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Chapter 8. Making the Transition

tran·si·tion (trăn-z

sh'ǝn, -s

sh'-) n.

  1. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

  2. Passage from one subject to another in discourse.

Whether you’re using Flash to create a Web site, a cartoon, or a commercial, there will be a time when you need to let your audience know that a change in content or scenery is coming. That’s what transitions are all about. Transitions can be subtle or obvious, but either way, they should give you a visual clue that something new is about to happen.

Transitions also can be a part of a story. From watching television and movies, you’re probably familiar with a variety of transition styles. Fade-ins, fade-outs, zooms, panning, swapping—you’ve probably seen them all, even if you didn’t recognize them at the time.

The idea of using visual transitions isn’t new. Storytellers have been using them since the beginning of time. Animal skins, fiber mats, and curtains all have been used to hide items on the stage until they were needed. Time has passed and the stage has changed, but the need for transition is still important to visual communication. Flash turns the Web into your stage. The animal skin might be composed of bits and bytes of information now, but as always, the purpose is the same—a sense of continuity and the expression of change.

With a visually powerful program like Flash, there’s always a tendency to “push the envelope.” The ability to shrug off the limitations of tables and bitmapped graphics creates a feeling of creative liberation that you just don’t get when you have to work with straight HTML. Although creative liberation is a good thing, you need to know when to temper your creativity with a degree of restraint. It’s easy to create incredibly complex movies that are so far over-the-top that they just don’t work for their intended purpose. Simple is sometimes better. Say it again: Simple is sometimes better. Repeat this phrase to yourself several times before you start any new project. Just because you can make something more technically sophisticated doesn’t always mean you should.

In this chapter, you’ll take a look at three different types of transitions that you can build using Flash:

  • Simple transition. Simple transitions usually involve only one or two graphical elements.

  • Combination transition. Combination transitions are just that—combinations of different transitions to create a unique transition.

  • Spatial transition. Use spatial transitions to give your viewers the feeling that they are physically moving through an interface.

Each transition is presented in more detail in the following sections and exercises.



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