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Macromedia Flash 5

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      28.08.2002 04:03
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      ...saviour of the universe! So sang Queen. But they were not, alas, referring to this fab product which, while not possessing universe-saving properties nor a natty dress sense, would at least have impressed Ming the Merciless enough to divert him from his evil plans. Getting back on topic...even if you haven't heard of *Macromedia* Flash, it's likely that you have visited a website that uses it. The software lets you create smooth vector graphic animations (think South Park) that can be as simple as a cartoon bee buzzing in the air to whole Flash sites with interactive quizzes and streaming MP3 background music. The interface looks a lot like a conventional drawing program with its pencil, brush, line, circle and eraser tools, as well as the blank canvas, but it's a lot more complicated than this. Each Flash movie is made up of a number of what animators call "keyframes". You make changes between each keyframe to create the illusion of smooth movement. For example, you on keyframe 1 you might have a man with his hand on his hat, on keyframe 2 the man holding his hat in the air and keyframe 3 the same as 1. The software works out the extra frames in between those keyframes...put it together and you have a man taking his hat off! Simple so far, but imagine what great animations you could create. You could be the next Tex Avery! Unfortunately, unless you are Tex Avery, the procedure to create even such a simple cartoon can be daunting. It took me a few weeks to learn how to use Flash, although the software is made as simple as possible. The help feature is realy informative too, with examples and lessons that actually get you using the software, not just reading about it. So how do these animations get from your screen to the user's web browser? Well, you need a plugin, a small program that expands your web browser's abilities, before you can see any Flash animations in your browser. Happily, the latest
      browsers already come with this plugin: over 90% of computers already have the plug-in and if not, it only takes a few minutes to download from the Macromedia site. However if your content isn't worth viewing, if it's just a splash screen for example, visitors won't bother to download the plugin. So you do have to make sure you're making something worthwhile with Flash. Flash isn't just about static animations, oh no, this latest version is all about interactivity. You can use the in-built scripting language, ActionScript (which is a bit hard to learn, but the program helps you every step of the way) to do virtually anything in Flash. You can for example add surveys and games to your Flash movies, play sounds when the user completes a task, and much much more. These site have examples of incredible Flash use, and couldn't possibly have existed without Flash: http://www.praystation.com/ http://www.volumeone.com/ The software has other uses too. You can make a presentation small enough to fit on a floppy disk and save the Flash file as an executable (program file), so it can work even without a web browser. You can also save Flash movies as AVI or Quicktime videos, to use in other programs, and animated gifs. If you can think of a multimedia idea, it can probably be done in Flash! The software's a bit expensive at over £300 but you can sometimes find previous versions on computer magazine CDs. Students should contact Macromedia as they often have special prices for learning editions which are just the same as the normal versions except they can't be used for commercial purposes. Hope this has helped, and "happy flashing"!

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        07.07.2002 06:58

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        An essential application for any website/webpage maker - Advantages: Helps boost the overall outlook of your website enormously, The only limit is your imagination, Easy to use when used to it - Disadvantages: Can be complicated at first, Can be frustrating at times

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        15.04.2002 22:52

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        When I first used Macromedia Flash 5 I was pleasantly suprised how user friendly the package was, considering it did look very complicated when I first opened the program. After followig each interactive lesson included in the package I was able to create simple but effective animation sequences within minutes. The screen consists of a canvas (work area) which can be adjusted to suit user preferance. At the top of the screen is the timeline, which is a grid used to store each frame of the animation. Instead of a basic animation sequence path from A - B, the movie can be set to jump to any frames at any time. The main controls are in the form of panels (toolbars) which can be found on other Macromedia products such as Fireworks. The user can choose which panels to display by selecting them in the "view" meun. Flash 5 amimations are created using layers. Each element of an image may be broken down into layers. For example an animation of a bird would consist of a "Wings" layer, which is a seperate animation or image which represents the wings of the bird. The other layer may be name "head" which is the animation of the head and body. By using layers effective animations can be created more quickly and effectively. Moderation can also be made with ease without disturbing the rest of the animation. Not only is flash capable of movies and animations, it can also produce interactive web pages. Flash includes a ready made library, which includes animations, animated buttons, bullet points and dividers to aid the user when building an interactive page. Once the user has created their movie it can be published to the web. The HTML code reuired to display the flash file is generate automatically. Although the price of the software is very expensive (£300), I feel purchasing the softwarw pay off in the long run. I only have a basic knowledge of computers and I have already covered the c
        ost of the software, by designing a web page for a company using Macromedia Flash 5 I highly reccomend this software to anyone wishing to develop a professional looking web page. Why envy others who have proffesional looking web sites - Build one yourself!

