Remember when just knowing Flash at all was a competitive advantage? Ahh, the good old days. But nowadays, the market for splashy web site intros is, well, a little soft. It’s time to take your Flash skills to the next level -- and beyond.
- It’s time to master more complex tasks involving video, masking, dynamic sound control, or movie-clip collision detection.
- It’s time to deepen your animation skills, and then integrate your animations with interactivity (as in some of the increasingly sophisticated Flash games we’re seeing of late).
- It’s time to build real user interfaces -- maybe, if you’re feeling generous, user interfaces that real people can actually use. (Flash MX makes that a whole lot easier than it’s ever been.)
Sophisticated Flash development touches on multiple fields, from aesthetics to interactivity, content to programming. That makes Chun the ideal author for this book. He’s a professional instructional media developer, and a medical illustrator, and a Flash consultant who’s written numerous articles on the program. He’s also a teacher at both the Center for Electronic Art in San Francisco and at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, where he teaches Flash mini-classes. Now that’s one interdisciplinary guy.
Chun’s extensive teaching experience has helped him do a fine job of logically organizing Flash MX’s advanced features. Each technique builds on what’s come before, and Chun shows how multiple features work together to solve the real problems you’re most likely to encounter. For instance, as Chun observes, a “simple” pull-down menu must bring together several simple elements -- invisible buttons, event handlers, button-tracking options, and movie clips -- in order to generate a relatively complex behavior.
In this book, Chun begins with advanced animation techniques: creating complex animations from simple parts, adding Flash elements to the digital video you’re using; exporting multimedia files as QuickTime or AVI movies; rotoscoping; simulating video from a sequence of bitmap images; and, finally, simulating 3-D motion and geometry.
Next, he’s on to ActionScripting: fundamental syntax, advanced buttons and event detection; controlling multiple timelines; and managing communications with browsers and other outside applications.
Chun demonstrates how to gain greater control over movie clips: setting and getting properties; detecting dropped clips and collisions; generating and removing clips dynamically, and more. There's detailed coverage of Flash's sound object, and techniques for managing sound more effectively by keeping it outside your Flash project in the form of external movies.
The book includes extensive coverage of working with information: controlling information flow and text; calculating with the Math Object; keeping track of movie clips with arrays; using the date and time; and more.
The book concludes with some excellent tips on managing and optimizing content, reusing scripts, working with Flash components, and troubleshooting ActionScript -- including a list of the errors ActionScript developers make most often.
This QuickPro guide follows the proven format Peachpit established years ago with its bestselling QuickStart guides. It's clean, task based, uses plenty of graphics, and is extremely accessible. It also contains a CD-ROM with all the source files you need to practice every technique Chun teaches -- along with a complete trial version of Flash MX.
You should know that Chun doesn’t waste a lot of time on preliminaries. You should already know how to create basic shapes and text; how to do tweens and frame-by-frame animation; how to import bitmaps and sounds; and how to assign basic actions to frames and buttons. But if you can do all that, this book will get you the rest of the way -- in style. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.