Tag Archives: performance

Synchronising animation across multiple player instances

I’ve been asked a few times how to create effects that require multiple instances of the Flash Player on a page to remain ‘in sync’, even with user interaction. Reading and writing to cookies frequently is inefficient and resource heavy. Also, when you have more than 2 SWFs, deciding which SWF updates who becomes tricky – especially if someone decides to change or remove an instance, or an instance which you picked as ‘master’ is not loaded, for some reason.

So, I came up with this solution, using LocalConnection with a twist, which works pretty well. But, if anyone has a better method, drop it in a comment below 🙂

ActionScript performance tips

Here are a few simple tricks that may help the performance of your code/graphics intensive Flash movies. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, rather some of the more effective performance tweaks to try out on your projects. There are the usual sensible coding tricks, like using local variables for oft-used references within functions, or planning your code loops carefully and breaking out of loops whenever feasible – but you should be doing these already. I’ll be adding to this post as and when I feel necessary, but will generally avoid the more granular tricks, such as bytecode optimisation. Some of those methods are too complex to explain in simple terms here and generally have a low effort-to-benefit ratio anyway:

Use scrollRect in conjunction with cacheAsBitmap. The cacheAsBitmap parameter of a movieclip can improve performance dramatically, but will cause problems if the render area of the movieclip gets too large (e.g. larger than 2880 in width or height), regardless of whether it is cropped by the viewable area of the Flash Player. The solution is to use scrollRect to constrain the rendering area to desired limits, in this example, the stage width/height:

import flash.geom.Rectangle;
scrollRect = new Rectangle(0, 0, Stage.width, Stage.height);
cacheAsBitmap = true;

Create bitmap snapshots of complex movieclips. Where you may have a movieclip full of layered graphical effects that isn’t animated, you can save a lot of rendering time by creating a snapshot of the movie. Similar to the cacheAsBitmap parameter, but will improve performance further if your movieclip comprises many lines or alphas. The following function shows a quick and dirty way of duplicating a movieclip as a snapshot of the original:

import flash.geom.*;
function createSnapshot (base:MovieClip, mc:MovieClip):MovieClip {
var bounds = mc.getBounds(base);
var bmpWidth = bounds.xMax-bounds.xMin;
var bmpHeight = bounds.yMax-bounds.yMin;
var bmp1 = new BitmapData(bmpWidth, bmpHeight, true, 0x00000000);
var snapshot = base.createEmptyMovieClip("snapshot"+base.getNextHighestDepth(), base.getNextHighestDepth());
snapshot._x = mc._x;
snapshot._y = mc._y;
var rect = new Rectangle(0, 0, bmpWidth, bmpHeight);
var pos = new Point(0, 0);
bmp1.draw(mc, new Matrix(mc._xscale/100, 0, 0, mc._yscale/100, mc._x-bounds.xMin, mc._y-bounds.yMin));
snapshot.attachBitmap(bmp1, 1, "auto", true);
snapshot._x = bounds.xMin;
snapshot._y = bounds.yMin;
return snapshot;

Use the opaque window mode trick – sparingly! Setting the wmode=opaque HTML parameter of your Flash object can improve rendering performance, but at a potential cost. Not only does it make the rendering order of movieclips and frames more ‘lazy’, but will effect keyboard interaction adversely in some browsers (especially FireFox). Use with caution.

I’ll be updating and tracking back to this post occasionally, so stay tuned…