FLASH3 by Macromedia
Website presentation tool

Comments by: Odin Cary
9/23/98

Review

Product: FLASH™ 3 by Macromedia
Purpose: Creating and Editing Studio for high resolution vector and bitmap graphics; sound; animation; interactive.
Intuitive Rating: Low Barrier. Watch included lessons and off you go.
Acquisition: Download
Price: 30 day free trial offer. ~$270.00
File Size 6.5Mb
Native File Type Fla
Import emf, wmf, eps, swf, dxf, bmp, jpg, gif, png, wav, +
Export swf, avi, gif, emf, wmf, eps, ai, dxf, bmp, jpg, png, +

A new breed of Website is popping up here and there, particularly around entertainment but not exclusively. I first encountered an exclusive FLASH™ based Website when I looked at some of the Olympic sites, but later found other sites generated by this amazing product. It's the sheer size and speed of presentation that caught my attention and thus inspired me to look into this product.

Concept: Use FLASH™ as your design studio for pre-web publication for greater resolution, speed, interactivity, image size, sound, animation, layering, graphic fading and on and on. The receiving browser must be capable of viewing this .swf plug-in file but you are not forced to only create your work in this format so there are alternatives.

Process:Once the program is acquired and loaded, you can either draw directly in FLASH™ or import other images or mix natively created objects with imported images. The primary control tool is based upon a timeline editor with the ability to organize work by time and by layers (layers just like those in AutoCAD). You can import a floor plan and a room rendering, for example, and have the floor plan fade off as the room rendering fades on. This is done by having both images on separate layers and then instructing FLASH how you want the two images to behave over a given number of frames (time).

Comments:
The first thing I wanted to do with this program, was to make text fade in and out like the technique often used in television commercials. I always begin working with new software with such exuberance that I ignore any and all assistance / tutorials. To see sample you will need to load Flash Plug-in for your browserSometimes this method works and sometimes (most of the time actually) it only frustrates me. With this program, I was able to make some things happen simply by playing with everything I could pick on but when I had had enough of playing, I decided to look at the lessons included with this program.

The browser based interactive lessons are the best I have seen yet and in only a few minutes, I was able to reproduce what I had just seen and off I went. When I got into trouble again, I just returned to my browser and watched another lesson.

The only problem I found with this product was with the importation of ".dxf" files. I attempted to import several ".dxf" files from AutoCAD but was unsuccessful at getting an entire drawing. Blocks, for example tended to shift or bunch up at the origin (0,0). Text and dimensions tended to disappear altogether. Basic line entities seem to come through fine. Once you get AutoCAD lines into Flash, the possibilities are quite astounding. I did the following example in about 30 minutes.

 

The program is generously offered for a free 30-day trial run and its 6.5Mb compressed whole can be downloaded @ Macromedia Flash

The FLASH player plug-in for your browser is free and can be downloaded @ Macromedia Shockwave Download Center

To see it in action for yourself, visit our Exploratorim.

To see other examples, visit:
Maverick Music Station

http://www.olympic.org/