Along with the brilliant new tweening model in Flash CS4, the Flash team has given us the powerful, but somewhat daunting, Motion Editor panel. The Motion Editor panel allows for extremely precise control of each individual animation property as well as custom easing curves. Put simply, the upshot of the Motion Editor is control and precision, the downside is time and complexity. One area where a lot of time can be lost is in recreating custom eases. A custom ease cannot be transferred from one tween to another (UPDATE: you can copy/paste curves in the motion editor–a great feature that I somehow missed. See comments for details. Thanks, Eric!). Custom eases can be cumbersome to transfer eases across tweens and across files. And I’ll go out on a limb here, there was no way to transfer an ease from a classic tween to a motion tween or vice versa…that is, until EaseCaddy.
I should clarify somewhat. The Motion Presets panel that comes with CS4 is a great way to store and quickly apply entire animations that include easing. In fact, I modeled the visual design and functionality of EaseCaddy on the Motion Presets panel. But what if you want to apply an ease from a motion preset, but not overwrite your existing animation? Or apply the effect to a different property? Hence I’ve titled this post, “The Missing Flash Panel.”
The EaseCaddy panel allows you to store your custom eases and re-apply them. You can save your eases to a file and send them to someone else. You can save both classic (pre-CS4 motion tween) eases and object (new motion tween, as of CS4) eases, and apply one to the other. So you can even save eases from your Flash CS4 Motion Editor panel and send them to someone who has Flash CS3, or open up old files and reuse your classic tween eases on the new motion tweens. EaseCaddy will translate them for you. The panel is sortable by column, and has a filter field, in case you collect a large number of eases. Eases within the panel can be renamed by simply double-clicking on their names. There’s an adjustable preview at the top gives an approximation of the easing curve. I used Singularity’s FastBezier Actionscript class to draw quadratic bezier curves from the cubic curve data (explanation here).
When applying a stored ease to a new motion tween, you can choose to apply it to the available properties that currently have keyframes. This keeps you from having to open the massive Motion Editor editor panel, while still taking advantage of much of the power and flexibility that the new motion model offers. And, since recording the demo, I’ve also added an overwrite option to this box. If you want the settings to overwrite existing applied eases, you can check this box. For instance, suppose you just applied an ease to X, Y, and rotation (Z)–the default–, but you only wanted the ease to be applied to Y. You can re-apply the ease and uncheck X and rotation, and check the box that says, “Set unchecked properties to ‘No Ease’.” This will remove the first ease that you applied from the X and rotation properties, and apply the new ease to the Y property only.
When you import and export, you can any number of the eases available.
I used many of the same techniques that I created for the MotionSketch tool to interact with the new tweening model. I’m still planning to post a technical explanation on that process if anyone is interested. The EaseCaddy panel is available (free) for CS3 and CS4. There are three reasons why it’s not compatible with earlier versions of Flash: 1) Actionscript 3 components are much more powerful, 2) There’s a lot of XML manipulation in this extension, which would have been a nightmare, until E4X was introduced to JSFL and Actionscript in Flash CS3, 3) Some on the JSFL commands were not available prior to CS3. I used several of Peter DeHaan’s articles on Flash components to get up to speed with some of the AS3 components; I’d highly recommend them.
UPDATE (2/9/2012): Version 2.0 has been optimized for CS5 and above (while still compatible with CS3 and CS4). Additionally, there is now a Pro version of EaseCaddy that allows you to apply an ease to multiple tweens simultaneously.
(compatibility: Flash CS3 and newer)
[I’m using Jing for video capture, which is nice because it’s free, but it crashes constantly and has some other issues that I won’t go into here. If you like this extension and/or you like the video demos/tutorials on this site, you can donate using the link on the right side so that I can invest in some better video capture software.]