Working with Multiple Scenes in Animate 2

The question has come up multiple times about how to work with multiple scenes in Animate. A lot of users who have cross-graded from Studio or who have come from Flash are used to using a Scene Manager, which we don’t have in Animate. I wanted to explain a little bit about the reason why we decided not to go that route, and the options that you have to manage your scenes.

The advantages of having a scene manager:
- You can flip through your multiple scenes with ease
- you can render all of the scenes as one final movie file
- you are working on a single timeline

The advantages of NOT having a scene manager:
- your project is split into separate .anim files that can be worked on individually by different people (great for working on a team)
- you don’t need to render the whole project every time you make a change
- if you have a crash while rendering one of your scenes, you don’t have to re-render the whole project, only that one scene
- the file size of your projects will be broken up and thus will be smaller and more manageable, both in terms of computer resources, and also in terms of sharing your projects with a team, once again - it’s much easier to copy a 500 MB file onto a thumb drive than it is to copy a 3 Gig file.

Particularly when working on larger, more complicated projects, rendering the whole project at once doesn’t make your workflow faster - in fact, it could slow you down, because of the fact that if there’s a problem you have to re-render the whole thing. These are the reasons why we decided not to integrate the scene manager into Animate.

Now that I’ve explained our reasoning, I’d like to give a few suggestions on how to handle your projects.

1. Break your project up into multiple .anim files, then concatenate these files back together in an editing software.

This is usually the preferred method. If you don’t already have a pipeline that runs with an editing software, then be aware that there are some options that are very low cost (Quicktime Pro) or entirely free.

Since we have a lot more customers that are moving into producing content for the web, the question came up of how to handle this situation if you’re working with the intention of exporting to swf.

If you want to export to swf, you can still use this method. All you have to do is download a free tool called swftools. Here is the link to download:

Install the tool.

When you work with your multiple project files, simply have them all export individual .swf files. Then once you have your list of exported files, you will need to run the swfcombine command line tool. To do this, open a command prompt. Navigate to the location where the tool has been saved. If you save it in the default Program Files location, then you can navigate there by typing the following:

cd C:\Program Files\SWFTools

From this location, you can run swfcombine. Here is the syntax:

swfcombine -o -a <path to file 1> <path to file 2> …

You can combine as many swf files as necessary together in this manner. For an example of what the final line looks like on my computer:

C:\Program Files\SWFTools> swfcombine -o “C:\Users\toonboom\Documents\swfcombineOutput.swf” -a “C:\Users\toonboom\Documents\swfFile1.swf” “C:\Users\toonboom\Documents\swfFile2.swf” "C:\Users\toonboom\Documents\swfFile3.swf"

When I run this line, I have 3 swf files that are combined together into the final output file. This final file could then be uploaded onto the internet. There is no need to purchase an expensive editing suite or to use Flash to get the job done. It’s also an extremely fast tool, it took me less than 2 seconds to splice together several swf files.

Working in this way gives you the freedom to work on your swf files in individual scenes and yet still get one final swf output file.

2. Working with Symbols to make “scenes” in one project file

If you really want to work in one file, you can do so. Here’s one way to approach it.

Remember how I have mentioned before that symbols are just a container. Inside of a symbol, you could actually have a whole complete scene, with all of its animation and everything. In this case, you would create as many symbols as you have scenes, then you can double-click to get inside that scene and edit that scene from within the symbol. Then when you’re done, you can drag and drop the symbols back into the main scene, exposing the full length of the symbols, and then you will have a complete timeline.

It’s worth trying out this approach to see whether this works for you. In this case, you would be able to render to one file.

3. Working with Templates

Similar to 2, what you could do is you could split up your project into separate .anim files (like 1), and then create one master scene file, into which you would bring templates of all of your individual scenes. Do the following:

- Create separate .anim files for each scene
- work on the scenes individually until they are finished
- create a template by dragging and dropping everything on the left hand side of the timeline into the library. This will be your scene-master template. (If you need to make modifications to the scene template after it’s been created, remember that you can do a right-click Edit Template to edit that template)
- now create one master project file.
- drag and drop the scene-master templates into this project file to make one large file
- now render the file

With this approach, you still have the flexibility of 1, however you are able to render the scene as one project like 2.

