Flash on the Beach 2007


I attended the Game Development workshop. This all day session was run by the two founders ( Dominic Minns & Seb Lee-Delisle ) of a Brighton based flash development outfit called Plugin-Media.

The session was split between these two guys. Dominic was the pixel pusher & Seb the self confessed code geek.

Source files: game.zip

Richard Galvan (Adobe) – Keynote

Richard Galvan by jmueller912
originally uploaded by jmueller912

Flash news, flash player adoption stats, new flash IDE features such as Inverse Kinematics, Easier animation, Hydra – a new scripting language for creating new filters in Flash & the entire Adobe product line(After Effects CS3 uses it already).

It looks like the new stats for the penetration of for Flash Player 9 are pretty good and provide a good case for authoring to this model (AS3/FP9+)

Flash Player 9 adoption stats
Next version of flash (Flash 10 Player / Flash CS4 – Diesel)

Demo Flash CS4 (Codename: Diesel)

Seb Lee-Delisle (Plug-in Media) – AS3 Particle Effects Now with 100% extra free

Seb Lee-Delise by Nate JC
originally uploaded by Nate JC

A great session from Seb, which focused on using particle systems within flash to create various effects within flash. There was a good bit of code showed here but the way it was covered was refreshing and easy to understand. He showed numerous methods of creating particles and changing there appearance. He also covered the gains to be had from writing such code in AS3. Seb was also responsible for an interactive art installation which ran just outside the conference venue which put to good use his particle code.

Mike Chambers (Adobe) – Understanding Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR Logo
I attended Mike’s talk in AIR last year and have been closely following the progress of AIR since then. He gave a brief overview of the makeup of AIR and what’s possible. He then created a very simple HTML editing application from scratch and showed the various security options within AIR – this was new. Apparently you can sign AIR apps with a VeriSign certificate so people know they can trust the source(a good idea).

Carole Guevin (NetDiver) – Self Promotion

This was the first session I visited which was non-code related as I wanted to mix it up a bit this year. Carole was a bit hard to understand and some of her English was a bit broken. She’s a founder of Net Diver a digital culture and review magazine. Covering some of her experiences with big business and her tips for a good portfolio’s – unfortunately most of it was lost in translation, this was the only session which I left early.

Hoss Gifford – The rest of the iceberg

Hoss Gifford - by Mr Phillip
originally uploaded by mr_phillip

Mr Gifford’s session was very interesting and covered his experiences of working with a range of clients (he even has a proper job this year). The best part I took from this was his new-found mantra Good – Cheap – Fast

Good Cheap Fast

So he’s also decided that he only want to do Good work so that leaves the client with a couple of options. This way he’s focused on the sort of work he wants to do.

Robert Hodgin (Flight404.com, Barbarian Group) – Breaking Away

Robert Hodgin by NateJC
originally uploaded by NateJC

Roberts session centred around the fact that his job started to become boring and uninspiring a few years ago so his employers asked him what they could do to help – His reply was no more flash development and a focus on Processing. This was a strange request given that the company is well know for it’s flash work.

They responded favourably to his request and trusted his instinct’s and they’ve never looked back. They now work with several large clients (MTV, Fox Horror Japan etc).

Robert showed several inspirational pieces he’s created for personal pleasure as well as numerous commercial pieces of work.

Key Messages

  • Start Small – don’t aim for the all singing all dancing end first, learn to crawl first then get dancing. You’ll only get frustrated and give up.
  • He revisits ideas over and over, constantly revising, refining and expanding on them – Learning the whole time
  • Create a lot – don’t just sit on your hands and talk/think about things try em out
  • Make Mistakes – A lot of people said the same thing, it’s the best way to learn.

Brendan Dawes (Magnetic North) – If it ain’t broke – break it!

Brendan Dawes - by Mr Phillip
originally uploaded by mr_phillip

This one was billed as an inspiration session. The idea was go away get washed, fed n rested, come back have a beer on one of the sponsors, kick back and be inspired.

