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Subject: FLASH: Re: LiveMotion Pros & Cons
From: Michael Ninness
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 19:21:15 +0100

> Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 14:21:09 -0700
> From: jdowdellatmacromedia [dot] com (John Dowdell)
> Subject: Re: FLASH: Re: LiveMotion Pros & Cons

> Howdy Mike, it's nice that you come by here... I hope you're not
> uncomfortable if I ask questions on some of the features you posted.

Anytime, baby. By the way, have I ever told you that you have a GREAT job?
Daniel and I still want to buy you a beer or a Pepsi at the next flashfoward2000
conference in NYC. Let's hook up if you are going to be there. I digress, so on
to your questions...

>> Multiple File Formats (it's for Web graphics AND animation)
> In case you haven't seen this, Flash exports as GIF animations, JPEG and
> SWF too. There's also QuickTime export, Illustrator files, DXF, PNG
> sequences, more.

Yes -- we mentioned those on the product comparison page although we missed
DXF. It's very cool that Flash puts out sequences and QT, but let's not kid
ourselves: the bitmap output quality just isn't up to snuff. This keeps
Generator from getting wider acceptance.

> If the qualifier is instead "LiveMotion offers multiple file formats for
> sliced images", then the compression, optimization, and slicing control
> found in Fireworks has been on ImageStyler owners' wishlists for quite some
> time.

> Why does the LiveMotion product literature still emphasize export formats,
> when it's less capable here than either Flash or Fireworks? This isn't a
> flame or a challenge... I'm just really curious what leads to that
> unanswered emphasis, thanks.

The focus on export formats is there for two reasons --
1. LiveMotion has integrated vector and raster tools/effects in a single
application. Going with your line of thought, LiveMotion combines some of the
vector/raster capabilities of Fireworks with a powerful timeline. It is an
improvement in the workflow. If I want to create raster effects in Flash today,
I can't. I realize that last sentence could cause an entire new thread about the
evils of rasters, but the bottom line is that rasters and vectors have their
respective places and uses. I have to go outside of Flash to Fireworks or
Photoshop, create my raster artwork, and place it in Flash. LiveMotion makes it
easier to work with both in a SWF workflow.

2. LiveMotion is meant to be a file format agnostic authoring environment. As
killer as SWF is, it is only one of many Web formats that people need to author
too. It's pretty cool that LiveMotion allows you to re-purpose your composition
to as a sliced, JavaScripted HTML layout. LiveMotion will continue to author to
existing web formats and will author to the new formats in the future, such as
SVG. I am sure we would all be interested to hear your comments on if a future
version of Flash will export to SVG. :)

So, each tool has its strengths and gives you a set of options, and it's up to
the user to choose the right tool or combo for their needs. But I don't think
that not matching the combined feature set of two distinct products (not to
mention offering capabilities that neither possesses) reflects particularly
badly on LiveMotion.

As for the Fireworks features you mention being on ImageStyler owners' wishlest,
let's not get off track here. Photoshop/ImageReady have always been the
competition for Fireworks, not ImageStyler.

> when people have asked why the "Library" in LiveMotion is so different from
> the existing Library in Flash, the reply has been that LiveMotion handles
> dynamic library functions for you, hidden, with a name of "alias" instead of
> "library".

Yes, LM does handle much of the work of making and tracking symbols. It's smart
enough to realize when you're using multiple copies of the same object and
stores them in the SWF only once. The Export Report lists the names of the
Symbols in the SWF and tells you how many times they are referenced. The Library
in LM is simply for storing assets that you want to use again, where as in Flash
it is that AND a Symbol manager.

> But if you apply a transform to such a cloned element -- such as skewing
> something you've duplicated, for instance -- then from what I recall of the
> beta all the other copies will also skew. In other words, the transform
> matrix seems to be applied to the original copy of the artwork, rather than
> to its instance on the screen.

Aliases are slightly different. You're right that a transformation applied
to an instance of artwork with aliases is applied to all linked copies of
that artwork, but it's very easy to enable and disable this linking via the
Make and Break Alias commands.

