Flash 5 Studio

by Joe Gillespie — Jun 1, 2001

A previous review of Foundation Flash 5 from the same publisher, Friends of Ed, showed how writing a book from a designer's point of view made it a lot easier to get to grips with the fairly complex program that Macromedia Flash 5 is.

Following on from Foundation Flash 5 comes Flash 5 Studio in the same vein, but going a lot deeper into the subject. Flash 5 Studio covers a helluva lot of ground! Starting off with general site design principles, it then goes into the power of Smart Clips and explains how complex ActionScript code can be made accessible to designers to create or modify movie behaviours.

Flash now has a number of allied, third-party applications to help extend its possibilities. 3D programs like Swift3D and Studio Max allow designers to create 3D models and import them into their Flash 5 projects. Flash 5 Studio gives a very useful overview of what these programs can do, with printed examples, screenshots and files on a CD-ROM.

The chapter on cartoon animation explains the principles of character animation. This is a ideal use for Flash and there isn't very much of it around. Excellent as it is, it's a bit like trying to explain to someone how to draw - it's not that easy and can't really be covered in a single chapter of a book.

Further sections on video and sound give some good tips on manipulating external media for use within Flash. Again, this is an area that is under-utilised by Flash designers and hopefully, the ideas in this book will spark-off some imaginative work.

Going even further, Flash 5 Studio introduces the reader to the concepts of interactive, arcade-type games. Okay, arcade games have come a long way in the last 20 years and the examples given are more reminiscent of 'Galaxians' than Laura Croft, but you have to start somewhere!

I found the section on Dynamic Web applications very interesting. The book goes to great lengths to explain the pros and cons of HTML versus Flash-based Web sites and how they can be used together in a synergistic and seamless way. It doesn't have to be either/or.

If you do use a lot of Flash, it is useful to know how to circumvent the many drawbacks that are often associated with it - poor navigation, lack of search-engine indexing, slow loading etc. Luckily, most of these can be addressed with a little know-how and Flash 5 Studio certainly provides it in abundance.

At nearly $50, it is not a cheap book, but it covers as much about Flash 5 as two or three lesser books and there is a CD-ROM full of good examples that you can learn from and adapt, so it is still excellent value for money.

Flash 5 Studio
Manufacturer Friends of Ed
Price $49.99 - Amazon price $39.99
Summary A must-have for Flash lovers.
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