• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL



Macromedia Flash MX 2004 is one of the hottest technologies on the Web today. Leading corporate Web sites use its streamlined graphics to communicate their brands; major motion picture studios promote theatrical releases with Flash movies; and online gaming and educational sites provide rich user experiences with Flash interactivity.

As a vector-based animation and authoring application, Flash is ideal for creating high-impact, low-bandwidth Web sites incorporating animation, text, video, sound, and database integration. With robust support for complex interactivity and server-side communication, Flash is increasingly the solution for developing Internet applications as well. From designer to programmer, Flash has become the tool of choice for delivering dynamic content across various browsers and platforms.

As the popularity of Flash increases, so does the demand for animators and developers who know how to tap its power. This book is designed to help you meet that challenge. Learn how to build complex animations, integrate sophisticated interfaces and navigation schemes, and dynamically control graphics, video, sound, and text. Experiment with the techniques discussed in this book to create the compelling media that Flash makes possible. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Flash is revolutionizing the Web. This book will help you be a part of that revolution. So boot up your computer and get started.

Who Should Use This Book

This book is for the designers, animators, and developers who want to take their Flash skills to the next level. You’ve mastered the basics of tweening and are ready to move on to more complex tasks such as importing video, masking, controlling dynamic sound, or detecting movie-clip collisions. You may not be a hard-core programmer, but you’re ready to learn how ActionScript can control graphics, sounds, and text. You’re ready to integrate interactivity with your animations to create arcade-style games, to create complex user-interface elements like pull-down menus, and to learn how Flash communicates with outside applications such as Web browsers. If this description fits you, then this book is right for you.

This book explores the advanced features of Flash MX 2004, so you should already be comfortable with the basic tools and commands for creating simple Flash movies. You should know how to create and modify shapes and text with the drawing tools and be able to create symbols. You should also know how to apply motion and shape tweens, and how to work with frame-by-frame animation. You should know your way around the Flash interface: how to move from the Stage to symbol-editing mode to the Timeline, and how to manipulate layers and frames. You should also be familiar with importing and using bitmaps and sounds, and assigning basic actions to frames and buttons for navigation. Review the tutorials that come with the software, or pick up a copy of Macromedia Flash MX 2004: Visual QuickStart Guide by Katherine Ulrich.

Goals of This Book

The aim of this book is to demonstrate the advanced features of Flash MX 2004 through a logical approach, emphasizing how techniques are applied. You will learn how techniques build on each other, and how groups of techniques can be combined to solve a particular problem. Each example you work through puts another skill under your belt, so by the end of this book you’ll be able to create sophisticated interactive Flash projects.

For example, creating a pull-down menu illustrates how simple elements—invisible buttons, event handlers, button-tracking options, and movie clips—come together to make more complex behaviors. Examples illustrate the practical application of techniques, and additional tips explain how to apply these techniques in other contexts.

How to use this book

The concepts in this book build on each other, so the material at the end is more complex than that at the beginning. If you’re familiar with some of the material, you can skip around to the subjects that interest you, but you’ll find it most useful to learn the techniques in the order in which they appear.

As with other books in the Visual QuickPro Guide series, tasks are presented for you to do as you read about them, so that you can see how a technique is applied. Follow the step-by-step instructions, look at the figures, and try them on your computer. You’ll learn more by doing and by taking an active role in experimenting with these exercises. Many of the completed tasks are provided as FLA and SWF files on the included CD-ROM; those tasks that have accompanying files are identified with this icon.

Tips follow the specific tasks to give you hints on how to use a shortcut, warnings on common mistakes, and suggestions on how the technique can be extended.

Occasionally, you’ll see sidebars in gray boxes. Sidebars discuss related matters that are not directly task-oriented. You’ll find interesting and useful concepts that can help you better understand how Flash works.

What’s in this book

This book is organized into five parts:

  • Part I: Approaching Advanced Animation

    This part covers advanced techniques for graphics and animation, including strategies for motion tweening, shape tweening, masking, and using digital video.

  • Part II: Understanding ActionScript

    This part introduces ActionScript, the scripting language Flash uses to add interactivity to a movie. You’ll learn the basic components of the language and how to use the Actions panel to construct meaningful code.

