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Leveraging Flash MX 2004 Extensions

In addition to Timeline effects, you can now extend Flash MX 2004 with a bevy of third-party extensions. Most of the extensions you can use are visual aids that allow you to manipulate graphics and movie clips.

You can find all of the extensions at http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/extensions/.

My favorite extension is the Electric Rain Swift 3D Xpress tool. If you can't afford the full enchilada with Swift 3D 3.0, Xpress is a good slimmed-down version.

The focus of Swift 3D Xpress is to allow you to add 3D effects to drawing on the Stage. You can select a drawing a then choose Command --> Swift 3D Xpress. The Xpress Editor launches.

Adding animation, light, and shadow effects is through the easy-to-use drag-and-drop tools. After you're happy with your design, you need to only select the Render and Export to Flash button to create the new 3D movie clip and then insert it into your Flash movie.

The limitation with Xpress is that you do not have all the tools and controls Swift 3D gives you. The upside is that you will not find a similar tool for the same low price anywhere else.

There are an increasing number of third-party tools. I encourage you to review them and see which will work for you.

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