Examining the Stage
Thinking back to the calendar analogy of the Timeline, you can think of the Stage as a day-timer schedule for a selected date. A day-timer schedule contains all activities for a date just as the Stage presents all content for the active frame.
Anything that you place on the Stage appears in your movie. If you position something half on the Stage and half in the work area, only the part of the image that is on the Stage appears in your movie. This allows for many special effects with animation. If you want something to appear to fly into a movie, position the image in the work area first and then create the animation to carry it onto the Stage. This creates the illusion of the image flying into the movie.
The Flash work area is similar to the work area of other graphic packages. It can be compared to your desktop area. When you are working on a particular document, you have all this extra desktop space surrounding the document. This extra space allows you to keep on hand any additional tools, papers, or notes that you might need to complete your main document. The Flash work area can be compared to extra desktop space. You can use this to store other images or graphics that you might want to use in a movie but do not need yet on the Stage.
Tip - You can turn the work area on and off through the View, Work Area menu command.
Examining Movie Properties
Every movie has its own set of properties that determine the size and appearance of the Stage, as well as many parameters of the movie. Choose Modify, Movie to display the Movie Properties dialog box (see Figure 3.6).
Tip - You can double-click the Timeline's Frame Properties setting of fps (frames per second) at the bottom of the Timeline to display the Movie Properties dialog box.
Note - Clicking the Match Printer button sets the movie size to the maximum print area based on your settings in the Page Setup dialog box. Clicking the Match Content button sets the movie size to the minimum Stage area required to display your movie's contents.
Sizing Your Stage
You will create a travel company Web site as you progress through this book. This Web site represents a fictitious company called Whirlwind Adventure Travel. To begin this project, you need to set your Stage dimensions for displaying the home page in the user's browser. A common size for Web pages that can be viewed easily on an 800x600 resolution screen display is 650x500 pixels. This size allows most visitors to easily view your Web site pages within their browser's window without having to scroll to see any of the contents on the page. In the Dimensions setting area, set the screen dimensions of 650x500px by clicking in the Width box and entering 650px. Then click in the Height box and enter 500px. This will set your movie's dimensions. Do not close the Movie Properties dialog box yet because we need to set the background color, which will be covered next.
Note - The default unit setting for the Dimensions Width and Height input box is px, which is short for pixel. You can type in a number without px following the number and Flash will automatically assume you mean pixel and add this unit to your number entry.
You can use the Movie Properties dialog box to set your background color for the Whirlwind Adventure Travel movie to be displayed throughout this Web site. To display the color palette from which you can choose a new background color, follow these steps:
Display the Movie Properties dialog box by double-clicking the fps button on the Timeline.
Click the Background Color icon and move your mouse into the palette. Notice that it is now a dropper tool.
Click the third yellow color from the bottom on the far right column, Hexidecimal number FFFF99 (see Figure 3.7). Your Background Color icon will change to the light yellow color that you selected in the Background Color palette.
Click OK to close the Movie Properties dialog box. Your Stage background is now the light yellow color that you selected.
Setting Frame Rate
You can also set the frame rate for your Whirlwind Adventure Travel movie in the Movie Properties dialog box. The Flash default setting is 12 fps (frames per second). This is the standard rate for viewing a movie on the Web by the average browser and average connection speed. You can go up to higher frame rates, but you are counting on your viewing audience having fast-processing computers and fast connections to the Internet. Typically 12 to 15 fps is common for Web delivery of movies. Increase this setting to 12 by clicking the fps box and typing 12. Click OK to close the Movie Properties dialog box.