By Chris Grover
7 January 2009


User level

Unlock the power of Adobe Flash CS4 Professional and bring gorgeous animations to life onscreen. Flash CS4: The Missing Manual includes a complete primer on animation, a guided tour of the program's tools and capabilities, lots of new illustrations, and more details on working with video. Beginners will learn to use the software in no time, and experienced Flash designers will improve their skills.
Every chapter in this book provides step-by-step tutorials to help you with the following:
  • Learn to draw objects, animate them, and integrate your own audio and video files
  • Add interactivity, use special effects, learn morphing, and much more
  • Check your work with the book's online sample files and completed animations
  • Discover new Flash toolkits and features such as frameless animation
  • Use every timesaving aspect of Flash CS4, such as Library objects and symbols
  • Learn how to automate your drawings and animations with ActionScript 3.0
With this book, absolutely no programming is necessary to get started with Flash. Flash CS4: The Missing Manual is designed for readers of every skill level except the super-advanced programmer. If Flash is the first image-creation or animation program you've ever used, you'll be able to dive right in using the explanations and examples in this book. If you come from an animation or multimedia background, you'll find this book a useful reference for mapping how you created an element in your previous program, to how you do it in Flash.
The printed book is available through most major online and retail bookstores worldwide, and can be read online at Safari Books Online. For more information visit the O'Reilly store.
Flash CS4: The Missing Manual © 2009 Chris Glover. Reproduced by permission of O'Reilly Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Incorporating sound and video

When Flash was born, it was a big deal to have moving pictures on the Internet. Most folks had pretty slow Internet connections, so it was kick to see pictures move, even if they were simple cartoonish images. The same was true of even the most basic sound effects. Today, we're used to full screen video delivered over the Internet, and sounds have gone from beeps and bells to radio broadcasts, audio books, and entire albums of music. Things have changed, and Flash is at the center of the revolution.
Chapter 10 explains how to add sound to your animations and how to edit that sound for the best fit. You'll also learn how to present video in a predesigned component that gives the audience playback controls.
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Testing and debugging

Testing your animation is a lot like filing your income taxes. Both can be tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating—but they've got to be done. Even if your animation is short, straightforward, and you've whipped out 700 exactly like it over the past two years, you still need to test it before you release it into the world.
Why? Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Choosing a motion tween when you meant to choose a shape tween, adding content to a frame instead of a keyframe, tying actions to the wrong frame or object, or mistyping an ActionScript keyword are just a few of the ways a slip of your fingers can translate into a broken animation. And it's far better that you find out about these problems before your audience sees your handiwork rather than after.
Chapter 18 expands on the simple test option (Control > Test Movie) in Flash and shows you how to test animation playback at a variety of connection speeds. If you've ever added ActionScript to your animation, this chapter shows you how to unsnarl uncooperative ActionScript code using Flash's debugging tools.
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Optimizing Flash documents

When you're finished creating an animation in Flash, you want to do one of two things with it: publish it, which means packaging it in a form your audience can play using the version of Flash Player they've installed on their computers; or export it, which means packaging it in a form you can edit using another graphics or animation program (like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Fireworks).
Chapter 19 shows you how to do both, but this excerpt covers just optimization. Optimizing your animation means paring down its file size by making various changes to your images, text, and other elements—all while making sure your animation continues to play the way you want it to. You can think of optimization as low-fat cooking for the animation set: The goal is to get rid of the fat without getting rid of the flavor. And, as with low-fat cooking, Flash doesn't have a single approach to optimization; instead—because every animation and target audience is different—you need to experiment, tweak, and retest using the strategies outlined in this excerpt.
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