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        24.01.2002 20:21
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        There are already lots of reviews of this bit of software so I will focus on that application of it. Flash is one of the ?industry standard? pieces of software for enhanced web interface development, for integrating sound, animation and motion graphics. It is very widely used in fact the Banner ad at this top of this page has probably been produced in flash. As you can see Flash allows you to create moving visuals it also allows you to integrate sound and interactivity and deliver a far more interesting interface for the user. On of the best exponents of Flash is Hillman Curtis, who has written a book entitled Flash web Graphics, (will be writing a review of this shortly) Check out his web motion work at www.hillmancurtis.com/site2/webmotion01.html. He also features in The New Masters of Flash, a very comprehensive study of the artistry produced by some of the foremost international designers (will be writing a review of this shortly too) One of the main software packages that every new designer needs to get a job in web/design new media areas. Flash is a Web Industry standard, along with Dreamweaver and Photoshop. All the Jobs in web design in the last 18 months, that have come through me have required it ! (I teach web design)

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          04.09.2001 10:27

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          I first started using the Internet in 1995, and compared to today's websites most were unimaginative to say the least. As time went on I noticed websites getting more and more sophisticated utilising different web technologies. The websites that I thought were most attractive and interactive contained Macromedia Flash. Whole websites can be designed using Flash, although it usually is just a segment of one page that contains the Flash. Macromedia Flash enables you to deliver high quality content, whilst keeping file sizes very low. Which is an important factor to think about when designing a website, as your traffic will get bored if they have to wait a lifetime for the page to load! Flash text first caught my eye. With html you are limited to a few fonts and in any case the person viewing the page must have the same font as you so that they can view it as you intended it to be seen. Text is antialias so the text looks very professional and clear. Flash uses both vector and bitmap images. Flash creates vector images and this is what keeps the file sizes down and is mostly better quality. The uses of Macromedia Flash are too numerous to list here, but you can do almost anything with it. I use it for animation, as the high quality images make a site look really professional. I also find animation quite easy to use. Macromedia and other Flash developers allow you to download 'extensions' for Flash. These are like templates and you can manipulate them for your purpose, which saves you a lot of time. Another important topic worth mentioning is ActionScript. This is a lot like JavaScript and allows you to do more complicated functions for your website and adds interactivity. Overall Macromedia Flash is very professional, relatively easy to master (*)and very enjoyable to use. If you use other Macromedia products such as Dreamweaver you should be right at home with Flash as it has very sim
          ilar environments and tools. Get active, get interactive, get Flash! (*) I recommend 'Flash 5 Bible' Robert Reinhardt and Jon Warren Lentz, ISBN 0764535153 £34.99

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          13.08.2001 21:19
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          I praise the day that I first used Macromedia Flash in the Office. I was a complete newby back then, using Flash Version 2, which I found on a demonstration CD from PC Pro. I have since become very involved in the use of Macromedia's products, Flash 5 being my most frequently used. If you are new to using Flash 5, it would be wise to leave plenty of time to learn the product before taking on any major projects, but once you have picked up the basics (made very easy by the tutorials built-in) everything else stems from there. There are endless possibilities for what you can create in flash, both for use on the internet, and interactive CD's as I have done in the past. These can be made even more impressive by the use of ActionScript, Flash’s own scripting language. I would say there is probably a bigger advantage to using FLASH 5 if you have previous experience, and are using it for professional websites and CD’s. If you are not yet experienced in FLASH 5, then I would advise doing as I did at first, and use a previous version that you can get free on a cover disk. That, or you could download the trial version of FLASH 5 from Macromedia’s website. The only real problem that I have with Version 5 is that if you have too many of the floating panels open at once (which is often necessary) the screen can become very cluttered. I had to upgrade to a 19” monitor to take full advantage of the screen layout. Apart from this, I think that the floating panels make this product much easier to use, and is in keeping with the other major Macromedia products that I currently use, Fireworks 4 and DreamWeaver Ultradev 4. In fact I have become so impressed with Flash that I am now using it to develop my own personal website at www.lukemartin.co.uk which I hope will show of my skills to future employers. I would recommend Flash 5 to any experienced web developers, or any individual that has used previous versions and
          has the willingness to learn the new features, especially if you have knowledge of programming.

