Making
Flash Movies Transparent
         by kirupa chinnathambi

Did you know, that just like a GIF image, Flash animations can be made transparent when displayed in a Web page? I bet that you probably did not think that it was possible. Let me tell you, that it is possible, and it takes very little skill or time to implement this effect!

The following animations should give you a glimpse of how the transparent effect look like:

[ animation without transparency ]

[ animation with transparency ]

Making an Animation Transparent:

  1. Open up any movie that has its background color visible on stage. There are two ways to make an animation transparent:
     
    1. Go to File | Publish Settings. The Publish Settings dialog box will appear. Click the HTML tab. You should notice a drop-down menu labeled Window Mode. Click the Window Mode drop-down menu and select Transparent Windowless:

    [ select transparent windowless under the HTML Publish settings ]

    Go to File | Publish. Copy and paste the HTML code generated by Flash into a Web page containing a different background. Notice that the spaces in which the stage was visible in Flash is now filled with the background color of the Web page instead of the background color set in Flash!


    1. Maybe you don't want to re-publish your animation. Maybe you would rather find a way to apply the effect to an animation already uploaded on a server. Believe it or not, there is solution to your dilemma!

      Use Notepad or another HTML editing program and open the HTML page containing your Flash animation. Find the list of <param> tags for your Flash animation.

      To make your movie transparent, add the following parameter tag along with the other parameter tags listed in the HTML:

       <PARAM NAME=wmode VALUE=transparent> 
       
    2. Now, find the <embed> tag and add the following tags along with the other embed tags:

       wmode="transparent"

Limitations
While this effect may seem very useful, there are a great deal of limitations and incompatibilities that might make you re-consider your decision to use this effect:

  • Netscape browsers (even Netscape 7) will not display the effect. All Netscape browsers simply show the animation in its opaque, non-transparent form.
  • Most versions of Internet Explorer running on a Macintosh system will not display the animation properly.
  • Making the animation transparent will display anything below the empty spaces of an animation, but the Flash animation will still be stacked higher than any surrounding object. Therefore, creating JavaScript/DHTML menus that go below the Flash animation will not be possible.

Granted that over 90% of all Internet surfers run a PC with Internet Explorer 5 or higher, you should always keep in mind the 10% who might end up being your most loyal visitors. With all that said, this effect is great for banners and other forms of annoying, interactive advertising.

A visit to Yahoo! or MSN's Slate will show you a workable version of this effect where an annoying Flash ad appears in the middle of your screen with the content from the page visible behind the animation. I hope I am not giving those advertisers - content on putting a big transparent image of a Coca-Cola bottle right over my analysis of the latest in TheOnion.com - any new ideas!

For an example of what I mean, the following image is an example of a Flash ad for a popular-car that tweened its way over Mr. John Ashcroft's caricature:

[ an example of Flash and advertising with the transparency effect...$$$ ]

Have you ever considered making a Flash movie only partially transparent over a HTML background? It is possible and I discuss how it is done. Click here to find out.

Need Help?

If you have questions, need some assistance on this topic, or just want to chat - post in the comments below or drop by our friendly forums (where you have a lot more formatting options) and post your question. There are a lot of knowledgeable and witty people who would be happy to help you out. Plus, we have a large collection of smileys you can use

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If you didn't like it, I always like to hear how I can do better next time. Please feel free to contact me directly at kirupa[at]kirupa.com.

Cheers!

Kirupa Chinnathambi

 

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