Some of Howwired's best web developers and designers have converged to share their techniques to create effective audio, video and animation in the web. Here are excerpts from the pool's tips, tricks and wizardry to help you optimize your multimedia efforts.
Use layers as often as you want to. Using a liberal dose of layers will make it much easier later when it's time to re-edit and animate. In addition, it doesn't add much to the overall file size.
Save copies of the file as you work when using Flash. This is especially helpful when you're using a Mac. This will come in handy when you suddenly experience problems in opening a Flash file you've been slaving your days with.
Use color outline layers and guide layers liberally. Both are found under the layer pulldown menu. The color outline layers show a layer in its outline form -- great for getting quick and precise positioning particularly with scanned drawings. Guide layers are for positioning bitmap guides or for testing layers you may want to remove from your final version. They allow you to keep a layer from exporting.
Mix and match programs and media to get better results. Experiment and try combinations such as flat color vectors with photographic bitmaps for an interesting and rich output.
For additional depth and color to vector images, use gradients; but don't overuse so as to avoid adding to the file size and speeds.
Don't overdo your media. Your audience will definitely get indigestion from your web site.
Never make your audience wait. Downloading an image that takes millions of years to finish will definitely make your audience cranky. They'd probably clicked to another site even before your banner finished downloading itself. "If people have to wait, be sure it's really worth their while," says HotWired's resident interface designer.
Design delays that cover the loading process. Flash features full attributes that helps in keeping the audience occupied while that giant sound file is loading in the background. Flash's Bandwidth Profiler is said to provide a big help on this.
Use the knowledge and wisdom of your friends and colleagues. A good multimedia comes from a diverse source of skills found in people. The adage that two minds are better than one definitely applies here. Talk to other multimedia designers or join groups and mailing lists to share ideas and knowledge. What you think is trash for you might be a goldmine for another artist.