Posted on July 30, 2007
Thinking about learning Flash?
There’s a discussion over at SportsShooter.com that started when someone asked a question about Flash. The answers to the question (posted there) are good, but they got me thinking about something that bugs me a little.
A lot of people think they can learn a little Flash and then build a project right away.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it might not be the most effective approach for you to take.
What happens to a lot of people who do that: They get into a mess, and then — they quit.
That’s why I’m writing this. I don’t want you to quit, to give up on Flash, because you think it’s too demanding or too hard to learn.
I also don’t want you to pick up a sledgehammer to use on a thumbtack. If all you want is a slideshow with audio, for heaven’s sake, download Soundslides and use that.
If you want to build a project with Flash, and you’ve never used Flash before, the first step is to storyboard the heck out of the thing. Sketch little rough thumbnails of every single thing you think might be in the package. Write notes to yourself. Your sketches should look like these.
You now have a roadmap for the project. Use it. Figure out which assets you will need. Figure out which piece to build first. Figure out what you need to learn to make it all work.
You can’t really jump-start a Flash project. That would be your first mistake. Take 10 minutes to complete a tutorial first, and get your feet planted firmly on the ground. I realize I’m mixing my metaphors like crazy here (sorry!), but in the martial arts, your stance is everything. If your stance is wrong, you’ll be defeated. Flash is like that. The mistakes will mount on top of each other, and you’ll be crushed under them.
I’m suggesting that you set yourself up to succeed, not fail. And that means maybe you shouldn’t plan to finish that project on deadline, and then rush and gnash your teeth and feel stupid — and quit. If you’re a photographer — was your first roll of film worthy of Page One? If you’re a designer — was your first information graphic suitable for a section front? And if you’re a reporter — surely your first story was completely rewritten by your editor?
Why should learning Flash be any different from other storytelling practices?