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Lesson 9. Creating a Flash Movie > Importing a Freehand File to Flash

Importing a Freehand File to Flash

You can directly import any Freehand file to Flash. Thanks to the tight integration between the two products, Flash can preserve Freehand layers, text blocks, Library symbols, and pages; you can even choose a page range to import. In this task, you'll import the Freehand pages that you created in the previous lesson into the new Flash document.

Check the size of your stage in the Property inspector.


If you don't see the Property inspector, choose Window > Properties, and it will appear below the stage.

Before you import the Freehand file into your new Flash document, you need to specify the size of your stage so that it fits in the Organic Framing page in the Jade Valley Web site. As you may recall, you set the size of the Freehand pages to 550 pixels in width, and 400 pixels in height. For the Freehand content to fit properly, you need to verify that the new Flash document is also 550 by 400.

The size of the stage is shown in the Property inspector. You can see the pixel dimensions of the stage in the Size button. The factory-set default for new documents is 550 by 400, which is what you want, so you can keep this setting. If you see a different size, click the Size button and enter 550 pixels as the width and 400 pixels as the height in the Document Properties dialog.

Choose File > Import > Import to Stage from the main menu. Browse to organic_farming.fh11.

You can find this file wherever you saved it in the previous lesson. Alternatively, you can use the version on the CD-ROM in this lesson's Start folder.

The Freehand Import dialog appears. This dialog enables you to specify the settings to map the Freehand pages to the Flash document to import to Flash.

In the Mapping section of the Freehand Import dialog, choose Keyframes for pages and choose Flatten for layers.

If you are new to Flash, these settings might not mean much. But ideally you can understand the gist of the settings. You know that the individual rectangles in the timeline represent frames, and you know that each frame contains information about the appearance of the movie for the instant the frame is active. Then Flash moves onto the next frame and shows its content, and so on, until it gets through the movie.

Flash has two kinds of frames: static frames and keyframes. A keyframe is a frame in which content is able to change. Something can move on, be added to, removed from, or change appearance on the stage in a keyframe. In fact, one of the most important things to understand about working in Flash is this axiom: All changes occur in keyframes. The first frame of every layer in the timeline is a keyframe. A static frame is a frame whose contents are the same as the content in the preceding keyframe (that is, the closest keyframe to its left).

Consider this example: Imagine you wanted a circle to suddenly appear in an animation, but once it appears, it would just sit there on the stage. To make the circle appear, you would create a keyframe and draw a circle on the stage. Now remember, each frame—even keyframes—last only a fraction of a second, before Flash moves on. But you want that circle to last for several seconds. The solution is to add a couple dozen static frames after the keyframe, all of which would still show the circle. Now imagine that after these seconds expire, you want the circle to disappear. You could achieve this by creating another keyframe and deleting the circle from the stage.

The following screenshots show the timeline and stage with two different frames selected: Frame 1 and Frame 12. What do you think the stage looks like with Frame 48 selected?

When you understand the difference between keyframes and static frames, you will understand one of the settings you're choosing in the Freehand Import dialog. Each Freehand page (remember, there are three) will be converted to a Flash keyframe.

The Layers setting is much easier to understand. Remember, the timeline tracks content in separate layers. You didn't use layers in Freehand, where they are not nearly as important as they are in Flash. The Flatten option in the Layers section flattens all the content on each page in Freehand into a single layer in Flash. You don't actually want all of this in one layer. You want to customize the layers in Flash, rather than having Flash guess based on what it sees in Freehand.

Click OK to accept these Freehand Import settings and import to Flash.

Once the file is imported, you see three keyframes in the timeline, one after the other. You also see that the first screen of the Freehand storyboard is on the stage.

To see the other two screens, click the keyframe in Frame 2 in the timeline, and then click the keyframe in Frame 3.

Each time you click a different keyframe, you see a different screen.



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