Serving Up Web-Friendly Animations: In a Flash | WebReference

Serving Up Web-Friendly Animations: In a Flash

Serving Up Web-Friendly Animations: In a Flash

Macromedia Flash Basics

By Amy Cowen (

You've undoubtedly heard of Macromedia's Director and have oohed and ahhed over Shockwave movies on the web after, of course, they finally finished downloading. Flash, however, may be less familiar. The May release of Macromedia Flash 2, formerly FutureSplash, marked a new phase in web animation -- one that streams.

Working with Flash will enable you to create sophisticated frame by frame animations that stream and include sound. Flash movies require a plug-in; however, you can export your final flash files in one of 12 other formats, including GIF89. So if you're of the anti-plugin crowd, don't hit your back button yet. Besides, if you're relatively sure your audience is using a "new" browser, then they'll likely have the Shockwave plug-in built in (once both browsers 4.0 are out, that is).

One of the other big advantages with Flash is the relatively slim learning curve. It's more sophisticated than your ordinary GIF animation tool, but, compared to Director, you'll hardly even feel the learning curve with Flash.

This isn't to say that there won't still be times when Director will serve your purposes better. But if it's for the web, you want it in motion, and you need both the production time and the download time to be lightening fast, Flash may be your tool.

While there are many uses for the kinds of products Flash can create, the one that probably immediately jumped into your head is . . . yep, banner ads.

Banners are nice, rectangular, and easily handled by GIF animation tools. If, that is, you've gone through and created separate images to reflect the changes you want rendered in each individual frame.

With Flash, you work on the whole movie at once, frame by frame. What you place on the stage stays on the stage until you turn it off or change it, so you don't have to replicate information. You can also automatically tween objects so that they start one place and end another, and Flash allows interactive features like clickable buttons. Moreover, you can add new features whenever you want, and you can incorporate sound (if you know the banner will be used in its Shockwave Movie version).

Let's create a banner ad for "" Creating this banner will walk you through the basics of using Flash and, more importantly, show you how easy it is to use animated text as a powerful design element.

Basic Flash

Intermediate Flash

Comments are welcome

Created: Aug. 24, 1997
Revised: Oct. 18, 1997