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U nderstanding the Adobe Flash CS3 Pro Environment. It is important that as a beginning student, you spend time exploring the numerous options and methods they have within Flash to perform tasks such as “zooming”, “viewing a timeline”, and “changing frames per second”. (12fps is the default).

But, let’s start with the real basics:

Flash Files: The files you save in Flash have a .FLA extension added to them, which can only be opened in Flash. Another note, any file you create in Flash CS3, the most current version, can not be opened in Flash 8 or any former version for editing; however, you can certainly do the reverse. A later version of Flash can always open a former version.

Flash Player: In order to view a Flash movie (.SWF file or Shock Wave Flash), you will need a Flash Player to decompress the file that Flash compressed for the Web. A Flash Player comes with all the important Web Browsers, however, if you create a file in Flash CS3, the visitor to your site might not have the most current player. Therefore, Flash will request that they download the newest player, which is free and only takes a few seconds to do.

The Stage: The Stage contains all of the objects that are part of the movie that will be seen by your viewers. You can resize the stage and change the background color applied to it. You can draw objects on or import objects to the Stage, and then edit and animate them.

The Timeline: The Timeline is used to organize and control the movie’s contents by specifying when each object appears on the Stage. The Timeline is critical to the creation of movies, because a movie is merely a series of still images that appear over time. The images are contained within Frames, which are chapters of the Timeline. Consider Flash frames much the same as motion picture frames. The Timeline indicates where you are at any time within the movie and allows you to insert, delete, select, and move frames.

The Panels: The panels are used to view, organize, and modify objects and features in a movie. The Property Inspector is context sensitive so that if you are working with text it displays the appropriate options, such as font and font size. You can control which panels are displayed individually or you can choose to display panel sets. Panel sets are groups of the most commonly used panels.

The Tools Panel: The Tools panel contains a set of tools used to draw and edit graphics and text.  It is divided into four sections:
Tools: Includes draw, paint, text, and selection tools.
View: Includes the Zoom tool and the Hand tool for panning the Stage window.
Colors: Includes tools and icons used to change the stroke and fill colors.
Options: Includes options for selected tools, such as brush size

You should examine all of the individual panels, such as the Properties Inspector panel, Toolbox, Zoom controls, and Color mixer panels, and how you might want to use them, as well as arrange the panels around the Stage to be productive for you.

O pen a document and play a movie

Flash allows users to essentially playback a movie in 2 separate ways; 1) within the FLA environment. 2) Tested out as a SWF (Shock Wave Flash) movie. And there are some benefits and disadvantages to each method.

  1. Within the FLA environment - Hitting play on the controller, or pressing the [Enter] key will provide users with a sense of animation and timing while permitting you to view the timeline, but will not allow users to test for interactivity, or movie clips.
  2. Tested out as an SWF – When you choose Control > Test Movie, you create a finished swf that is played back within the Flash environment. This is a full fledged movie, capable of showing interactivity and movie clips, as well as being able to display additional information such as “Bandwidth Profiling”, and variables. However, users are unable to view their timeline.

Note: There are other methods to export content out of flash, including “Export”, “Export as QuickTime”, and “Publish”. All of these features will be discussed in the future.

If you are unable to access the Effects panel it might be because your shape has not yet been declared an “object”. Using the Selection arrow tool, select the shape on the Stage by dragging a selection marquis around it, and then declare it as a symbol; Insert > New Symbol or [F8]. Give the shape a name and then save the symbol as a graphic. The shape on the stage has now been declared as a “graphic object”, and will be able to be affected by the Effect panel in the Properties Inspector for Tweening as an example.

A nimate Text in Flash

Like most other objects in Flash, Text too can be animated, as long as you understand that the entire text block will be animated together.

For example, a text block containing the word “Spin” can be set to rotate over time 5 times, but in order to have each letter rotate independently, you’d need to create either 4 separate text blocks with S-P-I-N, or break the text into separate graphic objects that are independently animated. You’ll learn more about text and animation soon.


View a Video on the Basics:

Flash Basics

Key Term

Keyframe: A frame in a flash animation timeline where “key” important information is taking place or changing.
Example: Animation between point A and B would require a keyframe at both points.


Key Term

Tweening: A method of object animation, which causes the computer to create frame- based-motion between an object’s distinct starting position and it finishing position.



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Site created by: Professor Al Fichera Contact: Updated on: January 11, 2011