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FlashForward Austin / Day 1 / Sessions

"Understanding Apollo" - Daniel Dura
"Analog In, Digital Out" - Brendan Dawes
"The Evolution of Flash Animation: Bed Rock Revisited" - Sandro Corsaro
"The Ultimate Guide to Flash Runtime Compositing" - Rich Shupe

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In "Understanding Apollo", Daniel Dura of Adobe showed off some upcoming features in Apollo. Most of them hadn't been seen before, as the application is still in early beta stages. Before the session I was still a bit shaky on exactly what Apollo could do and how I would use it to add to my skill set. But, man, am I excited about it now. The whole concept of writing once, deploying everywhere has made Flash what it is today. If Adobe can pull this off with the same grace for desktop applications, we may just have a takeover in desktop development platforms. Combine that with the ease of use due to all of the API's Adobe has written for it and you've got a framework that enables and empowers users to create extremely cool branded experiences for the desktop. I was most impressed with how the developer is shielded from the cross-platform nightmares. Using the API, you can do any number of things using a high level of code -- meaning that C/C++ is not necessary anymore. Heck, even Java should be worried about this. Apparently the end goal for Adobe is to also be able to publish Apollo apps from within Flash. When that day comes, keep an eye out for hundereds of small open source apps, similar to how we currently have desktop widgets in OSX being developed on an as-needed basis by everyday people.

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"Analog In, Digital Out" with Brendan Dawes was amazing. The best part of the day. I think I was in need of some insipration because I was starting to get really tired from lack of sleep before the trip followed by a long day of travel. Brendan is one of those people who comes up with the wackiest ideas and then has the drive to see them through realization. He had a couple of really good points today:

+ What is "Magical" is not always what is necessary. Lickable wallpaper: we don't need it, but why not? Let's have some fun!

+ With the digital age we're missing the "experience" part of our lives. No longer do we open a book to read, or have items left over with imprints of our lives on them. Everything is sterile and digitally stored where we can't directly create a memory from it. Digital photos are nice, but holding an old printed photo with notes on the back of it makes your day. Looking at them on the computer just isnt the same. Where has all of our stuff gone? On a harddrive.

+ Why can't computers be as simple to use as a pencil? The pencil has a built-in progress bar (length), you know at a glance how well it will perform (sharpness), and users never try to write with the wrong end - they automatically know how to use it.

+ Twist the 1's and 0's. Who says you have to play a DVD in a DVD player? Who says a vinyl album has to store information about music (as opposed to say timecode for digital video)? Try it. No one will die.

+ Iteration is better than innovation.

+ Mariah Carey Syndrome. She's got great range, but does she need to do it on every single note? Use Flash as a highlight - don't use it because you can. Bad sites happen from trial with new technologies, but that's a good thing. The problem is that Mariah Carey has been singing for well over 10 years now.

The last thing presented was this amazing video where UK's best DJ and Brenden got together and did this performance art piece where they had digital video timecode imprinted on a vinyl album. Then the DJ used that album to 'scratch'/mix the video (and its audio) just like it was any other album. When mixed with other turn tables, it was amazing to see the video and its audio track mixed in with other beats. I believe this was called, "Getting Down with Ms. Pinky". (Reminder to self: find a link to this video).

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"The Evolution of Flash Animation: Bed Rock Revisited" with Sandro Corsaro was mainly for designers, but I had heard he put on an amazing presentation, so I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did, even if I won't use many of the techniques he was teaching. He is an amazing illustrator who works solely in flash, and has done several broadcast 2D animations. He had some great tips based around what he called the "stretch and squish" method of animation which was the basis for the Hanna-Barbara cartoons of the 60's and 70's.

The thing I took away from this sesson the most was my own thoughts about how the Flash tool is extremely unique in how to covers so much ground. How someone can use it only for animation (and know nothing about programming) and another person can use it only as code, and the two can get a very similar result is just amazing...

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"Ultimate Guide to Flash Runtime Compositing" with Rich Shupe didn't really show me anything new, but it was a good refresher. I went with the hope of seeing more on creating programmic art (hence "runtime compositing"), but what it really ended up being was an overview of Flash 8's features which were new at last year's conference. Blend modes, 9-slice scaling, bitmap data class, filters and bitmap caching were all covered from both an IDE and Actionscript aspect. All the source from the presentation are posted here, : http://www.fmaonline.com/ff06austin.

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Looking forward to tomorrow's sessions and continuing a great week.

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