As a flash developer, I'm often asked what the limitations of flash are and how much the software actually helps with the creation of animations. Seeing as this section of the HTS forum is (not surprisingly) quite empty, I thought I'd share some words for anyone curious enough to stumble across this post.
First and foremost, I'm asked about flash and 3d modeling. Can you make 3d animations in flash? Kind of. Flash has some new 3d tools, but it's nothing like 3d modeling. Instead, most people use programs such as Maya, and then export the animations to flash. I know there are a few bridge like programs that make this exporting process quite easy. Once in flash, you can add code for games, change frame rate, and to a degree manipulate the on stage objects to put together a rather impressive 3d animation.
As for 2d animation, most people ask me "How much easier is flash than standard frame by frame animation?"
Well, that depends on the type of animations. Flash of course has motion tweens and shape tweens which are extraordinarily useful. It also lets you put animations inside of animations. For example, A set of eyes blinking is one animation. That goes inside the animation of a head moving next to the animation of a mouth talking. All of that goes in the animation of a person walking. This means you can re-use simple animations and put them together to make more complex ones.
There are also some new but somewhat quirky animations tools. The most impressive (and possibly the most in need of improvement) is the new bone tool. The concept should be familiar to anyone who has worked with 3d modeling software. The bone tool lets you set joint points on a 2 dimensional image. You can then drag the pieces of the image attached by joints and flash will automatically tween for an animation. This is useful in running animations, moving arms, and even things like springs. You can even set the properties of the joints in order to give the appropriate automatic motion.
Despite all these useful tools however, complex animation still requires a great deal of frame by frame animation. So while flash helps to a degree in the development process - good old fashion frame by frame animation skills are still immensely useful to any flash developer.
Now, while I realize HTS isn't necessarily the place for this, if anyone has any questions regarding flash feel free to contact me. And if anyone has anything to add to what I've said here, please reply.