Teaching Examples

Flash Tutorials for the Complete Beginner
April 30, 2007, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Flash, journalism, online, training

After more hours than I’m willing to count, I’ve produced three 10-Minute Flash Tutorials aimed at journalists, photojournalists, students, and … whomever!

I debated whether to start with something more advanced, but in the end, I decided to try these because I thought I could make them as short as 10 minutes. Well, each one is less than 11 minutes, so — close enough!

These tutorials definitely start at zero. If you’ve never even opened Flash before, please try them.

I’m very, very eager to hear whether anyone likes them!

These are the first narrated “screencasts” or screen videos I have made. I’ve tested them on three different computers, and they seem to run well as long as there’s a broadband connection. So please take a look if you are one of those people who says, “I want to learn Flash!” — but you never have enough time. Surely you can spare 10 minutes?

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14 Comments so far
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Can I start with the trivial observations?

Your voice! I’ve been reading your blog forever and this is the first time I remember hearing your voice.

It was the exact opposite effect of hearing a radio DJ for years, then finally getting to see what they look like.

Secondly, the tutorials were completed on a Mac. Thought you were a PC fan? Congrats on making the jump.

Whatever program you used to complete the screencasts, works. Ran beautifully on my Mac.

So easy to follow and understand.

I’m sending the link to the other j-students here in the newsroom at Fresno State for next semester.

Thank you.

Comment by joseph hollak

Thanks Mindy,

I’m getting ready to jump in and learn Flash and these tutorials make the program seem less overwhelming. Nice work.

Comment by cmulvany

Wow…this is really helpful to me. Thanks!

Comment by That Journalist

Thanks for putting these together, Mindy. I’ll definitely use these in my Flash classes. I find that students latch on to the basic functionality pretty quickly, but as the semester progresses (and their attention turns to other things), they forget all that basic stuff they learned. These videos will offer a wonderful primer/reminder!

Comment by Mac Slocum

Out of curiosity, what program did you use for this? Is it Captivate?

Comment by Mac Slocum

It’s the voice of Mindy!

Great tutorials Mindy. Thanks for these.

Mac: No Captivate for the mac unfortunately. Don’t know what Mindy used but I use Snapz Pro x

Comment by Andy

Thanks for the comments, guys! I made the tutorials with Snapz Pro, a Mac-only application. I got interested in it because it is the one that Koci (MultimediaShooter.com) uses for his tutorials. I used up the 30-day trial getting it to work the way I wanted it to work, and then I decided to go ahead and buy it.

As for Mac vs. Windows, well, here’s the story: I have not used a Mac at all since 1997 or 1998. So, basically, 10 years of Windows only. This is mostly because of my workplace. Then the MacBooks came out. And I needed to replace my old laptop (a Sony Vaio, my third one). And then the Vista announcements.

And I thought: I’m sick and tired of this whole Microsoft Windows DLL intrusive invasive thing going on in my daily work-life. Sick of it!

So now I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and I am slowly (very slowly) moving everything to it. I will eventually replace my home and office desktops. And no, I do not run dual-boot. There is no Windows on my MacBook, nor will there be.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

So here’s a question —

As HTML becomes more dynamic with XHTML and Ajax, is THAT the more valuable skill?

I’m going to argue that it is, for these reasons, but I’m admittedly teetering on the edge of my techie knowledge here (Lesson #7 of my ASP class tonight — I can do it!):

1. XHTML might be easier to run through an RSS feed and publish to wireless platforms.

2. Some readers don’t trust plug-ins.

3. Theoretically, XHTML is more accessible to those of us who want to do Web and wireless content. (That’s iffy, I know — XHTML is probably too complicated for the typical producer to do in Notepad, and Visual Studio is even more expensive than Flash.)

4. Flash content tends to be a little “flashier” than necessary.

5. Readers can more easily customize the content on an XHTML page.

6. Simply put — XHTML is more broadly applicable.

Any thoughts?

Comment by bdure

I think an online designer should know XHTML and CSS and XML and JavaScript.

I think at least one person in any online news department should be highly competent with Flash. (Preferrably expert, but highly competent will suffice.)

Flash is perfect for certain kinds of presentations. In some cases, in my opinion, there is no contest: Flash is best.

That said — in many cases, all you need is code: XHTML and CSS and XML and JavaScript. And your back-end database. And PHP or whatever you hook them together with.

I think the most dangerous thing you can have is a person who ONLY knows Flash and does not know the rest. Why? Because to a man whose only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

P.S. Beau, XHTML is not one bit “complicated.” An 8-year-old could learn it in two days, tops. And you CAN write it in Notepad. Although who would want to? Geez, get a real script editor!

CSS is a little harder to master, particular if you have never studied page or document design. But you can write it in Notepad too.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

Thank you very much for the tutorials! I’ve already emailed or showed my fellow students as I know that so many of them were dying to learn Flash, but felt intimidated by the program.

Thank you again!

Comment by dsato

Mindy — I’ve worked with people who have trouble with the concept of “closing” a tag and worked for companies that won’t shell out a couple hundred bucks for a program that saves hundreds of hours of labor. (Part of the problem is the mathematical/logical world — on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself explaining to a fellow journalist that 3/12 is a quarter.)

So sure, I’d agree in principle, but I was just adjusting for grim reality!

Comment by bdure

Re: costs and code editors – I would note that Panic just came out with a program called Coda that costs $79 and supposedly does quite a bit to make all of the parts of web design fit into one window. I’m on a 14-day trial right now and it’s impressive. Certainly not the WYSIWYG of Dreamweaver, but lots of power from what I can tell. There are others as well – WebDesign, BBEdit, etc. that don’t cost hundreds.

And thanks for the tutorials, Mindy. SnapzPro has always worked for me, although I know there are a couple of other screencap programs available as well.

Comment by Murley

I did not do a big investigation into which screen capture program works best. I tried Snapz Pro and it did what I wanted — especially the compression, which I think is darned good.

As for FREE text/HTML editors: I recommend Crimson Editor (Windows) or TextWrangler (Mac).

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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