Chapter 5: Working With Assets

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Working With Assets

Assets are the basic building blocks of motion books. Before you start a project, you must upload image and sound assets to use on its pages. As you work, you create and save page and project assets. Once you have assets in place, the Motion Book Tool offers controls to manage those assets.

About Assets

Understanding some basics helps you understand what you’re doing as you work with assets.

Asset Storage and Manipulation

The Motion Book Tool runs as an application within a browser. The tool uses the Madefire cloud as its storage medium: whenever you save a page or project, the tool saves them to the cloud, not to local storage on your computer. And whenever the tool looks for an image or sound asset, it looks for files stored in the cloud.

Before you can work with images and sounds you created using external tools, you must upload those images and sounds to the cloud where the tool can access them any time you have Internet access. The tool does not directly access files stored on your computer.

As you add image and sound assets to pages in the Motion Book Tool, the tool reads the asset files on the cloud and stores their contents as images and sounds within tool memory. (Tool memory is part of your computer’s memory, where the browser runs.) Any assets you create in the Motion Book Tool are also stored in tool memory.

As you manipulate assets in the Motion Book Tool, the tool works with them internally, using your computer’s resources. That’s why the more RAM and processing power your computer has, the better the Motion Book Tool runs when building books.

Quitting the Motion Book Tool removes all assets from memory. When you restart the tool and open a page, the tool reloads any assets stored within the page by reading the asset files in the Madefire cloud.

Asset Conversion During Publication

When you publish a project as a motion book, each page is set to display on one or more device types: an iPad most typically, but also different iPhone types. During publication the Motion Book Tool converts each image and drawing asset into bitmapped images that fit the resolution of the target device or devices. This ensures that motion books are optimized for download speed and for Madefire Reader playback.

Asset conversion at publication means that if you upload a really high-resolution image asset and use it in a project, you lose that resolution in the final product. Before publication the Motion Book Tool has to work harder to manipulate the high-resolution image than it would manipulating a lower-resolution image, and it might slow down your work, all for no difference in the end product. It pays to consider your target resolution when you create image assets for upload.

Private Assets and Public Assets

When you upload assets to the Madefire cloud, they’re stored there under your sign-in account. By default your assets are private assets only visible to you when you sign in to the Motion Book Tool. You can, however, share assets with the Madefire community at large by setting your assets as public assets.

Other Madefire creators may view public assets by using the using the search tools in the asset bar.

View  Folders and Personal Folders

When you view assets in the Motion Book Tool’s asset bar or “My library” tab, the assets are grouped in folders. There are two types of folders, each with different qualities:

l  View folders are built into the Motion Book Tool, are always present at the top of the menu structure, and may never be deleted. Each of the view folders shows the assets stored in your Madefire cloud account, but each shows a different view of those assets:

l  Recent assets shows all of your cloud assets in order from the most recently used to the least recently used.

l  Recent projects shows all of your saved projects in order from most to least recent.

l  Recent pages shows all of your saved pages in order from most to least recent.

l  Recent images shows all of your uploaded images in order from most to least recent.

l  Recent sounds shows all of your uploaded sounds in order from most to least recent.

You can’t add sub-folders to view folders.

l  Personal folders are any folders stored within the “My folders” folder at the top of the menu structure. This folder is empty to begin with, but you can create your own folders and sub-folders here and then use them to organize your assets. Assets only appear in a personal folder if you have dragged them here from another folder. You can modify, move, and delete personal folders.

Deleting Assets

When you delete an asset from a folder, the folder type determines what happens to that asset.

If you delete an asset from a view folder, you delete the asset file from your Madefire cloud account and it’s no longer available to you within the Motion Book Tool. You have to re-upload or recreate the asset to use it again.

If you delete an asset from a personal folder, you delete only the asset thumbnail from that folder. The asset file on the cloud remains untouched, and the asset is still available in the view folders and in any of the other personal folders in which it resides.

Asset Types

As you learned earlier, there are two main asset types: uploaded assets that you create using external tools and then upload to the Madefire cloud; and created assets that you create and save from within the Motion Book Tool.

Uploaded Assets

There are three types of uploaded assets:

l  Image assets are bitmapped graphic images stored in PNG, JPEG, or GIF files. The maximum image dimensions the Motion Book Tool accepts are 4096x4096 pixels. We recommend using PNG for best quality. We also recommend that a full-screen image be 2048x1536 pixels in size, which is the same aspect ratio as an iPad. It’s double the iPad 2 screen resolution and exactly matches the iPad Air and iPad Mini’s Retina displays. It’s more than enough resolution for all iPhone models.

