One of the best professional decisions I ever made was to not bother learning Flash programming. What a waste of time that would’ve been, right? I learned just enough to realize how annoying it was to program, suffered through the times when I had to use it, then celebrated when Apple pretty much killed it by not supporting it with iOS.
And it’s not just that Flash was annoying to work with it, it’s that there were (and still are) programs out there that gave you Flash files without having to bother with Flash itself. One such program is MotionComposer from Aquafadas. It gives you plenty more, too, the most important of which is HTML5 support so your animated and audio creative content doesn’t get left behind.
This doesn’t mean MotionComposer is a breeze to use, however. It’s powerful software with a learning curve that may actually be steeper if you’re familiar with Flash. This is because MotionComposer forgoes the traditional timeline for creating animations, replacing it with a slide and state system.
Your initial slide can contain graphics and audio (placed via drag-and-drop or added directly). You then move these elements to create a second state, and tell MotionComposure how long the transition between the two states should be. In other words, you can pan text, scroll images, etc., simply by creating the state and end points and setting the duration between the two. You can add additional states as needed, and introduce/remove elements along the way.
It all sounds pretty simple, but the slides are cumbersome to work with. It seems Aquafadas, in an effort to keep the user interface clean, sacrificed the ability to easily get to the elements you want in a slide, making duplicating specific elements or creating multiple states more awkward than it needs to be. That’s not to say you can’t do this, though, and if your animation needs are fairly basic, you’ll be pleased that an overly complicated tool system is not getting your way.
It would be fine if MotionComposer was just about creating animated video, but that certainly wouldn’t justify the $150 cost. Looking to totally replace Flash for most users, Aquafadas also included the ability to create boxes that can be turned into clickable buttons. You can navigate between images in a photo slideshow, play buttons, open URLs…pretty much everything you expect out of Flash web designs or HTML5 menu functions.
You can also creates widgets embedding in the Aquafadas digital publishing system or iBooks Author, if that’s your end goal.
HTML5 and Flash previews along the way show you how things are progressing, so you won’t be too surprised by your final results. When you’re done, the animations can be exported to HTML5 and Flash, of course, along with HTML for older browsers. And although the supplied code does a good job of detecting the browser platform and providing the best performance, it doesn’t support responsive design, so you’ll still need to take multiple devices into account when layout your animation.
Ultimately, then, MotionComposer is a great tool for those who didn’t learn Flash or who are just done with it. It’s not as robust, but it’s easier to use and provides solid results once you learn how to work with it and stay inside its limitations. This is a small price to pay, however, to make sure your animations will work across more browsers for a greater period of time.
Format: Digital download
Requirements: OS X v10.6.8 or above, 1 GHz Intel-based Mac, 1 GB of RAM, Flash Player v10.0.1 or above, Internet connection required for registration and online publishing. Compatible with iBooks Author.
Version Reviewed: 1.6