History of Flash
Macromedia Flash, also known as Adobe Flash, is used for a wide variety of applications. With Flash the user can create realistic animation and multimedia experiences. Before I get into all the great things that can be done with Flash today, I will give a brief history of how it came to be.
SmartSketch was a drawing application designed to create computer graphics and paved the way for flash technology. It was developed in 1993 by a small group of people that started a software company called Future Wave Software. It didn’t take off very well so FutureWave modified SmartSketch by adding frame-by-frame animation features and re-released it as FutureSplash Animator. Microsoft used FutureSplash Animator and later acquired the animation software and released it as Flash 1.0. A short history of how flash has evolved to where it is now is listed below.
FutureSplash Animator (1996) – initial version of Flash with basic editing tools and a timeline
Macromedia Flash 1 (1996) – a Macromedia version of the FutureSplash Animator
Macromedia Flash 2 (1997)
Macromedia Flash 4 (1999) – new features included: internal variables, an input field, advanced action script, and streaming MP3 player.
Macromedia Flash MX (2002) –new features included: a video codec, Unicode, compression, ActionScript vector drawing API
Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Flash Player 7 (released 2003) – new features included: Actionscript 2.0, behaviors, extensibility layer (JSAPI), alias text support, timeline effects
Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004 (2003) – new features included all Flash MX 2004 features plus: Screens (forms for non-linear state-based development and slides for organizing content in a linear slide format like PowerPoint), web services integration, video import wizard, Media Playback components (which encapsulate a complete MP3 and/or FLV player in a component that may be placed in a SWF), Data components (Dataset, XMLConnector, WebServicesConnector, XUpdateResolver, etc) and data binding APIs, the Project Panel, v2 UI components, and Transition class libraries.
Macromedia Flash Basic 8 (2005) – A less feature-rich version of the Flash authoring tool targeted at new users who only want to do basic drawing, animation and interactivity. Released with Flash Player 8, this version of the product has limited support for video and advanced graphical and animation effects.
Macromedia Flash Professional 8 (2005) – Flash Professional 8 added features focused on expressiveness, quality, video, and mobile authoring. New features included Filters and blend modes, easing control for animation, enhanced stroke properties (caps and joins), object-based drawing mode, run-time bitmap caching, Flash Type advanced anti-aliasing for text, On2 VP6 advanced video codec, support for alpha transparency in video, a stand-alone encoder and advanced video importer, cue point support in FLV files, an advanced video playback component, and an interactive mobile device emulator.
Adobe Flash CS3 Professional (as version 9, 2007) – Flash CS3 is the first version of Flash released under the Adobe name. CS3 features full support for ActionScript 3.0, allows tweens to be converted into ActionScript, adds better integration with other Adobe products such as Adobe Photoshop, and also provides better Vector drawing behavior. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macromedia_Flash)
About Flash Technology
OK, so now we know where Flash came from, but what exactly is flash technology? To just create a website with text and images you can use HTML (HyperText Markup Language). But to create animations, text and images that move around the screen GIF images or java applets were used. GIF’s take a long time to load and cannot be used for interactive animations, and can only use 256 color bits. Java is another animation tool but is hard for a novice user because you need programming skills to use it. These are both good applications but Flash has many advantages.
Flash is a lot like Java but much easier so you don’t need many programming skills to use it. There is also possibility for interactivity between animations with flash unlike GIF’s or Java. Other advantages are that you can use many more colors and the movies load at a much quicker rate. Flash libraries are now being used with the XML capabilities. Flash provides a scripting language that supports interactive animation and offers more comprehensive support for vector graphics than the browser. This can provide protection for the contents of flash such as: mp3s and videos on Internet sites like youtube. This is done by streaming the content through the flash files, which provides an untraceable file for most people. However some programs can still trace the XML files like firebug (an application for Mozilla Firefox).
Flash can be used to create interactive media content with text, photos, music, video, vector graphics, voiceover, and a wide variety of motion graphic effects and animation. By producing a HTML page and a movie, and uploading both to a web server you can make the content made viewable to a site visitor via a Flash browser plug-in.
Executable files to be played from a CD or from the desktop (of either a PC or a Mac) can be created without requiring any additional software (the Flash player is embedded in the executable).
How do you make a Flash movie?
To create a Flash movie a user can draw vector graphics or import graphics, music, and videos. When a file is imported, a copy is placed in the Flash movie's library. Animation within a Flash movie is achieved by using a series of frames and keyframes, each with its own graphic/sound/video/text content. In each keyframe of the movie graphic content, sound, or actionscript is placed on the stage. This source file is saved as a file with extension .fla. To be viewable by someone else online, it must then be published to produce a .swf file (published Flash movie) and .html file (in which the swf is embedded). (http://www.flash-creations.com/notes/intro_whatisflash.php)
The image below is a screen shot of a Flash movie under development from flash-creations.
Adobe Flash Applications
By using flash you can create a new “reality” that the user is submersed in. The basic moving of objects is called Tweening, but by using Actionscript you can now create more realistic animations. Anyone can view Flash on the Internet and I am sure we all have. It is on almost every website these days. With Flash plug-in /Active-X installed it is free to view. New versions of flash players are available all the time on the Internet. You only have to purchase software if you want to create flash. Once you get flash installed there are so many options to create with. The basic toolbar is shown below.
The toolbar allows you to draw, paint, reposition, work with bitmaps, and create and modify images for your flash animations.
Tweening is one of the most use applications of Flash. You can use this to make an object move from one side of the screen to another. This is done by moving from one keyframe to another, bit by bit. The object flows smoothly when finished and you can’t see any stops in between frames. You can use tweening to “morph” objects from one image to another and create moving words.
Flash has many graphics you can use such as the bird to the left. By tweening the bird can appear to fly across the screen.
You can use the pencil tool to draw the shape you want you object to move across.
By selecting the beginning frame and ending frame you can move your object from frame to frame until it moves in a steady motion across the screen.
New features of Flash
The newest version of flash allows you to import Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustratorfiles, while preserving layers and structure, and then edit them in Flash CS3 Professional. It also allows the user to copy from one animation to another and convert timeline animations into ActionScript. The new version also interfaces with many other applications to make creating flash more streamline. Flash is becoming available to more devices everyday.
Flash on phones
Adobe Flash video is now available on mobile phones. Video is included in Flash Lite 3, the next version of the Flash runtime environment for mobile phones. Adding video to Flash Lite will simplify the process of creating and distributing mobile video, which now forces mobile operators to use a fragmented set of special tools, according to Adobe. Many television shows are now available to view from cell phones through flash.
“The drive to put short video programs on tiny cell-phone screens follows the exploding popularity of short, relatively low-quality clips on Web sites such as Google's YouTube that use Flash video. With the upcoming version of Flash Lite, carriers and content companies will be able to use the same Flash server for mobile as for Web video as well as the same streaming protocol and the same encoding tools and processes, Murarka said.” (http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/02/12/HNflashvideoonphones_1.html)
Example of Flash Technology
The following website is a great example of using flash to create an ad. Click below to view.
Flash can be used for websites, animations, streaming videos on the web or youtube, downloadable clips, screensavesr, and really endless applications. This will probably be on every cell phone in no time at all. That is until something new comes along in the world of technology. This report is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to flash technology.