MXDU Day 2 – Keynote update

The day 2 keynote just wrapped up, Mike Downey was first up (following another BRILLIANT animated intro), giving a wide overview of the Flash ecosystem as it exists today. Flash Video got a lot of play, covering CNet.com and Amazon.com’s usage of FLV video on their respective homepages (among others). The cornerstone for me- Red Bull’s innovative usage of video-driven interaction for their Air Race Copilot site. Make sure to check it out- I’ve honestly never seen such an integrated use of Flash video to fully document the experience of sitting inside (or outside) of a 300+ horsepower propeller-powered rocket during a real air race. Multi-angle shots, interactive maps- beautiful job.


Mike Chambers took the stage next, highlighting more innovative uses of Flash. First up- Disney’s powering of ‘The Incredibles‘ movie site with integrated video and interactive elements. Next up, the Nike Labs site, showing a truckload of interactive navigation, interactive games, quite an impressive site indeed.After an impressive run through other Flash applications and sites, Mike Downey retook the stage and discussed Flash on mobile devices, and highlighted the winners of the recent Flash Lite contest (good stuff- make sure to check out the Flash Lite Exchange to download and try them yourself!). At the moment, there are 29 million Flash Lite-enabled handsets worldwide, particularly within the Japan, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, as well as the US (and it’s still early, particularly for the US). Samsung and Nokia have both entered partnerships with Macromedia- showing strong hardware support for Flash content- both ‘standalone’ as well as embedded into next-gen phone systems to enable dynamic desktops/screensavers/etc.Mike then dove right into Flash Lite as well as FlashCast.DR Interactive’s MXDU Mobile conference guide was demoed in Flash Lite- as well as several other games, a very rich museum ‘tour guide’ for the Baltic (location based applications will be very sweet in the mobile arena), and the winning entry for the Flash Lite contest- a beautiful real-time FL application allowing you to navigate up-to-the-minute camera grabs of traffic at various Manhattan intersections (make sure to download this from the Mobile Exchange- an amazing usage of FL, in my opinion). A must-have for Manhattan-based handsets.FlashCast was briefly demoed- a framework for creating ‘channels’ of Flash-based content to be pushed to handsets (carriers licensing the framework, developers providing the content/channels). Offline storage in FlashCast allows partially-connected browsing of FC-delivered content. VERY cool environment, can’t wait to see this become adopted in my local markets/carriers.Mike Chambers then hopped back up and talked about the future of Flash- examples created within the next versions of both Flash and the Flash Player. Alongside impressive increases performance, the next release of Flash authoring will highlight expressive, creative content, along with improved handling of text, bitmaps and video. Some examples:- Player 8’s ‘cache as bitmap’ feature- allowing much faster animation of complex vector content (great new example courtesy of Guy Watson/FlashGuru)- Advanced graphic effects such as bevels, drop-shadows, blurs, convolution kernel ops, displacement mapping, etc. (very fast, I might add)- Showing the above applied to running video clips (sweet) in realtime.- Some great examples of (what I can only refer to as) ‘pseudo-particle effects’ such as cigarette smoke, liquid textures, etc.- Dynamic access to video alphas, allowing dynamic masking and layering within the player- a new video codec, providing increased quality and reduced bandwidth requirementsNet takeaway- traditional raster/video artists have a LOT to look forward to.To rewind briefly- the MXDU banquet last night was quite the event. Beginning with a ‘treasure hunt’ across the harbor (each ‘team’ was given a Polaroid camera, a map, and 5 semi-vague ‘objectives’ to shoot before returning), everyone returned and made collages of their ‘hunt’ while dinner was served. (editor note: my team did NOT win.)Alongside a good jazz combo, the banquet had one of the best entertainment ideas I’ve seen in a while- a comedian was ‘planted’ among the service staff, and it took most of the tables darn near the entire dinner to realize that he’d been pulling our collective legs by insulting guests, throwing ice, cursing and stomping- classic! He did a full comedy set afterwards (apparently he’s also attending the conference and a Dreamweaver user at heart), great touch! Afterwards everyone migrated to either the casino, the harbor or the XBox lounge (myself the latter).And now- off to the sessions…