Animation Technologies
August 12, 2004 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Adobe After Affects Vs. Flash. Which would be better to learn from scratch to create animation for broadcast?
posted by drezdn to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
After Effects (from what I remember) is more a post-production special-effects software package, while Flash is more for vector animation. I'm almost positive you can export flash at 640x480 at 29 FPS, which would be fine for broadcast TV.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:05 PM on August 12, 2004

you might want to check out the new Motion package from Apple.
posted by grimley at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2004

My wife used to work as a TV station animator/graphics guru. She says After Effects. This is assuming what you want to do is take video and add animations and effects (e.g. a news opening or sports minute opening.) Flash is much more limited. Its fine for the web, and may be what you want to do a "totally" animated segment, but After Effects is what's used by most TV stations (along with some other more complex and specialised CGI apps.)
She also pointed out that as a career move, getting really proficient at Flash would probably be more worthwhile - as development jobs are considerably higher paying and offer more opportunities than the television biz. But if you are strictly doing a specific project for TV, After Effects is the way to go.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:21 PM on August 12, 2004

For broadcast-quality Flash, you may want to consider US Animation Opus or ToonBoom. Outside that format, After Effects or even Discreet Combustion will do.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:41 PM on August 12, 2004

If you have a choice, go Adobe.

From sheer learnability, anything Adobe can be self-taught (basics, interface concepts, etc) within a week of just playing around - and like the European languages, if you can learn one Adobe program really well you can teach yourself the other Adobe programs really quickly.

Flash, on the other hand, is horribly difficult to learn. That's to say, you need to learn the entire program before you can do small things; often the opposite with Adobe products, where small projects lead to greater knowledge. I really can't stand Flash, is my opinion.

Wow, this was a ramble. Excuse that... But, that's my thoughts.
posted by Peter H at 12:48 PM on August 12, 2004

If it's for broadcast - After Effects hands down.

The biggest advantages AE has over Flash is that:
  1. After Effects is a video program from the ground up. While Flash can output some files that you could turn into video it is by far the worst way to go - with video it's all about the pixels.
  2. The animation/keyframing system is much, much more flexible and robust.
  3. There is a staggering array of plug-ins and effects.
  4. You can use a kind of limited form of JavaScript to code your animations. (Obviously, Flash can use scripted animation too, but converting it into video is another matter)
  5. It has more keyboard commands than you can imagine. An expert user can fly in AE.
If you want to learn how to use After Effects I highly reccommend the Adobe After Effects 6.0 Classroom in a Book as a starting point. Then move onto the Trish and Chris Meyer books
Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, Volume 1 and Volume 2. (Although you may want to wait until they come out with the new editions that cover AE 6.5)

These are some websites I've found to be helpful:
Creative,, and there's also some great stuff in the Adobe Studio
posted by ssmith at 12:52 PM on August 12, 2004

Hm, the term "animation for broadcast" can mean two things. If you want to make the intro for a local news station (video with animated elements) use After Effects. If you want to make the intro to South Park, use Flash.

A note on After Effects -- it sort of reminds me of Quark in that it's been the standard for a long time but it's not necessarily a very good app. I personally found far too many things needlessly complicated.

Apple's Motion, at $299, looks pretty impressive based on the video tours I saw. It looks like a good program by itself, but it looks like a great program compared to AE.
posted by jragon at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2004

Response by poster: To be more specific, to make an animated cartoon that would be broadcast. I've went through the Flash tutorials a few months ago, but haven't looked used it much. It looks like I might just try to learn both (as making animated tv titles would probably be a useful skill for me).
posted by drezdn at 1:37 PM on August 12, 2004

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