Archive for November, 2006

The Rise of Flash Video – Part 3

Digital Web Magazine has just published Tom Green’s third installation of his ‘Rise of Flash Video’ series- the first two being so popular they darn near brought down the servers. Part 3 is all about tackling your first FLV project, a step-by-step primer walking through preflight considerations for your video project, encoding (a subject we both tackled in considerable depth here together), using the FLVPlayback component, and finally- publishing your SWF.

If you’ve still been dragging your feet on getting started with Flash Video, you may want to recap with part 1 and part 2 of Tom’s series, then dive into his most recent opus to get all hands-on with the process. Video is rapidly becoming one of the most prevalent mediums to publish content on the web, don’t get left behind when it’s so dead-simple these days!

“Flash 3D” from Focal Press – Thumbs up!

I’ve been meaning to post a review of Focal Press’ new book “Flash 3d – Animation, Interactivity and Games” for a few weeks now, but found myself digging through it more and more, which is a sure-fire sign that I’m enjoying it thoroughly. And that’s definitely the case. Big thumbs-up from me, especially if you’ve been daunted by 3D animation and/or development before. Kudos to co-authors Jim Ver Hague and Chris Jackson for presenting this material in such a down-to-earth and easy to disseminate format.

Now I must admit I’m a bit bummed that this book is even necessary- as being a long-time After Effects user I’ve been using 3D cameras in AE for quite a while and have always wished the same functionality was available in my vector animation app ‘o choice, Flash. But I digress. In lieu of real 3D cameras, objects/primitives and views in Flash, this book does a fantastic job of both walking through the basics of 3D perspectives and geometry, and getting down and dirty with real-world examples and implementations you can chew on right here, right now.

Starting with a great overview of perspective and depth – the book quickly moves into a very well-explained set of chapters covering the mathematics and spatial environment required to animate and code in 3D, and how to apply those principles to your Flash projects. No worries to the algorithmically-challenged- if you skipped geometry and trig in school, you won’t get lost here.

After a blitzkrieg (but well-explained) run through the fundamentals of 3D space, the book rounds out it’s tail section with a discussion of 3D objects and elements, and how to both transform planar objects 3D space as well as extrude/add dimension to them in order to simulate real depth and volume. And the companion CD-ROM includes source and reference projects to supplement all of these great examples throughout. All in all, a very well-done book that fills a rather large void that’s existed for a while in the Flash animation world.

If you’re interested in adding rich 3D effects and perspectives to your Flash projects, whether simple spatial tricks to add dimension to your planar animations or full-blown environmental simulations with camera perspective, “Flash 3D – Animation, Interactivity, and Games” could just be the book that fills the void for you. Check it out- I really enjoyed it and am pretty sure you will as well.

Update: you can also download a sample chapter in PDF format (Chapter 1) from the product page on the Focal Press site, or by clicking here. Good stuff!

From After Effects to Flash

Tom Green and Tiago Dias have a new book coming out, focusing on the intersection of After Effects and Flash for creatives. And good news- you can get a chance to read the first two chapters early starting right now on the Community MX website here. Since I’ve been using these two apps together for quite some time, this is obviously a very interesting subject to me- and knowing Tom well (and just having met Tiago at MAX this last October) it’s looking like the two of ‘em will rip up the subject quite well. Swing over to Community MX and check out the first excerpt from Chapter 1 – “From Concept to Final Product in After Effects 7“. Look forward to reading the rest, guys!

iLike adds Flash Video via YouTube

I blogged yesterday about iLike, a new music social networking site that uses Flash both for iTunes app integration and on-site features, but they’ve just added a really cool feature – the ability to also view any videos on YouTube related to the artist/album in question- right in place (this is what I love the most about Web 2.0 companies – rapid iteration of new features)! You can read all about it on the team weblog here. According to the engineer who built it out (see prior link), the whole feature – from conception to engineering to QA to production – took roughly 72 hours, with the first prototype going live within 3. Nice.

And again, if you decide to hook up the service yourself, make sure to add me to your friends list- I’m a musical sponge and am obsessed with getting good recommendations on new artists/songs/albums/etc so I can waste all my disposable cash at Amoeba Records each week. Plus, it’s just a damn cool usage of Flash. Keep those new features coming, guys… ;-)

Got FLV Chops? Win a MacBook.

So are you itching to test your FLV authoring chops against the best in the business with some real-world incentives backing it up? If so, get surfing on over to the Friends of Ed website, and get started on your entry to their recently-announced FLV’ED contest.

The top dog will walk away with some great prizes- specifically a spankin’ new MacBook, 3 FoE books, a copy each of TechSmith’s products Camtasia and SnagIt, and gskinner.com‘s most excellent Flash asset management extension, gProject. Runners up get 3 Friends of Ed books, and they apparently will be offering a few ‘spot prizes’ for significant entries, so flex that originality muscle and wow the judges early. No telling what those prizes will entail.

The rules and guidelines seem pretty straightforward, and you’ve got until New Years’ Eve (December 31st for the calendar-unaware) to submit your entry. What are you waiting for? Pick up that camera, fire up Flash and get crackin’. There’s prizes to be won!

iLike – Music social networking with Flash

If you’re using iTunes and like music as much as I do (even half as much), you should check out iLike, a new music-centric social networking site by the people who brought you Garageband.com.

iLike has used Flash to integrate a ‘sidebar’ into iTunes (Mac and Windows), and let you share your recently-played tracks with both your direct friends and the larger music community. Implemented in Flash as a direct extension to iTunes (right now that’s the only ‘jukebox’ app supported), the iLike sidebar helps link you to your iLike account, and both see what your friends are listening to as well as other artists similar to your own tastes as you rock out in iTunes on your local machine. Awesome.

But best of all- it helps find similar independent artists on Garageband.com based on your musical preferences. I’ve been growing more and more dissatisfied with the major labels’ choices these days, and have really been getting into the indie scene more- this is a great way to ‘music-surf’ some great unknown acts and ‘local heros’ you might not otherwise notice sticking to the corpo-airwaves. ;-)

I’ve been really enjoying iLike the last month or so of it’s private beta, but as it’s now opened up to public beta this last week- you can jump in and start music-surfing and discovering new artists and tunes yourselves. Check out their FAQ here, and if you decide to hook up, make sure to ping me at my profile page here and hop on my buddy list. The more the merrier, I say.

(IMHO – since it’s such a cool, integrated use of Flash outside the great features, you should just give it a whirl on general principle… ;-)

Apollo Video – HTML & JS Applications

In case you missed his post earlier, Mike Chambers recently uploaded a video of Chris Brichford’s MAX preso on how HTML/JS development will be in Apollo. As I was getting a ton of questions at the conference on the subject, I really recommend checking out this ~40 minute video for an excellent overview – Chris not only covers the high-level questions, but some great examples and deep dives into Apollo development. To be clear- the session centers more on HTML via Flash, but as Mike noted earlier you will of course be able to build purely HTML/JS applications in Apollo 1.0, should that be your bag. Great stuff, give it a play.