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Concepts Macromedia Flash

Although, the multimedia functions next are introductory; they are robust and require some time and experimentation to develop solid skills. There are many web design tutorials on the market that discuss Flash multimedia concepts in high detail. If you aspire to add video or enhanced multimedia capabilities to your Web portfolio, you should consult these sources.

 

Flash has some basic editing tools for editing audio, video, and for optimizing images, but they only provide low level features. To edit multimedia files properly, you must use dedicated software tools. Later in this web design lesson, we will use Adobe Audition to edit audio files that will be imported into the library in Flash. Macromedia Flash is the topic of many web design tutorials dedicated to the application and the use of motion graphics. This web design tutorial is focused on Web portfolios.

 

Using Flash can add value to the Web portfolio, so we will explore Flash in a limited capacity. We will examine several key techniques and some principle founda- tions that are needed to get going with the program and we will provide basic web design lessons in animation of text, graphics, and shapes. We will also discuss exporting Shockwave Flash files (SWF) so that they can be imported into Dreamweaver and inevitably have a place on the Web in your Web portfolio. SWF, Shockwave Flash files are played from a Web page through a plug in or through the Flash player. Macromedia states that 98 percent of all internet users have the Flash player installed on their computers.

 

This means that practically every user that may encounter your Web portfolio will have the Flash player on their computer and will be able to see your motion graphics. Flash is a tool for multimedia production. Flash files can be viewed on the Web, on video or TV, on handheld devices, and on DVD or CD Rom based products. Flash provides an authoring and design environment that allows the designer or programmer to integrate text, graphics, audio, video, and motion into one file or a series of files that can call upon each other to execute multimedia and programmable functions.  The Flash application interface consists of several key components.

 

Content resides in the library. Objects are assigned to the library after creation or importation. The objects that reside in the library can be any sort. Graphic files can include bitmap files (JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF) and vector files(AI, EPS, FH). Audio format Flash supports includes AIF, WAV, and MP3. Flash also al lows importation of MP3 and QuickTime video. Flash application interface (Flash has several key areas within the software interface. (A) Timeline, (B) Layers, (C) Stage, (D) Scenes panel, (E) Properties inspector, (F) Tool palette, (G) Library panel.)

 

Flash has three main object types. Objects in Flash are referred to as symbols. Symbols are the building blocks of Flash movies. Symbol types are graphics, buttons, and movie clips. Each one serves a different purpose in Flash. When you create a new symbol in Flash (Insert>New Symbol) you are directed to a new timeline area that looks quite similar to the main stage and main timeline; this is the symbol editor. Symbols are reusable objects in Flash and they posses their own timeline that can be controlled and manipulated.

 

The timeline of the symbol executes when the symbol is placed on the stage. Using a process called instancizing , you can create instances of movie clip and button symbols for use in ActionScript. By having independent timelines, symbols can also be nested with each other to raise control and interactive functionality within the objects. Graphic symbols are used for simple animations and static graphics. Graphic symbols are the lowest level symbols because they do not have the ability to be controlled with ActionScript.

 

Graphic symbols can be animated and used effectively in simple Flash movies. However, to use the real power features of Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Professional, button symbols, and most impor- tantly movie clip symbols need to learned and utilized. These symbols take full advantage of the ActionScript language.

Motion, Graphics and Multimedia Production

The Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial (Macromedia, 2004) provides this condensed version of the important components in the Flash interface.

 

• The Stage is the area that represents how your published content will appear.

• The Timeline, above the stage, displays a layer for the art and a layer for the effects in the document.

• Layers allow stacking content within the timeline.

• Scenes act like scenes in a play or movie, each piece can be acted out separately and collectively the scenes encompass the movie.

• Panels in Flash assist you in working with and assigning attributes to the document or to objects on the stage.

• Tool Palette provides raster and vector based drawing tools.

• The properties inspector allows you to view and change attributes of a selected object. The Properties inspector changes to display information about the tool or asset you are working with, offering quick access to frequently used features. (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial)

• The library panel stores reusable items such as graphics, sound, and video clips. When you want to use a library item, you simply drag it from the library panel to the stage. (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial)

 

The stage is the rectangular area where you place graphic content, including vector art, text boxes, buttons, imported bitmap graphics or video clips, and so on. The stage in the Flash authoring environment represents the rectangular space in the Macromedia Flash Player where your Flash document is displayed during playback.

 

You can zoom in and out to change the view of the stage as you work (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial). Typical sizes for the stage are 550 x 400, the standard Web page sizes: 640 x 480, 1024 x 768, and Web banner sizes: 468 x 60. You can create a Flash movie at any pixel size you desire. You can set the stage color and movie frame rate to begin building your movie. Layers in a document are listed in a column on the left side of the timeline. Frames contained in each layer appear in a row to the right of the layer name.

 

The timeline header at the top of the timeline indicates frame numbers. The play head indicates the current frame displayed on the stage (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial). The timeline holds frames. When content is added to stackable layers in the timeline, objects appear on the stage (the live area), and keyframes are filled on the timeline. Keyframes are where change occurs on the timeline.

 

To add an object or script to a frame, a keyframe must be inserted. Objects are changed from keyframe to keyframe, either manually (frame by frame), or automatically using tweening. By using tweening, you designate the start and the finish keyframes of an animation, position or size changes for example, and then Flash makes all the changes in-between automatically. Layers are like transparent sheets of acetate stacked on top of each other. Layers help you organize the artwork in your document. You can draw and edit objects on one layer without affecting objects on another layer. Where there is nothing on a layer, you can see through it to the layers below. When creating a text animation, you need to use layers efficiently.

 

Each part of the animation should be placed on its own separate layer. This allows for editable content that is easier to manage. For example, you might place a word on each layer for the r text animation. Then position the words in sequence so that they are shown over time. By using separate layers for each word, you can control each word as an individual element in the motion (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial). As you draw, paint, or otherwise modify a layer or folder, you select the layer to make it active.

 

A pencil icon next to a layer or folder name indicates that the layer or folder is active. Only one layer can be active at a time (although more than one layer can be selected at a time). When you create a new Flash document, it contains one layer. You can add more layers to organize the artwork, animation, and other elements in your document. The number of layers you can create is limited only by your computer’s memory, and layers do not increase the file size of your published SWF file.

 

You can hide, lock, or rearrange layers. You can also organize and manage layers by creating layer folders and placing layers in them. You can expand or collapse layers in the timeline without affecting what you see on the stage. It’s a good idea to use separate layers or folders for sound files, actions, frame labels, and frame comments. This helps you find these items quickly when you need to edit them. In addition, you can use special guide layers to make drawing and editing easier, and mask layers to help you create sophisticated effects (Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Tutorial). INSERT FIGURE ActionScript CODE SAMPLE.

 

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