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Fabulous Flash Animation

What's that old saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words." If that's true, Adobe Flash (formerly macromedia) must be worth at least ten times more! When you want to tell your story with action, Flash says it like nothing else. Animation can make your website stand out from the pack.

However, Flash development can be daunting. First off, you need the software, plus you need to know how to use it and have some understanding of ActionScript. Yes, that right, I said you need to know at least a little bit of scripting and have some understanding about programming languages (I realize in saying that I may have just lost half of the audience, but wait ...)

Fear not: you can still offer Flash to your client base even if you couldn't program your way out of a paper bag.

Here are some links to Flash components and builders, helping you provide animation the faster, easier way ...

Buy Flash Files (easier than you think)

Software that Creates Flash Movies (hint ... there's more than just Adobe out there)

Automated Flash Site Builders (the secret I probably shouldn't tell you about ...)

Buying Flash Components and Templates

1.) Big Shot Media
Lovely flash movies with very high production values. The pretty flowers above are a free sample from their collection. Each file is individually priced, or their CD collections are a wonderful value, considering the quantity and quality of files you receive. You do receive the source .fla file as well as a rendered .swf file in different sizes. You can change any parameters / artwork as necessary. Wow, just buy one CD and have fun. Impress your clients! This collection continues to build over the years and is more impressive than ever.

2.) Template Monster
Template Monster has a lot of Flash work to offer for download. And the prices are the same as for any HTML-only template. Plus, there are Flash Intros here that can be purchased and downloaded separately if you simply need animation for the beginning of your site. You receive the source .fla files, and the .psd files for the graphics elements, so you could therefore conceivably change any elements you wish. You just need ... Flash!

3.) Flash Template Store
An independent offering of Flash and website templates. The Flash Template Store also has a modest collection of Flash Intro templates and has a free website template collection as well for download. For all of their Flash templates, their package contains .psd (Photoshop) files, fonts, the Flash file in .fla format and the web ready .swf file. Of course in order to edit the .fla file, you will need Flash ... Enjoy!

Software

1.) Swish
Swish is a lovely piece of software designed to help automate and simplify Flash file creation. It comes with a bunch of special effects you just have to one-click apply and 'voila' watch the results. I use it often for clients who want some movement on their pages, or some type of Flash work, but who have no budget to support full Flash development. Development in Swish and fast and simple and it's a piece of software I hghly recommend.

2.) Flash CS3 Professional
Of course, you can go straight to the source. Adobe is the cornerstone of web and design software applications. CS3 (Creative Suite 3) is Adobe's latest offering and Flash is a part of the master package and the web package. Your best value is to purchase Flash within a suite, and truly Photoshop is THE graphics software that's a must-have, so choose what package will work best for you. If you want to understand or edit source .fla files, and learn ActionScript, you could really benefit from owing Flash - so here's your link!

Automated Flash Site Builder

1.) Flash To Go
Flash website builders are best suited to non-programmers, and even non-designers. All you have to do is choose from the very wide selection of interfaces and animations, and add the content. Flash To Go has been online for quite a while now and the site continues to expand, refining the concept of an online Flash website builder. The sites are totally functional with transitions, music and interchangeable graphics files. You can even upload your own graphics etc., totally customizing the look. The price: $200 - $500.00 US - a bargain to be the web hero of the day. Hosting is separate, so you can host the .swf files wherever you like. The only drawback is that you don't get the source .fla files, but when was the last time one of your clients requested them? ;)

2.) SiteCube
A reasonably priced builder with a built-in hosting package. If you build here though, you have to host here. There are quite a few examples of sites built by clients and really, when you consider these sites were not created by designers or programmers, the results are pretty good. There are 45 different animation structures to choose from and some stock images available for customization. This is a nice recommendation for a potential client who wants a Flash site, but doesn't want to actually pay you to make one. Just send them to that link and they can work on it themselves! You can then spend your time with the paying customers...

3.) Balthaser
Veteran web folks might remember the excitement that Balthaser generated with it's very cool Flash site more than 7 years ago. That site was the inspiration for many a fledgling Flash designer! Balthaser has launched a project called ProFX that allows you to create Flash sites automatically. It's structured differently from Flash To Go, and you do have to host here if you create more than one package. You do need to bring more of your own ideas and creativity to ProFX, although many of the elements are inherent in the system. They call it their 'Online Design System'. Checking the system out is free though - just sign up for the 'Basic' package. Again a great place to send a client if they want bells and whistles on their site but have no budget to speak of.

For fun, here's a link to the original Balthaser site too! (I just had to add it for ol' times sake!)

Designers Tip: There are other websites and companies out that offer 'automatic' Flash Builders. The bottom line - so far, they're not close to the quality of Flash To Go. And of course, all builders have their limitations. If you need to make a passable Flash site fast, go with Flash To Go.

 

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