LiveMotion: Adobe's Flash Killer?

SAN FRANCISCO (03/07/2000) - Long known for its print graphics software, Adobe Systems Inc. is leaping into cyberspace with LiveMotion, a Web animation tool Adobe likens to Macromedia Flash.

Like Flash 4, LiveMotion is vector-based authoring software that lets you create interactive, animated Web graphics or Web pages. LiveMotion promises better integration with other Adobe tools, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, than Flash and supports a wide range of export formats, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, Photoshop, and Flash.

On Monday, Adobe released the LiveMotion 1.0 public beta on its Adobe.com site.

Adobe expects to ship the final product in the second quarter for $399. Flash 4 is priced at $299.

Make Your Graphics Move

LiveMotion has a simple interface that Adobe fans will easily recognize. It lets you easily create a Flash-format file, change text over time, and import Illustrator artwork and layered Photoshop files, says Eric Hess, product marketing manager at Adobe. "Native elements include buttons, rollovers, and looping animations," he says.

LiveMotion uses a time line similar to that of Adobe After Effects to animate objects. Object attributes, including position, opacity, shape, rotation, scale, color, and text, can be independently animated.

"You can change them over time, scale, and position," Hess says.

LiveMotion offers drawing tools that Flash does not have. Borrowed from Illustrator, the LiveMotion Pen Tool lets you access and edit the path of an object. You can also import Photoshop and Illustrator compositions into LiveMotion with all their layers.

Will LiveMotion Blind Flash 4?

Flash developers want to do a lot of things, from introductory Flash movies to longer animations with more interactivity, to full-page Web designs like at Coke.com or Macromedia.com, says Tom Hale, vice president of product marketing at Macromedia. "Adobe is making a play for the short-form animation part of it."

According to Macromedia, most Flash developers use the simple animation functionality only about 15 percent of the time. "It's a subsegment of our market," Hale says.

LiveMotion may prove useful for quickly creating Flash Web animations from Photoshop and Illustrator files. Flash 4 cannot directly import Photoshop files or Illustrator 8 files unless they are saved as an earlier version.

"We support Illustrator import with layers, and we import Photoshop-native files into Fireworks," Hale says.

While LiveMotion offers some neat effects, Hale claims its file sizes will be larger because it produces bitmaps within the Flash-format movie.

"LiveMotion does a good job with animation, and will bring new people to the Flash file format, but it's not a Flash killer," Hale says.

It does offer an easy-to-use tool for creating Web animations. But for complex database-driven sites with the dynamic look and feel of Flash animations, you may still want to learn your way around Flash 4.

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