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Chatper 1: Plan Your Flash ProjectHow to...
- Understand Flash Concepts
- Publish Flash Movies
- Create or Import Artwork
- Animate Your Artwork
- Publish Your Movies on the Web
- Use the Document Library
- Edit Flash Preferences
Understand Flash Concepts
Flash began life as a vector-based program that was capable of creating impressive animations for Web pages. Over the past few years, the programmers at Macromedia have revised the program, adding more elements, and giving Web designers a program with the power to create fully interactive Web sites at a fraction of the file size required by other media. Flash 5 is recognized as the leading Web authoring program for creating vector-based animations (known as Flash movies) for Web sites.
During the course of a typical Flash project, you create objectsusing the Flash drawing tools and animate them along the Timeline. You segregate the different assets used in your movies using layers. You add interactivity to and control the flow of your movie with ActionScript. While you are creating the movie, you edit everything within the main Flash workspace. You can preview your handiwork in the workspace, or test the movie with the Flash Player. When everything is performing as you planned, you publish the movie in Flash's native SWF (pronounced swif, or one of the other available formats for use in a printed document or as part of a multimedia presentation.
Understand Flash Image Formats
Flash uses two types of graphics: vector-based and bitmapped (sometimes referred to as raster). The objects you create with Flash drawing tools are vector-based. Bitmap images on the other hand are comprised of pixels, tiny dots of colors that are assembled to create the final image. When you see an image displayed on a Web page, it is generally a bitmap image.
The biggest difference between bitmap images and vector-based graphics is the way they are displayed on a computer screen. Bitmap images are resolution dependent. The size resolution of a bitmap image is measured in pixels per inch. The standard resolution of bitmap images used on the Web is 72 pixels per inch. When you resize a bitmap image, pixels are redrawn and the host program adds data where there was none. Decrease the size of a bitmap image and the host program removes pixels; increase the size of a bitmap and the host program adds pixels. This inevitably leads to distortion.
Vector-based images, on the other hand, are drawn using mathematical formulas. When you resize a vector-based graphic, the image is redrawn by changing one or more parameters of the original formula. For example, if you increase the size of a vector-based circle, the radius of the circle is changed and the object is redrawn without distortion. Vector-based images scale very well, even when enlarged to many times their original size. The only time noticeable distortion might occur in a vector-based image is when you resize an object with a complex gradient fill.
Bitmaps are best suited for displaying real-world images, such as photographs of people or landscapes. Most of the images you view on Web sites are bitmapped. In fact, the two main image formats used on the Web, GIF and JPEG, are bitmap file formats. Some of the images you see displayed on Web pages, such as buttons, backgrounds, and user interfaces may start out as vector-based images that were created in programs such as FreeHand, Illustrator, or CorelDraw, but they ultimately end up as bitmapped JPEGs and GIFs when incorporated into images for Web pages. Figure I-1 shows an example of a bitmap image that you might use on a Web page...