Just came back from Flash In The Can 2008 in Amsterdam, a conference about all things Flash. This was the first FiTC held in Europe, and as all my Flash heroes from around the world were there, and as it’s literally a 10 minutes bike drive from my home to the conference, I had to go. The lectures were generally very inspiring and my hands itch to start coding the whole night. Let’s sum up my thoughts about the presentations I attended.
Adobe Keynote: Newsflash, Adobe released Air just 3 hours before. Some stuff about Flash9. Can’t blame them, but it was a bit of a promo-talk really though.
Aral Balkan – Beyond The Buttons: I chose to attend this presentation as it shouldn’t only be about Flash, but more about the fun of creating things. Aral pointed out that Flash is merely a tool to realize your ideas. Flash shouldn’t limit your ideas. Turned out to be a fun and inspiring presentation, and Aral seems a very cheerful guy. I like how he thought out of the box.
R Blank – Under the Hood, the Nuts and Bolts of Flash Video: A bit of a dry presentation about Flash Video and how to load this into Flash projects. Codecs, file formats, streaming and the Flash Video component. He gave a clear overview of the things you have to have in mind when embedding video. So I did learn a few things, but it wasn’t that much fun.
Colin Moock – Actionscript 4: Quite hardcore and in-depth info about new coding shortcuts and new features of AS4. Not that shocking, but a few changes were nice to hear. At least, function overloading will be available in AS4. Colin seemed to me like a very serious guy, but throughout his presentation caught the eye of some of his friends and then smiled and said hello to them. I saw him smiling during the breaks as well, so I’m glad he generally doesn’t frown as much as during the talk.
Seb Lee-Delisle – Kaboom! Flash Pyrotechnics: Cheerful English guy talking about particle effects. Had much fun along the way. Showed some nice and simple tricks that inspired me to do it myself and build upon that. Will do
Chris Allen – Building Red5 Applications: Chose this to learn something about remote multi-user interaction, as I though this might come in handy some time. Maybe it was the subject itself, but I did think it was a bit boring. Also, Eclipse/Red5 crashed a few times, which was a bit annoying to constantly watch.
Joshua Davis – New Works: To be honest, I didn’t think that much about Joshua (slick guy with his overly slick graphics). But I wanted to see for myself, as I’ve never seen the guy in person and didn’t really know his works. Turned out to be a very nice and inspiring presentation. And I actually liked his work and his process of creating it. He uses generative art, or programs to randomize and calculate the art automatically for him. Inspiring and something I wanted to do for a long time as well. Have some more ideas of how I should be doing that now.
Koen De Weggheleire: Play with Pixels, Bitmap Manipulation with Flash: This nice dude started the day with Matrix Math and convolution filters. Great to have these concepts refreshed, as I wasn’t really aware Flash could do all this. Got a few ideas from this presentation as well.
Jared Tarbell – The Circle: I was actually planning to see Branden Hall with his presentation about coding smarter, as to learn some new tricks, but at the last moment decided to go to Jared’s. And I was glad to. Jared is known for his generative art, like Joshua. So, I was expecting some coding examples on how to generate his art. That wasn’t what he did at all. Instead, he showed some examples of circles all around us and finally showcased some of his works. Other than Erik Natzke’s and Joshua Davis’ complex art, his work almost has Zen-like qualities, while not necessarily based on less complex programs. Beautiful ways of mixing math, design and creativity. And very inspired by it.
AndrÃ© Michelle – Making Real Music Within Flash: This crazy and laid back German dude was struggling to get his presentation running. But he showcased something that I thought was nearly impossible in Flash: Realtime audio generation, filtering, vocoding and synthesizing. I mean, a 303, 909 plus a load of effects in Flash? Insane. And it seemed the guy could code these things in a few days. Very inspiring to see how AndrÃ© pushes the boundaries of Flash to create things Flash isn’t even meant for.
Joshua Hirsch – Big Spaceship: A little talk about the goings of running a design agency of 50 people. Nice to see how they take on projects and manage them. Big Spaceship is divided into a few production units, with each unit having its own project with its own developers and designers. Developers get to freestyle a lot in dead time between projects. No freelancers, as they don’t get as much feeling and responsibility with a project as their own crew does. They refuse to work on projects bigger than they can handle. Furthermore, some showcases of their work.
Ralph Hauwert – Flash 2D and 3D effects: I expected to see some hardcore code, but instead he showed how to be creative within the set boundaries of Flash. Ralph showed how, back in the days, the demo scene pushed their C64′s to compute things the C64 wasn’t meant to do. 3D rotation, raytracing, displacement maps were done 20 years ago, with computers having much less CPU than today. His point was that Flash can actually do a lot. And if it can’t do something, there are creative ways to eventually do it too. He also showcased RePhlex, a modular system of triggering Flash events that can be of any type. It will be open source, and will be released in an early state soon. Ralph made the impression of an insanely bright guy, knowing not only how to code, but to really push things beyond limits and to see the bigger picture.
Hoss Gilford – The Rest of the Iceberg: Presentation about the agency Marque (Formerly Third Eye). Didn’t think too much of it really. He made some jokes, but the presented works weren’t that good. Maybe the standard was set too high with the preceding presentations, or I had a little too much visual input overload, I don’t know.
Erik Natzke: Beyond The Knowledge: The Art of Playing: Erik creates art using generative programs. Much like Joshua and Jared. He showed some complex systems and they were fun to watch. Maybe it was because of him talking rather monotonously, but although his work was very intelligently programmed and very complex, it didn’t strike a chord with me, unlike Jared’s. But inspiring it was and I’ve got a lot to learn to match up with his skills