Flash CS4 features a radically revised animation environment.

The stage - Adobe Flash CS4's central workspace - has been moved to the top of the workspace, while the previously dominant timeline is tucked away beneath.

This rearrangement symbolises and facilitates the real radical change in Flash CS4: a fundamental reconceptualisation of the animation process.

Transcended (although still accessible) are timelines and keyframes. Instead, as motion and shape transformation are applied, objects automatically convert to and are managed as movie clips.

Within these movie clips, the motion paths that control animation now function as Illustrator-style vector paths, editable with Illustrator style Pen tools. (The dynamic synergy between Illustrator and Flash has been further enhanced with Flash CS4's ability to import Illustrator's multiple artboards.)

The new, impressive, and almost overwhelming Motion Editor panel feels (and functions) like a video editor. Users of After Effects will find familiar looking features for controlling motion, rotation, skewing, and effects.

See also: Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) review

INDIVIDUAL CS4 APPS REVIEWED IN DETAIL:

Adobe InDesign CS4 review

Adobe Photoshop CS4 review

Adobe Illustrator CS4 review

Adobe After Effects CS4 review

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 review

Adobe Flash Professional CS4 review

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 review

Adobe InCopy CS4 review

Adobe Version Cue CS4 review

Adobe Contribute CS4 review

Adobe Soundbooth CS4 review

Adobe Fireworks CS4 review

THE SIX ADOBE CS4 SUITES REVIEWED:

Adobe CS4 Master Collection review

Adobe CS4 Production Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Premium review

Adobe CS4 Web Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Standard review

Adobe CS4 Design Premium review

See also:

Adobe Flash CS4 Professional: Specs

  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 3.5GB of available hard-disk space for installation
  • additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)
  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • QuickTime 7.1.2 software required for multimedia features
  • broadband internet connection required for online services
  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (certified for 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 3.5GB of available hard-disk space for installation
  • additional free space required during installation (cannot install on flash-based storage devices)
  • 1,024x768 display (1,280x800 recommended) with 16-bit video card
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • QuickTime 7.1.2 software required for multimedia features
  • broadband internet connection required for online services

OUR VERDICT

Between the restructuring of animation paths and Motion Editor-centered animation controls, Flash CS4 is whole new world for animators, with features that are both more intuitively cohered to the whole CS4 logic, and more powerful. Other animation enhancements include the Bone tool that applies Inverse Kinetics for powerful control over cartoon-style motion, and limited 3-D simulation.

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