Tutorials to learn how to make websites in flash in a hurry so I can impress my bosses and turn this internship into a real job?
June 20, 2006 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Best free online tutorials (video or still) for learning Flash 8 in a hurry?

At my internship I was asked to build a website in Flash 8. The site is fully designed as photoshop mockups and written descriptions. I am a Flash novice. The insist on Flash. I said "sure" because I learn fast, but I need examples to learn from. I'm quite good with html, css, and dhtml/ajax type things, but I've never worked with flash. So where do I start? Oh, and if anyone knows a way to keep the "back" button functionality, it'll make me feel less dirty about making a website in Flash.
posted by Grod to Work & Money (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Preserving back button functionality:


It only works for me in IE, not Firefox, but it's a start.
posted by TonyRobots at 9:35 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: Great, thanks. I still need decent tutorials, too. Mefi, please hope me!
posted by Grod at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2006

Do the tutorial that came with Flash. Seriously, back in 1999 I once paid $300 to have someone stand in front of a class and walk everyone through the tutorial that came with the application. I felt a tad let down, but I actually learned about how everything works in flash and could make fairly complex flash files after that.

It'll teach you the basics of everything, so give it a whirl. It only takes about 2-3 hours to complete.
posted by mathowie at 10:07 AM on June 20, 2006

I love Flash. Ive been using it since version 3, but there is definitely a big separation between the good use and bad use of Flash.

If this is a small page within the company for a promo or a video or something, yeah flash can be great. If this is a large information driven page with lots of text then flash is not the best solution, ESPECIALLY if youre a beginner. Things like bookmarking pages, printing pages, back buttons, copying text from the browser etc... dont work normally, yes there are workarounds for all these things, but if this is your first site in flash, its a lot to deal with on top of building the site. The learning curve from making a simple flash animation to making an entire fully functional web site is pretty damn high.

I would really look at what the project calls for, and maybe recommend some better solutions if there are any. Ive worked on plenty of projects where they demand flash just because they hear flash is "cool" or "fun" they dont really get what Flash is. I still have project managers asking me for a "flash movie" to play off a DVD in their tradeshow booth. I say ok, and then make it in After Effects and give it to them. If all they want is a site that has some flash animations in it build the site normally and add flash later as an accent.

Good Flash can enhance content, bad flash ruins it.

That being said.

Start with the "getting started with flash" option underneath the help menu in flash. There are some good tutorials in there and sample projects to get you going.

Some things to keep in mind, everything should be turned into a symbol and named accordingly. Keep things on separate named layers. I always automatically make an actions and labels layer in any symbol I make. Normally the way I make flash movies is put all animations in a movie symbol that I give an instance name. Each instance name can be referred to with actionscript. For example if I have a picture fade in and then some text you can make a picture animation, and a text animation, give the picture movie and instance name of "picture", animate it inside the movie symbol, give the first frame a stop action, the second frame a play action and a label of play. Then in the actionscript call "_root.picture.gotoandPlay ("play");" and then it will go to the play label of the picture movie and start playing, at the end of the picture animation I will put in an actionscript to call the text movie to play, that way if the client suddenly wants to have the text fade in first and the picture fade in second then all you have to do is change a line of actionscript instead of redoing tons of keyframes in a timeline. This keeps my flash sites trim and easy to navigate my main timeline is usally a series of layers with one keyframe each, then inside those movies are the real animations.

Flashkit has a lot of good tutorials and downloads for you to examine other peoples flash.

Another good place for basic tutorials can be found on Adobes Site.

Gotoandlearn has a lot of advanced stuff, and depending on how complex the site youre making is, you might need to use this kind of stuff. Importing external swfs and working with audio and movies etc...