If you choose to do 2 or 3, I recommend saving several versions of your master scene to make sure you have a backup. Although in most cases I generally recommend working with 1000 frames or less, your master scene file could be much larger than this, since you’re not doing your actual manipulation in this scene. I have been told that people have done more than 5000 frames in one scene file - but it’s really up to you to test your system to see how much it can handle and how much it can render at once.

Overall, I still recommend the 1 approach, since it’s the most flexible way of doing things. However if you’re interested in trying out some different approaches, hopefully these ideas helped out somewhat.

Toon Boom Support

my system crashes when rendering my film, it gets stuck at 53% every time even after a re install. how can i split my scnes into seperate files so i can render small amounts and then stitch together in a movie editor.

just don’t render all the frames. Render a selected range Like 1-500 then 501-1000 etc

Hi Lilly

Thanks for posting this note; it’s very helpful. I work with Studio and Animate2. I have used Swfcombine, Animate Templates and Scene Manager to concatenate swf clips. However, I like working with a single soundtrack covering multiple scenes in order to get smooth overlaps from one scene to another. With a certain amount of chicanery, I can do this in both Studio and Animate , I was wondering:-

1) Do you know of any way to concatenate silent clips using swftools and then add a wav soundtrack to the concatenated clips?
2) Do you know of any software apart from CS5 that would allow me to do this?

Thanks for any guidance you are able to offer.


Thanks for explaining that Lilly. It has been on my mind for a while. Perhaps in the future you can combine both worlds and have a switch when starting a new project, but for now this is great. :slight_smile:

Hi Lilly

I’ve tried your suggestion and here are the results, if anyone is interested:-

1) Start Point

Create 3 files:-

a) Scene01.swf - A 5 second movie
b) Scene02.swl - A 5 second movie
c) Soundtrack01.swf - A 10 second soundtrack

2) Concatenate Scene01.swf with Scene02.swf using Swfcombine


Swfcombine –a Scene01.swf Scene02.swf

This produces a 10 second movie called output.swf (default name). You can use Swfcombine to give the file a different name but I’m trying to make things laborious but simple.

3) Rename output.swf to Movie01.swf (a manual process)

4) Use Wav2swf to convert the soundtrack to swf.


Wav2swf Sountrack01.swf

This produces a 10 second swf soundtrack in the a file called output.swf (default name)

5) Rename output.swf to Sound.swf (a manual process)

6) Use Swfcombine to add the soundtrack to the concatenated movie.


Swfcombine –T Sound.swf Movie01.swf

This produces a file called output.swf which is a ten second movie with a ten second soundtrack, The –T gets the files to join concurrently rather than consecutively.


While the process worked with the test data I’ve not done any testing to check for accurate alignment or data loss. I will try this when I publish my next movie.

Thanks very much for the idea.


You make some nice points Lili, and not to make this into a debate but I dont think anyone seems to look at creating animation from the individualist point of view enough (those who dont have a team to handle each scene). Please look at this from another point of view.

Imagine the individual animator who wants to start a project start to finish, digitally drawn frame by frame traditional style animation in Animate. Its currently difficult for them to easily get a flow for how their rough animation feels in the early stage as a complete 3 minute (40 scene) piece when they have to constantly render out each scene, go into after effects, or quicktime, and then render out their work again to see the whole thing. And this is just for a pencil test done in Animate, no color, special fx. It’s so tedious, slow, and counter productive, especially in 2011, and especially if you’re handling all 40 rough animation scene files yourself. The Animate Team has got to make this easier for us.

It just doesnt seem to make sense to me why “previewing” or as they say in maya “playblasting” and rendering cant be separate things? I want to “preview” my entire animation I’ll render it when Im done. Why cant the smart people at Toonboom find a way to do that when companies like Tv Paint, and Flash have (and I hate to say that but its true) ? How can Animate claim to be an “all in one package” when the user is forced to use other software just to “string” together scenes for preview. If Animate could atleast give you an option to play several scenes in a row “previewed, rendered” or whatever it would truly be all in one. That would be a solution because for me personally, I could live without any new 3d, special fx, or what have you, but from an individual animators point of view more solutions could be put into the program for us.

Heck, it would be great even if there was a scene manager that could loud a limited number of scene per file for all I care. better than what we have to work with now for movie preview.

