Final Sound Advice and Pointers - Flash

Here are a few final notes about sound and some pointers to more complex soundrelated topics that are presented later in the book.

VBR (Variable Bit Rate) MP3
Flash 5 has licensed the Fraunhofer MP3 codec, which supports streaming MP3 with a constant bit rate. However, Flash 5 does not support Variable Bit Rate (VBR), or VBR MP3. VBR MP3 is a variant of MP3 that utilizes specialized algorithms to vary the bit rate according to the kind of sound that is being compressed. For example, a soprano solo would be accorded a higher bit rate than a crashing drum sequence, resulting in a superior ratio of quality to file size. There are a number of sound applications, such as the Xing Audio Catalyst 2.1 codec, that export VBR MP3. If you have access to a sound application that exports VBR MP3, you’ll be happy to know that you can import your VBR MP3 sound files, which are (theoretically) optimized for file size and quality beyond the compression capabilities of Flash, and that the compression of such files can be maintained by doing the following:

  • In the Flash tab of the Publish Settings, leave the option to Override Sound Settings unchecked.
  • In the Sound Properties dialog, which is accessed from the Library, choose Default for the Compression option in Export Settings.
  • The Sync Option in the Sound Panel may not be set to Stream.

If you choose to use VBR in your Flash projects, For a guide to the optimal use of this format see below.

Quick Guide to Common VBR Quality Settings

Quick Guide to Common VBR Quality SettingsQuick Guide to Common VBR Quality Settings

Extracting a sound from a .FLA editor file
Sometime you may be handed a .FLA file that has sound embedded within it, and told that the original sounds have either been lost or are no longer available. Here’s how to extract a sound from such a file:

  1. Back up the file. If the original file is named, Mess.fla, then you might resave it as Mess_Sound_Extraction.Fla.
  2. Add a new layer in the timeline, at the top of the layer stack. Label this layer Sound Extraction. Add nine empty frames to this layer by selecting frame 10 and then using the keyboard shortcut, which is F5. (If it’s a long sound, you’ll probably want to add more frames.)
  3. Delete all other layers.
  4. open the Library and locate the sound that needs to be extracted from the file. In this case, the sound is named Buzz.wav. Note that any other assets within this file are irrelevant to this process. That’s because Flash will only utilize Library items that have been actually used within the movie.
  5. Double-click Buzz.wav to invoke the Sound Properties dialog. Set the Compression to default, if it’s not that way already. This ensures that the Library won’t alter the sound upon export. Note the sound specifications just to the right of the waveform display, as you’ll be double-checking for these specifications in only a few steps.
  6. Click frame 1 of the Sound Extraction layer to select it. This should now be the only keyframe on the only layer in this file.
  7. With frame one selected, drag Buzz.wav onto the Stage. Assuming it’s a short sound, the waveform will appear in the timeline across the ten frames of the Sound Extraction layer.
  8. The Sound Properties dialog, which is accessed from the Library, includes the original specifications for each sound, located down and to the right of the waveform.

    Sound Properties dialog

  9. Next, on the Flash tab of the Publish Settings dialog, make sure that the Override Sound Settings check box is not checked.
  10. Now we’re ready to extract Buzz.Wav from this .FLA. We’ve created a .FLA that will ignore all other assets in the Library except this sound, and we’ve told Flash to honor all of the original specifications of the sound. Choose File➪ Export Movie, and specify a file location, name, and file type in this case, .WAV and click Save.
  11. The Export Windows WAV dialog appears with those sound specifications. If you’ve done everything correctly, these should match the original specifications that appeared in the Library Sound Properties dialog. If not, go back and recheck your work.

Several sound-related topics must be deferred until after our discussion of Flash 5’s enhanced Action Scripting capabilities.

  • How to determine whether a sound is currently playing: Despite powerful enhancements to Flash’s scripting capabilities, there is no method to determine whether a sound is currently playing. We’ve found a simple workaround that fits into the Smart Clip, a new Flash 5 feature.
  • Using the Flash 5 sound control: The Flash 5 Sound Object supports pan and zoom control. Expert tutor Jay Vanian shows how to make sound fade and move from side to side, with incredible realism as a bouncing basketball follows your mouse from side to side and in and out of a virtual basketball court.
  • Loading sounds from the Library: By using the power of the Flash Library and Movie Clips, sounds can be preloaded from the Library and started and stopped. Robert’s soundLib.fla method provides that any asset will be available when it’s required to play

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