Importing Sounds

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Flash has great support for audio but no internal way to record or create sounds. You need to find an existing sound, have one provided for you, or use sound software to record or create your own. This simply means that in Flash, you can import sounds but you can't create them.

Two basic steps are involved in getting audio into a Flash movie. First, you need to import the sound. Then, you need to decide where and how to use it. This is similar to importing raster graphics (as you did in Hour 3, "Importing Graphics into Flash"). When you import a sound, it's stored in the Library like an imported bitmap. The sound appears in the Library where you can access all the sound's individual properties (just like bitmap items).

By the Way: Digging Up Sounds or Making Your Own

There are many sources for existing audio, such as clip media CDs. You might find, however, that rather than search existing sources, it's often easier to hire a professional musician or narrator to provide exactly what you need. This is also true for customized graphics or photographs versus clip art. Although in the short term hiring someone to create sound or art for you might mean a much bigger investment, it's often worth it. Consider that you're likely to get the perfect match for your message compared to something you find that's just "close enough" (but not quite right either). Also, you have direct contact with the artist, so you can resolve copyright issues at the start. Finally, by customizing your audio or graphics (and purchasing exclusive rights to its use), you won't risk another company using your art. Several potential problems arise when multiple parties use the same image or sound. Some other company's product or message could reflect poorly on yours, its website could be more popular than yours (making you look like a follower), or an image could become overused, making everyone's use look unoriginal and cliché.


Supported Formats

Flash can import digital audio in the following file formats:

  • MP3

  • WAV

  • AIF (also called AIFF)

  • AU

The only catch is that unless you have a newer version of QuickTime installed, when running Windows, you can't import AIF or AU, and on a Macintosh, you can't import WAV. Just download and install the free QuickTime player software from www.apple.com, however, and you'll be able to import audio in any of these four formats.

People often want to know which format is best. In general, it doesn't matter. You should simply start with the best quality sound possible. Between AIF and WAV, there's no inherent quality difference. A high-quality AIF file is the same as a high-quality WAV file. The AU format is nearly always compressed at a low quality, so you can all but forget that format. MP3 files always have some compression, so ultimately those files are not best. However, when MP3s are compressed very little, their quality remains high. Plus, the MP3 might have been optimally compressed (and, as you'll see in this hour, Flash won't recompress it). There are two valid reasons to use MP3s:

  • Your only source is an MP3 file.

  • You believe the MP3 file you have has already been optimally compressed.

MP3s don't get any worse after you bring them into Flash, but they certainly can't get any better. What's more, some MP3s aren't very good to begin with. I recommend avoiding MP3s as source files unless they're all you have or you're totally satisfied with their current quality.

You'll learn more about digital audio later this hour, in the section "Digital Audio Fundamentals." For now, it's enough to know that just four sound formats can be imported into Flash. What about songs on audio CDs? CD audio tracks aren't in WAV, AIF, AU, or MP3 format, so you can't use them directly. Luckily, however, most sound-editing software and Apple's excellent free product iTunes provides the ability to extract music from a CD and save it in WAV or AIF format. Of course, you should realize that significant copyright concerns arise when you use audio from a published CD. Plus, many CDs and digital music files you download incorporate Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology that makes them difficult or impossible to copy. (Alas, some such CDs won't even play in your CD player.)

It turns out you can usually use sound in your animation without necessarily worrying about all these details, as you'll see in the next task.

Try It Yourself: Import a Sound

The process of importing sounds into Flash is very simple. Follow these steps:

1.

In a new file, select File, Import, Import to Library and then select an audio file to import. (In Windows, you'll likely find a few WAV files in the folder C:\Windows\Media or My Documents\My Music, or you can just search for *.wav and *.mp3; Macintosh users can use Find for Files of Type: Sound.) You can filter the files shown in the Import dialog box by setting the Files of Type drop-down list to All Sound Formats, as shown in 10.1.

2.

After you select an audio file and click OK in the Import dialog box, you probably won't see (or hear) anything different. However, the sound has been imported and now resides in the Library. Just open the Library window (by pressing Ctrl+Lto see it. Now that the movie contains the sound file, you can use the sound.

Figure 10.1. When importing audio (or any media type, for that matter), you can filter the types of files listed to include just sound formats.


3.

Although we're not covering how to "use" sounds in depth until the next section, it's very easy. Let's do it now. There are two basic ways to use the sound in a keyframe. One way is to drag the sound from the Library window onto the Stage. However, this method requires an available editable frame (both an unlocked layer marked as editable with pencil and the current-frame marker in a non-tweened frame). The other method requires you to select a keyframe (by clicking under 1 in the Timeline) and then in the Properties panel select the sound you imported from the drop-down list (as shown in Figure 10.2). This list will display all the sounds previously imported into the movie.

Figure 10.2. The imported sound appears in both the Library and the Properties panel (when a keyframe is selected).


4.

Test the movie, and you should hear the sound. (Of course, your computer speakers and sound card must be functioning.)

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    Sams Teach Yourself Macromedia Flash 8 in 24 Hours
    Sams Teach Yourself Macromedia Flash 8 in 24 Hours
    ISBN: 0672327546
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2006
    Pages: 235

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