LiveMotion shows promise as an alternative
to Macromedia’s Flash 4 for creating Shockwave animations. Not surprisingly, as this is a version 1.0 release, it could stand some improvements in certain key areas. It isn’t yet as strong as Flash 4 in the development of highly interactive animations that involve scripting. Moreover, the £189 price tag is steep compared with Macromedia’s £399 Flash 4 FreeHand 9 Studio product that offers much more for the price.
Nevertheless, LiveMotion can help you streamline the Web design workflow of your site and minimize design costs, because just one designer can use this product to create Web pages and sophisticated Shockwave-based animations.
LiveMotion generates animations using the Flash file format and supports output of Web content to HTML. In addition to the standard Adobe Toolbox and palettes, LiveMotion has a layout canvas that works with an impressive animation Timeline Interface.
For each graphic object created, LiveMotion generates an entry in the Timeline Interface. Although many timelines handle graphics as layers, LiveMotion’s Timeline Interface treats each as an object. This makes it easier to manipulate each object independently by expanding each, then creating keyframes at specific points within
the timeline for a variety of parameters.
The Timeline Interface displays each object
as a top-level item, which when expanded shows stopwatch icons that can create keyframes within the animations and includes a long list of adjustable parameters. LiveMotion automatically generates frames between each keyframe, called tweening.
LiveMotion’s Auto Keyframing and Auto Tweening enable a designer to change individual elements
as desired. Various parameters, including position, opacity, brightness, tint, and scale, can be changed over time. Another helpful feature is the capability of creating Motion Paths. Each object can be made to move independently by creating a keyframe, moving the object, and creating another keyframe until finished. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Being object-oriented, the Timeline Interface lets you experiment with animation effects that are easily editable and undoable. In contrast,
when designers create animations they don’t like with Flash, they need to use the ‘undo’ feature.
In addition, LiveMotion includes tools for easily creating common vector objects, such as rectangles, ellipses, polygons, and drawing paths, and a new Colour Scheme palette that creates complementary colours and displays at the bottom of the toolbar. The Transform tool lets a developer skew and rotate objects, and segments can be adjusted easily. I also liked the inclusion of a Library palette, which is useful for storing shapes. In addition, LiveMotion can import graphics into the Shapes palette, instead of the developer drawing them within the tool.
The palettes in LiveMotion prove familiar to Photoshop users and worked as expected. My only quibble with them was that, when selecting a tool from the Toolbox, many palettes were not context-sensitive.
Like Flash, LiveMotion supports behaviors that make events occur when the timeline reaches a certain frame, a button is selected, or a user action is performed. Unfortunately, I found that the functions weren’t intuitive and documentation was sometimes lacking.
Still, this feature is important and once better documented, LiveMotion’s behaviors should help developers create complex, animated Web graphics that include support for sound, the capability of opening a Web page, launching another composition, and more.
Another problem is LiveMotion’s lack of programmability. It still needs to mature via support for variables and basic scripting.
Despite the few glitches I found in this admittedly excellent version 1.0 release, LiveMotion will appeal to graphics designers who are familiar with Adobe’s products and are ready to pull in more customers by jazzing up their