A Flash movie can be many things, depending on the function and design of a project. Because Flash has only just hit its adolescence, things are definitely getting interesting. Already Flash has unforeseen relationships with all forms of communication, around the world. And Flash’s popularity continues to grow, unabated. But that’s all based on Flash 4!
If you were to compare the functionality of a Flash 4 movie to that of a Flash 5 movie, you’d agree that, yet again, Flash movies have come a long way but in an even shorter time than when we last said that. There’s already an impressive legacy of Flash movies and we don’t usually refer to youths as having a legacy. Here’s a short list of the (known) possibilities for Flash 5:
As you can probably tell from this list, if you can imagine a use for Flash, it can probably be accomplished.
Planning interactive Flash projects
Before you attempt to construct interactive projects in Flash, you should be familiar with the structure of the authoring environment. Even if you already know Flash 4, this is advisable. That’s because with the release of Flash 5, Macromedia has again added many new features to the interface, and either moved or improved other features and functionalities. So, to get a firm footing with the new interface, we strongly suggest that you work your way through this book from the beginning.
Moreover, you need to proactively plan your interactive projects before you attempt to author them in Flash. An ounce of preplanning goes a long way during the production process. Don’t fool yourself the better your plan looks on paper, the better it will perform when it comes to the final execution.
How Flash movies are made up of individual scenes that shows below, in turn, contain keyframes to describe changes on the Stage. What you can’t see in the figure is the efficiency created (or time saved) by being able to share Flash Libraries between Flash projects (.FLA files) and by linking other Flash movies to a parent Flash movie using the Load Movie action.. Before you start to try to do that level of interactivity, though, you need to know the difference between Flash movies and .SWF movies.
Looking at Flash movie file types
Flash movie (.FLA) files are geared to work in an efficient authoring environment. Within this environment, content can be organized into scenes, and the ordering of scenes can be rearranged throughout the production cycle. Layers provide easy separation of graphics within each scene, and, as guide or mask layers, they can also aid drawing or even provide special effects. The timeline shows keyframes, motion and shape tweens, labels, and comments. All imported bitmaps and sounds are stored in the Flash Library (which can be shared with other Flash movie files). The quality of these Library files (or symbols) is identical to that of the originals.
Elements of the Flash Environment
However, when a Flash movie (.FLA) is exported to a Small Web Format file (.SWF), much of this information is discarded in order to create small .SWF files (or as small as possible) for network delivery (for example, the Internet or intranets). In fact, just about everything that’s stored in the original FLA file will be transformed in some way. The elements in the Library are loaded and stored on the first frame of their use while unused Library elements are simply discarded. (They are not exported to the .SWF file.) Thus, for maximum efficiency, elements that are reused are saved into the .SWF file only once because they are referenced from one location in the SWF file. Layers and scenes are “flattened” in the order that is established in the .FLA file. In other words, the .SWF file contains the all the elements from the original .FLA in one layer, controlled by a single timeline. Technically, .SWF files are not compressed like ZIP or SIT/HQX files only individual bitmaps and sounds are compressed according to the settings specified for each element in the Library and/or during the export process. For a graphic explanation of the characteristics of the Shockwave Flash movie (.SWF) Format see below.
How a Shockwave Flash movie works
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Understanding The Flash Framework
Exploring The Interface: Panels, Settings, And More
Using Tools For Navigation And Viewing
Working With Selections And The Pen Tool
Working With The Drawing And Painting Tools
Working With Text
Exploring The Timeline
Checking Out The Library: Symbols And Instances
Drawing In Flash
Animating In Flash
Using Bitmaps And Other Media With Flash
Designing Interfaces And Interface Elements
Understanding Sound For Flash
Importing And Editing Sounds In Flash
Optimizing Flash Sound For Export
Understanding Actions And Event Handlers
Navigating Flash Timelines
Controlling Movie Clips
Sharing And Loading Assets
Planning Code Structures
Creating Subroutines And Manipulating Data
Understanding Movie Clips As Complex Objects
Sending Data In And Out Of Flash
Understanding Html And Text Field Functions In Flash
What Is Generator?
Revving Up Generator
Working With Third-party, Server-side Applications
Working With Raster Graphics
Working With Vector Graphics
Working With Audio Applications
Working With 3d Graphics
Working With Quicktime
Working With Realplayer
Creating Full-motion Video With Flash
Creating Cartoon Animation With Flash
Planning Flash Production With Flowcharting Software
Working With Authoring Applications
Publishing Flash Movies
Integrating Flash Content With Html
Using Players, Projectors, And Screensaver Utilities
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