XMLmind

I’m fairly new to XML in Flash and certainly have a lot to learn about best practices. I’ve recently been hand editing some pretty massive XML files in various languages. These XML files are single line documents with no line breaks – this makes editing them a real headache.

I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could open the XML up in an editor and have it rendered on screen in a more visually pleasing way ? similar to the way Firefox renders a single line XML document with collapsable nodes. Well I finally managed to download the perfect tool.

XMLmind! Hurray.

Simply download the Freeware editor and set the Preferrences. Preferrences>Save> uncheck all the radio buttons relating to indenting and formatting. Open your document, edit and save off.

Also note if you didn’t know already that line breaks in the middle of node names do not show up as new nodes (especially important in Flash).

For example, instead of :

<menu1>menu1</menu1> <menu2> menu2</menu2>

how about..

<menu1

>menu1</menu1

><menu2

>menu2</menu2

> etc…

Much easier to read but still only one line as far as Flash is concerned.

Download XMLmind here:

http://www.xmlmind.com/xmleditor/

Masking dynamic text in Flash

Ever wanted to apply animations, alpha and masks to a dynamic text field without having to embed the entire font?

Easy!

Simply add a filter like alter color to the text field and it get’s rendered as a bitmap at runtime. Wow!

Flash Effect Shortcut

Here’s a nice design tip for those of you working on animations for CDROM or broadband projects. You can achieve a wealth of amazing effects very quickly by capturing areas of the screen as video when manipulating images using Photoshop or other graphics packages. All those sliders to alter blurs or outer glows etc can be used to serious effect and those transitions can be captured using tools like Snapz Pro or Camtasia and the video file imported back into Flash and integrated into your animations. Obviously it’s not a great solution for websites that require heavy optimisation but for multimedia stuff it can come in very handy.

Next stop those excellent wet media brushes in Corel Painter.

PAL 16:9 Video export from Flash

Here’s how I do it.

PAL 16:9 displays using rectangular pixels at 720×576. unfortunately Flash uses square pixels so you will need to set up your Flash stage slightly wider than the video 1024×576.

I export the video in three ways.

1) Set your publish settings to Flash 5 and select the Formats tab and check the Qucktime with Flash Track (.mov) radio button to export the video directly. Unfortuantely this method only supports Flash 5 graphical elements for not funky line strokes or filter effects show up. – I was reading an article that explained that this doesn’t actually create a video file – it embeds the Flash movie inside a quicktime.mov

2) Goto File > Export > Export Movie > Then select PNG sequence from tdrop down Format box. – You then use After Effects or some such video program to import the series of images as frames of a video project – easy.

3) If you’re on a Mac you get to export Quicktime directly – this supports later versions of Flash so – you can use your strok effects and filters after all!

The last two options seems to work best for me – personally the third option seems to be the best at dealing with more complex Flash animations. If you don’t have a mac – option 2 is your best bet.

Set up a project in After Effects whos export setting are set to PAL 16:9 High Quality 720×576 Next you open your quicktime.mov or .png sequence in After Effects and export out a new quicktime.mov file – hey presto rectangular pixels!! Unfortuantely the file will look rubbish on your monitor because your monitor uses square pixels but once you get the Flash into a video compositing application like Final Cut Pro or Avid Xpress it will ping back to clarity suitable for broadcasting.

Tips: Be aware that until we all go digital, which is still a couple of years away TVs are rubbish. They display substantially less information than a monitor and their gamut of colours is much smaller. Broadcast Safe Colours are as follows:

RGB between 16 and 235
Pure white= 235,235,235
Pure black= 16,16,16

Good luck!

Flash components don’t work in Flash Player 6+

Although the movie doesn’t appear to contain anything that doesn’t work in Flash 6.x when I export to Flash 7 my components don’t work in Flash 6.x.

It took me a while to realise that you have to export the movie as Flash 6+ – Annoying because CSS doesn’t work in Flash 6. Still my components are working now, which is the main thing..

Bugged by empty keyframes!

I don’t know about you but I get bugged by empty keyframes in Flash. I often catch myself wasting valuable development time selecting stretches of timeline and clearing empty keyframes.

I suspect that I’m an obsessive compulsive.

Anyway I’ve stumbled upon a delightful cure for my neurosis.

It works in CS3 – simply select a layer and run the command! Hurray!

http://www.flashguru.co.uk/extensions/