Saturday, September 23, 2006

Flash Forward Perspective (Austin, Tx 06')

by Jane Crayton

So I got the amazing opportunity to attend the Flash Forward conference in Austin, Texas this last week. I can't really tell you how, just yet, but if you hang around and check out my art, you'll find the real story. I have been working in Flash for about 5 years, and been designing for various industries for about 10 years. I love attending technical conferences so I was very excited for this event. It was awesome, I never imagined so much could be going on in Flash and with this simple software technology. Everything from simple design to application building, to animation, mobile technology and even experimental art. At this point I’m basically about to explode and my brain is bloated with really useful and inspiring info. I am in heaven, staying in the Hilton, meeting people, connecting with inspirational influences and hardcore geeks. Women were about 20% but it was great to see the numbers up and that we are infiltrating the technical professional world.

Tuesday, September 12th 2006 I attended four great sessions. First, Animation for Flash Lite by Todd Sanders, this was great getting some pointers on how to animate little Flash Lite 2.0 movies. Flash Lite 2.0 is one of my interests for art, I am interested in programming for the mobile and bluetooth technology for phones, pda’s and other systems the public uses. My interest in this is purely for the process of my art and how I plan to deliver some of my future art pieces to the general mobile user in public spaces.

I then got the opportunity to see Brendan Dawes, Analog in, Digital Out. This was a great experience for me, I have been interested in Brendan Dawes work since I saw his jazz inspired Thelonious Monk piece with random letters generated by the sounds of Monks music. The tones were generating the letters in a sound reactive art piece honoring the music and the artist in one digital delivery that is beautiful and interesting. It was awesome to see him present his work and speak of his digital interest. I liked to hear about his artistic theory of analog media and how important it is to us even in the digital world. He discussed ideas about how art can transform from analog to digital and vice versa and the importance there of, maybe that explains all the Flash schwag....anyway, great session one of my favorites.

The next session I attended was the Producing Video for Flash session by Scott Fegette, he delivered a clean and straight forward talk about how to produce good video for flash, how to edit and prepare it before importing it into Flash, and the best techniques for importing video to your projects. This was right up my alley, because I use this all the time, I create flash videos for the web and for my art, so I found this session very useful for me on many levels.

I then attended Avoid that Sucking Sound by Dave Schroder. This was another great session, he is pretty clever and had great examples of how to avoid sucking sound and how to get great sound. He demonstrated simple techniques on how to import sound and work with it, with a little theory on sound for design too. I though his presentation was well delivered and his examples were clean and smooth. I really need to work on sound implimition in all of my works more and its been my goal to work with sound more the last year and a half, this inspired me to be more creative with my sources and detailed in my work with sound.

Wednesday September 13th 2006
I attended Hillman on Video. Curtis Hillman has been one of my Flash idols since I began designing for the web. He always had cool new sites he just designed featured on Macromedia’s website and other design sites. I followed his work on various occasions and was pretty interested to hear what he had to say about Video and Flash. It was a brutal 9am session after the Flash Anniversary party where we were all pretty tired, some hung, yeah Geeks party too. Anyway it was hard, but his presentation finally started rolling. He was funny and finally woke up about 30min into his presentation. Somehow he made sense though and I loved his new work he is doing. I am interested in some of the same stories and topics, and methods of delivery. I share a common interest in digital narrative through video using a minimalist style of capture and processing with a detailed concentrated deployment. I was inspired once again, thank you.

I then moved on to catch Flash for Designers (learn to love AS) by Trevor Dodd, I was pretty tired at this point after waking up early for Hillman Curtis so my attention was wondering, and the topic was very simple, I sat through his session for the first 30 minutes, but ended up leaving just because it was a technical session, and I already have those basic skills, I was just affirming knowledge while falling asleep. It wasn’t his fault, it was my lack of sleep and interest, I headed up to catch a quick siesta before the next session.

After a good nap I hit up Migrating to Action-Script 3 from AS2 by Caleb Haye. Apparently this was his first time presenting a session, but I couldn’t tell, he delivered a great session detailing some key differences and upgrades in the new version of AS. He told us how the new software works and what we need to do to optimize our code to be upgraded into the new AS3 format. His speech was well delivered, and he taught me a lot about how to make the transition. His notes in the book are very detailed and give me a lot to reference, thanks for your hard work and great delivery.

