Ellen Finkelstein is author of several PowerPoint, Flash, and AutoCAD books, including the bestselling Flash CS4 For Dummies.
Her company, Ellen Finkelstein, Inc. helps clients create presentations and designs that communicate clearly and achieve their goals. She maintains a web site that offers PowerPoint and Flash related tips, and a selection of free backgrounds.
In this discussion, Ellen discusses her Flash CS4 For Dummies book.
Geetesh: You work with both PowerPoint and Flash — can you tell us more about which program works best in a given scenario, and also how do you use them together.
Ellen: For advanced animation, especially programmable animation, Flash reigns supreme. And you can morph shapes in Flash, a feature that I’d love to see in PowerPoint. Also, Flash is created for the Web; it creates small, fast SWF files that almost everyone can play.
PowerPoint is much easier to use and doesn’t require programming to add interactivity. Its strong point is in delivering presentations. PowerPoint is focused towards displaying from the software itself; to distribute on a Web site, you almost have to convert a PowerPoint presentation to SWF format.
There is an area of overlap, for self-running presentations. For a high-end result, you could use Flash, but you could also use PowerPoint. There are animators that can create amazing, Flash-like results in PowerPoint. I have several tips on my site that explain how to duplicate in PowerPoint an animation technique that I originally saw or created in Flash. Some examples are a bouncing ball, magnifying an image, dissolving one image into another, a revolving earth, a line drawing itself, and cutouts (transparent areas through which you see another image).
Of course, you can insert a Flash movie into PowerPoint. I explain how to do so. This allows you to take advantage of the advanced animation features of Flash within PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Tell us about your new book Flash CS4 For Dummies — can PowerPoint users benefit from this book, and how?
Ellen: Flash CS4 For Dummies is our latest edition — and it’s finally in color!
CS4 has some fantastic new features. Perhaps the most well-known is Inverse Kinematics, which makes it easy to animate people or animals walking. Pattern fills and the spray brush are other great, new graphics tools. This book has always been a best seller, because it explains Flash is a clear, simple way. PowerPoint users who want to bring their animation skills up to another level will benefit from this book, because they can create their own SWF files to insert into PowerPoint.