Well it certainly worked, this my first time seeing Brendan talk, he’s very funny, to the point and yes inspirational. There was plenty of great ideas and the finale was amazing – rather than describe it I’ll let the video below show what I mean.

Robert Reinhardt – Do’s and Dont’s with Flash video

Robert Reinhardt - by Ghostschool
originally uploaded by ghostschool

A great session from a guy who really knows his stuff. There was a ton of very useful information in Roberts talk, so much so that he had to cut it short by at least by a third.

(Some)Key Messages

  • Don’t de-interlace footage with a FLV encoder – Do it in another application first
  • Always add an audio track, even a silent one. It helps the maintain and accurate frame-rate
  • Demux MPEG streams – MPEG Streamclip (freeware) OSX & WIN
  • Best encoder – Episode Pro
  • Free bit-rate calculator tool(flex based) is on his site
  • Make sure dimensions of flash movies are multiples of 16 for best quality and performance – VERY IMPORTANT

Craig Swann (CRASH!MEDIA) – Perceptive Interactions+ Alternative interfaces

Craig Swann by ghostschool
originally uploaded by ghostschool

I saw Craig last year and his talk this year, although similar in theme was different and he demoed some interesting ideas such as using his iPhone to trigger events on his computer and he also used a Nintendo Wiimote as the device for controlling his presentation.

Mario Klingemann (Quasimondo) – 2D or not 2D that is the question

originally uploaded by ojdore

A packed corn exchange theatre with the people sitting on the floor greeted Mario’s intriguingly titled session. As he warned at the start this was to be a quite code intensive session and it was too. Determined to innovate and squeeze more out of flash in the 2 dimensions he went on to demonstrate and describe a method for effectively building your own photoshop style magic wand tool completely within flash.

The code was clever, the results were amazing and the crowd was very pleased. He also hinted at a method for rendering out vary large bitmaps from flash using AIR and it’s file IO capabilities(Note to self must find out more about this). Mario finished the session in style with a demo which showed him controlling a audio/visual flash application with nothing more than a web cam and a pair of black gloves with he tips lopped off – check it out below, amazing stuff.

Hillman Curtis – Anatomy of a Scene

Hillman Curtis
originally uploaded by ghostschool

Again this was my first time hearing Hillman talk. He was a very softly spoken intelligent guy who is very modest about his work. His talk was very interesting as it covered his process for making his short pieces with very little resources. He was very open about his inspirations and ideas, talking about life threatening experiences and
Hillman also showed his most recent short film Embrace, shot in a single day with one HD Camera, a small crew, 4-6 minutes and available light.

Key Message
Leave your audience with questions – Don’t answer all the questions for them

Hillman Curtis on Creating Short Films for the Web

Andy Polaine – Playful Revolutions

Andy Polaine by Jared
originally uploaded by Jared

Andy (formerly of interactive pioneers Antirom) was appropriately introduced as being part of the Sex Pistols of the interactive media revolution. Andy’s session was unfortunately the first on Wednesday, which was the morning after the night before for a lot of the attendees (Burlesque night @ a nightclub) so was I think rather poorly attended. Andy gave a brief introduction of the sort of work he does now and then delved back into his pioneering past for a look at his work with Antirom, TOMATO and Underworld. An interesting point that game up was most of his work was created with technologies that are either no longer supported and don’t work properly or not at all. This is a good lesson to learn perhaps, don’t use closed proprietary formats.

In his own words:

For my part I gave a talk called Playful Revolutions, which took a look back over a whole load of work – a lot of it from the Antirom days (which was fun) – and looking at the importance of play in the creative and interactive process. It seemed to be a running theme in a lot of the talks actually. Flash has become a powerful and complex tool, but the danger with it is that it puts off people wanting to noodle about with it. I think it’s essential to break down those barriers so that more experimental work gets made because interactivity is still very young and there’s a lot left to discover.

