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Soundbooth and Flash

One of the drawbacks of using royalty free mp3 is that sometimes these files are very large. There are a few solutions to this problem that even the novice can manage. Let's say we have a nice mp3 of the Christmas song Angels We Have Heard on High. It's a nice stereo track that is 3556 kb. If we imported this into our FlashR fla file, the resulting swf would be very large. For example, an empty swf file that is 15kb will grow to 3556 kb when we import the mp3 and add it to the timeline. So what can we do?

Out first step is to decide if we need the entire file or just a section of the mp3. Our animation has 1260 frames (or 44 seconds) and the mp3 has almost 5500 frames. When working with ecards, it's a frequent task to crop an mp3 to fit the length of the ecard animation.

We can do this inside the Flash interface by using Edit Sound Envelope. Select the music on a frame of the timeline. In the Sound section of the Properties panel, click on the Edit button (looks like a pencil) to open the dialog box. We can drag the Time Out control to the left until we have the ending point moved from 5500 to 1260 frames. Of course, you will want to use the Play button to preview the changes. When we save and publish the fla we notice that the swf is smaller.

Let's see what results we get in SoundboothR. Open the mp3 into Soundbooth and we can see the visual representation of the mp3 on the Editor panel. As we move the Current-Time Indicator along the timeline, we can see the number of frames indicated at the bottom of the ruler. We will place the indicator at 44 frames. To crop the mp3, we will drag the right Trim Handle to the Current-Time Indicator. Place your mouse over the gray handle at the right edge of the Editor. The mouse will change to the red Trim Handle. Drag the red Trim Handle to the same location as the Current-Time Indicator. You will see the section to be cropped is dimmed. When you release the Trim Handle, the Timeline changes to display only what's left. Preview the results before our next step.

We can reduce the size of the file even more by adjusting the Bitrate. Click File Save as to save the cropped mp3 with a new name. When you click Save, the MP3 Compression Options dialog box opens. There you will find the Bitrate drop-down menu. As you choose different Bitrates, you will see the estimated File Size change. For the example, I chose a Bitrate of 64 kbps with an estimated file size of 341.25 kb. Click Save to save our new file. Now our cropped mp3 is only 330 kb.

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