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            04.08.2001 06:23
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            Macromedia Flash 5, or Flash for short, is a software program that creates Flash animations for the web. It retails for around $400 or there abouts. Many websites are adopting Flash as the ability to fast generate impressive presentations and other graphic are endless with it. Many websites are entirely Flash dependant. Around 96% of internet users have the Flash plug-in, that allows Flash to be viewed. So very few web designers have any reservations using it. On using it: On entering the program for the first time, the user maybe put off by the amount of pop-up menus and other screens. It can be quite daunting for a relative novice. However, the software comes with some great interactive lessons and tutorials, so learning the basics is quite easy. When you want to start applying interactivity to the flash productions, eg mouse overs or clickable areas, you have to apply action scripting, this can be fairly difficult and obviously a new thing to get your head around :( It's place on the internet: I personally believe that, although it does have a place online, it is still very much a novelty and is damaging what the internet is about. 4% of people cannot see it, and many people don't like sitting around waiting for it to load. If a website is to provide information, simple HTML documents are sufficient, Flash is like painting a room in your house just for the sake of it, and not needing to. I personally use flash for banners and buttons, and occasionally menus, but am very against using it for a complete site. It may be versitile, but traditional HTML scripting is what the web is all about. It's really a matter of taste, you can't go wrong with the standard - HTML, Flash is an accessory and should be treated as such in my opinion.

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              10.07.2001 04:29
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              Before flash there was just animated GIFs and super large embedded AVIs and MOVs on everybody's page. These took very long to load up, and denied webusers a smooth surfing experience. Then the age of Flash dawned upon us and super-small file sizes and great vector-based images emerged onto our desktop screens. However it was not until Flash 3 I believe that the product started to become indispensable in the new-age website. Flash 5 is a worthy update to the legendary series. It has improved drawing tools, and its ease of use has been increased, which is nice to see in such a complex graphics package. The Actionscripting in Flash is complicated to a beginner, but I'd say after about a fortnight of playing around with the script, you would comprehend the main basics of it. Approach it like a new language, eg, French or German!! you'll find there are customs like adding ";" to the end of each expression or "{" and "}" symbols to open and close statements. The amount of features to be found in Flash is astounding. I have been using the program for about 3 months now, and I am still finding out new things about it!!! Other things to praise about Flash is the complete accessibility that it has. As soon as you load it up, a small presentation can be made! All the relevant tool bars are present (by default) so you can immediately get to work! One thing that I'd complain about though, is the slightly annoying frame-timeline. Sometimes the frames are selected incorrectly and quite a lot of mishaps occur... Also, the tool bars are rather cluttery - and they get in the way. It would be good to see them maybe integrated to the main toolbar at the top - like in 3D Studio MaX, where everything can be selected by clicking on small tabs. Other than that, Flash 5 is a must for any webdesigner!! Buy it! you wont regret it!

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              29.06.2001 17:49

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              Flash 5 It is obviously the Web's standard mulitimedia plug-in because it can create high-quality files in small downloadable packages. It is hard to create presentations and movies in it due to the various tools, and layers. This makes it quite annoying. It is also very time-consuming. It is cheap on student licensing, but costs roughly 3 - 4 times as much when purchased separately. It is also very memory hungry, and can be prone to the occasional crash, which is annoying as it doesn't have the autosave feature that Microsoft products have. The drawing tools are very useful, and because it uses vector images instead of bitmaps, the pictures are so much better quality - it doesn't get distorted even on full zoom. It is obviously not aimed at the home user, as it has programming languages to learn and tricky sequences, which can be frustrating at first. Over other Web animation software packages, i'd give this package 10/10. For ease of use, 4/10. For value for money, 6/10.

