Dynamic Learning: Flash CS3 Professional is the second in a series of books from O'Reilly that is branded as Dynamic Learning. It is written by a group of product professionals and trainers from the Aquent Graphics Institute (AGI) and this time led by Fred Gerantabee. These are the people who have produced many of Adobe's own training titles.
Dynamic Learning: Flash CS3 Professional is produced with Digital Classroom video tutorials that enhance the topics discussed in the book. Each lesson begins with a "Starting Up" section that makes sure that you are ready to roll. Then you are asked to view the video to get a better feel for what you are going to do. You then work through the lesson. This, tied to self-study exercises and review questions, is meant to reinforce the content and skills learned.
The book is divided into 15 lessons covering 430 pages. The Dynamic Learning DVD comes complete with all of the lesson files and video files needed to follow along with the book. The preface, "Starting Up," introduces you to dynamic learning, gets you set up and gives you other information needed to begin your lessons.
Lesson 1, "What's New in Adobe Flash CS3?" walks you through the features that are new to CS3. These include the new improved drawing tools, copy and paste motion, ActionScript 3.0 as well as the new Illustrator and Photoshop import options. Lesson 2, "Flash CS3 Jumpstart" takes you through the basics that you will need to get up and running with Flash. You will learn about file types, creating, setting up, and saving documents. You will also explore the interface items such as the property inspector, the timeline, and all of the tools needed to make your animation come to life.
Lesson 3, "Getting Started with the Drawing Tools" examines the different tools that you will use to create your animation. These include drawing shapes, creating artwork from imported graphics, and all of the tools like the pen, line, and pencil tools. Lesson 4, "Modifying and Transforming Graphics" expands on what you learned in the previous chapter by now adding perspective, depth, and lighting effects by using transformations and advanced color techniques.
Lesson 5, "Using Symbols and the Library" explains what the library is — a place to store and manage the symbols, photos, sounds, and video. This will allow you to effectively build your movies. Lesson 6, "Creating Basic Animation" shows you how to begin to create that which Flash is best regarded for — web animation. Here you will get into working with the timeline, tweening, and working with motion to create animation.
Lesson 7, "Diving Deeper into Animation" expands on lesson 6. Here you learn to add more depth to your movies by sequencing simultaneous animations across multiple layers. You will also learn about the new Copy and Paste motion feature. Lesson 8, "Customizing Your Workflow" trims your work time by customizing Flash's interface to your working style. You will customize layouts as well as work with docking, undocking, moving, and adding panels.
Lesson 9, "Working with Imported Files" examines how to import images from other applications, how to use layered Photoshop and Illustrator files, as well as how to modify artwork used in Flash. Lesson 10, "Introducing ActionScript" begins by explaining what ActionScript is — a built-in scripting language that allows you to add more control to your movies. It allows you to control timelines, buttons, and user controls, as well as dynamically handling other tasks such as taking control of images sound and video.
Lesson 11, "Working with Button Symbols" shows you how to create buttons that change during user interaction. This interaction can give your users more control when viewing you movies or web pages. Lesson 12, "Adding Sound to your Movies" explains how to import, manipulate, and place sound files in to your Flash movies.
Lesson 13, "Introducing Movie Clips" examines what to do when your movies get to be too large. By using movie clip symbols you can break complex animations into smaller parts. Lesson 14, "Working with Video" explores the video capabilities of Flash and the new features that CS3 brings to make it better for web video. Lesson 15 "Delivering your Final Movie" finishes up by explaining how Flash is more than a web design and development tool, you can also use it to publish content for Web, CD, DVD, and Video.
What I like about Dynamic Learning: Flash CS3 Professional is that it is very easy to read and understand. When you tie it to the videos, it becomes a very powerful learning experience. The book is well organized, the examples are real world examples, and the instruction provides a good working base from which one can really learn Flash CS3.