The revolution in the title was also about how I’m seeing a lot of experiments and ideas that we played around with 14 years or ago or so coming round again. I think since flash has been able to manipulate bitmaps so much better coders and designers have broken free of the vector finally. In some respects its re-inventing the wheel, but it was clear that there is a whole younger generation of Flash people that don’t even remember tellTarget let alone Director and bitmaps – so it’s good to see this exploration. Either way, it just goes to show how much the tools influence the output.

Original text by Andy Polaine (http://www.polaine.com/playpen/2007/11/08/flash-on-the-beach-coda/)

Joshua Davis – Dynamic Abstraction

Joshua Davis - by Mr Phillip
originally uploaded by mr_phillip

Joshua Davis gave a fantastically energetic session where he showed several pieces of generative artwork and described his creative and coding (one and the same with work like this) process within flash. His website is chock full of great artwork and he also shares a lot of what he learns there too.

Erik Natzke – Beyond the Knowledge: The Art of Playing

Erik Natske - by Mr Phillip
originally uploaded by mr_phillip

Erik like Robert Hodgin & Joshua Davis was very inspiring the range and sheer number of pieces and has produced was frankly mind blowing, he was very modest and honest about the way he creates his work. He mainly talked about his personal work and emphasized having other creative outlets apart from his commercial commitment’s, a theme shared by a lot of speakers at this years sessions.

The session ended with Erik giving away free prints of his work, which resulted in a massive stage rush(Ian managed to get a print the lucky &*%$)

Summerfield [detail], originally uploaded by natzke.

Andre Michelle – Klangfabrick

Andre Michelle by tomdanvers
originally uploaded by tomdanvers

Andre’s session was an involving look at his experiment in using flash to synthesis music from pure code. Using a small hack he discovered has was able to build upon that and create an entire musical synthesizing framework(which he’s open sourced). The framework was then used to create a virtual replica of a Roland 909. He ran several of these emulator at one and the CPU usage only ever peaked at about 10% or so, very impressive considering the level of complexity involved. Andre’s ideas seemed like they will be the start of something larger within flash with lots of people picking his brain after the session. The important thing to take from Andre’s method is that using no sample files we can create music of extremely high quality from pure code very easily.

Marcos Weskamp – Visualizing Time

Marcos Weskamp - by Mr Phillip
originally uploaded by mr_phillip

Marcos is the guy behind News map & several well known flash/flickr apps. He now works for Adobe. His session covered his attempts and experiments at visualizing time within flash. Using analogies such as the timeline of the earth represented by a pieces of tape stretched across with

Mario, Aral & Brendan – Last Minute session

Brendan, Aral and Mario by paulofierro
originally uploaded by paulofierro

This was one of the best session I attended, it was squeezed in at the last minute on the final day and each speaker had 20 minutes and not a second longer.

Mario talked about a few things such as process he’s developing with Joshua & Erik for using AIR to render out large scale generative artwork from flash, which sounded very interesting. He also showed a demo of a flex application which can be trained to recognise styles of artwork -scary stuff! Mario seems to be at the forefront of pixel manipulation in flash the the moment.

Next up was Aral, who’s super fast and simple demonstration of SWX was great and the perfect speed too. If you don’t know what SWX is then get your self over to http://swxformat.org right now!!

Lastly but by means least was Brendan who demonstrated the wordpress blog mashup he’d tried to show at his inspirational session, all good stuff.

SWX Format logo

Jared Tarbell (complexification.net, levitated.net, etsy.com) – Algorithms to fill space

Jared Tarbell by orgicus
originally uploaded by orgicus

The man is a magician that’s all I’m going to say – Pictures in this case speak wayyyy louder than words

Common themes

  • Play have fun
  • Take risks
  • Everyone needs inspiration
  • Surprise someone, break the pattern, step outside the code
  • Make mistakes – lots of them
  • Revisit ideas, again & again & again & again…..
  • Open source has only brought good things to those who release it

This years schwag was pretty good it consisted of the Actionscript 3 book (the moock book), a FOTB beach towel & FOTB flip flops, backpack (laptop type), and a book of postcards taken from artwork created by each of the speakers.

Also here’s a short compilation of the whole 3 days/nights.