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Okay, this is maddening. I have a little stick man MovieClip that I want to animate in Flash CS3. I have a head and torso drawn, now I want to add waving arms.
1. I double-click my StickMan symbol in the Library so that I am editing it.
2. I select the line tool and draw a line segment up and to the left from the torso to form the left arm.
3. I want his arm to wave from the shoulder, so I choose the Free Transform tool and drag the white center-of-rotation circle to the lower right end where it attaches to the torso.
4. I hit F8 to convert it to a symbol. I name this symbol SM\_LeftArm. I make it a MovieClip and set the registration to bottom-right, where it attaches to the torso.
5. I double-check the open-plus registration mark—it is in the lower right.
6. Hmm. On my new symbol, the center-of-rotation has returned to the middle of the line. I choose the Free Transform tool and drag it to the lower right end of the line again.
7. I choose the selection tool and double-click the arm to edit that symbol. Hey, the center-of-rotation is still on the torso, that’s good.
8. I right-click on frame 7 in the timeline and choose Insert Keyframe. So far so good.
9. I choose the Free Transform tool and rotate the arm down. It rotates perfectly from the shoulder as expected.
10. I right-click on about frame 4 and choose create Motion Tween.
BANG! My poor stick man’s arm jumps off his shoulder. The motion tween pushes the arm down, without rotation, as though the center of the object were still in the middle of the line segment. In frames 1 through 6 the arm translates down without rotation, then in frame 7 it snaps back to where I put it.
What gives, and how do I make Flash do what I want it to do?
Well, you could continue with all that, which I understood very little of, or of course you could pull an old style cartoon animation technique. Simply make it play all the frames and edit them individually. With tricky animations, as far as I am concerned, if it is easier to just put multiple frames hand edited/drawn, then why bother with a tricky animation that does the same thing?
That’s the kind of stuff that you just need to play around with to get it right. I always recommend for people to read books, because that’s how I learned. Otherwise, you will be confused by little things like, for instance, Flash only lets you tween a single object on any given layer.
If I understand you correctly, you’re trying to use a motion tween directly on the line segment. Motion tweens are for Symbols specifically, and will act weirdly (as you described) if used on raw graphics. A shape tween is what you need.
But.. for animating an arm like that, the best approac would be to put the arm inside a movieclip, and then animate the movieclip itself using motion tweens.