My next session was Sound Visualization using Flash with Jared Ficklin from Frog. Frog is a large design company that is very well known for doing some of the best branding and marketing deployment with outrageously awesome and innovative designs ever. So this was cool, a design guy from a top firm giving a talk on how to build your own sound reactive application in Flash...right up my alley. I have been working with sound reaction in my own artwork for about 3 years now. I am interested in building my own applications and was super excited to see what he had done in Flash for this very purpose. I was really impressed, Jared is awesome and pretty clever and funny too. He created several different talking characters to help narrate his session and his slides and movies were very organize, and detailed and his art was cool. He is using flash for some cool things and I was very impressed with how he was using simple flash for complex sound visualization animations and interactive reactive sound stimulations. I learned a lot from him, was inspired by his work and it was super cool to interact with him after the session on several different occasions. Thanks for the local info too, he’s an Austin resident and he hooked us up with some fun stuff to do in the city and great places to chill. Thanks Jared looking forward to checking out your work more in the near future.

The last session I attended was Mashup Baby! by Mario Klingeman, which was an interesting idea that I have studied before. Its about hacking into sites and using existing files for generated digital art. I have a long time interest in this work and admire it greatly. But I wasn’t feeling the presenter. I wanted to see more art, and less detail. I wanted the code to be available, but didn’t need to see it line for line, I wanted to see the art the concept and the theory behind it. I ended up leaving the last 20 minutes to prepare for the next big event.

The Flash-forward Film Festival. So the Festival was amazing, the submissions were awesome, the full art projects of each category were online, and the festival was just a collection of small trailers which detailed the finalists and then they announced the winners. It was a great showing of the different submissions and it encouraged me to of course want to work harder to get one of those orange arrows for my self one day. Thanks for the inspiration from all the artists whom submitted art for this important piece of the conference. Thanks for making the Art a major part of this event. The after parties were nice to meet and connect with people, but the event should have included some artists from our collective group, I expected to see some experimental audio/visual art for the parties and after-parties, I was disappointed in the choice of music and lack of experimental art for the parties. That will change next year, I will make sure of that, expect to hear from me soon, hehe!

Thursday, September 14th 2006
I’ll admit I slept in on Thursday morning but I wanted to see Paul Mattheaus talk on “Designer as Auteur: The recontextualized filmmaker, I bet it was awesome.

I did catch the next session Interactive Imagination: Sight, Sound and Motion Craig Swann. This session was awesome, Craig showed us how he is using Flash to create interactive audio/visual installations and games to use in public spaces that challenge the basic user to interact with the art. He was using live cameras, ethernet and custom built electronics to create his interactive a/v installations. This was the perfect session for me, I have been using midi and max/msp to try to build the same thing, but was inspired that he has been able to do it using Flash. This is definitely a person whom I need to trade technology with.

The next session was Isomation Isolated Behavioral Animation with David Castillo and Jennifer Benavides. This session addressed the use of Flash application development for use and application into the dance world. They are building an application that uses interactivity to help teach people how to dance salsa. The presentation was a little crazy and included a basic class of salsa for geeks with much fun for all these code bending kids.

Particles for the Non-Physicist by Seb Lee-Delisle was another great presentation on how to build and tweak particle animations in flash. He took us though the code, and several examples, but the best part was that he invited the computer users in the session to participate by creating and uploading some particle streams. Several attendee’s participated in this interactive session of particle building which was very entertaining and educational.

The last session I went to was Finches to Flash: Darwin in Design by Jeremy Thorn. This session was great, Jeremy is totally funny, real and down to earth. Jeremy combined his scientific and artistic processes to create a flash program that generates images and designs using a darwinistic approach to creating art. He showed us how this new philosophy of design could work and how he has implemented the world of evolution into his creative development. I loved this session and can’t wait to see what he continues to develop and maybe pick his brain more in the future.

Overall the Flash Forward Conference was great and now I’ve been re-inspired to work in Flash for my art more than ever before....Its so funny how you come home from these kinds of events and then just want to play on the computer for like a few weeks straight...Thanks for all the inspiration and motivation!