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Introduction to Macromedia Flash Adobe Kevin McManus We are going to look at What is Flash an IDE to create shockwave media Animation timelines, symbols, tweening Programming with ActionScript Sound Publishing on the Web Morphing Fonts Forms Shockwave

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introduction to macromedia flash

Introduction toMacromedia Flash


Kevin McManus

the University of Greenwich

we are going to look at
We are going to look at
  • What is Flash
    • an IDE to create shockwave media
  • Animation
    • timelines, symbols, tweening
  • Programming with ActionScript
  • Sound
  • Publishing on the Web
  • Morphing
  • Fonts
  • Forms

the University of Greenwich

  • Binary file format for Flash web pages
    • small download sizes
    • open standard
    • requires a browser to have a shockwave plug-in
      • only from macromedia
      • currently at version 8 in Adobe Flash CS3
  • Supports all features found in DHTML
    • plus so much more
    • extensive animation support
      • vector and bitmap graphics
    • guaranteed pixel perfect on all browsers
      • providing they have a shockwave plug-in
      • no more browser compatibility issues

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  • Created using the Flash environment
    • sophisticated IDE
      • work with .fla files and compile to .swf files to publish
    • graphics + animation toolkit
    • part of Adobe Creative Suite 3
      • Dreamweaver, Contribute, Fireworks, Illustrator, PhotoShop
        • not ColdFusion
  • Other shockwave tools
    • Swish and many others
  • Sophisticated applications
    • ActionScript programming in the client
    • Flash remoting to access server side scripts
    • XML and web service interfaces

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  • Cell based (frame) animation
    • key frames
    • motion tweening
    • shape tweening - morphing
  • Path based (vector) animation
    • follows an object’s transition over a vector
  • Combination of cell and path based animation
  • Computational animation
    • object moves by calculating its x and y coordinates
  • Program or script based animation
    • ActionScript - Flash’s scripting language
      • ECMA script
      • flexible, powerful, interactive
      • not as powerful as Lingo - Director’s scripting language

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Animation IDE with the ability to support

  • Scripted behaviors
    • ActionScript
  • User interaction
    • events
    • forms
  • Key Frames
    • timeline
  • Tweening
    • motion
    • shape
  • Layers
  • Symbols, buttons and movie clips

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  • IDE with lots of training support in built
    • A set of lessons implemented as interactive Flash movies complete with template files
      • Getting started with Flash
      • Illustrating in Flash
      • Adding and editing text
      • Creating and editing symbols
      • Understanding layers
      • Creating tweened animation
      • Creating buttons
    • Comprehensive set of HTML tutorials
    • Conventional HTML help system
  • It is a good idea to complete the lessons before attempting to do anything with Flash

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  • Each symbol has a unique timeline and stage, complete with layers
  • When you create a symbol you choose the symbol type, depending on how you want to use the symbol in the movie
    • graphic symbols
    • button symbols
    • movie clip symbols
  • Use graphic symbols for static images
    • to create reusable pieces of animation that are tied to the timeline of the main movie
    • graphic symbols operate in sync with the movie's timeline
  • Interactive controls and sounds won't work in a graphic symbol's animation sequence

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  • Use button symbols to create interactive buttons in the movie that respond to events
    • onRollOver, onPress, onRelease, etc
  • Define the graphics associated with various button states
    • assign actions to a button instance.
  • Use movie clips symbols to create reusable pieces of animation.
  • Movie clips have their own multi-frame timeline that plays independent of the main movie's timeline
    • movies inside movies
    • can contain interactive controls, sounds
    • even other movie clip instances.
  • Place movie clip instances inside the timeline of a button symbol to create animated buttons.

