The first thing you want to do before creating a bunch of assets for a project is to decide on the Stage size for it. Because the portfolio is designed to be distributed on CD-ROM, we can choose a size that's appropriate for computer playback. You should also decide whether your movie will run in full-screen mode, or within a window.
Running movies full-screen is somewhat problematic, because different system configurations have different screen resolutions. You can use Xtras to force a user's screen resolution to be the same as that of your movie. However, doing so is a bad idea because it usually leaves the person's desktop in a mess, as icons get repositioned when switching resolutions. So what do you do when you want to play your movie full-screen?
You have a couple of options. First, you want to choose the most common screen resolution so that the biggest percentage of your audience won't have to do anything to see your work as you intended. Currently, that's 800 x 600 pixels. Higher resolutions are becoming a lot more commonplace, but 800 x 600 is still a good choice because using higher resolutions consumes more memory, and animation can become sluggish, especially if you're moving lots of things.
When a user's screen resolution is higher than 800 x 600, you can go one of two routes. Many developers will advise end users of the "intended" resolution and let them adjust their resolution to match if they desire. If they don't change it, your movie will play with a border around it, which is normally quite acceptable. Here, we see the portfolio running at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768. The movie's Stage size is 800 x 600, so you see a border around it.
With today's cards you can easily do better than 800 x 600, but unless you're controlling the playback hardware (such as in a kiosk application), you need to cater to the lowest common denominator. So stick with 800 x 600 for now.
From the top menu choose File > New and if prompted to Save choose No.
Since we're starting fresh on the portfolio project we want to be sure to start a new movie.
Click the Stage, choose the Movie tab in the Property inspector, and change the Stage size to 800 x 600.
You can either enter the values into the fields in the Property inspector, or choose 800 x 600 from the list of default Stage sizes, as shown here.
Change the Stage color to black.
When you click the color swatch in the Movie tab, the Color palette opens where you can choose black as shown.
The reason behind changing the Stage's background color may not be entirely apparent, especially if you've realized you'll be using a bitmap for the background. The reason you should always set the background color was actually mentioned earlier. If the user's screen resolution is larger than 800 x 600, there will be a border around your movie. That border color is determined by the movie's background color setting. So in cases where a border will be evident, a black border will be unobtrusive and will give the movie a bit more contrast.
While we're here, let's have a look at a couple of more color settings within the Property inspector's Movie tab.
First off, you probably noticed the hexadecimal number within the color field. You can either enter a custom color value within the field or, as you just did, choose one from the color palette. If you know anything about hex values, though, you'll notice an immediate problem: the color palette only contains 256 colors while a hex value lets you represent full 24-bit color, or 16.7 million colors. You can think of the Color palette as default color values only. If you want to use a full range of possible colors, choose Color Picker at the bottom of the Color palette, along with Edit Favorite Colors.
Choosing the Color Picker yields the following dialog.
Here you have full access to all 16.7 million colors through a more standard color picker. Note the area at the lower left, labeled Custom Colors. You can define up to 16 custom colors in your projects, and these colors are always available at the very top of the movie's color palette. You may have thought the top color swatches were just an easily available range of values from black to white. In fact, they are the custom color swatches. Here the swatch that defaults to black has been replaced by an orange color.
Setting up custom color swatches that you use frequently in a project can be a very handy time-saver.