  • Part III: Navigating Timelines and Communicating

    This part teaches you the ways in which Flash can respond to input from the viewer and how complex navigation schemes can be created with multiple Timelines. You’ll also see how Flash communicates with external files and applications such as Web browsers.

  • Part IV: Transforming Graphics and Sound

    This part demonstrates how to dynamically control the basic elements of any Flash movie—its graphics and sound—through ActionScript.

  • Part V: Working with Information

    The last part focuses on how to retrieve, store, modify, and test information to create complex Flash environments that can respond to changing conditions.

  • Appendixes

    Two appendixes give you quick access to the standard object name extensions and key code values.

What’s on the CD

Accompanying this book is a CD-ROM that contains nearly all the Flash source files for the tasks. You can see how each task was created, study the ActionScript, or use the ActionScript to do further experimentation. You’ll also find trial version of Flash MX 2004 as well as a list of Web links to sites devoted to Flash and showcasing the latest Flash examples, with tutorials, articles, and advice.

Additional resources

Use the Web to your advantage. There is a thriving international community of Flash developers; within it you can share your frustrations, seek help, and show off your latest Flash masterpiece. There are free bulletin boards and mailing lists for all levels of Flash users. Begin your search for Flash resources with the list of Web sites on the accompanying CD and with the Help panel in the Flash application, which provides a searchable ActionScript dictionary and Flash manual.

Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX 2004 Professional

What’s the difference between Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX 2004 Professional? And which version is right for you? First of all, both versions are new upgrades from Flash MX. Flash MX 2004 contains many new features, such as the Behaviors panel and the Video Import Wizard, and new ActionScript elements that expand Flash interactivity. Flash MX 2004 Professional has all of these same new features, plus additional tools that will primarily interest advanced developers of Internet applications and professional video. Among the additional tools that Flash MX 2004 Professional provides are a forms-based environment to create applications, a slide-based environment to create presentations, additional components for database integration, and a video encoder to export FLV files from professional video editors.

If your main interest is in manipulating graphics, animations, sound, text, and video, and integrating them with ActionScript, then Flash MX 2004 is for you. If, instead, your main interest is in developing applications such as Internet chat rooms or e-commerce sites where connectivity to databases is essential, then Flash MX 2004 Professional is for you. This book covers the features common to both versions.

Keep in mind that, while the name of the authoring application is Flash MX 2004 or Flash MX 2004 Professional, the Web browser plug-in that plays media authored in either version is called the Flash Player 7.

What’s New in Flash MX 2004

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, or a designer or a programmer, a number of new features in Flash MX 2004 will appeal to you. The following are just a few that make Flash MX 2004 even more powerful, flexible, and easy to use.

New productivity tools

New features such as Behaviors, Timeline effects, and the History panel can make your life as a Flash animator and developer much less tedious. Behaviors can automatically assign basic interactivity to keyframes, buttons, and movie clips, while Timeline effects can automate common animation effects such as transitions or special effects such as blurs and explosions. The History panel keeps track of every move you make in Flash, making your Undo commands more precise and letting you create custom commands for repetitious work.

Improved media support

You can now import Adobe PDF and Adobe Illustrator 10 files, making workflow across applications much easier and simpler. You also have many more options for importing digital video with the new Video Import Wizard. The Video Import Wizard walks you through the video import process, allowing you to edit, change dimensions, crop, do color correction, or customize compression settings, with full support for QuickTime, MPEG, AVI, and DV formats.

Expanded interactivity

There are even more ActionScript classes, properties, methods, and events to bring your Flash project to life. For example, detecting the mouse wheel, customizing the contextual menu, and controlling movie clip depth levels are but a few of the many capabilities new to ActionScript. Also new are language elements that make possible strict data typing and a more robust way of creating custom classes; a change in the language dramatic enough to warrant identifying it as a new version of ActionScript, called ActionScript 2.0. In addition, a new Actions panel provides a more streamlined way to script. Enter code directly into the Script pane without relying on the field-driven interface of Normal mode from the previous versions.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint