August 7, 2015

Save as.

WARNING: Animator speak.

Two nights ago I had an animation disaster: while working in Flash CS5 on a commissioned film, the file suddenly corrupted. It refused to revert so I forced close and reopened it. When I checked it there was a ton of missing body parts and elements, every symbol had doubled its number of layers and extended one layer for twice as many frames. FREAKY.

Poor Nonna lost her knickers.

To make matters worse, the doubling was causing the file to choke making it super difficult to do anything. I’m talking "click… (wait 5 seconds) …object selected". And then it would freeze, "file not responding". Ugh.

I thought I was going to puke.


To those of you who said “don’t you back up?” Of course I fucking back up, ffs. I’m not an idiot, geez. Mostly. I save every few seconds, and there's a raid automagically backing everything up in case one of my drives dies. But I hadn't actually saved as in a while...the earlier version from a few days before proved less than useful because I just work so dang fast yawl. Goddammit

To the three animators who reached out to me privately to offer assistance with the winrar extension fix, thank-you so much. Kiyoshi, Antonio, Jason, it really meant a lot to me that you speak the same language as me. That fix didn’t work in this particular case though.

So I did what I always do in times of great need: I texted The Huz (blissfully away camping in the Tadoussac) and I cried. He cooly reminded me that I could always decompile the latest swf render. Which I had backed up into my approvals folder. HURRAH for not being completely stupid!

If you work in Flash you probably already know about Sothink Decompiler. It basically takes your swf render and backwards-engineers it to give you a “functional” Flash file. And by “functional” I mean scrambled beyond recognition. I used it and all the symbol names in the library have been obliterated and replaced by ‘shapes’ in a million layers on the main timeline. What was once named “donkey” is now exploded into shapes 253, 254, and 255. And there are hundreds and hundreds of shapes! 

But fear not. I am brave.

Delving into my corrupted Flash file I began deleting the doubled layers. I started with the cycles that were re-used in multiple characters, like the dancing legs, running legs and so on. When the file began behaving a little better, I systematically checked for missing body parts, sourced the correct shape in the decompiled Flash file, and copy pasted it into the correct symbol in the corrupted file.


I just finished all that and restored my file completely. It took two days. The moral of the story is to 'save as' every couple of hours. Save as, motherfuckers! It could save your ass. Hee haw.

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