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FlashForward Austin / Day 3 / Sessions

“Flex 2 in Real Time Applications” – Phil Heinz, intelisea
“Interactive Animation: Sight, Sound, Motion” – Craig Swann, Crash! Media
“AS3 in Action” – Beau Ambur, Metaliq
“Finches to Flash: Darwin in Design” – Jeremy Thorp, bluprint design

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“Flex 2 in Real Time Applications”

In this session Phil deconstructed the application his company has been working on – a luxury control and monitoring system for 200ft+ yachts. From one control panel the captain/user can access and view any of the sensors and monitors on the vessel. It was nice to see a commercial app built in the new development tools, especially one that needed to be processing so much information at one time.

I walked away with the assurance that Flex and AS3 could build just about anything I wanted it to. I'm really getting excited about Apollo and the thought that I can put my knowledge to use in desktop apps.

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“Interactive Animation: Sight, Sound, Motion”

This was one of the most inspirational sessions of the conference. Craig showed off several of his creations, most of them incorporating external sensors from places like MakingThings and Phidigts. The sensors allow him to get data into Flash which he can then use to manipulate his programs and/or artwork.

For example, one of the creations he demonstrated was the Etherwatch. This is a simple digital watch that has an Ethernet port attached to the face and sensors that extend down to his fingers which detect movement. The example he showed with this was the ability to play the piano in mid-air.

Another pretty cool creation was his "iLock" which was an ethernet connected lock that, when the key was turned, fired off a signal as to its locked/unlocked status. I could see this having cool uses for interactive art and/or even extremely practical uses once you have an application built.

You can find out a lot more about Craig's developments at his website: http://www.crashmedia.com

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“The Lusciously Delicious Moving Image”

Garrett showed off and deconstructed a few projects from Big Spaceship, including the new Nike Air site. While Garrett works mostly in video, he is extremely knowledgeable in getting that video into Flash and what will work best when displayed over the internet. This was important on the Nike Air site because of its heavy usage of video throughout the site.

Garrett went over his process for creating the seamless looping video of the athletes, which was no simple task. Taking the raw footage in After Effects, he first masked out the key (green) of the green screen (using AE Pro’s KeyLight) and then after painstakingly finding some frames that were close enough together, he was able to use a 3rd party plug-in to morph the additional frames (RevisionsFX’s re:Flex). Overall he says he spent about 2-3 weeks alone in editing the video. I was amazed with the outcome and what he was able to demonstrate on stage in such a short time period.

I learned the most about the source video, meaning how the video was shot. Big Spaceship shot everything digital in high-definition at 60 frames per second. This allowed them to get a better image for keying and also allowed additional effects on the site, such as the speed ramping (such as where they slowed down the basketball player while he is dunking.

Check out more from Big Spaceship in NYC: http://www.bigspaceship.com.

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“AS3 in Action”

Beau is working on quite a few cool applications, one of which includes a code editor web application called FlapJax. His end-goal is to have a fully functional AS editor that you can access anywhere with a web browser. In fact, it is functional enough at the moment that he is writing the rest of the application in itself!

The majority of this session was spent going over new features in AS3 and discussing the additional benefits of the new language. We also discussed and got a first look at the components that will be coming out with the Flash 9 IDE. They have a much smaller footprint/file size and are extremely skinnable. Both of these were issues that developers have complained about for the past two iterations of the component architecture. Oh, I should note that Beau also mentioned that Grant Skinner was helping to develop the new components, which is great since he is so active in the Flash developer community.

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“Finches to Flash: Darwin in Design”

I have to admit, I considered attending another session, but I am extremely glad I went and saw Jeremy’s lecture. Jeremy did an amazing job of taking a scientific subject matter (genetics) and breaking it down so that anyone could understand it. However, what I found more impressive was how he connected it back to design.

One portion of the lecture was entitled, “Evil Machines that Want to Take Your Job”. By this Jeremy means that through genetic computing, a computer can eventually figure out what the general population likes best in design and then apply it. For instance, Jeremy created an application that comes up with a random logo based on some starting parameters that you give it. Then, he chooses two he likes best from every pool to “mate” and come up with the next iteration. Through genetic computing, he will eventually have a design that it extremely close to what is the “perfect” design.

But the real message wasn’t that computers can come up with designs on their own – I think most people recognize that a computer can make random artwork. What Jeremy was trying to say was that we should apply this technique to our own daily design habits. Currently, design is a pyramid process in which the designer starts out by brainstorming a bunch of design ideas once and then works their way up the pyramid by filtering out the ideas they deem as better than the rest. However, what if we started with five design concepts, chose the best two, the used those two to form another set of five? By repeating this process, you are bound to find the exciting and abnormal that will make that artwork/logo/design stand out from the rest.

As humans we use this process a great deal of our daily lives. Why not apply it to design and see what happens?

Be sure to take a look at Jeremy's site: http://www.blprnt.com

jonnymac blog » Flash on the Beach 08 / Day 2 / Sessions said,

October 18, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

[…] last saw Jeremy Thorp speak at FlashForward 2006 Austin, and I was enthralled with his “intelligent” applications which would learn from its own actions or […]

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