Some Flash Tips

By: Sadain

Here are some tips on Macromedia Flash, note the version I'm using is Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004. The one major thing you need to remember about Flash is that it has a timeline, so everything is done over time. The two main components in Flash are the work area, which is known as the Stage, and the Timeline, where all the work is set up. I'm going to start with Key framing.
Key framing
Place an object on the stage, go to the Timeline and insert a key frame (F6 it should be but I just right-click on the desired location in the Timeline and select "Insert Key frame) -> move the object and then insert another key frame later on in the Timeline. Keep moving the object and inserting a key frame each time you move it and your simple animation is complete. Now go to Control and either "Play" or "Test Movie" and you should see your animation. From now on in this article I will just say play or test.
Motion Tweening
Motion Tweening is more complicated and slightly more difficult. Start off by drawing/importing your object onto the Stage, then go to the frame you want the animation to END at and insert a key frame, (right-click -> insert Reframe), -> then highlight from the end to the start on the Timeline, right-click on the Timeline, and select "Create Motion Tween". You should now see an arrow on the timeline. Finally move the object and that's it. Now play or test and you should see an animation that is smoother than Key framing. You can also add a Guide Layer to help tell Flash where to move the object to by right-clicking on the layer name and selecting "Guide", then you just draw the path of the object making sure the Guide Layer is selected.

In Key framing you do the work yourself, in Motion Tweening Flash does the work for you.
Shape Tweening
Start off by typing some text onto the Stage in the centre, in this example I'm using the figure 1. Then insert a Key frame at say frame 20 on the Timeline. Select the figure 1, right-click, and then select "Break apart". The 1 should now be covered in white dots. Then highlight from Frame 20 or wherever you inserted the Key frame, to the start. This is important, find the Property Inspector (the window at the bottom that says "Properties") and click anywhere on the Timeline, with the Timeline selected you should see the following on the Property Inspector: "Tween: Motion", change that to "Shape". The Timeline between the start and your Key frame should now be colored green. Delete the 1 and replace it in the same position with a 2. Finally right-click on the 2 and select Break Apart. Now if you play or test your Movie you should see a figure 1 morph into a figure 2. If you've made it right there should be an arrow on the Timeline, like with a Motion Tween.
Those are the 3 big tips. I hope you got them to work.
Masking
Right-click on the Layer Name and select "Mask". This adds a Masking Layer. Now just move an object over some text and off it again, (has to be done with Key framing I'm afraid), and when you play it the text is revealed letter by letter as if it were being typed. You can use this to do the Matrix-esque typing effects, you can even have a flashing cursor underneath the text, but you need another layer and another set of Key framing.
Finally here's something I wasn't taught, I figured it out by myself once I had learnt Key framing.
Flashing Flash
Type some text onto the screen and insert a Key frame, then simply change the color of the text to match the background color, (works best on a black background), insert another Key frame later on in the Timeline, change the text color back again and finally insert another Key frame later on in the Timeline again. There you have it, Flashing Flash! This only works if you select Control -> Test Movie. You can even change the text or change it to a shape, but you'll need more Key frames.
Just remember, if your working with Key frames, as you are with most things in Flash, inserts your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Key frames and so on AFTER your first one in the Timeline.
By the way I haven't spelt the words "centre", "color" and "colored" wrongly, I'm British and that's how we spell them.
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