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Expert Flash Tips and Tricks

Article Description

Quick and dirty Flash! tips from Derek Franklin and Brooks Patton, coauthors of Flash 5! Creative Web Animation.

AN EASY DUPE  A quick way to duplicate an object is to hold down the Control key (Windows) or Option key (Macintosh), place your pointer over the object, and click and drag a duplicate to any point on the stage.

tip 7Duplicating an object.

DYNAMIC TEXT  You can leave the text field empty and, if you wish, use some advanced interactivity to dynamically fill it with text once your audience has viewed it. You can also use an empty text field for use input; we discuss that in detail in Chapter 11, Interactivity, of Flash 4! Creative Web Animation. (We've got an intro to interactivity in Flash right here.)

SOUND FORMAT CAVEATS  You cannot use MIDI files within Flash. The only way to control a MIDI file using Flash is through JavaScript.

However, as of Version 4, Flash lets you export to the MP3 format any sound you add to your project. This is the format that's taking the Web by storm due to its superior compression abilities, which can take a sound file and make it nearly one-tenth its original size. Because Flash can export files in the MP3 format, you would think it could import MP3 files as well. Think again: Flash does not support MP3 as an import file type.

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL  At export, Flash provides a general compression setting that you can use to compress all of your movie's graphics simultaneously. However, we don't recommend this course of action. One, to get the most from your hard work, you'll want to control every aspect of it--including bitmap compression settings. Second, some graphics may look good using the general setting, but others may degrade terribly. Set the compression amounts for each graphic individually. (By the way, this goes for sounds, too.)

COLOR EFFECTS FOR SYMBOLS ONLY  Color effects editing is possible only on symbol instances. You cannot perform such edits on other Flash objects (such as text, groups, or imported bitmaps) unless you turn them into symbols and then drag an instance on stage for editing.

GUIDE LAYERS AND PREVIEWS  Although the guide layer is used mostly for layout, you can turn any layer into a guide if you want to see how a movie will look without that layer's contents. If you don't like the results, just go back to the layer and uncheck the Guide option on the Layer pop-up menu so that you can once again see that layer's contents when the movie is exported.

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