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July 2005 Archives

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New Flash Object Scripts

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07/20/05, 09:15 PM

Geoff Stearns is asking for feedback on FlashObject as he develops the next release.

Additionally, Bobby van der Sluis has released Unobtrusive Flash Objects v1.0. UFO is a new Flash-detection script based on Geoff Stearns' FlashObject with some improvements, such as build version detection (a.k.a. sub or minor version detection).

Update (7-25-05): Geoff has updated FlashObject to version 1.2, which includes support for build version detection, as well as other improvements. FlashObject also has its own homepage now, complete with docs and examples. Personally, I'm going to continue to stick with Geoff's FlashObject over UFO because UFO doesn't load the Flash content until the page has loaded.

Featured Product - Special Discount

Maelstrom Public Beta

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07/12/05, 10:51 AM

Macromedia released the public beta of the next version of the Flash Player (Flash Player 8, code named "Maelstrom") this morning. As promised, there is improved performance, but as in the case with any beta release, there most certainly will be bugs.

If you find any bugs with installation or with backwards compatibility with your current SWFs, report them to Macromedia.

adidas originals

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07/11/05, 09:06 AM

Flash Player Version 7
adidas originals

Flash Forward - Day 3

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07/09/05, 03:22 PM

Sorry for the slight delay in this post, it's been a long, Flash-filled week. Same deal as yesterday with multiple seminars I wanted to attend at the same time, so for the ones I missed, I'll post some of the info included in the conference workbook.

Making Things Walk: Inverse Kinematics
Keith Peters, BIT-101

OK I'll admit it. Although I considered attending this session, the desire to catch an extra hour of sleep got the best of me and I missed it. As much as I'd like to learn programming kinematics in Flash, I don't see myself having much time to make use of it in the near future. However, I will say that the notes included in the conference workbook are very detailed. Luckily, Keith is writing a book on animation, with topics ranging from the basics to advanced motion based on physics and simulating 3D. I'm sure the book will include even more detail than his notes he provided for the conference, so we'll all have to buy it when it is released in August.

Flash Community: Perpetual Virtual Jam Session
Aral Balkan, Mike Chambers, Branden Hall, Peter Hall, Grant Skinner, Guy Watson, Christoph Wiese

For this seminar, each person discussed how they got to be where they are, and then took questions from the audience. The common theme seemed to be the "Flash community," with all speakers acknowledging that it was/is their involvement in the Flash community that enabled them to become as popular and successful as they are today.

One person asked a question about how in the world these guys can work their full time jobs, participate in the community, and still have any friends & semblance of a life. Everyone's answer was along the lines that since they have become successful, they don't have as much time to offer to the community as they once did, but they consider the time they do have to offer to be invaluable, because while they are primarily helping others, they're still learning themselves.

Hopefully, Flash Pearls is just the beginning of a long life of active involvement in the Flash community for myself.

Also, Branden made an announcement that he will be on the radio tonight from 9pm-midnight. New York listeners can tune in to WVOX 1460AM, and the rest of us can listen in at wvox.com.

Photoshop and Flash: Optimizing Pixels and Workflow
Michael Ninness, lynda.com

This took place the same time as the Virtual Jam Session, so I did not attend, but flipping through the workbook notes I came across a few Photoshop tips I was not aware of:

  • - Bicubic Sharper: When downsampling an image (making it smaller), use the "Bicubic Sharper" option to resample the image instead of the default "Bicubic" option. I had no clue this even existed, but I am very happy to now know this because I often find myself manually sharpening images to some degree after shrinking them down. I also noticed there's a "Bicubic Smoother" option as well, which enhances image quality when increasing image size. These options were first available in Photoshop CS.
  • - Channel-Based Web Optimization: You can use a mask to increase the quality of parts of an image when exporting a JPEG using the "Save for Web" option. After creating your mask, save it, and then choose "Save for Web." Click the button next to the "Quality" slider. That will open up a box where you can select your mask from the "Channel" dropdown. Then use the black and white sliders to adjust the quality of the masked (white) and unmasked (black) areas. This option has apparently been around since Photoshop 6.0, so I've definitely missed the boat big time on this one :P

Extendng Flash within Rich Media Advertising
Dan Fradin, PointRoll

Yet another seminar offered at the same time as the Virtual Jam Session. While I could not attend, I did stop by their booth during their conference and picked up as much literature as I could on the company and spoke with one of their representatives. They offer a complete set of ad serving options for publishers and advertisers alike. For more information, visit their website.