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              27.06.2001 04:19
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              Wow, where do we start, I think this piece of kit is fantastic; there is so much you can do, and is all so simple to create. I've been using Flash 5 at my college, and have found it to be an excitement with the wonderful creations, which can be completed. Basically, for those who do not know Flash 5, can be used for making those animation parts at the beginning of some web pages, maybe incorporating graphical buttons. I have found this software to ease the ability of producing high-quality extras for a web page. The extras you can complete are endless, as all you need is a creative mind. Working with pictures and text especially can be eased with the functions this software gives you. Text can be transformed to appear from any direction and from anywhere on the screen, whether it fades in or out to a scrolling glinting header. But, it is not just text that can be manipulated, pictures are included as well as those imported from various other programs such as 3D studio Max. Your mind is what you need to complete fantastic creative ideas. More experienced users can find themselves putting various effects into action. For example, a ripple effect can be produced over the screen, animation including buttons can be added and not to mention games as well as other smart programs. OK, so if you have access to this software like me and are finding it difficult to get started like I also was, there are many of sites out on the web, giving tutorials for various effects and functions. As you can gather these are endless, but just need a bit of experimenting with in order to producing fantastic unique operations. Intros produced by flash can look outstanding and really give a professional look to a web page. But as we all have or will find out, these can be really slow to load if on a slower connection. All in all, this is a professional piece of software, which is a must for businesses out there who want to crea
              te a unique special characteristic to their web page. However this can also be used for a bit of fun, especially with the animation side involved. This can be clearly seen on WebPages such as Shockwave.com.

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              03.06.2001 05:27
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              Flash 5 represents a significant upgrade from its predecessor, making it a "must have" for any serious web developer who wants to develop high-impact web content. The improvements are not superficial, instead Flash 5 impressively enhances the developer's ability to design, develop, and deploy. This tool is the resource for anyone who is serious about Flash and maximizing its amazing potential at a rapid pace. With Flash player's pervasive presence in a majority of all browsers, Macromedia's Flash has become the industry standard for delivering high-impact web animations and dynamic site content. Macromedia is the creator and leader of this technology and Flash is the master of this domain with no other product coming even close to its innovation and power. Adobe's marginal attempt to introduce a competing product with Live Motion was not well received by developers and is comparatively lacking in features. The most significant proof that Flash owns this entire arena is that even competitor wanna-be, Live Motion features Flash animation (*.swf) as an export format because Adobe is painfully aware that nobody would invest in their product if it did not support Flash. FLASH 5 FEATURES: 1. POWER LIBRARY - Flash's Library feature has received a big boost in version 5. The library allows users to reuse graphics and buttons repeatedly with a minimal increase in the final file size. In Flash 5 multiple developers can share the symbol libraries. Now revising the placeholder graphics into the final artwork on one system, will ripple back to all other Animators document instantly... a great feature for multi-group workflow. 2. ADVANCED ACTION SCRIPTING - resembling Java-script, the scripting can be created and edited in any text/html editor and imported into Flash for use; old script can be viewed without searching through frames of individual code-chunks. 3. ENHANCED INTERFACE - many controls are now avai
              lable in dock a able palette, which ultimately allows more development efficiency. 4. FULL BEZIER SUPPORT - but its gets better... the option to draw with the traditional pencil is retained allow optimal developer flexibility. 5. POWER EDITING - the developer is now permitted to instantly edit what they want and where. Endlessly searching a document's layers of imbedded symbols is over. A hierarchical tree allows for easy navigation and editing of flash symbols. 6. HTML EMBEDDING - To really change the balance of power Flash 5 makes it possible to imbed actual HTML pages within Flash Documents so now sites will become Flash shells with HTML inside, rather than vice-versa. 7. NO LOST VISITORS - Publish html that detects if your visitors have Flash 5 player and automatically directs them to Macromedia's download center if needed. 8. OTHER ENHANCEMENTS - improved XML transfer support within documents; improved integration with Freehand and Generator; seamless importing of MP3 soundtracks; and exporting to QuickTime.