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bouncing ball
Bouncing Ball
  • Exercise to animate a bouncing ball
    • Make the ball
    • Turn it into a symbol
    • Create a motion tween
    • Modifying the tween
    • Guide lines
    • Easing
    • Buttons

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make the ball
Make the Ball
  • Draw with the oval tool
    • Fill with a texture to give a “3D” effect
    • Save it as a symbol in the library
      • why?
        • can’t use it until it is in the library
        • motion tweens work with symbols
  • Before a shape is a symbol in the library it is a graphic on the stage consisting of strokes and fills

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  • The symbol exists in a keyframe (1) in a layer on the timeline
    • insert another keyframe in the layer
      • right click in a blank frame (30)
    • set a motion tween between them
      • right click between the two key frames
  • In the new key frame move the symbol to a different position
    • Flash interpolates
    • move the play head to see the effect

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motion tween
Motion Tween
  • You can animate by creating intermediate keyframes that modify the ball’s path

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motion tween14
Motion Tween
  • But this is clumsy
    • the interpolation is not effective
  • Add guide lines using a guide layer to effectively control motion
    • force the symbol to follow a path

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guide layer
Guide Layer
  • They’re still jagged -let’s smooth them and curve them

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guide layer16
Guide Layer

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  • Easing is a way of controlling the frame rate to…
    • accelerate into a scene
    • decelerate out of a scene

note orient to path

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  • There is an internal timeline (state-line) associated with each button
  • When the user interacts with the button (a mouse event) the button references its internal timeline and performs the action set for it
  • There are four button states:
    • Up (first frame) dormant no interaction with mouse
    • Over (second frame) rollover by mouse
    • Down (third frame) mouse button down and over button
    • Hit (fourth frame) not seen by user, defines the area that responds to the mouse

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  • Insert another layer and create a button symbol
  • Double click the symbol to see it’s timeline
  • Up must have some content
    • visual element for user interaction

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  • Over and Down
    • a keyframe must be inserted (or copied from the Up state)
    • behaviours can then be associated using ActionScript
    • appearance of the button should be modified to show the state change
    • test the movie to see the button behaviour
  • Hit
    • inserting a blank keyframe here stops the button working
    • defining the hit area is then necessary, this supercedes previous hit area definitions
    • why do this?
      • If you are using text as a button only the stroke of each character is considered a hit area. A hit area allows all of the box space of the text to respond to the mouse.

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  • ActionScript provides elements, such as actions, operators, and objects, that you combine with scripts that tell your movie what to do
    • events, such as mouse overs, button clicks and key presses trigger these scripts.
    • e.g. use ActionScript to create navigation buttons for your movie
  • You can write simple scripts without a full understanding of ActionScript.
    • to begin working with ActionScript use the built-in tutorial resource

Help > Tutorials > Introduction to ActionScript.

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  • In Flash, you use the Actions panel to write ActionScript.
  • Attach scripts to buttons, movie clips or frames to create the required interactivity
  • In normal editing mode the Actions panel helps you to build scripts by choosing options from menus and lists.
  • In expert editing mode you enter text directly into the Script pane.
  • In both modes code hints help you complete actions and insert properties and events.

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  • Add ActionScript to stop the movie in the last frame

select the last frame

expert view

add script

  • Add ActionScript to handle events for buttons

or find the button in this menu

select the button

add script to replay the movie

  • Flash offers a number of ways to handle sounds.
  • Make sounds that play continuously independent of the timeline
    • (sound has it’s own timeline)
  • Synchronize animation to a sound track
  • Add sounds to buttons to make them more interactive
    • make sounds fade in and out for a more polished sound track.

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  • There are two types of sounds in Flash:
    • event sounds
      • an event sound must download completely before it begins playing, and it continues playing until explicitly stopped.
    • stream sounds.
      • stream sounds begin playing as soon as enough data for the first few frames has been downloaded
      • stream sounds can be synchronized to the timeline for playing on a web site.

