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Bitmaps have a few options that can be set in the Property Inspector, shown in Figure 3.11. You bring up Property Inspector with the bitmap settings showing by clicking the i button at the top of the bitmap Paint window.

Figure 3.11. The Properties Inspector enables you to set a bitmap's options when a bitmap is selected in the Cast, or the Paint window is open.

At the top of the Property Inspector bitmap member settings area is a pop-up menu with a list of palettes. This will have an effect on the image only when the bitmap is set to 8-bit. It enables you to change the palette for the member without actually transforming it. The new palette is applied, regardless of the changes to the colors of the pixels.

The first option, Highlight When Clicked, was mentioned in Chapter 2, “Presentations with Director.” It enables you to have the bitmap automatically invert itself when users click it. This can be used to make quick-and-dirty buttons that react to mouse clicks.

The next option, Dither, comes into play if you scale or rotate the image. The image might display better with a dither, but dithering might hurt your animation speed.

A new feature of Director 8 is the Trim White Space option for bitmap images. Previously, this was something that could be done only when an image was initially imported. This option retains white pixels around the bitmap, even if it is edited in the Paint window.

The next option, Use Embedded Alpha, decides whether the Alpha channel of the bitmap is used when it is displayed on the Stage.

Alpha channels are a fourth channel of image data. The others are the Red, Green, and Blue channels. The Alpha channel defines how transparent each pixel is. If you create a 32-bit image with an Alpha channel, you can anti-alias the edges of the image, or make some of it transparent. You can use the Use Embedded Alpha option to make graphics that are semitransparent or have edges that blend nicely with any background.

Director 8 also has a new Compression setting for bitmaps. This setting enables you to decide how the image is compressed when the movie is saved as a Shockwave movie. You can use the normal bitmap compression, which is similar to how Director 5 and 6 saved all bitmaps, or you can opt to use JPEG compression for the image. You can also choose the Movie Setting option from the Compression list, which means that the cast member will follow the preferences set by the Publish Settings dialog box.

JPEG compression is best used for photographic images and other things that do not require precision. Depending on the Quality setting, JPEG compression will blur your image more and more to squeeze it into a smaller file space.

In addition to being able to use JPEG compression, you can choose the Optimize in Fireworks button if you have the Macromedia Fireworks program installed. This option allows you to use the excellent compression techniques that Fireworks has available.

The Alpha Click Threshold defines how much of a role the Alpha channel plays in defining where the users can click the image. If the image is set to transparent, the Alpha channel is used to define the clickable area.

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