opinion

Will Adobe Animate CC Catch On in a Big Way?

A.J. Hall

Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not one for flashy things.

I do appreciate them, however, and was reminded of my affinity for flashy things as I made small talk with Alec Helmy in the valet line after the XBIZ Awards show and admired the nice cars.

When you love something, you see no reason to change it. The same rings true for a once-perfect program that’s been renamed almost too many times to keep track of and is now Adobe Animate CC, formerly known as Adobe Flash, formerly known as Macromedia Flash, formerly known as Shockwave Flash.

One pulled up and I thought, “Hmm, that’s the same kind of Tesla my business partner just got. It sure is nice.”

If I could read Alec’s mind, my guess is he either was thinking, “It’s late and I’m tired and we still have to go pick up our kid from Grandma’s house,” or “Damn, I wouldn’t have guessed AJ drives a four-year-old Chevy Suburban with a key scratch along one side and a huge dent in the rear bumper. Maybe his real car is in the shop.”

Someday maybe I will have a Tesla or own a fancier or flashy car but right now I wouldn’t trade my banged up 2012 Chevy truck for anything, nor will I bother to pay the $500 insurance deductible to have the body work fixed and get it repainted.

When you love something, you see no reason to change it. The same rings true for a once-perfect program that’s been renamed almost too many times to keep track of and is now Adobe Animate CC, formerly known as Adobe Flash, formerly known as Macromedia Flash, formerly known as Shockwave Flash … formerly known as Future Splash Animator for anyone who’s been around long enough to remember when we designed using 256 colors and for fast page loading on a 28.8 kb modem connection.

I loved Flash, and when I say I LOVED it, it’s appropriate to say it in all caps. I would create entire fully functional websites with it and stay up all night creating things ranging from slick menus to subtle visual effects to crazy alien looking orbs and metal space ship pods that would spit-out gradient and rivet made robot arms with claws on the end holding navigation menus. Yes, my parents begged me to go back to college.

I felt very much the same way about Flash as I do my beloved Chevy truck. And I wasn’t alone. At one time not a single one of us would have traded that first iteration of Shockwave Flash for any of its successors.

For those using Flash to create stunning motion graphics effects, entire animated websites or even just fancy splash screens and navigation menus, the changes Macromedia made to Flash turned our whole world upside down.

Our animation program went from being a design tool to morphing with Macromedia’s other animation program (Shockwave) and becoming a tool for developers. For me and a lot of other designers it became unusable.

In order to make good use of Flash you needed to not only be a designer but also had to have programming knowledge or the aptitude to learn, something many creative people lack. It wasn’t long before Flash’s primary use became online video and unless you were creating games or e-greeting cards, the program was no longer a key weapon in any designer’s arsenal.

Like many, I pissed and moaned when Macromedia (and later Adobe) ruined a program I not only loved, but one I used all the time for various things not always solely related to animation. Flash was awesome for a lot of things and in a lot of cases it was easier and much faster to use it when working with vector artwork than it was to work in Photoshop or Illustrator.

When it gave way to video, everyone could only wonder how long it could last as a limited use, proprietary video platform never fully embraced or supported by platform or OS makers and one that was reliant on a third-party browser plugin. The writing was on the wall for Flash from the very beginning, although no one can argue that both Macromedia and Adobe had a great run until MP4 began nailing the coffin shut.

So now what is to be for Flash, AKA “Adobe Animate”? A look at Adobe’s website reveals a product description uncannily similar to that of its earliest predecessor: “Design interactive animations with cutting-edge drawing tools and publish them to multiple platforms.”

Clicking a link to see the basics showcases introduction tutorial subjects like “Work with the Timeline” and “Edit motion tweens with Animate.” There’s no mention of complex scripting or needing a PhD in computer engineering or being a Mensa member in order to be able to perform simple actions like make something clickable to lead to a URL.

It almost seems as if Adobe has taken Flash full circle and, after failing to see viability from other attempted long-term uses, has returned Flash to its roots and given it a new name to coincide with its rebirth.

As someone who was once a diehard fan of Flash animation (I co-owned one of the earliest Shockwave gaming sites on the Internet and my Flash work was once featured as Macromedia’s “Rave of the Day” on Shockwave.com), I can’t help questioning if Adobe wouldn’t have been better off shit-canning it entirely, letting a little time pass and then introducing it as something new.

It’s like that doomed location in every town. We all know the one … it’s been six different restaurants or a dozen different clothing stores over the years and no matter what occupies the space, it never lasts too long.

You might be wondering how this relates to paysites, and I’m not sure of that myself but I believe it’s only a matter of time before it will. I don’t really have a prediction for that, however, a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years we had someone ask about Flash from a non-video perspective.

An Elevated X CMS software user-submitted a support ticket and asked if our templates could be converted to a full Flash-based website. My eyes widened with a combination of terror and glee when I realized this person is either a complete idiot or a brilliant visionary and my response may shape history.

I quickly got past the dramatics and shot the idea down for the obvious reasons, of which there’s a giant list of negatives and not a single positive besides cool animation but I don’t anticipate this being the last time we’re asked about use of Adobe Animate for paysite-related aspects.

My hunch is that if Adobe Animate catches on and newer designers begin to embrace it (and old schoolers re-embrace it), we will once again be left in awe by the dazzling brilliance of motion graphics on splash screens, navigation bars, integrated creative advertising as new uses we’ve yet to see from an incredible piece of technology that took far too long to return to its native form.

AJ Hall is a 15-year adult industry veteran, winner of the 2016 XBIZ Tech Leadership Award and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult site CMS software. Hall has spoken at industry trade shows and written for several trade publications. Elevated X software powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for more than a dozen industry awards and won the 2012, 2014 and 2015 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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