Flash and Director

Way back in 2004, Flash and Director were two multimedia authoring programs made by Macromedia.

Director had animation capabilities as well as a powerful scripting language and many other features that made it and industry standard for creating interactive multimedia. It's a complex program and beyond the scope of this seminar.

Flash was much more focused on animation. It was a simpler and more elegant program which was actually fun to use. Flash was the main focus of this seminar.

Both Flash and Director were capable of creating stand-alone programs, called "movies," which were best distributed on CD-ROM. They were also capable of creating content for the Web. Movies made for the Web were called "Shockwave movies." Shockwave was not really a format so much as a brand name. There were two types of Shockwave movies: those made with Director and those made with Flash.

For an example of a interactive Shockwave movie made with Director, see this simple game. [Warning: will probably not work in a modern web browser.]

Shockwave Flash

Here's an example of a very simple Shockwave Flash movie:

Note that this animation has been updated to HTML5 otherwise you probably wouldn't be able to see it.

Unlike animated GIFs, Flash animations were vector-based. Vectors are made of lines and curves rather than a grid of pixels. This means that the same animation can be enlarged with no loss of resolution:

Vector graphic files are also much smaller than those with pixels. This is a big plus when putting files on the Web, where smaller is almost always better.

Although Flash could be used for frame-by-frame animation, this particular example was created through by tweening. Instead of drawing each frame, the first and last frames were created and the computer figures out all the frames in between (thus "tweening" the animation).

first frame

...lots of tweened frames...

last frame

Tweening saves time and makes simple movement very easy to animate.

| Animation for the Web | Tutorials |