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Web Motion for Beginners: Create a Parallax Effect

with Tom Green

Video: Parallax overview

Learn to build a parallax motion effect using Google Web Designer, Flash CC, and Edge Animate, and add depth and motion to your web projects.
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Web Motion for Beginners: Create a Parallax Effect
Video duration: 0s 40m 25s Beginner


Parallax is an optical illusion that gives 2D objects a sense of depth. Parallax motion, on the other hand, is when objects in the foreground tend to move faster than the background. Adding parallax motion can make your web projects more interesting and immersive by adding the illusion of depth. In this course, Tom Green shows you how to build a parallax motion effect using a combination of Google Web Designer and Adobe Flash CC, and then create a separate, even more captivating effect in Edge Animate.

Video Web
Flash Professional Edge Animate Google Web Designer

Parallax overview

Parallax is an optical illusion that gives an otherwise flat 2D image the illusion of depth. If you've ever driven in a car, you have experienced parallax. Pay close attention to this video that was shot along the Trans-Canada highway. The foreground seems to zip along, while the trees on the other side of the pond don't move as fast. If you look at the sky and the hill in the background, their movement is even slower still. On the web parallax scrolling is all the rage. In this example a site for the movie The Life of Pi, all you need to do is to rotate the scroll wheel of the mouse to navigate through the various pages of the site.

As you scroll one page seems to slide over the other. Though scrolling can be regarded as motion, it is not exactly in the same league as the technique Ken Burns used to bring grainy Civil War movies to life in his PBS series, The Civil War. As the camera would seemingly move into and out of an image. This is the technique we will be exploring. Creating parallax motion is not terribly difficult, but as you saw during our short drive along the Trans-Canada highway, you need to pay attention to the world around you.

Typically, the technique requires three images, or layers, that are in motion. The background layer, in this example here, the rock face and the sky. Moves rather slowly, the mid ground of the abandoned mill moves little quicker and the foreground image, the log, moves even faster. Put those three together and you have simulated depth. We will be explaining this technique as we create an animated banner ad using Google Web Designer and Flash CC. To really seal the deal, you can add the illusion of depth of field by applying subtle blurs to objects as they seem to go out of focus and the objects behind them come into focus.

This will be accomplished by using blurs in Edge Animate. So, what's the plan? The first project will involve a banner ad for a mythical airline. The animation starts with the ground slowly moving in one direction, the clouds moving a little quicker in another direction, and an airliner flying into the scene. Some text will slide across the screen, and a click-able button appears. This project will be assembled first in Google Web Designer, which is a new application designed to create motion for interactive banner ads.

The project will next be assembled in Flash CC. Contrary to reports elsewhere, Flash's latest update easily brings the traditional power of flash to the somewhat plugin free HTML universe. In this exercise, we will be exploring these new HTML 5 features. The final project will be a further exploration of the parallax effect and will be assembled in Edge Animate. This project uses blurs of motion to add even more impact to the illusion of depth.

One final note. The imaging for parallax motion is critical. Spend time in Photoshop or another imaging application to ensure transparent edges are sharp. And if you need to fill holes in an image, spend the necessary time, to insure the fills looks natural. With that out of the way, let's get started.

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