animation interaction multimedia

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The Basics

BasicsAlthough Flash is often associated with animation, it can be used to create a wide range of rich content containing text, graphics, audio, video, animation that can run from a web browser, CD, or on the desktop of computers and hand-held devices.

Projects are developed in the Flash software and can be saved or exported for different purposes.

Source versions are the original Flash files. They contain the *.fla file extension and can only be viewed and modified by someone using Flash development software. These files contain the basic media, Timeline, and script information.

Compressed versions called Flash movies are viewed with FlashPlayer that can be downloaded for free. These files are compiled and compressed so they take up less storage space and download quickly. These are the types most often embedded on web pages and viewed with a web browser. The end user goes to a web page with the *.html file extension. The published version of the Flash movie (*.swf) is embedded in the code of this page.

Executable versions of the files can also be developed that embed the FlashPlayer in the program, so no special software is needed. Since these files require more space, executables are most often found when the projects are shared on CD.

There are other file types associated with Flash projects including AS (ActionScript files), SWC files (reusable components), JSFL (JavaScript files), and FLP (Flash Professional 9 project files).

The following links take you to the resources on this page.

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Working with Flash

overview graphicFlash uses an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) where developers work with the Stage, Timeline, Media Objects, ActionScript code, and other elements (Click the image on the right to enlarge).

Stage. Your main work area is called the Stage. This is the area where you will be working with the visual aspects of your project.

Timeline. Like an electronic spreadsheet, the Timeline is set up in rows representing layers and columns representing time by individual frames.

Media Objects. Generally media objects resources such as graphics, audio, and sound are imported into the Flash Library. Instances of these objects are then dragged onto the Stage as they are needed on particular keyframes. Media objects may also be accessed through ActionScripts.

ActionScript code. An object-oriented scripting language is used to add interactions and controls to your project.



readGo to the Flash from Adobe website. Explore some of their useful online resources.
This article provides an overview to Flash files, workspace, tools, and preferences.
Some special features in the new version can save time.

cliiptv clipWatch It!

If you're the type of learner who likes to watch videos, try some of AdobeTV's Flash resources. Begin with Flash in a Flash.

try itTry It!
Explore the sample files at Learning Flash at University of Texas at Austin. Download the *.fla files and examine the Stage, Timeline, and Media Objects. These show some basic Flash examples. You'll be able to make these soon! Keep in mind that this is an older version of Flash, so they may not open perfectly on your system.

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Working with Graphics

Once you've installed the software, begin by creating some media objects using the drawing tools. There are two kinds of graphics used in Flash projects: bitmaps and vector.

Bitmaps are made of many dots that form a picture. Photos and many of the clipart files you see are bitmap. They take up lots of space and don’t enlarge very well. However it’s okay to import these if they’re important to your project.

Vector graphics are made of individual lines, shapes, and locations. They are infinitely scalable and look good reduced or enlarged. They also don’t take up much space. Flash created vector-based graphics.

Since Flash lacks some of the power of other graphics programs, you may wish to do your graphic work in another program and bring it into Flash. If you have access to the entire Adobe Creativity Suite, then you could work in Adobe Fireworks.

If you don't have access to a commercial program, consider open source software that can be accessed at no cost. For image manipulation such as retouching photos, image composition and image authoring, try GIMP or ImageMagicK.

readRead Flash Graphic Effects Learning Guide from Adobe.
This article explores some of the cool graphics features in Flash.

try itTry It!
Helen Triolo's flash-creations website contains the following wonderful short tutorials:
Drawing and editing shapes in Flash by Helen Triolo
Make and edit gradients by Helen Triolo
A Couple More Drawing Tips by Helen Triolo
Import Graphics and Sound by Helen Triolo
Create a Sample Scene by Helen Triolo

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Building Graphic Elements for a Flash Project

As you create your first projects, keep it simple. You might start with projects that involve stick figures, suns, trees, and houses. These things are all easy to create using the basic draw tools. Spend some time experimenting with lines, shapes, and colors.

Like all software, it's helpful to use the keyboard shortcuts. You can download a Flash CS4 Shortcut Sheet at subdivision.

try itTry It!
After reading and completing the QuickStart (PDF document) and Chapter 2: The Basics (PDF document) from AIM your Flash Project. Start your own Flash project. Create some graphic elements on the Stage.

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Learn More

You'll find lots of websites that contain tutorials on a wide range of topics. Explore some of these for ideas:

If you'd like to learn more about creating basic Flash graphics, explore some of the following off-site, online resources (some examples may use older versions of Flash):

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