>> Time-based Timeline (as opposed to Frame-based)
>> Object-based Timeline (as opposed to Layer-based)
> I don't feel good about either of these... trying to stick a time-based
> sequencer atop an event-based animation format like SWF is difficult. I
> could see a time-based sequencer atop a time-based format like QuickTime,
> but in formats which play every frame, there may not be an exact time.

I'll bet that a survey of Flash users will reveal that most projects have moved
beyond the old 12 fps default. Faster processors mean you can raise the frame
rate and reap the rewards of smoother motion on systems that can handle the
load. Unfortunately, even the best Flashers can't always know how a composition
will appear, so they have to err on the low side to be safe, knowing that to
adjust the frame rate later without screwing up their
timing would be murder. The same goes for trying to hit file size targets: it's
hard to know whether they'll be able to afford the hit associated with tweening
at higher rates, so they have to play it safe. LM's time-based system frees you
to experiment with different frame rates.

Frame independence gives us a good foundation for distributing animation over
time a la sequences and Object Time. It also reinforces that the timeline in LM
can be used to author more than just SWF.

> This interface problem has already confused people trying LiveMotion, who
> implicitly assume that frames will be dropped so that the sequencer's
> labels will match reality. What use do you see for a seconds-based timeline
> today...?

That's why it is called a Timeline and not a Frameline. People want something to
occur over a given amount of time and, in most instances, want it to occur as
smoothly as possible. If indeed the viewers machine can handle the animation,
then this works. If not, then LiveMotion and Flash stumble over the SWF playback
engine trying to play every frame rather than keeping time.

Macromedia already realizes that a play-every-frame-no-matter-the-speed approach
isn't always the best; that's why they came up with streaming sound that drops
animation frames to match the time specified.

> And I know that the product literature is already far down along the path
> of "object-based timeline", but it's really a parameter-based timeline...
> you can have keys and tracks for each animatable attribute of an object,
> not just the object itself. (Think of the distinction between MacroMind
> Three-D and early Infini-D, for instance... this difference drove the later
> parameter-based keying of Electric Image and CoSA AfterEffects.) I don't
> think this will actually hurt anyone, not like the previous problem will...
> it's just a funny neologism, that's all.

Neologism being "a meaningless word coined by a psychotic" (this from
Merriam-Webster)? ;-) I think we're being a little more accurate than that, but
I suppose it's all semantics (kind of like calling our After Effects software
CoSA After Effects). I have to admit John, your subtlety is oh so smooth! :)

You make an interesting distinction but I think the truth is halfway between the
two. We place object names in the timeline and its attributes are animated over
time rather than placing objects in layers and then animating the layers and
keeping all of the object attribute keyframes in a single "bucket".

> Anyway, I hope you're comfortable with the above... I'd really like to
> learn why there's a continuing emphasis on file formats for export, and
> whether there are indeed deeper library differences than just having it
> hidden, thanks.

I am completely comfortable with the above John. I do enjoy the conversation. I
wish I had the kind of time and focus to do this all day like you are able to.
Bottom line: LiveMotion is more than a me-too-Flash application. It's a
powerful Web graphics editor and animation package that uses a different editing
metaphor than Flash. Some people will like it, some won't.

> btw, if you happen to come across a SWF made with LiveMotion that you're
> particularly excited about, then I'm sure folks here would like to see it
> too, thanks.

There's a thread on the Adobe User-to-User forums with a couple of hundred
messages showing off work. It's neat to see where people have started and how
much better they're getting as they've had a little more time to use the
software. I know you know the URL John, but for the others on the list, check
it out at

There is also some sample animations that were made at an Art Director's
conference. These animations were made by art director's who had no prior
experience with LiveMotion. They were given a 3 hour introduction class with the
Beta, and then had 2 hours to make their animations. They can be seen at:

Don't forget about that beer John!


Michael Ninness, LiveMotion Senior Product Manager
Adobe Systems Incorporated

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  Re: FLASH: Re: LiveMotion Pros & Cons, Michael Dunn

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