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                01.06.2001 01:10
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                Many of you have probably already heard of Macromedia’s Flash since 96% of the Internet population has downloaded the player. For those 4% who haven’t heard of it, Flash is a way for webmasters (or flashmasters) to produce dynamic animations or games with ease. Flash 5 is the latest to come out and I’m lucky enough to have it (and be able to use it!). There are many differences between Flash 4 and Flash 5, most of them are simply added ActionScript (the programming language used when creating interactive features) commands and faster downloading times, but never-the-less, it makes a huge difference. Flash is the best animation tool for the web, mainly because it’s easy and file sizes are kept to a minimum because images are vector based. However, it doesn’t come cheap. A rather expensive $399 or £299 will separate the men from boys when it comes to giving a website a makeover. Flash’s unique drawing tools help you to create killer cartoons from scratch with the ability to make them walk, run, shake hands and even talk with advanced lip-synching. You create movies using frames, just like you would any other cartoon or movie. You can set frame rates so importing movies from other media (camcorder, for example) will not look any different in Flash. ActionScript can help you to create interactive games like quizzes or slot machines. It can also let you put CGI, PHP, ASP and SSI into the movies or games to create high-score tables or collection of user data. Flash is a highly powerful piece of technology and is worth the price for any budding graphic or cartoon designer.

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                  06.05.2001 08:49
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                  I find it truely amazing the amount of people who can wax lyrical about the wonders of Flash. True enough, it has revolutionised the way we can see the internet, and has been used and abused in many entertaining ways - but the very fact that Macromedia has this market all to itself (apart from Adobe's current non-starter LiveMotion) seems to dictate that they don't give a monkeys how the actual authoring application works. Having had to use flash proffesionally I am horrified at how hopelessly inadequate it is. There are gaping holes in it's workflow, and, unless your are doing no more than a 20k banner animation, the stability of the program itself is shocking - even after installing all available updates. What about copying scenes Macromedia? Or all the simple ways of managing the timeline in director that you, in your infinite and arrogant wisdom, decided to 'omit' from Flash? There are too many obvious things missing from this app to mention here - the best thing that can happen is that someone else could muscle in onto Macromedia's turf and give them a kick up the arse to create a credible piece of software - in a similar way to Quark and InDesign. I dread having to use this program now, and when the results - eventually - can be so good, that's a real shame.

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                    13.04.2001 03:35
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                    Thats what i believe anyway. Bringing a new generation of web graphics/site looks. Its a new idea which makes flash so good i think. So many people make so many graphic suits and general web development packages, and every once in a while something pops up that new. So whats so good about it? Well the graphics that can be made so easily, a click of a few buttons (litterally) gives a basic but stunning effect. Its revolutionarry, (as far as im awhare) motion tweening. You click on an object, click create motion tween, and then click insert keyframe at the point you want the move to be over at. Then move the object to where you want it. Then press enter and see what is looks like. Pretty basic but it get very advanced. Flash has its on script, ACTION SCRIPT, this can be used to create stunning effects and gives it endingless capabilities. WOW! It also supports file exports with the following extensions, *.swf, *.html, *.html *.gif *.jpg, *.png *.exe (projector file), *.hqx (mackintos movie file), *.mov and *.smil So quite alot. So i round up on one question, why havent you bought it yet?!

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                    09.04.2001 16:08

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                    What can I say - macromedia have done it again. FLash is now in its 5th incarnation and gets better and better with each one. Its come a long way from the far cries of FutureShock - which was the original incarnation of Flash, and now includes amazing new features like Smart Clips, improvd shared media libraraies, better animation techniques, and far far better (and more advanced) Action Script - the program code of Flash. Theis AS is bassed loosley round Java Script - a skill that the majority of professioanl web designers have - and that leads to me Flash 5's biggest weekness - the price. At roughly £300 this is a program that is purely for the pro's or at least the buddin ones! If you DO invest in it - I definatley recomemnd that you trawl the net for tutorials and friendly message boards - many of them are reviewed on here. It may be hard to learn but the rewards are amazing!

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