view it is in its raw form. If you switch to camera view and look on the drawing tab of the properties panel you will see any static attributes that came over with the element from Flash. I typically reset all of these and then set the values for that element new in TBS. The placement of the rotational pivot is set with the rotation tool in camera view. You can reposition the element relative to other elements in camera view also using the scene planning select tool (arrow tool). For rigging a character I make sure camera view static values are reset and do all my parts layout in drawing view. If you don’t reset the static values in camera view then they will impact the way the parts look in camera view even though you repositioned them in drawing view. So I layout my cut out character in drawing view as completely as possible. Then I switch to camera view and do the final rigging , peg hierarchy, setting pivots etc. -JK

Tech term? Yes, like “wonky” :o
Thanks again JK! It’s starting to come together a bit more fluently.
Making the transition from Flash to Toon Boom is interesting to say the least but I think I’m starting to get the in’s and outs of it.
I was even considering creating a “static” or single graphic in Flash, importing it into TBS and then cutting it out to save my sanity. If things are not set up right in Flash before importing into TBS they WILL go “wonky” as I’ve been experiencing with a charcter containing hundreds of elements. :’(

You mentioned “For rigging a character I make sure camera view static values are reset”. How do you do that? Is there a way to import the Flash file into the drawing window only and then laying it out in the camera window?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
I really appreciate it.
A video tutorial on this would be awesome!

When you create a drawing in Flash and symbolize it you are working in a fashion similar to creating a cell in TBS. The position, rotation, size etc. of the symbol are its base or raw values. Then when you move that drawing object on to the Flash stage for the main Flash timeline and move it to a new position on the stage or change its orientation or scale it, those changes are layered on top of the raw values of the source symbol. The symbol is unchanged but it is displayed on the stage and rendered based on those “staged” values. Those “staged” values are similar to what we refer to in TBS as static scene planning values. (The values shown on the drawing tab of the properties panel.) So if you create your content in Flash inside a symbol and move that symbol’s content to the stage unaltered it will import into TBS most cleanly. Now here’s the “rub”. When you start nesting symbols and modifying them inside other symbols that starts adding “staged” values as well, so it is ok to nest symbols but for example don’t scale or modify any symbols even when you are combining symbols to make more complex symbols. If you need to alter or modify a symbol for nesting do that inside the source symbol itself not inside the nested version. I hope that makes sense for you, the long and short of it is if you must draw in Flash (which I highly recommend that you don’t) then keep your work as free of changes outside of each source symbol. May Flash users moving to TBS want to gravitate back to Flash for drawing stuff mainly because they are comfortable with that interface. I find that the best way to “ween” yourself off of that crutch is to just force yourself to use TBS instead for your drawing and very soon you will not even think about using Flash for anything except for adding action scripted interactivity after the cartoon is finished. Just my opinion of course, as always.

As to resetting static scene planning values for an element, unfortunately there is not a one click solution. You have to manually set the scale to 1, the rotation and skew to 0, and the x, y locations to 0. It can be tedious if your imported content has lots of staged values applied to many elements. As to the question of importing to drawing view and laying out in camera view, you will always end up doing that for a rigged character, so you could skip doing anything in drawing view and just jump right into camera view to clean up and rig the character. It is a matter of preference. I don’t work that way because I am now well oriented to TBS and it is just more natural to work in drawing view to clean up my raw materials before doing any rigging. -JK

I’d like to send you a FLA file so that you can see firsthand as to why things are coming across weird from Flash to TBS. I’ve examined each root symbol and also checked it’s location on the stage in the main timeline but when I import it, the elements no longer line up as seen in Flash. Wanna take a look at the file to helpme out? I need to understand why before I go nutz converting all the characters to be saved as TBS templates. :o

Sorry for the slow response, I missed your post due to the minor weekend problem with the domain renewal. I really don’t have the time to review files, sorry. I have moved significant content from Flash to TBS successfully. I suspect that your problem is the way that Cartoon Solutions created those characters. If it is really important to you to move them to TBS then you are going to probably have to “bite the bullet” and rework them manually. I realize that is not the answer you wanted to hear. -JK