Also some guidelines to making good flash and usage

If you have specific questions or you could describe the site youre trying to make I could probably help a little more with what you need to be learning. Flash is incredibly deep and complex so theres a lot to learn!

good luck.
posted by skrike at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: skrike, thanks. I could describe the site but I'm still breaking it up into "to do this, I need to learn this and this" For example. Making a button. Ok. Making a button that, when moused over plays an actual movie in it, I think I can handle, making a button that, when clicked, makes the other buttons move and disapear in strange ways while the original button expands, slides to the left, collapses -- still playing an embedded move (movie means actual movies, not animations) -- and goes still and a new "page" loads to the right of it with images, navigation, and other stuff, to describe one of the less complex interactions they want... (pause to breathe) is not something I know how to do. Yet. When I have some specific questions, probably in a day or two, can I'll post them here, but by then this thread will no longer be on the front page.

Here is a specific question. Short of converting the movie to still frames and importing those to the timeline, is there a quick way to get flash to insert keyframes in a movie? If I'm working at 25fps and have a movie encoded at the same frame rate and with key frames every 25 frames, why can't I get flash to show those key frames in the time line?
posted by Grod at 10:25 AM on June 20, 2006

actionscript.org has a number of tutorials I have found helpful in the past (obviously focused more on the programming aspects)
posted by blind.wombat at 10:29 AM on June 20, 2006

A colleague pointed out this tutorial, which looks like it covers all the basics of a small Flash website.
posted by milquetoast at 10:49 AM on June 20, 2006

Best answer: "... making a button that, when clicked, makes the other buttons move and disapear in strange ways while the original button expands, slides to the left, collapses -- still playing an embedded move (movie means actual movies, not animations) -- and goes still and a new "page" loads to the right of it with images, navigation, and other stuff ... "

This is all fairly simple when you know actionscript, you just set up symbols with each of those things in them and trigger them accordingly on the timeline. The BIGGEST problem with this is the timing of the thing. If youre doing this at 25fps youre going to have a big timeline with random keyframes spread throughout it triggering different animations at different times, which makes it a pain to debug and edit.

There is a new flash extension that helps you automatically tween and set timing and delays on things in flash all with actionscript, its free, and somewhat still in beta, but its pretty amazing with what it can do. Its called fuse. Basically its an extension you drag to the timeline and then you can set up sequential actionscript actions and the timing on them. You can make a fuse "wrapper" and it will execute everything in this first, then when that is done, execute this, on each line you can say how long you want it to take, or how long you want it to delay before animating. There is nothing like that built into flash (to the best of my knowledge).

Since you said you were familiar with CSS and dhtml it shouldnt be too hard to pick up the syntax. Ive done some pretty complicated things in flash with only a few lines of actionscript. It might be over your head right now, but if the site youre doing has tons of things based on timing like you described, it could save you a ton of time. You can find more info here.


As for the video stuff you might want to start with gotoandlearn.com and watch all the Video Basics tutorials. There are 8 parts to it and should get you up to speed pretty quickly.
posted by skrike at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: skrike thank you. I've bookmarked all the links and am going through them. I guess ActionScript is something I really need to bone up on, I figured Flash would have lots of point-and-click automation along those lines. I should be able to be comfortable with it as a scripting language in a few days.
posted by Grod at 11:03 AM on June 20, 2006

I'm a HUGE fan of lynda.com. It's a pay site: $25 a month, but you can join for 1 month, watch hours of video, and then quit. But I've become a permanent member. If you're a designer-type person, you might be able to do what I do, and write it off in your taxes. They have so much content about the apps I use, that I can find a short video demonstrating just about any feature that I'm struggling with.

Some specifics:

Flash Professional 8 New Features (1 hour)

Flash Professional 8 Essential Training (11 hours)

Flash Professional 8 Beyond the Basics
(10 hours)

Flash Professional 8 Video Integration
(7.25 hours)

Photoshop CS2 and Flash 8 Integration (2.5 hours)

There are other titles (e.g. Actionscript) that might help you. And you can watch the beginning of all their titles without paying, so that you can evaluate them.
posted by grumblebee at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2006

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