Hacks #42-51

Text in Flash need not be limited to static words whose only purpose in life is to remain still and be read. Flash can optionally treat your text as either vector shapes or as a series of movie clips, both of which have the advantage of enabling you to animate your text. You only have to look at film titles to see how striking animated text can become and how movement can amplify the meaning of the text, or even add subtexts in the same way body language is a subtext to the spoken word. The following Flash sites show some of the possibilities of text effects in Flash:

  • Typorganism (http://www.typorganism.com) is dedicated to illustrating what it calls "kinetic typography"?effects that animate text to add meaning through motion.

  • Overage4Design (http://www.overage4design.com) offers a modern design that uses text as a graphic rather than something that is simply there to be read.

  • Yugo Nakamura's Mono-craft (http://www.yugop.com) was one of the first sites to use text in novel and interactive ways. Mono-craft Version 2.0 is considered one of the defining sites from the "golden age" of Flash 4 and 5 development, when the now-standard Flash design concepts were formulated by the first wave of Flash designers to use modern ActionScript techniques.

  • Saul Bass on the Web (http://www.saulbass.net) is maintained by the well-known Flash designer Brendan Dawes. It pays homage to Saul Bass (1920-1996), who was one of the first people to use text as a moving graphic in film. Bass also used text as a graphic element in the associated film posters, as did the Soviet Modernist design movement (circa 1920) that predated him.

As well as its animation abilities, Flash text is much more configurable in terms of appearance than standard HTML. Vector-based Flash text can:

  • Be displayed at any angle and at any size.

  • Render characters with vectors and add antialiasing for all fonts.

  • Use any font, including those not installed on the user's machine by embedding font outline information within the Flash .swf file.

  • Allow the user to break up and edit the characters within a piece of text (using ModifyBreak Apart), thus allowing the designer to quickly create logos or other text-based graphics quickly. You can even use a shape tween to morph one letter into another [Hack #34] .

  • Support more traditional CSS formatting and HTML text [Hack #46], even when content is displayed outside the browser (i.e., in the standalone Flash Player or if you export your Flash content as an executable).