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Lesson 6. Interactive Simulations > Preparing the Timeline

Preparing the Timeline

Before you can create the interactivity, you need to lay out the screenshots, which are the foundation of any software simulation. To save time, I already imported the screenshots into the start file. I also included some graphic assets, assuming that if you had to, you would already know how to create them yourself. All of these assets can be found in the file's library (Window > Library).

Open sim_dsn.fla from the Lesson06/Start folder.

At the moment, the timeline contains only parts of the beginning and concluding frame sections with a blank keyframe in between.

In the timeline, drag from frame 10 of the top layer down through (and including) frame 19 of the bottom layer.

By doing so, you should have selected every frame in the second keyframe section. This makes it easy to add new frames.

Press F5 (the shortcut for Insert > Frame) once.

Notice how instead of inserting a single frame as Insert > Frame usually does, Flash inserts the same number of frames as in the selection (10 in this case) in each of the selected layers (which should be all of the layers in this case). This timeline eventually needs 110 frames, so inserting frames one at a time would be a slow process!

Continue pressing F5 until the last keyframe (labeled Conclusion) appears in frame 100.

If you looked in the library, you probably noticed nine sequentially numbered screenshots. Because this file will have no animation, the interval between keyframes doesn't matter—it could be 1 or 100 frames. I chose 10 because this spacing provides enough room to see my keyframe labels and makes it easy to find keyframe sections.

Of course, now that you have added all these frames, you probably noticed that there is a 90-frame interval between the second and third keyframes.

In every tenth frame without a keyframe (starting in frame 20), drag a selection from the top layer down to the bottom layer and press F6 (the shortcut for Insert > Keyframe).

You should end up adding keyframes on every tenth frame between (and including) frames 20 to 90.

In this step, you are simply making room in the timeline for the whole project. There is no technical reason why you can't add keyframes and layers as you go, rather than in advance. However, as a matter of practice, I try to set up the rudimentary structure of my timelines in advance so I always have the big picture in front of me. You can always add or remove layers and keyframe sections later, if the need arises. As your Flash timelines become more complex, with nested movie clips and ActionScripts that are targeting objects all over the place, having a clear idea of the main structure is vital. A haphazard structure makes authoring files difficult and error-prone.



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