December 07, 11

(Post-mortem) Thoughts on Flash

I have a long relationship with Flash. In fact, I met Flash at its infancy around the Millenium. It was at version 4 back then. Now, after 15 years it seems that its life is over. What happened to it due that short course of existence? Why people have turned their backs away from it?

First, the idea of Flash as a web plugin was about Scalable Vector Graphics, thus the undisputed strength of Flash Player lied in realtime rendering of vector graphics. Bandwidths were still exceptionally thin, so every byte mattered. You could easily deliver a game as a single SWF file that had its size comparable to an animated GIF. With processors getting faster quickly, the richness of user experience you could provide with Flash was progressing exponentially. But that's only in theory – you cannot grow forever.

Second, there was "simplicity".

ActionScript was aimed at designers and people who had no previous experience with programming. It was easy to pick up in a night. Write code, compile, test, publish – bang! Quick and easy. And fun. Flash gained thousands of fans and, lots of digital agencies had used Flash as a bedrock for their business.

Third, there's "phases" and "cycles".

Everything in the physical world has three phases of existence: birth, life course and death. Every star and perhaps every particle in the Universe follows this dogma. Same with our lives, relationships, projects and Flash. And my point is – you can't help it. It just happens like that. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you'll be free of it.

The great example of this is Sprite Sheets – how 2011 is that? [sarcasm here] The recent explosion of Sprite Sheet exporters, and everybody getting excited about it. But spiritually speaking, that's the reincarnation - Metal Slug for NES had them back in the 80's. Setting the memory pointer at the right frame and then blit it to the screen was always the fastest way. No doubts about it.

But hey, wait! Was it not all about Scalable Vector Graphics and resolution independency? Sorry, not anymore – we're getting back to square one – pixels.

Fourth, there's HTML5 and "canvas".

"The New Star is born. The Old Star is dying." But if you look on the HTML5 experiments it's feels like reinventing the wheel. We've been there. Web devs are facing problems Flash devs were facing (and solving) for the past ten years. The recent security concerns, cross-browser inconsistencies, unfinished HTML5 spec etc. make it look so infantile. But it doesn't matter that much – it's growing fast.

Fifth, there's "ActionScript 3".

Over the years AS3 became very mature and if you asked me – it had took over JavaScript miles ahead. Projects like Jangaroo and Haxe (with the recent NME) only confirm its maturity and strength.

AS3 is what Flash really is in its essence to me.

Conclusions.

When I met PureData specialist Derek Holzer back in 2004, he said he didn't like Flash because it was proprietary (i.e. wasn't opensource). Just like that. I hadn't agreed with him but he was damn right.

Flash will come back but not quite as we know it. Actually, it has came back already in its new form, and it's getting more mature now – HTML5 API is the new Flash. People are talking about the "death of Flash" – yes, it's a fact and we have to accept this. But the spirit of Flash is alive – can you not see it everywhere in the web – web video, audio API, CSS3 with transforms and transitions – that's nothing else but reincarnated Flash. It wouldn't have ever been there if Flash hadn't treaded the path.

HTML5 will die too, when it's destiny is fulfilled. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Tomek Augustyn
Stockholm, December 2011

10:43 PM | | 0 Comments | Tags: ,
October 29, 11

More Flash Halloween Webcam Toys

Welcome to this time of the year again when people scoop out pumpkin seeds and costume shops make their year's worth of sales during one weekend. Halloween! So nice to be kids again. And now you can be one too, without even leaving your computer desk – just hit the images below and have some fun.

We've teamed up with Leipzig Flash studio Tastenkunst and made these two apps. Marcel Klammer and his team had developed Beyond Reality Face technology which allows using human faces as markers for augmented reality. PhotoBoo substitutes the face so you can experience how does it feel to be a (dead) celebrity.

GooTube is based on my last year's experiment – Black Hole Sun and similarly uses face.com API technology to find feature points in a face, but then BRF's Point Tracker is used to track these points and finally HiSlope helps to apply the distortions to the live webcam feed.

Both apps utilise FaceBook connect so it's even easier to socially share your alter ego (and even set your FB profile pic!) Now go and make goofies out of yourselves. And don't forget to spread the word - boooooooooo!

