Flash MX Motion Graphics
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Author: Seol Euna
Published by: Sybex; ; Book and CD-ROM edition (August 19, 2002)
RRP: USD $45.00(Less at Amazon)
Paperback: 320 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.60 x 10.20 x 8.34
User Level: Unknown
Review By: Tim Skyrme
The first coffee table Flash manual that I have seen. This book has been laid out using the principals of design that are used in good Flash sites on the Web.
Largish soft-cover book of 325 glossy pages with Cd-rom included, which gives the .fla files for completing the projects.
This book has been designed differently from most manuals. Using good quality gloss paper with very clear screen shots, and each section, or chapter is done on a different coloured pastel background. Very tasteful.
A Cd-rom is included and the lessons are very clear. They start at what can be considered the easy end of the Flash scale, and as you progress, more depth is included until you are led to some quite complex ActionScript and dynamic interaction in a steady and sensible way.
A lot of people never get to the ActionScript because it looks daunting. Here, you just carry on from earlier lessons and are led gently into the start of what makes Flash really kick butt.
At the end of each chapter is a link and discussion with a different talented web designer.
The screen shots are more like good quality photos and each detail is highlighted and explained fully in the accompanying numbered paragraph.
There is no index as this is more of a how-to book than an in-depth manual. But it is not just a simple follow-these-steps type either.
You are taken through 9 separate projects, gradually gaining confidence in the different aspects of Flash usage.
1. About Motion Graphics introduces and explains simple things like compression of images, sound etc. How and why are really important concepts and are described well.
2. Using video clips in Flash MX is something that can be done relatively simply now, but imaging needs more work than just cutting and pasting if you want the best results.
As video may not be the best way to convey movement, a lot of time has been spent showing how to reduce bandwidth by simplifying the process while not reducing quality.
3. Sounds in Flash are really important and difficult to control and you are shown how to do everything from recording to editing, before using sound clips in your movie.
4. This chapter is an example of text animation, but is not just plain text. The background and the method of the animation makes something a work of art instead of a simple cartoon. It seems to me that what separates the good Flash design exponents from the rest is their ability to add interesting visuals behind the mundane.
5. You are taken through all the steps to create a Christmas card using some simple, and some newer, more complex techniques. This is where this book works so well, because what may be done very plainly by a learner can be enhanced using techniques like masking, which, if not approached gently, will put off the uninitiated. Here, you are led very carefully and in great detail through all the steps required.
The detail in the timeline is starting to become even more important and the screen shots are very clear. This chapter brings in a lot of the features that were dealt with in previous chapters, such as sound and motion, and even introduces interactivity.
6. This chapter is interesting as it is a detailed account of a promotion site for a movie without using too much bandwidth but giving the impression of motion using stills.
Once again, the applications introduced earlier are built on, and bitmap resolution, masking, sound, also using guide layers with easing to create the right look.
7. This is an interactive piece using ideas and concepts to allow different answers to be reached depending on the combination of mouse clicks to a series of questions. Once again, it is not just the interaction that is important, but the overall design of the page.
More ActionScripting is introduced here, but it leads on in difficulty from the last section. You just have to copy what is explained, and the more you do this, the more comfortable you will become with the idea of ActionScript and find it easier to use.
8. This chapter is written by Taiyup Kim and explains in-depth his method of creating motion text. He brings in descriptions of using another Flash based program, Swift 3D, which creates .swf files and allows greater depth of imagery.
9. The last chapter contains bitmap images from video, vector graphics, sound, and text animation in a much more complex Flash movie. The concepts of how and why to use imagery and motion is explained in great detail, but if you have followed the book it is not daunting.
This is where you start to fine-tune your movie for output to the web, which also means tweaking the bandwidth and size of sections of your movie, with explanations.
I know this is a manual, but even non-Flash people like picking it up and looking at it.
There is nothing daunting or technical about Flash MX Motion Graphics, Seol Euna has spent a lot of time just doing the designing of the book and it really shows.
A lot of the principles can be applied to earlier versions obviously, but a lot of Flash users never get past stage one. If you follow along with the lessons, you will be able to achieve new design levels.
There is nothing I don’t like about it. I realise it’s limitations, as it is not meant to be a full Flash MX manual, but I also recognise it’s advantages.
© Tim Skyrme, 2002