If an image has transparent pixels, the Motion Book Tool trims any of them that occur outside a tight rectangular bounding box around the visible pixels. This ensures that both the Motion Book Tool and the Madefire Reader won’t have to process invisible and unnecessary pixels.

l  Sound assets are digitized audio stored in MP3 files. The Motion Book Tool accepts MP3 files saved in any quality. We recommend a 128K sample rate to best match the target devices’ audio capabilities.

l  Font assets are fonts stored in TTF or OTF files. When you upload a font to the Madefire cloud, the Motion Book Tool converts your font into a form that it can use internally. When you create text in page layer, you’ll find your font available in the font menu. Uploaded fonts let you customize the look of the text in your projects.

Created Assets

There are two types of created assets that you may save and load from within the Motion Book Tool:

l  Page assets save the contents and properties of pages to the Madefire cloud. A page asset includes all the layers and effects you added to the page. That includes the contents of created layers such as drawings and text. It also includes links to uploaded assets such as images or sounds used in image or sound layers.

l  Project assets save the structure and properties of projects to the Madefire cloud. A project asset includes a list of all the pages contained in the project and their order, and it includes links to the pages it contains.

Uploading Assets

When you have prepared assets on your computer, use the Motion Book Tool to upload them.

To Upload Assets to the Madefire Cloud

1.      Choose “Upload assets” from the Actions menu or click the “Upload Assets” button in the Home tab’s control panel.

The “Upload assets” dialog box opens.

2.      Click “+” in the lower right corner.

Your computer presents a file browser window in which you can locate and open your asset files. You can select one or more files at a time to open.

3.      Open the files you want to upload in your computer’s file browser window.

The Motion Book Tool uploads and converts your assets for use within the tool. It displays upload and conversion progress, then “Complete” when finished.

4.      Upload more files if you wish, or if you’re finished click “close.”

Managing Assets

The Motion Book Tool provides a set of different features that manage assets. You learned to use the asset bar to work with assets in “The Asset Bar” in the previous chapter. You can also use two other tools:

l  The My library tab, which shows a full screen of assets in the work area.

l  Assets tabs, which each display a single asset along with controls that display and set asset properties.

Using the My Library Tab

Although the My library tab works much like the asset bar, it contains a few extra controls and lets you create person al folders and fill them with assets.

To Open the My Library Tab

l  Click the “My library” button in the Home tab control panel or choose “Open new library tab” from the Actions menu.

The My library tab contains the same navigation controls (without the search controls) as the asset bar. It displays assets below the controls just as the asset bar does, but provides a full workspace to display many more assets at a time. Use the navigation controls to move through the folders and assets just as you would with the asset bar.

The My library tab also contains a control panel with two controls:

l  A Folder properties panel that displays the properties of the folder that is selected in the workspace.

l  A New Folder button that creates a new folder within the “My folders” folder or one of its sub-folders. This button only appears whenever you display the contents of “My folders” or one of its sub-folders in the workspace. You may need to click in the workspace to make the button appear.

Figure 1:    The My library tab control panel

To Set Properties For One of Your Personal Folders

1.      In the My library workspace, click the folder whose properties you want to set.

2.      Select the text in the Name text field and enter a new name if you want to change the folder’s name.

3.      Select “public” from the Access pull-down if you want to make this folder appear to other Madefire account holders.

4.      Check “Read-only” if you want to prevent this folder from being deleted.

5.      Enter searchable words in the Tags text box if you want this folder to show up in searches that use those words.

6.      Enter a description in the Description text box if you want text to remind you what the folder contains.

7.      Click “Save” to save any modifications you made to folder properties.

Organizing Assets In Personal Folders

To organize assets in personal folders, use either the “My library” tab or the asset bar. Note that you can only create personal folders within the “My folders” folder or one of its sub-folders, and you can only drag assets into personal folders. You can’t drag assets into view folders such as “Recent images.”

To Create a New Folder

1.      In the My library tab open the My folders folder or any of its sub-folders.

The New Folder button appears in the My library tab’s control panel. (If it doesn’t, click in the workspace to make it appear.)

