By day two at FITC it had become obvious to me that I had underestimated Flash as a tool for deploying all sorts of interactive digital experiences on the desktop as well as in public. It seems you have to see and hear first hand the different logic and technologies that go into creating these experiences to actually realize that you might be able to pull it off yourself..
I'm talking about most of us who have experience with Flash and AS3 and a bit of extra creativity in store. FITC has given me a fresh set of ideas and opened up a new playground I can experiment in.
Harnessing the Abundance
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.
The goal of Mike Creighton was to capture the "data" that an artist produces in this Flow state through tracking the motion of analogue painting or drawing, and use that data to create derivative digital work. Flow is the result. It's a open source project that provides a set of tools for capturing motion data.
It is one of the examples of how Flash has evolved from humble beginnings into a tool which, if properly used and combined with other technologies, allows you to express yourself in ways that were out of the scope of creatives until lately.
The key to being able to create and approach problem solving when working with multiple technologies is defining your goals and setting your parameters, else the abundance can really start working against you. The problem being, that with so many options and interesting steps and results in the process of developing and creating one can be easily distracted from the initial goal. So if you're not just experimenting or playing around, define your goals and parameters, then stick to them. This was one emphasis of Mike's presentation.
"Space Invading" was all about bringing the playful, creative experience that Flash can deliver, to the people. Seb is a master of presentations; he connects with his audience with the use of interactive technology and has everyone jumping around in no time. You don't see that every day, although I do think I need to start going to more of these Flash events.
He had a little presentation of the great work of his studio Plugin-Media along with some of his personal experiments in the beginning. He then went on to demonstrate his live audio/video mixer. The idea is that you can sample sounds and capture video at the same time, map them to different keys on the keyboard and then play them back by pressing those keys. The result is impressive. It's probably useless for any kind serious recording, but has a lot of other possible creative applications and it's just plain fun.
This presentation was more technical and honestly mostly beyond my comprehension. That doesn't mean that I won't be able to use the tools presented to optimize my projects.
Apparat is a set of tools that you can use to further compress your SWF, SWC and ABC files. Particularly if you use the
[Embed] method to embed large PNGs and use the Reducer which is one of the Apparat tools, you'll see a big improvement in your SWF file sizes since it will compress the otherwise uncompressed raw PNG files. This will give you a great reduction in file size reaching over 50% of the original file size, depending on the size and number of embedded PNGs as well as the compression level set by the Reducer. You should check this one out , it will definitely help you streamline your files and reduce bandwidth usage, loading times etc., which can only be a good thing.
Eyes Can Hear, 5 Ways
There may or may not be smoke, fire, lasers & non-newtonian fluids
Everyone probably knows to some degree what sound visualization is, but we don't really recognize the simple elegance behind it. Seeing Jared do "analog" sound visualizations with smoke, fire and corn starch (yes...corn starch) and then jumping to sound visualization on the screen and in public, you start appreciating the link between the two.
For me it's easier to understand the workings of a drum shooting smoke rings by sound pressure waves than frequencies, ranges, cutoffs etc.. But mostly it gives me a tangible real world representation of what we're trying to achieve with sound visualization on the screen and it makes it that more interesting and understandable.
Full video of this presentation available at the FITC web site!
If you're into audio, you should really check out Audiotool. It's an online Flash application that lets you create and mix music without any installing or registering. Besides it being a great free tool, it's also testament to Flash's capabilities as an online runtime environment. It has also been greatly optimized by using the previously mentioned Apparat framework.
There are a lot of interesting creative uses with mixing sound and interactive experience. Using audio in combination with other innovations in Flash like 3D and physics is something that everyone should consider exploring to add that extra edge to their projects.
High Performance Mobile Content with Flash
Flash is slowly but surely reaching most of our mobile devices. There is a lot of debate about performance of the Flash player on mobile and even though I'm pretty sure most of us were surprised by how well it performs in general, there are some pretty simple practices that can help you increase performance of your applications without compromising looks or functionality. The following tips apply to both AIR and Flash on mobile devices.