In this lesson you will learn to make use of some of the more unique interface features of Director to streamline your production process.

Director makes use of numerous windows and palettes to modularize access to key features of the program. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the available windows and palettes is to click the Window menu at the top of the Director interface and explore the menu items.

Next to each item you will see shortcuts to access specific menu items by hitting combinations of keyboard keys. These keyboard shortcuts can be huge time savers, so they are well worth the time to memorize. You will also find that many of these shortcuts are used in other software, so you get even more mileage by memorizing them.

Macintosh OS X Window Menu

Windows XP Window Menu

Shown above are screen shots of the Window menus as they appear in the Macintosh OS X, and Windows interfaces. In the Windows version of the software you will see the same items, but with different keyboard shortcuts. Checkmarks indicate which windows or palettes are currently visible.

The primary difference between the Macintosh and Windows menu shortcuts is that the Macintosh uses the "Apple" or "Command" key to activate many menu items, while Windows uses the "Control" key. Finger gymnastics aside, it's easy to work with either, and it's more a matter of what you're used to, so either scheme may drive you crazy if you exclusively use one operating system more than the other.

In an ideal workstation configuration for using Director you would have two monitors connected to your computer. On one monitor you would display the stage window, and the other monitor would contain the rest of the Director interface. Alternatively, you would have a single 30" or larger display with enough real estate to comfortably contain the entire Director interface.

Director is a necessary screen hog, given the sheer number of authoring features it provides, and you will need a lot of screen space to get your work done. For this reason it's a good idea to memorize a number of keyboard shortcuts to keep your production workflow smooth. Using the keyboard shortcuts allows you to instantly enable or disable interface features such as windows and palettes, and avoid unnecessary mousing around as you constantly rearrange windows to make room for your work.

Macintosh OS Command Key

OS X Command Key

Above is an image of the Macintosh "Command" key. This key is roughly comparable to the Windows "Ctrl", or "Control" key.


The Macintosh OS X operating system has a number of unique graphic features, including the use of a kind of graphic symbol language to describe the use of specific keys on the computer keyboard. The image on the right shows all of the keyboard symbols and their command equivalents. You will notice many of these symbols used in Director menus.

Macintosh OS X Keyboard Symbols

OS X Keyboard Symbols

Shortcuts for the Six Main Windows

There are 6 windows you will use extensively as you develop projects with Director. You will frequently need to hide and show them as you work. The shortcuts for these windows are shown below.

The "Stage" window Command/Control + 1
The "Cast" window Command/Control + 3
The "Score" window Command/Control + 4 (Mnemonic: Think "Four score..." from Lincoln's famous speech.)
The "Paint" window Command/Control + 5 (Mnemonic: Think of using your hand (5 fingers) to paint.)
The "Message" window Command/Control + M (Mnemonic: M is for message.)


Number Pad Controls

Most of us are used to using the number pad on the right side of our keyboards for quick number entry. In Director the number pad can be used as either a standard numeric entry keyboard, or as a remote control for the playback head. Note: These shortcuts ONLY work if the "Num Lock" key is OFF when using the number pad.

Stop Movie Enter Key toggle (number pad only)
Rewind Movie to the Beginning 0 Key (number pad only)
Advance Forward a Single Frame 3 Key (number pad only)
Step Backward a Single Frame 1 Key (number pad only)
Advance Forward to Next Marker 6 Key (number pad only)
Step Backward to Previous Marker 4 Key (number pad only)
Toggle the Properties Palette / Key (number pad only)


The Clipboard and Edit Menu

Long ago, when graphical user interfaces were first developed and standardized, as in the early Amiga and Apple interfaces, it was decided that it should be especially easy to maintain a temporary copy of bits of information that a user is working with. For this the "clipboard" was created. The clipboard is essentially a reserved area of the computer's memory used to store text character strings, or related media, to speed up the process of copying or editing data, and replicating frequently accessed information. The unspoken rule of the clipboard is that it holds only one collection of data, and any data copied to it replaces any previously copied data.

The "Edit" menu is the standard home for clipboard operations in every piece of software for both operating systems. The keyboard shortcuts for the standard clipboard commands are as follows:

Copy Command/Control + C
Paste Command/Control + V

If you memorize no other keyboard shortcuts you should at least know the clipboard shortcuts by heart, as you will use them hundreds of thousands of times during your life. There is also a "Clear" operation, which does not frequently have a keyboard shortcut, but is used to clear away anything that is selected, without overwriting what is currently in the clipboard.


Efficient Text Editing

Hands down, text is the most common type of data used on a day-to-day basis, yet most of us don't make efficient use of the available editing commands built into all modern operating systems. Many computer users have bad "mouse" habits that slow down workflow when manipulating text. Here are some text manipulation tips to try.

Suppose we have the following sentence that we need to change:

Once upon a time there was a scary scripting language called Lingo.

Now let's suppose we want to change the word "scary" in the above sentence to the word "beautiful." Most of us would move the mouse pointer over the letter 's' of the word 'scary', then drag the mouse to the end of the word, then hit the delete or backspace key, and type the word beautiful.

This procedure does the job, but it's very inefficient. Here's a better way to fix the word "scary".

Step 1 - Move the mouse pointer over the word "scary" and double-click. You'll notice the entire word is highlighted (selected).

Step 2 - Rather than hitting the 'Delete' or 'Backspace' key, just begin typing the word 'beautiful.' The highlighted letters are immediately replaced by what you type.

Now wasn't that easy? Not only is it much easier to select words by doulbe-clicking, but it saves a lot of time, probably more time than you would guess, even in the course of a day's work.

Easier Word Selection


Remember, it's probably far easier and quicker to double-click words than to hold your finger down on the mouse button and drag across the letters of the word. You also eliminate the possibility of "overmousing" and accidentally selecting part of another word you don't want to change.


Also, get used to typing immediately after selecting text, rather than deleting the text, then typing the new text.

Another text editing technique to try is to click somewhere on a line of text, then hit the 'Shift' key to select up to the next text area where you click the mouse. All of these text editing tips will allow you to work more efficiently, so they are well worth applying to your own workflow until they become second nature.


Cast Window Features

You can move cast members around simply by dragging them from one spot in the cast "boxes" to another.

If you want to select more than one cast member, click on a cast member, hold down the SHIFT key, and click another cast member. This makes it easy to select any number of cast members in the window.

Adobe Director Cast Window

A - This little box allows you to drag the currently selected cast member to the Stage or Score.

B - This is where you type a name for a selected cast member. It's a good idea to name cast members so they can be referred to by name, rather than position number. The position number of a cast member may change, depending on how many cast members are in a given cast database, but a unique name for a cast member allows you to refer to it by name, no matter where it is positioned within the cast database. Note too, that every name for cast members must be unique, even for cast members of different types. For example, if you have a sound named "shotgun" and an image cast member named "shotgun" you can run into troubles when referring to these cast members by name. A good convention is to name sounds with some kind of extension, so the sound cast member "shotgun" would become "shotgun-snd". This would avoid any problems with having two cast members of the same name.

C - This is the international symbol for "information" and allows you to view detailed information about properties of a selected cast member.

D - There are lots of options available for viewing a representation of cast members. Shown above is the standard "thumbnail" view of cast members. You may also view cast members in a list view, which makes it much easier to sort and view all types of cast members. Explore all of the "clickable" parts of the Cast Window to familiarize yourself with its many useful features for streamlining workflow.

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