And by the way I love using toonboom animate. People ask me all the time what software I make my work in.I tell them Toonboom, now I tell them Toonboom animate; so I dont mean to sound like I dont like the program, it’s my favorite 2d animation program with Tvpaint in close 2nd. And im sure these words might fall on def ears but I really wanted to speak for my individualist out there who could use a solution to movie preview.

Hi Team

An update on wav2swf. This is a free utility for converting WAV files to swf. I’ve experimented with it to add a continuous soundtrack to an swf movie. It uses mp3 compression using LAME. It can’t handle 24 bit WAVS but it can handle 16 bit. Based on my experiments the WAV file becomes very compressed/distorted and so I can’t use it. Maybe I don’t know the settings well enough.

Hope this saves someone some time.


Hi Team

Just a brief update on Swfcombine. I’ve found an instance where combining two scenes causes images from the first scene to “bleed” into the second scene. I traced this back to a Blur effect used in the first scene. Once the effect was removed completely Swfcombine worked fine.

The above result was found using Animate2.


The scene separation with symbols did help me alot indeed :slight_smile:
Just too bad the main sound isnt available inside it when i have it in “top” section.

Thankyou for the tips!


I don’t think I fully understand your point but I I often use a single soundtrack to which I gradually add multiple “scenes” which I have previously “stored” in templates. Is that what you want to do?


I want to second coreyart’s reply. I totally agree.

Any recommendations on editing software?

So I bought toonboom then upgraded to pro, now Ive bought Animate 2 and I cant thread my scenes together or have sound overlapping into scenes? I bought storyboard, boarded my project before I realized there is no connection between the 2 unless I get the pro version.
The new stuff in Animate 2 is great but I would have rather not lost anything. It said UPGRADE and All in One. So uh what can I do with this ship in a bottle? run my Animate scenes through TBpro? Is there a patch comming or a server based scene editor? does Animate Pro have a scene editor? Im Just an artist who actually buys the programs instead of getting them bootlegged so any help would be apprieciated. Im only sounding snotty because Ive spent months getting everything ready to find I might have a huge setback in editing my work. Not being able to see how my scenes flow together on the spot will effect the end result. help…

What sort of system are you using for the editing and what extent would you be using it. As there are some more cost effective programs out there that work just as well.

I TOTALLY agree with this. I’ve done the thing where you animate your whole project in one Toonboom file and it just turned into a pain in the butt. Big file size, choppy playback, ultra-long export time etc.

I was sick of working this way so I went ahead and purchased Adobe Premiere Elements which is a “consumer version” of the Adobe Premiere software. Now you probably couldn’t make a huge live-action movie in it since it has less effects and such then the “real” Premiere but it works GREAT for editing animation since you do most of your effects in Toonboom anyway!

It also only costs $99 and has way more functionality then something like iMovie shudder. Heck, even the new stripped-down Final Cut pales in comparison… and that costs $300!

Unlike many “consumer” grade software you get unlimited video and audio tracks and an unlimited project time length and full HD rendering. Plus you can get a ton of free plugins and such for extra effects.

So yeah, I say ditch the “animate the whole project in Toon Boom” method and just get Premiere Elements. You may even be able to get a good deal on Amazon or (I saw it on a few weeks ago for $75… that’s a darn good deal!!).

Oh yes, and Premiere Elements exports to .fla and .swf… just saying :wink:

I just took a look at the man pages for wav2swf and swfcombine, and it seems to me as though you could try using wav2swf to convert your wav file to an swf, then use swfcombine to combine these two swfs on top of each other. I haven’t tried this because I usually use the functionality to insert swfs one after the other, but it’s worth a shot.


Trust me your comments do not fall on deaf ears - we pay attention to every comment made by a customer and we do our best to evaluate and assess what can be done in future versions of the product. Of course I will bring your comments back to the team again. Thank you for taking the time to explain your issues.


It looks like you’ve already found this thread, in which I outlined the reasons why we didn’t use a scene manager here, and the solutions for how to work without one. I am not sure what else I can say that’s in addition to this to help you with your workflow. You can try to work all in one project but since Animate files are heavier than Studio files, you may run into slowdowns at some point and/or crashes when you try to render scenes that are too large.

I understand the feedback from the users here who would like to be able to see playback in larger scenes, and I think that being able to work on individual scenes, then bringing them via templates into a master scene could help with this kind of checking - then you could still render the scenes individually to prevent crashing or slowdowns.