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Hacks #8-13

Although most Flash animators concentrate on animated movement and scaling when creating motion graphics, you can also animate color to create fades and transitions.

The compelling thing about animating color for the designer is that it can change both appearance and mood with little effort (and virtually no filesize increase). Changing the color scheme of a Flash animation allows you to create wide-ranging effects, such as shifting the animation from day to night. Changing the color of an image to sepia tones will give an old-time mood, whereas changing the colors to electric blues can be used to give a more techno feel.

You can apply color changes to anything that can be placed within a movie clip, including bitmaps, video, and vector graphics. In fact, anything that can be displayed on the Flash Stage can be color animated, and this animation can be controlled by tweens (performed at authoring time in the timeline) or ActionScript (performed at runtime).

This makes it easy to add runtime color effects, allowing you to make content appear more interesting with little or no bandwidth penalties. We will see how color effects can be applied to bitmaps to make them look more interesting, more in tune with a site design, or even to make your stationary bitmaps take on some of the features of video via video-like color transitions.

We will also look at applying color transitions to video, allowing you to make a short, repetitive video look like a much longer or more visually interesting one. Given that video is the most bandwidth-heavy asset, you can also optimize video content delivery by adding complex video transitions at runtime rather than applying them to the video source.

SWF files are one of the few web-based graphic assets in which color is "free"-there is no bandwidth penalty for adding lots of different colors to a Flash site. The downside is that you need to be more careful in managing this high level of choice. Therefore, we will look at several novel ways to manage color or to create sensible palettes quickly.

Finally, no review of Flash color is complete without looking at ActionScript. The options available for animating with color go up dramatically when you use scripting, and we will look at creating custom color effects that are written using ActionScript 2.0 object-oriented (OO) code.

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