2.      Click the New Folder button or right-click in the asset bar or My library workspace and choose “New Folder” from the pop-up menu.

A new folder named “New Folder” appears in the asset bar or My library workspace.

3.      Click the new folder’s name to highlight the text, then enter a new name for your new folder.

You can create folders within folders within folders as long as they’re all within the My folders folder.

To Move Assets or a Folder to a Folder

l  Drag an asset thumbnail or folder icon and drop it on the icon of the folder where you want to move the asset or folder or drop it in the workspace of a currently open folder in the “My library” tab.

You can drag assets and folders between the “My library” tab and the asset bar. Having both available makes it easier to move assets from one folder to another.

Note that you can’t move assets or folders to view folders (Recent assets and so on), nor can you move the view folders into other folders.

Searching For Assets

<<information about advanced searches to come later.>>

Using the Assets Tab

An assets tab displays an asset’s properties and provides controls that can change those properties and perform other asset functions.

To Open an Asset Tab

l  Double-click an asset in the asset bar or the My library tab.

The asset tab displays an image or sound playback controls in the work area, and it presents asset controls in the control panel.

Figure 2:    The assets tab controls.

To Change Asset Properties in the Asset Tab

1.      Select the text in the Name text field and enter a new name if you want to change the asset’s name.

2.      Select “public” from the Access pull-down if you want to make this asset appear to other Madefire account holders. Leave it as “private” if you want the asset only available to you.

3.      Check “Read-only” if you want to prevent this asset from being deleted.

4.      Enter searchable words in the Tags text box if you want this asset to show up in searches that use those words.

5.      Enter a description in the Description text box if you want text to remind you what this asset is about.

6.      Click “Save” to save any modifications you made to asset properties.

To Download the Asset To Your Computer

1.      In the asset tab’s control panel, click “Download.”

Your computer opens a Save As browser where you can specify a location on your computer to download the asset.

2.      Click “Save” in the Save As browser.

The asset file downloads to your computer.

Saving Your Asset As a Motion Book Page

<<This advanced feature described later.>>

Revising Assets in a Project

As you create pages in a project, you add uploaded assets to layers within those pages. You might use a single common asset in multiple layers throughout a project—you might use a word balloon, for example, in panels throughout multiple pages.

You may want to revise an uploaded asset that’s used within a project—to fix a graphic, for example, or to revise a sound. You typically make the revision using the external tool you originally used to create the asset. If you drew a panel in Adobe Illustrator, for example, you’d revise the original file there.

When you’re finished revising the asset, use the Motion Book Tool to upload the asset to the Madefire cloud. The tool stores the asset in a new file in the cloud even if your revised asset has the same name as the old asset. It’s possible to have multiple assets all with the same name stored in your Madefire cloud account. It’s therefore a good idea to give your revised asset a new name (panelRev1, for example) so you can tell it from the previous version.

Once you’ve uploaded your revised asset, you must locate each layer in the project where you’ve used the previous version of the asset and replace the previous version with the new version. To do so, drag the new asset from the asset bar to the top of the layer box in the page tab, where you drop the new asset on the image of the previous asset. Do this for each occurrence of the previous asset in your project.

If the previous and revised assets are the same size (or same length if it’s a sound), you probably won’t need to make any adjustments to the layer or effects attached to the layer. If you’ve changed the size or length, you should probably play back the page to see how your revised asset works and make adjustments if necessary.

Deleting Assets

Deleting an asset has different effects depending on the folder from which you delete the asset.

To Delete an Asset File From Your Madefire Cloud Account

l  Drag the asset from within any view folder to the garbage can on the right side of the asset bar.

View folders are:

l  Recent projects

l  Recent pages

l  Recent assets

l  Recent images

l  Recent sounds

or

1.      Open the asset in an asset tab.

2.      Click the Delete button in the asset tab’s control panel.

Once you’ve deleted an asset file from your Madefire account, it’s no longer available to you in the Motion Book Tool and will not appear in any other folders. You must upload or recreate the asset again to use it in the tool.

To Delete an Asset File From a Personal Folder

l  Drag the asset from within any of your personal folders to the garbage can on the right side of the asset bar.

The asset disappears from the personal folder, but remains in all other folders in which it’s located. Personal folders are the “My folder” folder and any folders located within it.

Deleting assets from a personal folder has no effect on the asset files in your Madefire account, so you can always retrieve the assets again from one of the view folders.

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