Tag Archives: environment

Coastal Erosion Animation


I made a 15-second animation about coastal erosion using Adobe Animate.  As the salt builds up the plants die and the soil is released into the Gulf of Mexico.


Link to my animation as SWF file:  http://instruisto.net/CoastalErosion.swf

Link to the original Animate file:  http://instruisto.net/CoastalErosionAnimate.fla

Link to my animation portfolio page:  http://instruisto.net/animation.html


I decided to make my animation about the problem of coastal erosion on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The construction of levees following the Civil War cut off freshwater from the coastal marsh ecosystem. In the absence of freshwater flooding, the salt content of the water in the marsh built up over time. The increased salinity kills coastal plant life unable to adapt. When the plants died, their roots no longer held the soil, which then washed out the Gulf of Mexico. The emergence of satellite photography in the late 1960s showed the loss of much land along the Gulf Coast.  I teach about this phenomena in my geography course each year because it is a major ecological problem for the United States. The loss of the wetlands represents the destruction of the spawning grounds of many species that live their adult lives in the Gulf of Mexico. The wetlands serve as a windbreak that slows down hurricanes and mitigates damage from storms in New Orleans and the surrounding area. Estimates of the potential financial losses caused by coastal erosion, in the long run, are in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  I will use this animation in class to teach a concept that I had been acting out with my hands as the roots of the plants releasing the soil into the Gulf (Marshall, The Lens, & ProPublica, 2014).

I began not in Adobe Animate but Adobe Audition. I made the soundtrack first to make sure that I could say what needed in the 15 seconds allotted. I initially went slightly over 15 seconds but trimmed the audio of pauses to get down to the allotted time.  My script is below:

“Levees on the Mississippi River prevent freshwater from reaching the coastal marsh. Without freshwater, the marsh becomes saltier, the plants die, and the roots release the soil into the Gulf.”

I’ve never used Animate before, so I found a tutorial on Lynda.com. The tutorial title was “Learning Adobe Animate CC.” I watched enough of the course to figure out what I needed to do.  I created an Action Script document in Adobe Animate because the Lynda.com tutorial stated that an Action Script file could be tested in Adobe Animate without opening a separate browser. The course instructor created his project as an Action Script document, and I followed his example.  I saved the document.  I selected a light yellow for the stage color, #FFFFCC, to make it closer to the warm color scheme of my portfolio without being too bright and to make sure I knew how to adjust the stage color.  Following the example in the tutorial, I changed the frame rate to 30fps.

I then created layers for the plant the water salt in the ground. I later add one for a title. I use the rectangle tool to make the water and the earth. I typed the word “salt” and set it to white. I colored the ground green and the water blue. I used stippled borders for water and dirt.  I renamed the layers in the property boxes.  I used the paintbrush to draw the plant.  I forgot to turn off stipple and drew a stippled trunk at first.  I switched to solid and finished the plant.

I set the time for each layer to 450 frames to get 15 seconds of animation. I inserted frames up to the 450 mark.  I animated “salt” to grow across the screen.  I messed up once on the animation, deleted the layer, and started over.  I animated the ground to fall away as the plant died and faded away using motion tweening. The fade out effect for the plant was achieved through moving the alpha to 0%.

Importing the sound was tricky.  I tried to drag it to the timeline, but that did not work.  I had to drag it to the stage.  I exported the video, and the sound did not export with the images.  I finally realized that I had to publish, not export, to keep the sound.  I did export as an animated GIF.  I tested the SWF file, and it worked.

The video posted below shows my work on the project.



Adobe Animate:  http://www.adobe.com/products/animate.html

Adobe Audition:  http://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html

Adobe Forum post on audio issues:  https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1590472

Adobe Help on sound in Animate:  https://helpx.adobe.com/animate/using/using-sounds.html

Adobe Help on stacking objects:  https://helpx.adobe.com/animate/using/arranging-objects.html

Lynda.com tutorial on Adobe Animate: https://www.lynda.com/Animate-tutorials/Learn-Adobe-Animate-CC-Basics/482046-2.html?org=ufl.edu



Marshall, B., The Lens, & ProPublica. (2014, August 28). Losing ground: Southeast Louisiana is disappearing, quickly. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/losing-ground-southeast-louisiana-is-disappearing-quickly/

I don’t take information from the article since I’ve been teaching this topic for over a decade.  I include this as documentation that the problem is real.  If you are unaware of coastal erosion and the consequences for the Gulf Coast region I encourage you to read the article.