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Chapter 4. Introducing Interactivity > Converting your movie to a projector

Converting your movie to a projector

This is a good time to take stock of your handiwork and pat yourself on the back. You've taken a simple piece of multimedia—an animation with a single sound and a special effect thrown in—and turned it into a highly interactive piece of software. Not only that, but it's potentially self-contained; all the necessary controls are right there on the Stage. Now all that's left is a gentle push out of the nest, in the form of a movie-to-projector conversion. Actually, "conversion" is a bit of a misnomer, since the original movie remains unchanged. The projector-making process is more of a translation, creating a new file that can actually encapsulate more than one movie. Projectors are the only means of making a Director production completely self-contained; saving a movie using Shockwave produces a more Web-friendly file, but it still requires a browser application for playback. You'll learn more about Shockwave in Chapter 5.

The Create Projector feature

If you're satisfied with the state of your Rbuttons.dir movie, you're ready to make a projector. Save any changes you made to the file and then proceed.

  1. From the File menu, select Create Projector.

The Create Projector dialog box appears; it contains two main window areas. On Windows systems, you select the files (movies) to include in your projector in the upper window and then add them, using the Add button, to the lower window.

Figure .

On the Macintosh, you select the source files in the left window and add them to the window on the right.

Figure .

  1. Select Rbuttons.dir in the Source Movies pane.

You will generally need to navigate to the location where your source movie is stored to display it in the source window. Note that you are creating a projector from files stored on your system, not from the movie that is currently open in Director (although the two can be the same). Also note that the File of Type field (for Windows) shows Movie Cast Xtra, which means movies, Casts, or Xtras, indicating that all three types will appear in the Source Movie pane.

  1. Click the Add button.

The movie is listed in the File List field (the Playback Order field on the Macintosh). If you want, you can include more than one movie in a projector and specify that the projector play them in the order they are listed in the window. The Move Up and Move Down buttons allow you to rearrange the order in which your movies are played. Since it's very simple to use Lingo to link one movie to another, you will generally place only a single movie in a projector and let Lingo handle the rest. This keeps the size of the projector smaller and allows it to load faster. You'll still need to provide the other movies you are linking to, of course.

Note the value given for the projector size. This is considerably larger than the size of the Rbuttons.dir movie you are including in your projector. That's because Director has to add a lot or resources to make the projector self-running, resources that thus far have been internal to the Director application and not the movie file. This projector size is an estimate and is not always too close to the actual size. As you will see in the next section, there are a number of options you can select that will affect the size of the actual projector.

  1. Click the Options button to open the Projector Options dialog box.


In the Projector Options dialog box, we can further hone the playback and performance of our projector. The options available require a bit of explanation:

So many options:

The Projector Options dialog box helps you create a projector that won't fail for lack of a crucial element.

Figure .

  • Play Every Movie might seem a bit puzzling; if you didn't want to play a movie, why would you include it in the projector in the first place? Some movies, however, may actually be support files. When Play Every Movie is not checked, the projector will play only the first movie listed—unless that movie includes Lingo that launches subsequent movies. Generally, you will leave this unchecked.

  • Animate in Background doesn't refer to the background of the Stage, but to the times when the projector itself will be in the background—that is, when the user is running multiple applications and makes another application (such as the Finder on the Macintosh) active. When this option is left unchecked, the projector will essentially freeze when it's not active; if it is checked, the program will attempt to grab spare processor time to carry out any assigned tasks, such as showing Swifty walking.

  • Full Screen displays the movie over the entire screen, concealing any other windows or applications from view. The alternative is In a Window, which runs the movie in a window. If you set the projector to run in a window, then the Show Title Bar option lets you give the window a title bar.

  • Stage Size provides two alternatives and applies when you're bundling two or more movies that use different Stage sizes. When Use Movie Settings is selected, the Stage of each movie will appear in the same dimensions as when the movie was created. When Match First Movie is selected, all subsequent movies will be placed on the same size Stage as the first one. This means that those movies originating on smaller Stages will have a border, and those originating on larger Stages will be cropped. Unless you have special requirements, you should generally use the same Stage size for all movies in a project.

  • Center keeps the Stage smack dab in the middle of the screen and makes the location independent of the monitor size. If this option is not checked, the Stage will instead be located as determined by the Movie Properties settings (in the PI). If you've designed a movie for playback on a wide variety of monitors, this is a good option to exercise.

  • Reset Monitor to Match Movie's Color Depth (Macintosh only) will set the color depth of the monitor to match the color depth under which the movie was created. You can do the same thing using Lingo, and that also gives you the ability to reset the color depth when the projector quits—definitely the polite way to behave. Generally, leave this option unchecked.

  • Compress (Shockwave Format) uses some of Shockwave's compression techniques to produce a projector with a smaller file size. A projector created with this option enabled will take up less storage space, but the tradeoff is that it will probably take a little longer to get going when launched by the end user (it needs time to decompress). And even though this is billed as a Shockwave format, it doesn't turn the projector into a Shockwave movie; that Shockwave uses an entirely different file format.

  • The Player: Standard option creates a projector that contains all files necessary to run the movie in an uncompressed format.

  • The Player: Compressed option creates a projector that contains all files necessary to run the movie, but in a compressed format (something like a zipped format). This is about half the size of a standard projector, but takes longer to start playing because it needs to be decompressed.

  • The Player: Shockwave option creates a projector that assumes that the user has Shockwave installed and uses Shockwave to play the movie. This creates a very small projector because most of the executable application is external to the projector. This version also goes by the names Slim Projector, System Player, Lite Projector, and Shockwave Projector. This is probably the best option if you need to download the projector. If users don't have Shockwave installed, they are prompted to download it.

