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What is Flash animation or Flash Cartoon?

 

A Flash animation or Flash cartoon is an animated film which is created using Adobe Flash animation software and often distributed in the .swf file format. It can be created in Flash or with other programs capable of writing .swf files. The term Flash animation not only refers to the file format but to a certain kind of movement and visual style which, in many circles, is seen as simplistic or unpolished. However, with dozens of Flash animated television series, countless more Flash animated television commercials, and award-winning online shorts in circulation, Flash animation is enjoying a renaissance.

In the late 1990s, when for most Internet users, bandwidth was still at 56 kbit/s, many Flash animation artists employed limited animation or cutout animation when creating projects intended for web distribution. This allowed artists to release shorts and interactive experiences well under 1mb, which could stream both audio and high-end animation. One example is the first episode of The Goddamn George Liquor Program released in 1999, rendered at only 628kb.

Some hallmarks of poorly-produced Flash animation are jerky natural movements (seen in walk-cycles and gestures), auto-tweened character movements, lip-sync without interpolation, and abrupt changes from front to profile view. Although Flash is able to integrate bitmaps and other raster-based art, as well as video, most Flash films are created using only vector-based drawings which often result in a somewhat clean graphic appearance.

Flash animations are typically distributed by way of the World Wide Web, in which case they are often referred to as Internet cartoons, online cartoons, or webtoons. Web Flash animations may be interactive and are often created in a series. A Flash animation is distinguished from a Webcomic, which is a comic strip distributed via the Web, rather than an animated cartoon.

 

History :

The first prominent use of the Flash animation format was by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. He embarked on a mission to bring cartoons to the Internet. Kricfalusi employed George Liquor (a fictional character rumored to have ended Kricfalusi's employment on Ren & Stimpy) and his dim-witted nephew Jimmy the Hapless Idiot Boy on their own Internet program titled The Goddamn George Liquor Program. Later, John produced more animated projects with Flash including several online shorts for Icebox.com, television commercials, and a music video. Soon after that, web cartoons began appearing everywhere.

The Von Ghouls went live in November 1999, featuring the first music group with cartoon episodes online including original songs, in the vein of Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970s. A number of popular portal sites featured Flash animation during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, including Icebox, MondoMedia, CampChaos, MediaTrip, and AtomFilms. Stan Lee of Marvel Comics launched an animated comics site.

The Internet also saw the proliferation of many adult-only Flash cartoon sites. Some of the shows from that period made the transition to traditional media, including Queer Duck, Gary the Rat, Happy Tree Friends, the politically-minded JibJab shorts and the very popular Homestar Runner. Occasionally, the trend has been reversed: after being canceled from both ABC and Fox, Atom Films created net-only episodes of The Critic in 2000-2001. In another instance, Flash almost made the transition to the big screen. In 2001, production began on what would have been the first Flash-animated feature film, the ill-fated "Lil' Pimp," which also began life as an Internet series. As potentially controversial as its subject matter was, it had a relatively large budget, a number of well-known actors (including William Shatner, Bernie Mac, and Lil Kim), a full crew, and a running time of nearly 80 minutes. Although Sony Pictures decided not to release the film, it was eventually released on DVD by Lion's Gate.

Several recording companies experimented with releasing animated music videos to promote their artists' releases online, including Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Tenacious D, however none became the hit that allowed for the expansion of Flash animated music videos. Adam Sandler and Tim Burton among others, released original Internet-only animated works, but were not able to devise successful financial models and the trend dissipated, largely as a result of a lack of viable micro payment systems.

Several popular online series are currently produced in Flash, such as the Emmy Award-winning Off-Mikes, produced by ESPN and Animax Entertainment and Gotham Girls, produced by Warner Brothers.

Many animated television series are produced using Macromedia Flash, inspired by both the comparatively low cost of production and the unique style that can be achieved with the software, including Metalocalypse, Being Ian, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Happy Tree Friends, Odd Job Jack, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, the BBC Three show Monkey Dust, Yin Yang Yo, Aaagh! It's the Mr. Hell Show and Queer Duck from Showtime, and Shorties Watching Shorties on Comedy Central.

Other television series, such as Home Movies and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, both broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, have switched to Flash from other animation technology.

Many animation film festivals have responded to the popularity of Flash animation by adding separate categories in competition for "web cartoons" or "Internet cartoons." Additionally, several exclusively web-based Flash competitions have been established. It is speculated that only the category "made for Internet" will survive, as competitions at animation film festivals are typically arranged in categories defined by film length and distribution channel, rather than by animation techniques or tools used to create the films.

 

Flash Animation Distribution:

While the creation of animation using Flash can be easier and less expensive than traditional animation techniques, the amount of time, money, and skill required to produce a project using the software depends on the chosen content and style. Internet distribution is considerably easier and less expensive than television broadcasting, and websites such as www.Clipal.com provide free hosting. Many Flash animations are created by individual or amateur artists, although it does require some amount of technical knowledge to create a notable work with the software. Many Flash animations first distributed on the web became popular enough to be broadcast on television, particularly on such networks as MTV and G4TV.

 

 

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