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Chapter 16. Delivering Movies to Your Au... > Preparing Your Movie for Optimal Pla...

Preparing Your Movie for Optimal Playback

When you create movies to show over the Web, you must face the issue of quality versus quantity. Higher quality (smoother animation and better sounds) increases file size. The larger the file, the longer the download time and the slower your movie will be. Things that add to your file's size include lots of bitmaps (especially animated bitmaps), sounds, lots of keyframes instead of tweening, multiple areas of animation at one time, embedded fonts, gradients, and separate graphic elements instead of symbols and groups. To help you find out where your movie is bogging down, Flash offers simulated streaming. The Size Report and Bandwidth Profiler reveal which frames will cause hang-ups. You can then rethink or optimize the problem areas.

To use Bandwidth Profiler:

Open the Flash document that you want to test for playback over the Web.

From the Control menu, choose Test Movie (or Test Scene).

Flash exports the movie and opens it in Flash Player.

From Flash Player's Debug menu, choose the download speed that you want to test.

The menu lists six speeds, all of which are customizable. To change them, choose Debug > Customize (Figure 16.1). By default, Flash lists three common modem speeds—14.4 Kbps, 28.8 Kbps, and 56 Kbps—set to simulate real-world data-transfer rates (Figure 16.2).

Figure 16.1. To create a custom connection speed for simulating playback over the Web, from the test environment's Debug menu, choose Customize.

Figure 16.2. At its default setting, Flash offers choices for simulating three standard modem speeds. To more accurately imitate the real world, Flash simulates a data-transfer rate of 1.2 KBps for a 14.4 Kbps modem (not the theoretically possible rate of 1.7 Kbps). Flash simulates 28.8 Kbps and 56 Kbps modems at 2.3 KBps and 4.7 KBps, respectively. You can change the test names and rates in the Custom Modem Settings dialog box.

From Flash Player's View menu, choose Bandwidth Profiler (Figure 16.3).

Figure 16.3. To view a graph of the amount of data in each frame, choose View > Bandwidth Profiler when a Flash Player window is open.

At the top of the Test Movie window, Flash graphs the amount of data that is being transmitted against the movie's Timeline (Figure 16.4). The bars represent the number of bytes of data per frame. The bottom line (highlighted in red) represents the amount of data that will safely download fast enough to keep up with the movie's frame rate. Any frame that contains a greater amount of data forces the movie to pause while the data downloads.

Figure 16.4. The Bandwidth Profile graph at the top of the Flash Player window shows you how much data each movie frame contains and where the movie will pause to download data. Each bar represents a frame of the movie.



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