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LiveMotion 2.0 - Adobe's answer to Flash

A tool that makes creating Flash animation a lot easier than Flash itself. By Adam Bell
LiveMotion 2.0
LiveMotion 2.0
Adobe Systems
$399 full/$199 current special pricing
Click Here to Get Lowest Price
Once upon a time, there was a company called Adobe which was the leader in creating graphic technologies for print and broadcast. Tools like PhotoShop, Illustrator, Pagemaker and After Effects dominated most of our desktops. Then along came the web and Adobe introduced a simple HTML editor called PageMill and things were good, but not great. This was 1996.

A year later a company most of us had heard of (but made products most of us didn't use) called Macromedia bought a little company called FutureWave and introduced Flash 2 as a result. All of a sudden easy-to-create web animation with small file sizes was now a reality. Many of us naturally assumed that Adobe would take their After Effects product, simplify it, and create their own Web Animation product.

Instead Adobe basically went to sleep for three years.

By the time Adobe introduced LiveMotion 1.0 in 2000, most of us had replaced our Adobe icons with those of Macromedia icons. PageMill was long gone and Dreamweaver was on our desktop. PhotoShop was still a must but now we also had Fireworks too. Likewise, Freehand had caught up and in some cases passed by Illustrator in features and usability. (OK, that's debatable.)
The first incarnation of LiveMotion left little to be desired. Sure, it looked like After Effects, but it wasn't. It made bigger SWF files, it didn't offer much in scripting. Basically, it sucked and Adobe knew it. However, Adobe knew it finally had to wake up and provide a product to its' userbase that could produce Flash movies using the familiar Adobe environment.

So like any new product, I waited for the 2.0 version. For awhile, I wondered if there should even be a 2.0 version of LiveMotion and if Adobe should just give up. After all, After Effects 5.0 could export to SWF and that's about all a lot of AE users really wanted anyway.

However, Adobe decided to release a LiveMotion 2.0 and I'm glad they did. They've really made a tool that makes creating Flash animation a lot easier than Flash itself.

Notice I said 'Flash animation'. Not necessarily 'Flash Sites'. That will all make sense at the end of this article.

When you first look at LiveMotion, you think you're kind of in After Effects. That's the idea. A great deal of After Effects' appearance is what LiveMotion is based upon. It should be. It gives AE users a major edge in creating animations using the product. In fact, the new version of LM allows you to import AE comps and Adobe Motion Exchange files (AMX) directly into LiveMotion. You still cannot use After Effects filters with LiveMotion though. In fact, the ability to use PhotoShop filters with LiveMotion is also gone. Probably due to the fact that using these filters would automatically convert vector images to bitmaps and drastically increase file size which is not what you want when creating web content. So bringing in any LM comps from v1.0 will automatically delete any previously used PhotoShop filters that were used in the v1.0 comp, if any. So yes, you can't animate a real motion blur, but then again, you really shouldn't anyway.

The drawing tools are pretty basic and anyone who used Illustrator will immediately know how to use these tools. They work just the same and are bit easier to use than similar ones in Flash MX. The bezier tool is far easier to use in LM than in Flash which I've always had difficulties in working with.

While both Flash and LiveMotion have 'Libraries', each app uses them a bit differently. Flash has different libraries for each .FLA file while LiveMotion has one general library for everything it seems. So adding objects to this library means it stays in the library even after you close the project. You could easily end up with a lot of objects in your library in a very short time. I prefer Flash's approach instead. LM also offers styles that you can add to elements, similar to that in PhotoShop or Fireworks, to automatically add effects or even scripting capabilities. Nice touch, but keep in mind that some of these will add bitmaps to an object which you probably don't want in your project unless it's for offline or a Quicktime movie.

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Related Keywords:LiveMotion 2.0, Adobe, Flash, animation, swf

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