Working with Flash and After Effects

If you use Adobe® Flash® to create video or animation, you can use After Effects to edit and refine the video. For example, from Flash you can export animations and applications as QuickTime movies or Flash Video (FLV) files. You can then use After Effects to edit and refine the video.

If you use After Effects to edit and composite video, you can then use Flash to publish that video. You can also export an After Effects composition as XFL content for further editing in Flash.

Flash and After Effects use separate terms for some concepts that they share in common, including the following:

  • A composition in After Effects is like a movie clip in Flash Professional.

  • The composition frame in the Composition panel is like the Stage in Flash Professional.

  • The Project panel in After Effects is like the Library panel in Flash Professional.

  • Project files in After Effects are like FLA files in Flash Professional.

  • You render and export a movie from After Effects; you publish a SWF file from Flash Professional.

Additional resources

The following video tutorials provide additional detailed information about using Flash together with After Effects:

The following articles provide additional information about using Flash and After Effects together:

Exporting QuickTime video from Flash

If you create animations or applications with Flash, you can export them as QuickTime movies using the File > Export > Export Movie command in Flash. For a Flash animation, you can optimize the video output for animation. For a Flash application, Flash renders video of the application as it runs, allowing the user to manipulate it. This lets you capture the branches or states of your application that you want to include in the video file.

Rendering and exporting FLV and F4V files from After Effects

When you render finished video from After Effects, select FLV or F4V as the output format to render and export video that can play in Flash Player. You can then import the FLV or F4V file into Flash and publish it in a SWF file, which can be played by Flash Player.

Importing and publishing video in Flash

When you import an FLV or F4V file into Flash, you can use various techniques, such as scripting or Flash components, to control the visual interface that surrounds your video. For example, you might include playback controls or other graphics. You can also add graphic layers on top of the FLV or F4V file for composite results.

Composite graphics, animation, and video

Flash and After Effects each include many capabilities that allow you to perform complex compositing of video and graphics. Which application you choose to use will depend on your personal preferences and the type of final output you want to create.

Flash is the more web-oriented of the two applications, with its small final file size. Flash also allows for run-time control of animation. After Effects is oriented toward video and film production, provides a wide range of visual effects, and is generally used to create video files as final output.

Both applications can be used to create original graphics and animation. Both use a timeline and offer scripting capabilities for controlling animation programmatically. After Effects includes a larger set of effects, while the Flash ActionScript® language is the more robust of the two scripting environments.

Both applications allow you to place graphics on separate layers for compositing. These layers can be turned on and off as needed. Both also allow you to apply effects to the contents of individual layers.

In Flash, composites do not affect the video content directly; they affect only the appearance of the video during playback in Flash Player. In contrast, when you composite with imported video in After Effects, the video file you export actually incorporates the composited graphics and effects.

Because all drawing and painting in After Effects is done on layers separate from any imported video, it is always non-destructive. Flash has both destructive and nondestructive drawing modes.

Exporting After Effects content for use in Flash

You can export After Effects content for use in Flash. You can export a SWF file that can be played immediately in Flash Player or used as part of another rich media project. When you export content from After Effects in SWF format, some of the content may be flattened and rasterized in the SWF file.

To edit your After Effects content further in Flash, export a composition as an XFL file. An XFL file is a type of Flash file that stores the same information as a FLA file, but in XML format. When you export a composition from After Effects as XFL for use in Flash, some of the layers and keyframes that you created in After Effects are preserved in the Flash version. When you import the XFL file in Flash, it unpacks the XFL file and adds the assets from the file to your FLA file according to the instructions in the XFL file.

The following video tutorials provide detailed information about exporting XFL files from After Effects:

Importing Flash SWF files into After Effects

Flash has a unique set of vector art tools that make it useful for a variety of drawing tasks not possible in After Effects or Adobe® Illustrator®. You can import SWF files into After Effects to composite them with other video or render them as video with additional creative effects. Interactive content and scripted animation are not retained. Animation defined by keyframes is retained.

Each SWF file imported into After Effects is flattened into a single continuously rasterized layer, with its alpha channel preserved. Continuous rasterization means that graphics stay sharp as they are scaled up. This import method allows you to use the root layer or object of your SWF files as a smoothly rendered element in After Effects, allowing the best capabilities of each tool to work together.