Integrating Flash with HTML, Javascript, and AJAX
Mike Chambers, Christian Cantrell, Macromedia

Finally, we're back to a seminar I actually did attend. The primary focus of this was the Flash / JavaScript Integration Kit. Their presentation notes are available online at osflash.org. I'd highly recommend checking them out if you are not already familiar with the topics:

  • - AJAX and the MXNA (view the source of the page code to see how it all works)
  • - Flash / JavaScript Integration Kit
  • - Deep Linking (they didn't get a chance to discuss this, but Christian has blogged about this topic before)
  • - Implementing the View Source context menu option in Flash

One of the audience members pointed out that what they're doing with the Flash / JavaScript Integration Kit seems to be similar to JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). The existence of JSON was news to Mike (and others I'm sure, myself included), so he said he'd check it out.

I felt the most exciting news from this was that they are currently developing an AWESOME command line utility that will make the Flash "View Source" incredibly easy to implement AND it's wonderfully organized and includes a color-coded source view. To see what I'm talking about, visit the MXNA and choose "View Source" from the context menu of the chart.

While the utility is not released yet (although they hope to release it soon), they did explain how it works. You basically just put all the source files you wish to include in a directory, run the utility, and it creates all the necessary files for you to upload. For those that don't want to include all their source code, it will offer the option to not include specific files if you wish. I'll be anxiously awaiting the release of this utility and I'll be sure to post about it as soon as it is available.

Some Rights Reserved
Paula Le Dieu, Creative Commons

Basically, all you need to know from this is that you can automatically generate a Creative Commons license, and do a host of other things related to licensing, at the Creative Commons website. If you haven't taken advantage of this yet, you should. Right now. Go!

Flash Games as Advertising
Jose R. Rodriguez, JRVisuals LLC

Jose's presentation and files will be available online for the next few months, so go check them out now while you can. Here are some of the more important points from the presentation:

  • - Build your games with reusable parts. He showed us a game (with a similar concept to Chip's Challenge) that was originally created as a promotional piece to send to clients. He ended up reskinning it and modifying it for 2 clients as a result, and his original setup allowed that to be an easy process
  • - make the game simple (assume no one will read the instructions)
  • - bitmaps will run faster than vectors
  • - use as few strokes and gradients as possible to inprove performance
  • - dynamically change quality settings to increase gameplay when needed
  • - use SWF Wrapper Applications to add additional features (i.e. FTP, Screen Resolution options, and more) when creating executables from Flash SWFs
  • - Sound effects & music can greatly enhance a game, but be sure to include a mute button as well
  • - A High Score board and a "Send to a Friend" feature can help to increase the popularity of your games

For anyone looking to purchase a book on game theory, he highly recommends Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Eric Zimmerman.

He also showed us a preview of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game in Flash that he's developing for 4kids.tv that looks similar to the classic TMNT adventure arcade games. Look for that to be online in the near future.

How to Get Hired
R/GA

This focused on tips on how to obtain clients. R/GA has been in business since 1977 and has worked with some of the world's most high-profile clients, including Nike, Verizon, Nokia, and Target, so they were perfect presenters for this seminar. Their presentation can best be summarized by their tips for success:

  • - Know your client's business
  • - Know your client's clients
  • - Be a Flash Evangelist (by calming any fears they have about using Flash and promoting its unique and powerful abilities)
  • - Be curious and open
  • - Have enthusiasm and passion
  • - Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate (both with the client and within the office)

Overall, I'd say Flash Forward NYC 2005 was a huge success, and I hope to be in attendance again next year. There were lots of great Flash sites highlighted in peoples' presentations, which I'll be showcasing on Flash Pearls next week, so keep checking back!

For more information on Day 3 of the conference, be sure to check out Michael Raichelson's podcast.

Additional Wrap-Ups:

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