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Optimizing a Movie

The larger the movie file, the longer the download time. When you identify frames that are too large to stream efficiently, as indicated by the Bandwidth Profiler, you might want to optimize your movie. You can take several steps to prepare your movie for optimal playback. As part of the publishing process, Flash automatically performs some optimizing on movies, including detecting duplicate shapes on export and placing these shapes in the file only once and converting nested groups to single groups. In the following exercise, you will do a couple of things to optimize your movie and reduce the size of the file, making the download time much less.

Open the library for neptune35.fla, and locate the Dolphin Graphic movie clip in the Background Graphics folder. Open this clip in symbol-editing mode.

The Dolphin Graphic symbol contains a somewhat complex vector graphic. You are going to optimize this symbol to reduce the size of your movie.

Choose Edit > Select All; then choose Modify > Optimize.

The Optimize Curves dialog box opens. This dialog box lets you optimize the selected strokes and fills by reducing the number of curves. These changes often result in a smaller file size for the finished movie.

In the Optimize Curves dialog box, drag the Smoothing slider all the way to the right. Check both the Use multiple passes (slower) and Show totals message checkboxes, and click OK.

The Smoothing slider lets you select the amount of smoothing, or curve reduction. Dragging it all the way to the right (Maximum) results in a more optimized curve. Be careful when you use this slider, though The optimized curve, with fewer curves, might not resemble the original outline. When you optimize your graphics in this way, you have to start deciding between quality and file size. You usually can find a happy medium that will keep your graphics visually appealing but smaller.

The Use multiple passes option forces Flash to optimize the curves repeatedly. This setting usually results in the maximum optimization possible, although you might find that optimizing the curves again results in a further, though less significant, reduction in file size.

The Show totals message option causes a dialog box to appear when Flash is done optimizing the curves. This dialog box shows the original number of curves, the optimized number of curves, and the percentage of curve reduction. The optimization that you just performed should result in a significant reduction in the number of curves. Click OK to close this dialog box.

Perform the optimization procedure again.

Note that this time the original shapes had far fewer curves.

Even though the Use multiple passes option forces Flash to run the optimization multiple times, you can optimize the shapes a bit more sometimes. Make sure that you look at the graphic each time you optimize it to make sure that it still looks good.

Choose Control > Test Movie to see how your change affected the size of the movie.

The size of the file might not have changed dramatically, but with Flash and the Web, every kilobyte counts. If you can pare a bit of file size by optimizing a single symbol, think how much you can shave off by optimizing every symbol.

Close the test movie. Locate the bubble.mp3 sound in the Sounds folder in the library. Double-click the icon to the left of the sound to open the Sound Properties dialog box.

Graphic elements aren't the only thing to consider when it comes to optimization. Many times, your sounds add a significant amount of file size.

In the Sound Properties dialog box, set the compression to MP3 and the bit rate to 8 kbps. Click OK to close the dialog box.

The bubble.mp3 sound plays whenever you move the mouse over one of the buttons in the navigation bar. You can apply the maximum compression to this sound, which normally sacrifices too much sound quality, because the distortion that occurs with the compression doesn't affect this sound adversely. Many times, a sound gets an underwater effect when the compression applied to it is significant. In this case, the sound is bubbles, so that underwater effect isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Choose Control > Test Movie.

The file size should once again be reduced.

Close the test movie, and save the file as neptune36.fla in the MyWork folder.

The optimization that you just performed brought your file size down a bit, but think about ways that you might be able to reduce the size even more. You should limit the number of gradient fills and alpha transparencies when possible, for example. You can also optimize your movie by using bitmaps instead of complex (photographic-quality) vector graphics.



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