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  • Use Adobe Soundbooth to create audio files
    • or a wave editor such as GoldWave or CoolEdit
  • Import the sound into a movie

File > Import to Library…

  • Select compression options for individual sounds
    • using the Sound Properties dialog box
    • define settings for all sounds in the movie in the Publish Settings dialog box.
  • Use sounds in shared libraries, to link a sound from one library to multiple movies.
  • Use the ActionScript onSoundComplete event to trigger an event based on the completion of a sound.

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  • Create a layer to carry the sound
    • insert keyframes into the sound layer
    • drag sounds from the library onto the stage

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  • Movies are usually published as shockwave files
    • embedded into HTML pages

File > Publish Settings…

  • Can also publish in other formats - GIF, QuickTime, etc.

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html embedding
HTML Embedding

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">

<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en">


<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />



<body bgcolor="#ffffff">

<object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase=",0,0,0" width="550" height="400" id="Arrow" align="middle">

<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="sameDomain" />

<param name="movie" value="Arrow.swf" />

<param name="quality" value="high" />

<param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" />

<embed src="Arrow.swf" quality="high" bgcolor="#ffffff" width="550" height="400" name="Arrow" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" />




Flash creates an HTML template using <embed> nested inside <object> for browser compatibility

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xhtml strict
XHTML Strict
  • Strictly speaking there is no <embed> element in XHTML
  • Could simply not include the <embed> element in the web page containing the shockwave
    • but then some browsers may not work
  • A workaround is to nest two <object> elements
    • use CSS to hide one of the objects
      • exploit some IE CSS quirks
    • see the XHTML 1.1 example in the teaching material

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shape tweening
Shape Tweening
  • Flash can transform one shape into another over a sequence of frames
    • shape tweening (morphing)
  • Insert two keyframes into the timeline
    • Insert graphics into the keyframes
  • Click on the timeline between the two keyframes and select Shape from the Tweening menu in the properties panel
    • the frames are coloured pale green with an arrow between them
  • Use the onion skin control to see the intermediate stages
  • Add shape hints to control the tweening

Modify > Shape > Add Shape Hints

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shape tweening34
Shape Tweening

onion skin control

shape hints

  • Flash provides an extensive font library
  • Insert some text onto the stage using the Text tool from the toolbox
  • Modify it’s properties
    • size, colour, font, style, justification, kerning
  • Text is created in symbolic form
    • Break the text apart (Modify) to
      • decompose strings into characters
      • decompose characters into stroke and fill graphics
      • allow shape tweening

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  • Use text fields as input devices
    • select type Input Text from the properties
    • give the text fields a name
  • Other input devices can be found in the Components window
    • checkboxes, menus, etc
    • set their Properties
  • Create Button symbols
    • Add ActionScript to submit the form

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more GUI components

add code to the button

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on (release) {

// Prepare the data transfer object.

var sender = new LoadVars();

// Custom form-submission function.

function submitForm () {

if (validateForm()) {

// Assemble text field values into our LoadVars object.

sender.user = name_txt.text;

sender.pass = passwd_txt.text;

// Hidden field = "bar";

// Transfer the data to the server-side script.

sender.send("", this, "GET");

} else {

//respond to user



function validateForm() {

// test input data

return true;




get the text from the text boxes

send data to a URL

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we have not looked at
We have not looked at...
  • Sophisticated ActionScript
  • Remoting
  • AJAX like applications
    • see teaching material for example
  • XML and web services
  • Video
  • Flex

the University of Greenwich

why not to flash
Why not to Flash
  • Flash is evil
  • Clearly there are accessibility issues associated with Flash but does that make Flash intrinsically evil?

Macromedia says Flash is "the solution for producing and delivering high-impact web sites." It's also a solution for making your site highly annoying and downright unusable.

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  • Pixel perfect applications
    • no browser compatibility problems
  • An IDE that really helps
    • no more mucking around with markup
  • Fast downloads
    • compressed binary instead of flatulent markup
  • Fast response
    • easy partial page updates
  • Not cheap
    • but hardly expensive

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