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Lesson 3. Reversing Animations > Setting the Stage Color and Movie Tempo

Setting the Stage Color and Movie Tempo

In this task, you perform two steps that are common preliminaries to most projects: applying a color to the stage to create a background for the movie and setting the movie tempo in frames per second. The tempo is the speed at which the playback head moves from frame to frame—and the speed at which Director plays the animations in your movies. Start by opening the prebuilt Start.dir file.

Choose File > Open to open Start.dir in the Start folder in the Lesson03 folder (Windows Ctrl+O, Macintosh Command+O).

Notice that some cells in the score have already been filled in to give you a jump-start on this project, and most of the cast members you need have already been imported.

Figure .

Choose File > Save As. Save the file as TajMah1.dir in your Projects folder

Choose Modify > Movie > Properties to open the Property Inspector (Windows Ctrl+Shift+D, Macintosh Command+Shift+D) with the movie properties showing.

The Movie tab lets you specify options such as the stage size and color for the movie that is currently open. You want to change the stage color so your movie stands out against the background.

Figure .

In the graphic view of the Property Inspector, the stage color is indicated by the pouring paint bucket. In the list view, the stage color is designated by the property name bgColor, which stands for background color.

Click the stage color chip and choose black from the palette.

Figure .

The stage color changes to the choosen color so the movie is set against a black background. With the stage color set to black, the gray map image that is cast by member 1 will stand out against it. The stage size is already set to 640 by 480 pixels, which is what we want.

Figure .

Close the Property Inspector.


With the stage size set to 640 by 480 pixels, the stage takes up a lot of your available screen real estate. New in Director 8 is the ability to scroll around in the stage and the ability to zoom the stage to shrink or expand the Stage window during authoring. The zoom effect maintains the sprite proportions and locations relative to the stage and doesn't affect the movie during playback outside of authoring. At times, you may want to shrink the stage so it takes up less space; at other times, you may want to zoom in so you can work in detail on one location. One good thing to remember is that you can easily normalize the stage. You can switch from 50% to 100%, for example, or center the stage in the Stage window using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-0 (Windows) or Command+Option+0 (Macintosh)—note that those are zeros, not the letter O. Double-clicking the magnifying the glass on the tool palette (Window > Tool Palette) has the same effect of normalizing the Stage window. Another handy technique is to hold down the spacebar when the stage has the focus. With the spacebar down, the mouse cursor turns into a hand, which you can use to move the visible area of the stage in the window without having to use the scroll bars.

Now you will set a tempo for the movie. The movie tempo is measured in frames per second, or fps. As you increase the tempo, Director plays animations faster. For instance, a fast tempo of 60 fps makes sprites speed across the stage, and a slower tempo such as 10 fps or less creates slow-motion effects. A movie's tempo is set in the tempo channel of the score. Although one tempo can be used for an entire movie, you can also vary the tempo as you please within a movie.

In the next step, you'll increase the movie's tempo to 60 fps to see how quickly the prebuilt animation plays at that tempo.

In the score, click Hide/Show Effects Channels to display the effects channels. Then double-click frame 1 of the tempo channel to display the Tempo dialog box.

Figure .

You're now going to set a tempo that is faster than the 30 fps default tempo currently set in this movie. Since the movie is currently less than 60 frames, setting a 60 fps tempo setting will make the image in the prebuilt animation zoom onto the stage in less than 1 second.

In the Tempo dialog box, select Tempo and set the frames per second (fps) to 60 by dragging the slider and using the arrow keys.

Figure .

Click OK to close the dialog box.

The first frame of the tempo channel is highlighted to indicate that you've set a tempo for the movie. The movie will run at 60 fps until Director encounters a new tempo setting in the channel.

Figure .

On the toolbar, click Rewind and then click Play to view the effect of the tempo setting on the prebuilt animation.

The TajMist image zooms onto the stage from the top of the screen. This doesn't give your audience much time to see the image. In a travelog presentation, you want your audience to have time to experience the images you include.

There may be times when you prefer to have animations move quickly across the screen. In these instances, a tempo of 30 fps or higher would be appropriate, but only if your computer's processing speed is fast enough to keep up with the pace. If your computer can't keep up, Director will slow down the tempo automatically and stretch out the time it takes to play the movie. This is very different from movies created in QuickTime. Given a 60-frame movie with a 30 fps tempo, QuickTime drops frames from the movie to play the movie in exactly 2 seconds rather than stretch out the movie to display all the media. Remember, too, that the user's machine on which your movie plays may not be as fast as your machine. When you set the tempo in your projects, you need to keep in mind the end user's requirements.

You're now going to set a slower tempo. Slowing down the tempo will slow the animation and help to create the atmosphere a project like this needs. By setting a slower movie tempo for a Director movie, you can help ensure that everyone who views your movie will see the action at a nice pace—even those who have fast computers.


Increasing or decreasing tempo settings changes the speed at which Director plays animations, but the playback rate for sounds and digital videos in the movie are not affected. However, a slower animation rate means that Director can free up more time for other activities, like playing video. In fact, reducing the Director tempo may actually improve the performance of digital video playback. You'll work with sounds and digital video in the next lesson.

Click Stop to stop the movie. Then double-click frame 1 of the tempo channel to display the Tempo dialog box again.


To set the tempo in frame 1 of the movie, you can also click frame 1 in the frame channel and then choose Modify > Frame > Tempo.

Select Tempo and set the frames per second (fps) to 10 by dragging the slider and using the arrow keys. Then click OK to close the dialog box.

Now the movie will run at 10 fps until Director encounters a new tempo setting in the channel.



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