  • Use System Temporary Memory (Macintosh only) allows Director to tap available system memory when its own RAM allocation has been maxed out. When virtual memory is on, this option has no effect.

Let's get on with the making of our projector:

  1. Make sure the Animate in Background, In a Window, Show Title Bar, Use Movie Settings, Center, and Standard options are selected; then click OK.


You've imported the movie and selected the options you desire. Now let's finish the job.

  1. Select Create.

First you'll see a dialog box that asks you where you want to place the projector and what you want to name it. The default name is Projector, which is good enough for now.

Figure .

  1. Click Save.

Director will display a status box while it compiles the projector. When compilation is complete, you'll be returned to your movie.

The resulting projector

It's time to try out the projector. First, quit or hide Director and return to the desktop in Windows or to the Finder on the Macintosh. There, in the location you specified, you will find a new file with its own icon.

Double-click the icon to launch the projector. The resulting program should be identical to your movie, except that Director's support windows and menu choices are absent. When you're ready, you can click the Quit button to return to the desktop (or Finder), but even if you hadn't built in a Quit button, Alt-F4 (Windows) or Command-Q (Macintosh) should do the trick.

Xtra information

If you're using Xtras that are necessary for the projector to run (such as a transition Xtra), make sure to include them with the projector. Xtras are a complicated subject—we devote Chapter 21 to them and there are books written solely about them—but you can get by with a smidgen of information for now. If you recall the status box displayed while Director was creating the projector, you might recall the status line showing how many files have been added (probably 23 total). Most of these files are Xtras.

When you create a new movie, Director automatically adds what it thinks is the best selection of Xtras that the movie is likely to use. In a movie such as Rbuttons, you don't need all of these, so it is a good idea to remove those not needed. Also, by default, the Xtras are bundled into the projector. A second option is to include a folder named Xtras with your projector and place the Xtras in that folder rather than in the projector; this is the option usually recommended. The worst option is to place some Xtras in the projector and some in the Xtras folder—just don't do that. Lets take a quick look at how to handle Xtras.

  1. Open your Rbuttons.dir file in Director. From the Modify menu, select Movie and then Xtras.

The Movie Xtras dialog box appears with a list of the currently included Xtras. The Macintosh and Windows versions of the Xtras have different names.

Figure .

  1. Select the top Xtra in the list; then click the Remove button. Continue clicking the Remove button until all the Xtras are gone; then click OK.

You might think that you've ruined your movie and it won't play anymore, but Director is looking out for you.

  1. Once again, from the Modify menu select Movie and then Xtras.

Surprise! The Xtras that are required by your movie are reinstated. (Note though, although it doesn't apply here, that if you used an Xtra solely through Lingo, Director wouldn't know to add it to your movie requirements.)

Figure .

Notice that if you select any of Xtras in the list, the Include in Projector check box is checked.

  1. Select each of the Xtras in the list and uncheck the Include in Projector check box.

If the Xtras you see in your Movie Xtras dialog box differ from those shown here, make a note of their names. These change often with different versions of Director.

  1. Click OK to close the dialog box. Save your movie.

  2. Follow the same steps you performed before to create a projector. This time, name it Projector2.

As the projector is created, you'll notice that fewer files are added (I got two on the Macintosh and seven in Windows).

  1. Hide Director again; then create a folder named Xtras in the same location as your projector.

  2. The folder containing your Director application contains a folder named Xtras. Look in there for the Xtras listed; then copy them to the Xtras folder with your projector.

In Windows, I found all three Xtras I needed in the Media Support folder. On the Macintosh, some were in the Media Support folder, and some in the Mix folder. (If you think this is a bit of a pain, you should have tried this in previous versions of Director, when the Xtras had one name in the folders and a different name in the dialog box.) My brother needed four Xtras for his Rbutons projector: three in the Media Support folder and one in the Devices folder. Sorry; the Xtras seem to vary with each minor revision of Director, so you will have to do some detective work here.

  1. Give your Projector2 projector a try.

As the projector begins loading, it searches for the Xtras folder and opens the Xtras it finds there. Because you have included the necessary Xtras, your projector should run fine. You could have included the entire Xtras folder provided with the Director application, but that would make the projector take longer to load and take more memory than would otherwise be necessary.

Projector considerations

Here, the transition from movie to projector was fairly straight forward; we used a single movie with only a few embedded Cast members. But when you're converting a movie that incorporates linked files (such as sound or digital video Cast members), you'll need to include those files with the projector.

Likewise, if your work will be distributed on both Windows and Macintosh computers, you'll need to include properly named versions of the Xtras for each platform, to ensure that any user on any machine will have the Xtras available.


The Create Projector feature doesn't recognize movies created with a version of Director prior to 8. To make those movies accessible, you need to convert them with the Update Movies command in the Xtras menu, or open them with Director 8 and resave them.

Keep in mind that although Director movies are cross-platform and can be used to create cross-platform productions (Macintosh to Windows, or vice-versa), you can't generate projectors for one platform on the other. The Windows version of Director will produce only Windows-compatible projectors, and the Mac OS version will produce only Mac OS–compatible ones. So if you want to straddle platforms, you'll need to obtain both versions of Director (plus, of course, the necessary hardware), then port the file across platforms, and then generate the appropriate projectors.


Issues of cross-platform development with Director are discussed further in Chapter 22: Professional Topics and Techniques.

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