How to save time when using Flash

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. 95 percent of the multimedia work I do is hand-coded and designed from scratch. But once in a while I am pressed for time or the project I’m working on requires technical knowhow I just don’t have…yet. That’s when I turn to sites that offer stock Flash and ActionScript elements that can be tweaked to fit the project I’m working on.

For example, a couple of months ago I scoured the web and several books for hours, trying to find ActionScript that would allow me to build a multiple choice quiz. When I was close to giving up, I remembered Flash Kit, an excellent resource for Flash templates and other multimedia elements. I quickly found a multiple choice quiz that I dissected and whose code became the basis for two quizzes: “Which ‘Hero’ are you?” and the Movie Prop Quiz.


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For a long time, I had a Flash tutorial on interactive image panning buried in by bookmarks before I realized the ActionScript could be used for an interactive, virtual tour of the W.E.B. DuBois Center in Accra, Ghana (the full project can be viewed here). You can see how the original script came into play, but also how it was added to and built upon. There are many sites that offer online tutorials on Flash and other multimedia programs, but I am a fan of for its straightforward and easy to understand tutorials.


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Sites like iStockphoto, a stock agency that carries photos, illustrations, video and Flash files, are an excellent resources for finding Flash components that would otherwise take hours, if not days, more to build. I used this file and others like it for a recent Flash feature on dancing celebrities that had to be finished in less than 5 hours. The results were outstanding and amusing, and incorporated the stock files into a unique Flash project.


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iStockPhoto isn’t free, and depending on the complexity of the file, isn’t cheap, but it can really come in handy. I also use some of the site’s stock illustrations on 10,000 Words posts when time is a factor.


iStockPhoto illustration before and after

There is also Soundslides, of course, which facilitates creating quick slideshows and a number of other Flash-based image galleries. I must reiterate that I believe wholeheartedly in originality and recognize that Flash is a time-consuming tool. But when you’re in a time crunch or need a push in the right direction, the aforementioned sites can be of great service. Just be sure to make them your own, because originality trumps speed any day.

Also on 10,000 Words:

8 Flash tips and tricks + one big cheat sheet
Move over Soundslides: 4 Free online slideshow creators
Where to find the best in Flash journalism
Do you have a multimedia emergency plan?