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Disney Online Interactive and Multi-tasked Flash Environment

In one of my previous articles, I asked the question "what can you do with AdobeR FlashR". Well, one way to keep up with the many ways to use Flash is to visit Flash based websites such as Disney OnlineR. DisneyR has had an online presence for more than ten years and at the beginning of this year, the Disney site was given a complete overhaul.

Disney is one of the major reasons that I became a digital artist and Flash programmer. It all began when I saw the Disney animated movie Fantasia. I sat there in the audience and watched Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice get overwhelmed by his own magic in the form of animated brooms carrying splashing buckets of water. The Walt Disney Imagineers and Disney animation had brought those brooms to life for me. I was too young to wonder how that magic was created but I knew that one day I would learn to do this myself. I'm no professional, but as the years passed, I followed Disney's lead. I first became a traditional pen and ink artist, then moved to digital art and Flash animation. Even though there are many 2D and 3D animation companies, Disney will always be the Master in my eyes.

If you visit Disney Online today, you will see a lot more than animated brooms. The website is a fantastic example of interactive Flash. As I mentioned above, the entire site has been updated but there is a new section that Flash lovers will especially appreciate. This new section is based on new Flash programming called Disney Xtreme DigitalSM and is a complete multi-tasked Flash environment geared toward the fourteen and under crowd. While still in beta, Disney makes no apologies about the need for a broadband connection to use the Flash GUI. This reflects the progress that Flash and the Internet have made over the last ten years.

If you look at the source code for the webpage or just check the URL in the browser, you will notice that the entire page is basically one big Flash swf. At first download, there are a minimum of eight smaller Flash windows floating over a large background. When those Disney marketing guys evaluated their target audience, they found that interactivity and multi-tasking were the two most requested features. The Disney Flash engineers answered the call with a Flash based GUI that will allow the visitor to simultaneously participate in Flash polls, listen to music and watch videos. Once logged in to a user account, the visitor can play Flash games (including multi-player games), pick a user avatar and create a user profile. Next, the user can create their own channel or collection of favorite games, music and videos. Finally, there are two types of chats. One is related to currently released Disney movies and one is more general. The second chat feature must be enabled by parents before the child can participate online.

By now you must be asking what makes this site so different from other sites that have a forum, chat, games and so on. The difference is the multi-tasked feature of the Flash GUI. The visitor to this section of the site does not go to a separate webpage for each activity but stays on this one main page and open/closes various draggable Flash panels. What surprised me the most was that when I had at least eight separate panels going at one time, it did not slow down my 3+ year old computer. This is a good example of what you can do with Flash when you consider optimization an important part of your production process.

http://disney.go.com/dxd/index.html?channel=16928&transitionURL=swfs%2Fintros%2Fdxd_intro_home.swf&



Disney Online, Walt Disney Imagineers, Fantasia, Mickey Mouse and other characters Disney. All rights reserved.

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