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Making A "Countdown To Showtime" For Your Flash Movie
by Tom Henderson

The vector graphics used in Macromedia's Flash 4 can create some amazingly
small file sizes, however, some of the movies do end up being well over the
30 KB per page threshold recommended by my "Advanced Programming For The Internet" teacher, Mr. Greg Wear. Therefore, the viewer is going to have to sit and wait while your animation downloads to their system.

Want to keep their attention, and keep them from pushing the "Back" button?
Give them a "Countdown To Showtime" introduction to look at while the
animation loads. Here's how…

  • Create your Flash animation masterpiece and… Save it in a folder.
  • Select "File…"
  • Select "Publish Settings…"
  • Select the "Flash" folder tab
  • Check "Generate size report"
  • Check "Protect from import" (recommended)
  • Click the "Publish" button, at upper right
  • Select OK
    Look in the folder in which you saved your original Flash movie, (.fla file). After "Publishing", the folder will now have three additional files,
    (.swf, html & .txt file), located in it.
  • Open the .txt file, i.e. "CIS281-2Report"
  • The third column of the report, "Total Bytes" contains the file sizes of the
    individual frames in your movie, as well as the total bytes in the entire
    movie. *Note: You can also right-click the .swf file… click "Properties" and
    check its file size there.

Decide how many "Countdown" frames you want your movie to have. The
greater the number of Total Bytes in your movie, the greater the number of
countdown frames you should probably have… to a point. For up to 150
KB, you may only need about 5 countdown frames. For larger movies,
you may want 10 to 20 countdown frames. You decide… based upon
your movie size and what you want the countdown frames to do.
In my "CNC Lathe" movie, (CIS 281, Fall 1999), I decided to use 10 countdown
frames. I placed bits of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) trivia on my
countdown frames, to give something for the user to read while the animation
was downloading. I also placed a "Load meter bar", and the percentage amount
that the movie had loaded, in 10% increments.

( http://www.usaweb1.com/rtmarvc/cnclathe.htm )  Check out my CNC lathe!  It's a pretty neat Flash animation, if I do say so myself.

*In this tutorial, we will also use one pre-countdown frame, and 10 countdown frames in 10% increments.

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