Flash Forward Boston: Day 2

For the second day of Flash Forward, my day had a much stronger focus on creativity rather than coding in Flash. That was my intention though. The conference is structured so that your time here reflects your own interests.There are 4 sessions going on simultaneously so each person, by picking which sessions they attend, gets what they want. If you’re a Flash designer or developer, I would encourage you to attend some time.

Hungry Suitcase from concept to execution.My first session was Finding Creative Techniques by Garrett Nantz. He showed a variety of projects he worked on at Big Spaceship—Hungry Suitcase for Royal Caribbean, HBO Voyeur, 30 Days of Night, and Glaceau primarily. What has always impressed me about these projects, beyond their sheer creativity, is the high level of production that goes into them. I’ve wanted to peak into their process and see how they actually accomplish these amazing things and luckily, that was some of what he talked covered. I’m sure I can’t properly distill down the Big Spaceship “secret” to success, but based on what I’ve seen today, it’s clear that a great deal of pre-production helps bring these projects to life. If you’ve visited the Royal Caribbean site, you may recognize the lower image to the right. The image you may not have seen before is the ‘planning’ stage of the site above it. A lot of us use this same technique for outlining a site. The level of preparation they go through sounds like it’s on overdrive though. Garrett’s example of experimenting with filming a variety of ink stains in water to get the transitions right for the Glaceau site is a level of detail was impressive.

Later in the day, Craig Swann from CRASH! MEDIA gave a presentation he called Imagination & Technology. I’ve seen Craig’s presentations at prior Flash Forward conferences and wanted to be sure to see what he’s been up to recently. Craig has a wonderful way of pairing devices with his computer with Flash to create some mind-expanding demonstrations. He explains his projects as simple manipulation of basic data, but the results are really cool. I shot some video of one of his experiments below. In case the audio isn’t clear, what he’s doing is using time as a variable when displaying live video. Instead of displaying a full frame of video every quarter of a second (or so), he’s only displaying one vertical line of the video then moving the next refreshed piece of video to the right by the width of the line. This is just a single example of many interesting projects he showed.

Sit and Watch - an automated piece of artThe last session I attended on day two was The Blind Sketchmaker: Exploring Evolutionary and Generative Art with Flash by Mario Klingemann. The Blind Sketchmaker is a project he showed that he’s still working on. It’s goal is to create randomized designs, then, based off of learning it accumulates through asking Mario what images qualify as art and which do not, determine if that generated design scores high enough to qualify as “art.” You can see on of the pieces of “art” here to the right called Sit and Watch. What makes this so interesting is that the definition of what is art is highly subjective. Can a computer program be taught to recognize it? It’s a highly complex process your brain goes through to determine if one image is “art” or just random data. His system is still in development but it’s a really interesting concept. I hope Mario will be posting some of the presentation on his website, http://quasimondo.com.


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