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Using Animation in Adobe InDesign CS5


  1. What Can Be Animated?
  2. Events
  3. Motion Presets
  4. Page Transitions

Chapter Description

In previous versions of InDesign, the document was static; none of the page content wiggled or barked. But InDesign CS5 allows you to do so much more. Now, page content itself can be animated. Here's where the real fun begins!
  • While previous versions of InDesign allowed you to create hyperlinks and import video and sound files, the InDesign document itself was static; none of the page content wiggled or barked. While InDesign CS4 introduced the ability to import SWF files and to export to the SWF format, the resulting SWF was still just a container for content that had to be created elsewhere. But InDesign CS5 allows you to do so much more—now, page content itself can be animated. Here's where the real fun begins!

What Can Be Animated?

Any text frame, graphics frame, or empty frame (or group of frames) can be animated. As you saw in Chapter 3, "Multimedia," a frame containing an FLV or FV4 video can be animated, but the video inside the frame won't play until the animated frame calms down and stops doing whatever it's doing. However, remember that a frame containing a placed SWF file can be animated, and the animation inside the frame will play while its container is doing something else (as long as something triggers the SWF to play). Think of the fiendish possibilities!

Exploring the Possibilities

There's a great little guide to InDesign's animation capabilities built right into the application, but you have to do a little digging to find it. First, you have to find a script that ships with InDesign. The script generates an InDesign document containing examples of objects using many of the animation controls. You can examine each object's settings in the Animation and Timing panels and learn a lot.

  1. To start your quest for the Animation Encyclopedia (its official name), open the Scripts panel (Window > Utilities > Scripts). You'll see two folders: Application and User. The User folder stores scripts you download to add to InDesign's functionality (the scripts displayed are those installed by the currently active computer user); the Application folder contains the scripts that ship with InDesign (Figure 4.1).
    Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 Sample scripts are supplied in two formats for Windows (JavaScript and VBScript) and two formats for Mac (JavaScript and AppleScript). All application scripts are available in both formats; only JavaScript is cross-platform.

  2. You'll have to keep digging. Click the triangle next to the Application folder to view the Samples folder. Here's where the road forks: If you're using Windows, you'll see subfolders for VBScript and JavaScript; on the Mac, you'll have subfolders for AppleScript and JavaScript. The script selection is actually the same in both subfolders, so it doesn't matter which you select for the next step; you're almost there. Click the triangle next to JavaScript, VBScript, or AppleScript, and there it is (finally): AnimationEncyclopedia (Figure 4.2).
    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 You'll find the AnimationEncyclopedia script in the JavaScript, AppleScript, or VBScript folder (depending on your platform). You'll see VBScript on Windows, and AppleScript on the Mac. JavaScript is cross-platform.

  3. Double-click the script to run it. InDesign takes the reins and builds a six-page document. It may not look very exciting at first (Figure 4.3), but it packs a secret punch. Preview the document and play along. Some objects require that you click them or the page, and some will be triggered when the page loads.
    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 The design of the Animation Encyclopedia may not be compelling, but the beauty is under the hood. Preview this simple document, and prepare to be amazed.

The document that's created is named Untitled.indd; I suggest you save it as AnimationEncyclopedia.indd and put it in a safe place. You can learn a lot about InDesign's animation capabilities by examining the settings used by those little rectangles. Just so you know, page 6 of the document displays very complex behavior that's beyond what you can do with just the animation and timing settings; it's accomplished with scripting (as are the Color Fade and Combination effects on page 1). To give you an idea of its complexity, look at an excerpt from the JavaScript version of the Animation Encyclopedia script (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 Scripting can accomplish complex animations far beyond what's possible with the motion and timing controls.

Don't freak out—you're not expected to write code like this! All the behaviors you see on pages 1 through 5 of the encyclopedia—and many more—can be achieved by using the controls and options in the Animation and Timing panels. The inclusion of the over-the-top performance on page 6 is to expose you to the fact that animation, like every other operation in InDesign, is completely scriptable. For this and other reasons, it's a good idea to befriend a scripter and take him/her to lunch occasionally.

2. Events | Next Section