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Home : Tutorials : Flash 5 : Part 1

Flash 5 Tutorial
Part 1 - Introduction


Flash is one of the most popular technologies on the internet, with thousands of websites using it for introductions, animations and advertisements. Although many people feel that these animations are sometimes unnecessary, Flash has created a way of including multimedia on web pages, which will run over a standard internet connections. The recent release, Flash 5, has brought many changes to the creation of Flash animations. Many of the techniques covered in this tutorial will also apply to past versions of Flash, as well as Flash MX, the very latest version, though. If you are not sure what a Flash animation is like click here for an example. If this does not work you will need to download the Flash Plugin.

Why Use Flash?

Flash is one of the best multimedia formats on the internet today for several reasons. Firstly, the Flash plugin (required to view the animations) is installed on nearly every computer connected to the internet. All the major browsers come with it installed by default and, for those who don't have it, the download is very small. Secondly, Flash is a 'vector based' program, which means the animations and graphics created by it have much smaller file sizes than a video or streaming media version of the same animation would be. You can also include sound, graphics and dynamically created information in your animation.

Flash provides a versatile and easy way for webmasters to create animations for their users.

What Do I Need?

As mentioned above, all you need to view a Flash animation is a modern web browser with the Flash plugin. To create Flash animations, though, you will need some software. Although there are other Flash creations on the market, Macromedia's Flash 5, is by far the best and, as Macromedia created the Flash format, it always has the latest features in it. Unfortunately, the software costs $400, but you can download a free 30 day trial from Macromedia.

Once you have downloaded and installed the trial (or bought the software) you will be ready to start creating Flash animations.

The Flash Interface

When you first open Flash you will find an interface that looks something like this:

Flash 5 Interface

I will quickly cover the different aspects of this screen.

In the centre is the large white 'Stage'. This is the actual movie where you will place all the objects you want to include in it.

Across the top of the screen is the timeline. This is where you insert all the actions that happen in your movie so that they happen at the correct times. It is split up into frames.

Down the left hand side of the screen is the 'Tools' pallette. This is where you will find all the tools for inserting objects and text into your animation.

There are also four floating pallettes on the screen. The 'Mixer' pallette allows you to choose the colours you will be using in your animation. It will change the colours of the currently selected object. The' Info' pallette will allow you to find out a bit of information about the object you have selected and will allow you to make changes to the properties of a tool you are using. The 'Character' pallette contains all the text formatting tools. Finally the 'Instance' pallette contains all the tools for changing objects when you are animating them, including sound and several other tools for making changes to your animation.

Each of the parts of the Flash window does many different things. Instead of going through each tool explaining what it does, I will show you examples and explain how to create them, showing you how to use each tool while doing so.

Part 2

In part 2 I will show yo
u how to create your first animation with graphics and text appearing on the screen.

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