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In Flash Catalyst CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding demonstrates how to create and publish fully interactive Flash (SWF) micro sites, widgets, portfolios, and applications from static Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks artwork—all without writing code. The course covers planning a project, importing and organizing assets, creating interactive components, defining repeating data lists, and publishing final projects. Exercise files are included with the course.
You know, they say that timing is everything, and in truth, it applies here to Flash Catalyst as well. You see, we already know how to apply really cool, smooth transitions to get that graceful appearance in our animation. For example, in this project here called olive_tour_timing, I'm going to the File menu and choose to run this project in a browser, so we can see what it looks like. We know that we can easily have objects fade from one page to another, but there really isn't too much drama involved, meaning that when I click on a button here, the page kind of fades in and if I click on the Close button, it also fades out as well.
But notice that everything in the transition is happening at the exact same time. In other words, at the same time that this black rectangle is moving up into position on my screen, the image and the text are also fading in. The same thing applies to the little Close button that appears in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Notice when I click the Close button now, the text and image all fade at the same time that the background goes back down towards the bottom. When you're building animation, you may want things to happen in a certain specific order. We can do this by controlling when these transitions occur in time.
Let's go back to Flash Catalyst and see how that works. Now, I'm here inside of the MainView to Growing transition, inside of my Timelines panel. Just so that we can better focus on what we're trying to do here, I'm going to collapse the Pages/States panel, and I'm also going to go ahead now and hide the HUD panel. So let's preview this transition. I'll click on the Play button in the Timelines panel and I can see that the text fades in, the image fades in, and the rectangle moves into position. We can see that clearly, right here by these bars, inside of the Timelines panel itself.
However, maybe we want to make it so that first the rectangle comes into position, and then once that's complete, then start bringing in the text and the other elements. To do that, let's focus on this part of the Timelines panel. You can see that over here, the Move and the two Fades are all happening at the exact same time. They all begin at 0 seconds and they all take exactly 1 second of duration until they are complete. What I'm going to do however is I'm going to hold down my Shift key and I'm going to click on the Fade In right here and the other Fade In.
I've now selected these two Fade In actions and I'm going to click-and-drag them so that they don't start happening until one second has already passed in the transition. If I look at it now, I can see that we have a Move that begins at 0 seconds. It takes a full second to perform that Move, and only then, the two other elements begin to fade in. Let's see how that looks now in the preview. I'm going to click on this Play button. We'll see the rectangle first come up and only once the rectangle is completely in position, do the other elements begin to fade in.
I'll click on that one more time so you can see it, here comes the rectangle, then the text comes in. If I wanted to make it even more dramatic, have a little bit of a pause there, I can actually take these two elements and have them so they don't come in a full second after the background comes in. I can preview that now, the rectangle slides in, hold and then the elements come in. In fact, if I scroll down a little bit, so we can see where that button fades in, the button also fades in at the same time that the text and the other elements come in. That's not really a part of the content. So what I might do is I'm just going to click here to deselect these elements.
I don't need a full second for that button to fade in; it can fade in rather quickly. So I'll adjust the duration to actually be about a quarter of a second, and I'll move it here towards the end as well. So that means that right now, my rectangle will take one second to move into position. There will be a pause of one second, my text and photograph will start to fade in, and only upon completion of that will the button finally appear. Let's see how that looks. Now you can see I'm starting to use timing to add more of a dramatic effect to my animation.
By the way, keep in mind that things need to work in reverse as well. Let's say, for example, that when I click on the Close button, I want to move back to the MainView page in a similar fashion. So I'm going to go back now to the Timelines panel and I'll choose here Growing to MainView transition. Once again, I want to add some kind of a dramatic effect, only this time, everything is going to happen in reverse. So I'll take the button itself and I'll change the duration to about a quarter of a second. Then I'll take the layer itself, which is the text and the photograph and I'll have that start to fade out.
Now, the reality is that when I have somebody go back to the main page, I want them to do that rather quickly. So I'm going to have the Fade Out here only be a half a second duration not a full second. I'm then going to select a Move effect here and I'll drag it out, so that it only starts after all the text and photographs have already faded out. In fact, maybe I'll even pause for about a quarter of a second and I'll have it take a full second until it completely drops out of view. To preview that, I'll click on the Play button. Now you'll see the text disappears and then the panel slides out of view. So basically, I've applied the same type of effect, but in reverse.
Let's see how this actually works inside of a web browser. I'm going to choose File > Run Project, to test this in my browser. We'll start to see now how adding a little bit of timing can really make a huge impact on how my animation appears when a user interacts with it. First, let's click on one of the buttons that we haven't made this adjustment to. For example, if I click on the 2nd button here, which will take me to the Picking page. Notice, how everything happens at once, and when I click on the Close button, again everything also happens at the same time. Now, let's see the timing adjustments that we just made by clicking on the first button for Growing.
Now you see the background slides in, then the text fades in and then the button appears. When I click on the button to close it, the text disappears first, then the panel slides down and I'm back to my MainView page. The important thing here is that every little aspect, every detail of your project has an impact on the overall user experience. As a designer, you have complete control over all these settings, which you can easily apply visually, inside of Flash Catalyst.
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