Complete Guide to Digital Cameras


Synching in Macromedia Director
Sept 12, 1999


Q: I am a beginner Director user and have just finished my first Multi Media CD. I tested it on several different machines to adjust for speed and other issues. I work on a Macintosh and my partner works on a PC. It doesn't seem to matter how basic we make it, by taking out blending and multiple cast movement, the presentation still plays slow and out of synch with the narration. I've read about a couple different things that may help this, but I am not positive and don't have a lot of time to experiment. Locking frames and Fast-start Director 7 projector. Would either of these help me, or do you have some other suggestions.

Gayle G.


A: Director synching can be a real problem, but there are three primary reasons why you might be having trouble: limited memory, too much to update, and transitions.

The real problem is that, unlike some of the video technologies which try and skip frames to maintain synchronization with the audio, Director plays all of the frames, in order, no matter what. So you have to set your sequences up so that they will play reasonably on the slowest configuration that you specify. This means handling variations in playback caused by these three types of problem.

1) Insufficient memory to load sequence
Director works best if it can preload the graphics in a sequence that has to be played rapidly. Otherwise, it will start playing the sequence, then stop to load graphics from the disk, then continue on. So if you play the sequence on a 16MB machine, versus a 64MB machine, even if the speed of the processor is the same the performance can be very different. Just to make matters worse, the Macintosh Operating System requires that you specify how much memory the Projector will use. So if your Projector is set up to only run in 16MB, running on a machine with more memory won't improve performance!

Solution: Pay attention to how much memory is needed to play the sequence. Possibly you can use Lingo code to load cast members at specific appropriate times in the sequence (i.e. a pause in the action), rather than have Director do it as it thinks it needs to.

2) Too much to update
Even though you can set Director to playback at any frame rate, as you've already found that doesn't mean that it does. This means that you have to set the frame rate on the slowest machine you are using, and make sure that you have set a reasonable frame rate. Just because you set the frame rate to 12 doesn't mean that's what you are actually getting. If it's really playing at 10 frames per second then you will have a problem when you move it to a faster machine.

Solution: Run on the slowest machine, and alter the frame rate and time your presentation until you are sure that you are seeing an accurate measure of frame rate.

3) Transitions
Unfortunately, Directors transitions are very dependent upon hardware (and screen bit depth.) They will vary greatly in time and Director can't do anything about it. So if you have transitions in your sequence you are asking for trouble.

Solution: Avoid Director transitions in tightly synching segments.
Otherwise: About the only way that you can synch something like that is to use lingo code at certain points that checks the time since the sequence started. You can then set up pauses that will make faster machines wait at that frame until the desired time is reached. This will allow slower machines to "catch up". It's a pain, but it's about the only way I know of ensuring any kind of synch

NOTE: Time is often measured in ticks in Director. I've found that ticks aren't consistent between Macs and PCs (just another little twist to worry about.)


It's doubtful that the fast start option will help you much. It doesn't manage the loading of the rest of sequence. The frame locking function might help, but you have to do it on the slowest machine you are using.


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