Better late than never, we’ve finally come around to finding time to tell you about our experience at Flash on the Beach 2010, which took place between the 26th and 29th September. Now, we don’t do much Flash here at What!? Creative, but based our experience last year of being completely inspired by a massively diverse range of speakers, we decided to give it another go and make it two years running…
So, without further redo, here’s a round up of all the best bits from FOTB 2010:
01. Opening Credits by Nando Costa
…and what an opening to the conference that was! I loved the titles from last year and really didn’t expect anything better, but I found them fascinating; completely different to anything that I imagined.
02. Grant Skinner – ADHD FTW, LOL!!
Our first proper talk of the conference was this one, which was basically about all the fun that Grant gets up to whilst experimenting with Flash. He demonstrated his work using Flash and Adobe Air to control little devices called Phidgets (which are kind of like Arduino boards).
You can check out the ‘slot car’ game he made using an Android phone here:
You can also read more about it here: http://www.gskinner.com/blog/archives/2010/06/air_for_android.html
03. Andre Michelle – Pulsatile Crackle
We had the pleasure of seeing Andre Michelle last year, first thing in the morning after a pretty heavy night out. He rocked our brains with crazy-loud electronic music and bass that you could have heard down the road! – And we loved it! So we definitely wanted to see what he had to demonstrate this year…
It was a pretty similar topic to the previous one – roughly based on all the audio experiments that he’s been doing over the last couple of years. The highlight of which is the Audiotool he’s been developing in Flash. He demoed it last year, but since then it’s progressed quite significantly and people are starting to create some pretty amazing tunes with it – cue the ridiculous bass.
If you’re into music production then you should definitely check it out: http://audiotool.com/
04. Lee Brimelow – Developing for the Mobile Web
This was a really interesting talk about the importance of developing for mobile phones alongside developing for the standard Web, rather than doing it as an afterthought. He discussed the implications of people simply presuming that because our mobile browsers can now render nearly all websites, that we don’t need to build separate mobile sites. He concluded that it’s bad user experience if you have to scroll all around your tiny little screen to see everything, and we shouldn’t just rely on a different stylesheet, we should think about what mobile users really want, and strip our websites down to deliver it – all of which I completely agree with.
Other points that he covered were making sure your mobile sites are fluid so that they can cater for all screen sizes, not just the iPhone, and he also commented on how m.yourdomain.com seems to be becoming the standard subdomain for mobile sites.
You can watch his really insightful video here: http://www.gotoandlearn.com/play.php?id=127
05. Robert Hodgins – Practice makes perfect
Robert Hodgins delivered an awe inspiring presentation which covered most of his life and the work that he has put into becoming one of the most talented 3D visualisers around today. He showcased amazing pieces that were developed in Processing, and then sold to Apple for use in the iTunes music visualiser:
He has also been experimenting with magnets for some time and showcased some incredibly complex sculptures that he has painstakingly created:
06. Stefan Sagmeister (Evening Inspired Session)
The first of the two Inspired sessions of the conference took place from 8pm and featured an all time design great: Stefan Sagmeister. This was probably one of my personal highlights from the entire conference, his stage presence and charisma is very entertaining and the way that he presents himself / his work, and discusses his experiences, in his very Austrian way, is simply fascinating. He is a very accomplished speaker and I was glued from the very beginning to the very end of his talk.
The bulk of his presentation was based around his time on sabbatical. He began his graphic design company, Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 in New York City. Since then, every 7 years he has taken a 1 year sabbatical, shut the whole studio down, and spent time thinking, working on personal projects, and being inspired by all the places that he travels to. He does not take on any client work at all.
Stefan then moved on to the ‘Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far’, a list of statements that he wrote whilst on one sabbatical. This was a simple list of concise sentences, which, on return from sabbatical, were picked up by a number of clients and printed in very large formats all over the world.
You can see a quick TED Talk on them here:
This was a fantastic end to a great first day and we were left wanting to take a sabbatical right away!
01. Mike Chambers – High Performance Mobile Content with Flash
Day two began with a very Flash focused talk (you don’t say!). It covered how you can now use Air for Android to publish Flash movies to mobile devices. The mobile Air application is similar to the desktop version in that it allows you to run Flash movies as applications and not just within the browser. You can also bundle apps for iPhone, which means that you can create applications for multiple platforms within just one familiar program.
The only disadvantages are that you can’t use native controls – so if you want to make something appear as a native app then you have to program those controls manually (which will never look identical no matter how hard you try). Also, iPhone apps are a little larger than usual as the Air player has to be bundled in with it.
Mike also showcased bitmap matrix and GPU acceleration which greatly improves applications performance.
