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6.2 -Billabong-USA.com Surf Featured Rider

One of the sections of the Billabong-USA.com site that afforded us the most creative experimentation was the featured rider section. Designed to be a frequently updated section of the site, each new featured rider for the three sports received a new design treatment and content navigation experimentation. We used several interesting techniques for each featured rider section. Now we'll look at the Featured Surf Rider for Shane Dorian.

For this feature, we were conceptually playing with the dynamics of the fluid motion of surf (see Figure 6.6). The content comes into the screen much like swells come to a beach. They roll in as they get closer to shore. They peak, break, and slide back into the sea. So, in this feature, the content rolls to a peak and then falls back down and out of the scene.

Figure 6.6 A Featured Rider screen on the Billabong-USA site.

6.2.1 Featured Rider Navigation

Open the file featuredrider.fla. We'll first look at the content navigation system we devised for this particular rider spotlight.

Because this is a surf rider, we tried to develop a navigation system that loosely simulated the feel of a wave. Once the concept was finalized, there were several approaches we could have taken to accomplish the interaction we were looking for. We finally went with a hybrid approach of keyframed/tweened animation and ActionScript because we felt some of the animation control could be done easier without complex mathematical scripts.

First we'll look at the symbol called content on the main timeline (see Figure 6.7). The movie clip is also given an instance name of content. Edit this symbol and observe the timeline. There's a lot of manual animation here. Scrub the timeline to see how we animated the content nodes in and out of the view area.

Figure 6.7 The movie clip named content on the main timeline.

There's an important issue to remember when you keyframe animation like this. Because the content movie's timeline needs to act in a fluid motion, its play movement could be ActionScripted to stop or start at intervals designated by the tween keyframes. At these tween points, the feature, or node, needs the ability to be ActionScripted to life. It is important to make sure that each keyframe of the tween retains its instance name, thus enabling it to receive actions at any of these points. For example, look at node1 on the layer node1 on all three keyframes. We've made sure the clip has an instance name of node1 on frames 1, 5, and 10.

We'll return to this clip later, but let's move on to the navigation. On the main timeline, there's a clip, featured_nav, with the instance name nav. Edit this symbol. You'll see we have eight copies of the movie clip featured_nav_node. Each has a unique instance name: node1, node2, and so on. Edit this symbol (see Figure 6.8).

Figure 6.8 The featured_nav_node movie clip is duplicated eight times in the parent clip.

We've set up this clip with a growth animation starting on frame on and a shrink animation starting on frame off. The hotspot on the off frame tells the clip to gotoAndPlay("on"), as shown in Figure 6.9.

Figure 6.9 The script on the on frame in the featured_nav_node clip and the action on the button within the hotspot layer.

On the frame labeled on, we have the following actions:

if (_parent.selected != null) {
  _parent[_parent.selected].gotoAndPlay("out");
}
_parent.selected = _name;

Because we only want one node to be designated as on at a time, we've set a variable called selected on the parent timeline (_root.nav) to the _name of the current on node. If this isn't the first time we've run this script (_parent.selected != null), we first tell the current selected node to go to the out sequence. We then set selected to the current node's _name.

Now that we've seen the structure of the navigation nodes, go back to the main timeline and view the clip events on the nav clip (see Figure 6.10).

onClipEvent (load) {
  // Set Content Frame Positions
  node1frame = 1;
  node2frame = 5;
  node3frame = 10;
  node4frame = 15;
  node5frame = 20;
  node6frame = 25;
  node7frame = 30;
  node8frame = 35;
  // Turn Node1 On
  node1.gotoAndPlay("on");
  _root.movingStopped = true;
}
onClipEvent (enterFrame) {
  // Move Content
  if (_root.content._currentframe != this(selected+"frame")) {
    for (a=1; a<=8; ++a) {
      _root.content["node"+a].gotoAndStop("off");
    }
    if (_root.content._currentframe> this[selected+"frame"]) {
      _root.moveDirection = -1;
    } else if (_root.content._currentframe< this[selected+"frame"]) {
      _root.moveDirection = 1;
    }
    _root.content.gotoAndStop(_root.content._currentframe+
______________root.moveDirection); } else { _root.movingStopped = "true"; _root.content[onNode].gotoAndStop("on"); } }

Figure 6.10 The clip events on the nav clip.

We start by initializing some settings with onClipEvent(load). The variables node(1-8) frame are the actual frame numbers in which the content is correctly positioned on the stage. Because the content starts out with content node1 focused on, we'll turn the navigation node1 on by telling it to gotoAndPlay("on").

And now for the actions that move the content. Because we want these actions to loop, we put them in an onClipEvent(enterFrame) located on the nav movie clip. We'll start by determining whether the content is at the correct position by comparing the current frame of the content clip against the result of the concatenation of the variable called selected (node1, node2, etc.) and the string called frame. The result of the [selected+"frame"] statement will look something like node1frame. If selected = node3, the concatenation of the variable called selected with the string frame gives us node3frame. If you recall, node3frame is a variable that has already been set to be equal to 10 within the onClipEvent(load) statement we used on the nav clip. To highlight the content for node3, the content movie clip's desired frame location would be at the value of node3frame, or in this case, 10. Using the brackets to concatenate and evaluate the variable selected with the string frame works well, but must be used with the content of a timeline identifier presented before the brackets. In addition, the dot notation usually found between two objects in a timeline reference is dropped directly before the bracket. For example, _root.content["node"+a] .gotoAndStop("off").

Next, we'll determine which "side" of the desired frame the content clip is on. If the current content frame is greater than the desired frame, we'll set the variable moveDirection to –1. Otherwise, we'll set the moveDirection to 1. Once we've determined which direction to move the content clip, we'll move the content to the currentframe plus the direction we've determined. This action will keep looping until the currentframe is the same as the desired frame. Once we've moved the content clip to the desired frame, we'll tell the correct content node to gotoAndStop("on").

Now we've set up the navigation. Go back to the content clip. Edit one of the content nodes (for example, content_node1). Look at the actions on the hotspot on the off frame:

on (rollOver) {
  if (_root.movingStopped == true) {
    _root.nav[this._name].gotoAndPlay("on");
    _root.movingStopped = false;
  }
}

Because each content node has an instance name of node1, node2, and so on, when we concatenate _root.nav with _name, Flash will return _root.nav.node1,2,3,etc. We tell this clip to gotoAndPlay("on"). By controlling the nav in this manner, the user can roll over either a content node or a navigation node to move the content. The if (_root.movingStopped == "TRUE") checks to make sure the content isn't currently animating. The if statement used here checks to make sure the content isn't currently animating. This prevents the clip action from happening more than once.

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