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BellaOnline's Flash and Animation Editor

How to Wow with Flash by Colin Smith

With the latest upgrade of FlashR 8 Professional and its new features, you can do some really cool things. Surf the web for those Hollywood movie websites that have the newest special effects. Would you like to add some of these to your own site? This book by Colin Smith will help you do just that. Smith shares with you his Flash secrets in sixty of the best examples of Flash effects. But don't panic if you aren't familiar with Flash ActionScript. Believe it or not, Smith keeps the ActionScript to a minimum. Except for a few examples at the end of the book, the cool effects he shares are based on Flash basics such as tweening.

To get you up to speed in the first chapter, Smith gives you a crash course in Flash covering the Timeline, symbols, instances, frames and keyframes. Then he moves into tweening and those new Flash filters. Another new feature added in version 8 is the Object Drawing Model and Smith teaches you to use the vector drawing tools to create your own art from scratch. Next, you learn a little about blend modes, glow and blur filters. Then, you put it all together to create a sample project which is a high tech web interface.

Now you are ready to start learning how to create those Hollywood special effects including animated handwriting across the screen, reflected light and a slide in with blur transition. How, you ask? He demonstrates step-by-step how to use filters, motion and shape tweens and masks. Want to add some atmosphere to your website? Smith shows how to create smoke and steam with blend modes.

The chapters that I liked the best covered character animation and 3D. Smith shows you his personal techniques for creating and animating characters from scratch. For example, he demonstrates how to animate a walk cycle and lip syncing. One of the newest things on Flash sites is the addition of 3D objects. Smith shows you how to add a 3D object to your Flash movie and also how to create the illusion of 3D.

A cool Flash website is not enough on today's web. Smith discusses user interactivity and demonstrates some examples including a movie clip that the user can drag around the screen. He also covers rollover buttons, animated preloaders and custom cursors. In order to finish these projects, you need to know a little ActionScript. So, Smith first gives you a mini-course in beginning ActionScript. Then he demonstrates how to make a sliding menu, a drop-down menu and invisible buttons with hotspots.

Did you know that you can create your own "green screen" picture-in-picture video effect? Smith first shows you how to set up and record the video and then how to merge it into your Flash project. At the end of the book, Smith gives you some advanced ActionScript projects including an XML driven gallery, dynamic text from an external file, an email form and an MP3 jukebox. Smith does not cover all the ActionScript for these projects but he does show you how to customize them into your Flash projects.

Colin Smith is the founder of PhotoshopCAFE, DreamweaverCAFE and PixelOverload. He has written over twelve books and six training videos. The book's CD includes program files, prebuilt Flash widgets and trial software.

Authors: Colin Smith
ISBN: 0321426495
Publisher: Peachpit Press
232 pages
Published: Aug 2006

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