Flash CS4 Video Tutorials from Layers Magazine

Flash General

Adobe has announced the CS4 lineup!

Hop around to your usual favorite Adobe-focused blogs, and you’ll find quite a few sites demonstrating new features (and there are tons of new features in all of these apps!).  Chris Georgenes, for example, spells out a number of Flash UI improvements at his keyframer.com site.  Colin Smith demonstrates some slick new Photoshop features at photoshopcafe.com.

And me?  I created four Flash CS4 video tutorials at the companion website for Layers magazine, layersmagazine.com.  Check ’em out!  If any of you are curious what I sound like, now you’ll know.  ;)   I’ve enjoyed working with the Layers folks very much, and will be happy to do so again, so this might just be the beginning!  Quick note:  I did include sample files with some of those videos, but until Adobe makes Flash CS4 available for purchase or trial download, you wouldn’t be able to use them (they’re saved as CS4 files, which means they don’t open in CS3 — you can actually save CS4 files as CS3 files, but naturally the new features disappear when you do).  I’m assuming Layers will update those pages when the time comes.  If not, I’ll pester them, and/or you can email me for the sample files. 

In related news … though it’s not listed on Amazon yet, friends of ED just posted the product page for Foundation Flash CS4 for Designers, by Tom Green and yours truly.  This is one of the new books I mentioned last time.  It’s the second edition of our Foundation Flash CS3 for Designers from last year—which means we didn’t write the book from scratch—but don’t let that lull you into thinking this is just a second edition.  (I fell for that one while writing this book!  It took us nearly as long as the first go around.)

So what makes the second edition different?  That would make a good topic for a blog entry of its own, but in a nutshell:  it’s completely updated for Flash CS4, as the title indicates.  That was a big undertaking!  The book features new sample files, new chapters, and (we estimate) around 100 new pages.  For the rest, we scoured every existing chapter and made improvements based on reader feedback (Amazon reviews, conferences, classrooms, and direct email contact), and then infused each chapter with workflow enhancements based on the features in Flash CS4.  We punched up the ActionScript chapter a bit, too, but it’s all still aimed at the same audience as the first edition.

Highlights include a second animation chapter, covering features like the new Motion Editor panel and inverse kinematics (IK).  The Motion Editor panel is a biggie.  The motion tweens you’re used to are now called classic tweens (still available), and the new motion tweens behave very differently.  You can see some of this stuff in the Layers videos.  There’s also a chapter on the new 3D tools, and of course earlier chapters include explanations of (and sample files for) new drawing tools like the Deco tool, Spray Brush tool, and more.

There’s a new “Building Stuff” chapter, in which we overhauled our approach to the more complex sample files in the first edition.  In particular, we heard from several readers that the MP3 player was a bit advanced, as early as it appeared, so we rearranged the more sophisticated projects and put them in a chapter of their own.  Not only that, but we made sure these projects built on each other.  You’ll move from a preloader to an XML-based slideshow, to an XML-based MP3 player (a different one!) and eventually to an XML-based video player whose UI controls overlap conceptually with the MP3 player’s.  If you have the first edition, you’ll remember that the slideshow originally appeared in our XML chapter.  To fill the space left when we moved that exercise, we added a new one that uses XML to draw letterforms on the stage.

Generally speaking, we embellished, tweaked, packed more into a book that has already sold better than Tom or I expected.  It’s been a great ride, and great to hear from so many readers on what worked for them personally and what didn’t.

I tend to think of it like this.  In jazz, all the great standards have a recognizable tune (of course!).  In that sense, this is “the same book” as the first edition.  But like any jazz performance, you’re getting a new interpretation of the standard.  In this case, the performance is more nuanced than the first one, with new riffs and a better sense of cohesion overall.

I’ll blog again when the book hits the shelves.  I’m looking forward to this one!

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