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i'm new with Micromedia Flash so I was wondering what's the best book to guide me through the process of successfully making animation on my computer?
What would scooby do?
Well, there are two distinct parts of the FlashMX series that you are going to have to be equally familiar with in order to produce effective and pleasing Flash animation.
On one hand, you're going to need to become familiar with the actual drawing/animation process (which is what you seem to be asking about right now) and on the other hand, you will need to know just as much about Flash's own dedicated scripting language called "Actionscript". And just as you might have suspected, they are two completely different monsters that require their own dedicated books to study from.
For animation and symbol manipulation to include everything from motion tweening and frame by frame to gradient fills and bezier handles, I would suggest one of the FlashMX books published by "Visual Quick Start Guide". They are relatively easy to understand and use pictures to compliment their step by step instructions, yet they are complicated enough to give you a decent foundation for the future. Contrary to what you might think though, I would never suggest learning Flash from a book by Macromedia unless the person I was suggesting it to was my enemy. They are horribly watered down and can probably be summed up as nothing more than a long winded introduction to Flash.
Another good book is the "FlashMX Bible". It is absolutely HUGE and covers just about everything you could imagine, which is great, but can be confusing at times as it can integrate Actionscript with object manipulation, which can be confusing for someone new. Still, it would be a good buy none the less.
Now, as for a dedicated book on Actionscript, I absolutely and without any doubt in my mind say that anything on AS (Actionscript) published by "O'Reilly" will be superior to anything else out there. The book literally begins teaching you the difference between letters (strings) and numbers, and eventually gets into onClipEvents which allows you to control MovieClips on stage via AS as well as creating your own preloader (which is VERY important if you plan on publishing your Flash animation to the Internet), as well as things that you will probably never even need to use... Besides that, it has a gigantic index. And now that I think about it, you can probably go by a general rule, in that the quality of the information a book contains is more often than not, directly proportional to the size of its index.
So, to summarize, you will need no less than two books to learn Flash. You will need one book dedicated to object manipulation (I suggest the Visual Quick Start Series), and you will need one book dedicated to Actionscript (O'Reilly is you best choice... it's the one with the weird pen drawing of a two legged snake/eel or whatever it is.). Of course, there are many books out there that may or may not cater to your needs any more than the ones I suggested, but they are the two that have served me the best. Oh! and don't get a book by Macromedia.
Then of course, there is the Internet. If you would like to see over 35.000 Flash animations (Only about 5,000 of them are worth watching though), go to Newgrounds via this URL: http://newgrounds.com/portal/list.php?which=top50
And from there you can talk to the artists from time to time and even ask them questions directly.
I hope that helps, and I wish you luck!
That was such a thorough and helpful reply from cheshirepus, i almost hesitate to say this, (ha! emphasis on 'almost') but it's not entirely true that you need to know Actionscript as equally well as the mechanics. In fact, actionscript CAN be relegated to use just for delivery and never really interfere in anyway with your animating.
Consider Ibis Fernandez' 'Macromedia Flash: Animation and Cartooning' - his site, www.flashfilmmaker.com has a few tutorials and a MOST PATIENT group of regulars - like mudbubble (see www.mudbubble.com), who does tutorials for Macromedia. He's done one on single character animation that will serve you SOOO well, you just won't believe it. (Promise!) You can probably access that tutorial through his site.
Yeah, I think you're right about that cjaye. I am used to talking to people who are both interested in Flash animation as well as game creation. I forget that I'm on a strictly animation site.
Still, I do stand by my statement about having the means to create a functional preloader, for which you will need at least some understanding of Actionscript (but not much!). You don't want to publish a 4MB Flash animation of yours in an online portfolio and have it just mysteriously "hang" on a blank screen until it's loaded, or even worse... You could be streaming audio and have it start too soon, only to have it hang up on the unloaded part, and if you've ever heard what a digital cell phone sounds like when it's going out of range, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Thanks, your help is greatly appreciated. guess i'll head over 2 the bookstore today.:)