Overall is was quite a technical talk, but pretty interesting nonetheless. It’s good to know about the different ways of publishing to mobile platforms because they are only going to become more popular, and these type of developments are going to help a lot of Flash developers work in new and exciting areas.
02. Seb Lee-Delisle – What the Flux!!?
Situated in the Corn Exchange, rather than the Dome, this session was absolutely packed, and we were very greatful that we got a seat because it was a really fun and interesting talk to attend.
“Some people don’t like Flash” – So this was an overview of HTML5, its advantages and disadvantages, and the future of Flash.
Now, we’ve all got an opinion on HTML5 vs Flash, and Seb began by clarifying all the stupid misconceptions that people make about HTML5 – including what clients tend to ‘think’ about the buzzword… The main points being that CSS3 is not HTML5, and jQuery is also not HTML5. I’m sure we all knew that already, but I thought I’d better make sure :)
Throughout the presentation he made lots of valid points about where and when each technology should be used. It’s not about HTML5 / CSS3 / jQuery pushing Flash out, it’s about playing to the strengths of each technology and giving your clients and users the best experience possible. For example, although the HTML5 <video> tag is really handy, there is currently no way of having proper full screen video, neither is it possible to protect your video content with DRM. So, of course, if you wanted to achieve this you should use Flash. If you aren’t fussed about DRM then you should use Flash to get the full screen capabilities, but then have an HTML5 fall back so that non-Flash devices can also load the content.
Right now, with HTML5 not yet finished, any time you find yourself choosing between HTML5 and Flash to display important content in a particular way – don’t. Use them both. If you’d rather use HTML5, then put a Flash fall back in place. If you’d rather use Flash, then make sure there is still an HTML5 option available. Anything that’s not so important and purely aesthetic, I guess it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t harm the user experience.
Oh, and Seb also played a game of Family Fortunes with the only 3 volunteers in the whole audience that didn’t know what Family Fortunes was! Classic.
03. Julien Vallee – Storytelling, Playfulness and Experimentation
Julien simply showed us a wide range of motion graphic pieces that he’s worked on. He talked about his process and what inspires him.
Some of our favourite pieces were:
OFFF Paris 2010 Sponsors Titles
ARTV – ID
04. Nando Costa – The Other Side
This talk was great. Really inspiring, interesting, and insightful. Nando is a Brazilian graphic designer and director and during his presentation he showcased a wide range of work. He pointed out that some of his favourite pieces were for pitches that he didn’t even win, but emphasised being proud of the work that you produce nonetheless. He also showed how a couple of images for a pitch evolved into a full motion graphics piece.
‘Samsung Behold’ for T-Mobile
‘Whale Song’ for Modest Mouse
‘Fox Movies’ for Fox Japan
As mentioned at the start of this post, Nando also created the opening titles to the whole Flash on the Beach conference.
01. Cyriak Harris – Animated Mental Malfunctions
This has to be one of the most entertaining and crazy talks of the conference. I’d never heard of Cyriak before, but he basically just makes mental animations that he dreams up from the depths of his mind.
“Adobe After Effects plus a diseased mind multiplied by too much free time equals”
His presentation simply revolved around him talking us through some of his most recent work – especially the creation of MEOW which was a collaboration piece. His also said that many clients simply ask him to create something crazy, but once he’s submitted it, he never hears from them again!
Cows & Cows & Cows
Simon Cowell Mash Up
…see, I told you he was mad.
02. Joshua Hirsch – Summer Fridays
The final talk from the conference that’s worth a mention is this one. Joshua heads up one of the coolest agencies in NYC: Big Spaceship. And they’ve made some amazing work.
The majority of the presentation was about an experiment that they conducted recently called Summer Fridays. They try to encourage personal development through non-client projects as much as they can at Big Spaceship, and to begin with they would have little groups working together over a short periods of time to create something cool. This would generally be off the back of a big client project so that the team could have a little break with no restrictions.
One such project was the ‘Most Awesomest thing Ever’ – which is totally addictive! Check it out here: http://mostawesomestthingever.com/
The decision was made to try and get the entire agency working together on these projects and therefore be much more productive, and so Summer Fridays was born. Every Friday afternoon over the Summer, client work was banned, and the team spent time working on their personal ideas.
He concluded that although they managed to create some pretty cool things, he wouldn’t do it again.
The final video in this post is one of the best things they created during Summer Fridays. It’s the Big Spaceship end tag:
Overall we had an amazing time at Flash on the Beach. We came away feeling completely inspired and eager to put some of the things that we learned into practice.
Were you there too? What were your favourite bits? …If you weren’t, make sure you check out this stuff and let us know which you like best!