by kirupa  |  17 February 2004

A much hyped about feature of Flash MX 2004 is the timeline effects. Timeline effects are a collection of special effects that you can customize and apply to an object on your stage such as a movie clip, graphic, etc. If you have ever used programs such as Wildform's Wild fx or Red Giant Software's Text FX, you have seen how you can easily add custom text effects with a few simple clicks. Flash MX 2004's timeline effects work similarly, but the effects are not limited only to text. You can apply the timeline effect to any object.

The following animation provides an example of four types of timeline effects that come with Flash MX 2004. Click each of the text options such as "Blur", "Drop Shadow", etc. in the following animation to see the various special effects:

[ click on the above text buttons to see the special effects ]

This tutorial will briefly explain how to apply all of the timeline effects. Grab a box of pop-corn and get ready. This tutorial is about to start!

  1. Create a new document in Flash MX 2004. Set your movie's width and height to 300 by 200.
  2. Once you have done that, draw a nice circle in your stage using the Oval tool from your toolbox:

[ the circle you drew ]

  1. Now, select your circle and press F8. The Convert to Symbol dialog box will appear. Select Graphic and press OK:

[ select Graphic and press OK]

  1. With that done, save this file by going to File | Save. Save this file as timeline effects. You will use this circle graphic for each of the timeline effects. Don't overwrite this file =)

You may remember that in step iii, I told you to convert your circle into a graphic object. The timeline effect will work for any object - even ones freshly drawn with no symbolic association. The only issue is that the Expand effect does not work unless what you have on stage is converted into an object.

You can also apply the effects to movie clips that contain their own series of motion tweens, etc. For the sake of simplicity, I am using a plain, filled circle.

Blur Effect
The first effect I will explain is the Blur effect. Select your circle graphic and go to Insert | Timeline Effects | Effects | Blur. The Blur editor window should appear. You should see a small animation of your circle blurring in and out on the right with options on how to customize the effect:

[ the blur effect editor ]

I am sure you would like to know what each of the options actually explain:

  • Effect Duration
    Specifies the number of frames for which the blur effect will continue. For a quick blur, enter a smaller number. For a longer blur, enter a larger number.

  • Resolution
    Specifies the number of individual copies of your object that will be used to create the blur effect. The blur effect basically copies your object and scales it while fading out at the same time. The higher your number, the more objects will be scaled and faded out within the duration you specified.

  • Scale
    Specifies the scale of each copy of your object that is made to simulate the blur effect.

  • Allow Horizontal Blur & Allow Vertical Blur
    Specifies whether you want the blur to occur in only one direction. Notice that by checking or unchecking these boxes, you can adjust the direction with which the blur effect goes in.

  • Direction of Movement
    The 9 arrows (not displayed in the above image) further help define your blur effect's direction of movement:

When you check both the boxes for Allow Horizontal Blur and Allow Vertical Blur, the effect is oriented toward the center as shown by the green border surrounding the center square. If you press any of the buttons such as the one for Top Right, you will find your animation seems to shift the blur to the top right direction.

You should note that if you only check the Allow Vertical Blur, you will only be able to adjust the direction movement in the vertical likewise. The opposite is true if you only check the Allow Horizontal Blur check box. You will only be able to, in that case, to adjust the blur horizontally.

You can press Update Preview to see how your effect looks now. To finalize your effect, press OK and preview your animation by pressing Ctrl + Enter or previewing the animation in your browser.

Save this file as something else because it would be best not to overwrite the original timeline effects fla you created earlier. We will use that file for the three other timeline effects.

Let's proceed to the next page to learn about a few more interesting effects.




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