Flash MX Learning Studio - In one word: Excellent.
From the darkness to the light.
If you are entering into the world of Flash design, this is the best resource you can purchase - an excellent step-by-step interactive course into the Flash MX environment and beyond. The Learning Studio CD-ROM is accompanied by a free book - Flash MX Savvy (Watrall/Herber). Many beginners see the Flash MX environment as dark and foreboding, however, akin to a journey through the underworld, the renowned Ethan Watrall serves as your guide, escorting you through the many complex levels of Flash MX, ultimately bringing you to the light - to understanding the possibilities, the potential and the overall power of Flash MX. Starting with "A tour of the Flash Interface" to the complex processes of "Using Flash to Create CD-ROM Interfaces" the Flash MX Learning Studio CD-ROM is an unbelievable (and indispensable) Flash MX resource.
Unbeatable content wrapped in a user-friendly interface.
Most books and interactive learning CDs I have read through/used have typically been clumsy and difficult to navigate and, for the most part, do not flow smoothly. This is an exception. Like anything Watrall puts his name to, this CD-ROM is of excellent design and execution - a prime example of the possibility of Flash itself! Watrall has come up with an easy to use navigation system, friendly content presentation and loads and loads of interactive step-by-step "how-to" examples. For those who learn better by example, seeing truly is believing. The visual and audio aspects of this package assist the user in walking through the slide-show style tutorials, while certain video sections speak directly to the user. These interactive examples range from showing you how to break apart text to how to work with files created in programs such as Poser, Maya and 3ds max along with incorporating your Flash work with other Macromedia programs.
The only aspect of the interface that challenged me was the timing of the tutorials themselves. I feel as though they were a bit slow, but perhaps to a Flash greenhorn the speed of the tutorials may just be perfect. Although the video instructor options tend to be a little awkward (staring at the brilliant Ethan Watrall for so long gets a little tough), the concepts are presented slowly and in a clear and concise manner. Again, as a beginner, the speed and timing of these lessons is, most likely, perfect. Overall, a beginners manual to excellence.
Not just for the green.
Both the CD-ROM and the accompanying Flash MX Savvy book serve as wonderful desktop resources. I personally prefer to use a book to flip through as a reference, however, for those who prefer a computer screen interface, the Flash MX Learning Studio interactive CD-ROM provides an excellent ActionScript Reference - fully indexed and searchable.
Whether taken step-by-step or in parts both the CD-ROM and the accompanying Flash MX Savvy book are great tools for any level of Flash enthusiast. If you are starting out get the whole package, if you have been around in Flash for quite a while, get the book. In summary - buy this. Buy it now. No matter how much you know (or don't know) in Flash, this will help you learn more.
IN A NUTSHELL
PART I o CREATING VISUALS
A tour of the Flash Interface
Painting and Drawing
Working with Text
Creating and Manipulating Reusable Content
Adding Depth to Flash Graphics with Layers PART II o ANIMATING IN FLASH
Animating with the Timeline
Working with Movie Clips
Using Scenes to Organize Animated Content PART III o INTRO TO ACTIONSCRIPT
Adding Interactivity with Basic Actions
Creating Interactive Controls PART IV o ACTIONSCRIPTING FOR INTERACTIVITY
Understanding and Using ActionScript
Creating Advanced Interaction
Managing Data Input and Output
Troubleshooting ActionScript PART V o WORKING WITH AUDIO
Understanding Digital Audio in the Flash Environment
Flash Audio Basics
Synchronizing Audio with Animations
Controlling Audio with ActionScript PART VI o USING OTHER TOOLS
Working with Flash and Director
Working with Flash and FreeHand
Working with Flash and Digital Audio Applications PART VII o PUBLISHING IN FLASH
Publishing Your Flash Movie
Working with Flash and Video
Using Flash for CD-ROM Development PART VIII o REFERENCE PART IX o HANDS ON PROJECTS