Many thanks to PtitJean for his initial face.com API for AS3.

01:40 PM | | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
September 21, 11

Flash on the Beach 2011 recap

Another awesome FOTB is over.

Fotb 2011

I had a big pleasure (and even a greater stress haha!) to be a speaker this year – thanks to John Davey and everybody voting and coming to see my Riding the HiSlope! session – it means a lot to me. Generally, I like to improve things and I will be grateful for any feedback.

I've seen many inspiring talks, meet tons of people, drunk loads, made new friendships (hi Polish Flash Mafia) etc. All that resulted to a massive body strike which I am still recovering from. It was so worth it though.

Right, I don't think my session slides would do best on their own, so won't put them up (unless you demand). Here's the list of topics I've covered with the references:

HiSlope

The framework (yes, I dare to call it framework for sometime, used to be a toolkit) which my session was about. Download/fork HiSlope from github and start by reading WIKI.

Haar Cascades

Used for face (and face features) detection. A great research done by Adam Harvey and his CV dazzlehow to stop the machines recognising faces (if we ever need to). Then finally the video showing scanning and matching the wavelets.

Integral image

As described in the Servo magazine.

Blob Detection

Check my blog post which is actually the 2nd hit when you google for "blob detection".

Halftoning and Rasterization

Sort of old stuff but never released before. Download HiSlope and check the Halftoning Demo

HiSlope RGB CMYK rasterizers

face.com API

Check face.com and face.com AS3 wrapper by ptitJean and forked by me. There are updates on the way (some already in HiSlope), mainly parsing face attributes into VOs and the new FaceBook OAuth 2.0 support.

BRF

Amazing SDK for Point Tracking and Estimating the Face Position developed by TastenKunst. Download free SDK at http://www.beyond-reality-face.com

Big thanks to Marcel Klammer (I love you!) and Christian Walther (still not sure what the heck you were doing in that hotel room) for loads of help and remote moral support.

IN2AR

Although not covered in my session, the big Eugene's thing is worth a mention – IN2AR. Haven't had a chance to include it in HiSlope but I guess this is inevitably coming ;-)

Doomsday Console 2

Amazing console developed by the mighty Andreas Rønning (how's your bum dude?) – download from http://code.google.com/p/doomsdayconsole/. I am looking deeply into it, it may result in writing some UI plugins and/or HiSlope integration/collaboration/whatever. Good work!

Last thing – I was hugely impressed by Seb's PixelPhones, I've had a similar concept, except Seb had done it – and it's far far better that I'd ever do it. Lots of people had asked how this was done and I shall describe it (with a little demo) in my next blog post. Stay tuned.

02:10 PM | | 1 Comment | Tags: , , , ,
May 12, 11

Speakertastic

Warning, this is rather hot news – my session at Flash on the Beach has been officially confirmed. This obviously means HiSlope will get more (and proper) love soon! Let me know if you have any suggestions, questions, feature requests etc.

Just email me at my_first_name [at] blog2t [dot] net (spambots suck).

There will be a few "off HiSlope" bits and bobs coming before that though. We are working like mads at 55degrees.co.uk now to finish off all the interactive Riverside Museum exhibits, but after that... got some tasty rejected concepts and prototypes to share...

And if you are going to OFFF 2011 this year – see you there! Let's feed the future (as they say).

08:42 PM | | 1 Comment | Tags:
October 31, 10

face.com + HiSlope Halloween mash-up

The idea was chasing me for a while but there was no time to finish it. Until now... Halloween! – seems to be perfect day for this. So, here you go: HiSlope + face.com API mash-up, click below and go into some wild disguise!

Face.com API + HiSlope demo

This was possible with PtitJean's AS3 face.com API (thanks so much Jean!) Audial delight by Sound Garden – if I now say "Go and buy this track" their label won't sue me, will they? ;-)

The source will be released shortly on GitHub as HiSlope upgrade so watch out. Also there will be something special coming soon, I've teamed up with Marcel Klammer – genius that wrote Virtual Mirror and will be rolling some cool stuff out to you.

HappyScary Halloween!

07:00 PM | | 5 Comments | Tags: , , ,
Next → Page 1 of 5