Adobe LiveMotion 2.0 and Macromedia Flash MX beta

Web and multimedia design software

Adobe nipped at the heels of Macromedia's Flash with the animation-focused LiveMotion a couple of years ago, and is hoping to take a bigger bite with version 2.0. At the same time, Macromedia is preparing a new release of Flash - dubbed 'MX' instead of the expected '6.0'.

LiveMotion 1.0 and Flash 5.0 were never on a par. LiveMotion was useful for creating animated sequences, but Flash could do this plus a vast range of other design tasks. LiveMotion 2.0's key upgrade enhancement is the introduction of scripting using ActionScript. You can now use it to produce fully interactive elements as you could with Flash, raising the program to professional-league status.

Flash MX has improved its own ActionScript interface with colour coding and hints in its Script Editor, along with a rigorous Debugger. Where Flash "MX really has the edge is in backroom server support and essential delivery features, such as dynamic loading of images and audio as Flash content plays back in the browser window. This leaves enormous potential for real-time variable content within files. Flash content can also be integrated with XML data for major applications such as e-commerce. MX even supports content in 11 languages, and font "standards such as Vertical Text and Unicode.

By contrast, LiveMotion 2.0 is playing catch-up with the likes of Flash 4.0 and 5.0. As well as the scripting support, for example, coders can give Flash-based front-end interfaces to their scripts within LiveMotion itself to make them more user-friendly to designers.

In other respects, however, especially in its approach to graphics creation, LiveMotion 2.0 feels like the better package. It has a nice line in special effects and can export animations as high-quality QuickTime movies, so would be a handy addition alongside Adobe Premiere and After Effects. For that matter, its ability to work with native Illustrator and Photoshop formats, including layer and sequence information, can't be ignored. It still can't open Flash SWF files for editing, but you can insert them into your own projects.

From the designer's point of view, LiveMotion 2.0 is still easier to use, but now has the much-needed scripting ability. From the content developer's point of view, nothing less than Flash MX will do the trick.

Adobe LiveMotion 2.0 ***

LiveMotion 2.0 is the creative-friendly alternative - featuring ActionScript but lacking the full-on MX approach, it is offered at a bargain price.

Price: LiveMotion 2.0 (bundled with GoLive 6.0 for $1169); Education price $179 (bundled with GoLive 6.0); Upgrade $235 (from LiveMotion).

Phone: 1300 550 305.

URL: www.adobe.com.au.

Macromedia Flash MX beta

Flash MX remains the undisputed leader in interactive Flash-based content delivery, offering both design "tools and technical backroom support for mission-critical applications.

Price: $1100; upgrade $450.

Phone: 1300 654 754.

URL: www.macromedia.com.au.

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