FITC 2008

FITC 2008 ended on Tuesday April 22nd and this year’s group of speakers were quite good. It was really great to get out of the office and away from the computer for a few days to soak up some much needed inspiration by some of the most innovative interactive designers, developers (and yes, devigners) in the world. There was a healthy mix of creative, technical and business oriented talks relevant to the the field of interactive media. I obviously didn’t get to see all the presentations, but of the ones I did attend, I was thoroughly enlightened.

Mapping with Flex and AIR
Greg Sadetsky delivered an interesting presentation on Web-based 3D mapping applications, discussing many of the unique API features found in his company’s Poly9 FreeEarth Flex application. Discussing at length, many of the technologies offered by competitors ESRI and Pushpin, the trend in mapping application development appears to, not surprisingly, be heading more into the 3D and mobile device realm.

Becoming AS3: 10 Things AS 1/2 Hybrid coders Should Know
Ok I have to admit it, I was intrigued by the title of this talk by R Blank of Almer / Blank because I recently decided to bite the bullet and start seriously learning Actionscript 3. RB sandwiched a lot of material into his 1-hour session but was clear and concise in covering a lot of the syntactical differences between AS 1/2 and AS 3 illustrating code examples written both inside and outside of classes.

3D in Flash: Now and the future
This panel discussion included Lee Brimelow, Joa Ebert, Ralph Hauwert (Papervision3D), Richard Galvan (Paperworld3D), and Trevor Burton with much of the session focusing on the recent proliferation of, and role 3D plays on the Web.
Adobe has clearly taken notice of this trend and has decided to include rudimentary Z-axis transformation control in the next version of Flash CS4.

Adobe Keynote
Mike Downey, along with several of his colleagues from Adobe demonstrated new technologies in beta development. I found Thermo and the upcoming changes in Flash CS4 most interesting.
3D Z-axis transformation in Flash CS4

Inverse Kinematics in Flash CS4

Beyond The Knowledge: The Art of Playing
Erik Natzke’s work always inspires and this presentation was filled with many of his recent artistic explorations into programmatically generated art with Actionscript. Fueled by a desire to explore the realm of experimentation, Erik’s work has increasingly taken on a painterly, organic feel which is likely in response to the commercial constraints induced by corporate creative work.

Justice 30x30

Kaboom!!! Flash Pyrotechnics (and other particle effects)
Seb Lee-Delisle of Plug-in Media (what a cool Web site!) gave a very practical session on particle effects in Flash CS3 with Actionscript 3. Walking through programmatically-generated smoke, sparks, explosions, bubbles and basic gravity effects, Seb was quick to illustrate the runtime performance advantages of AS 3 over AS 2.

Designing Fiction
Tali Krakowsky of Imaginary Forces presented a large body of recent works mainly in the realm of large scale, branded interactive environments and architectural installations. Illustrating concepts for BMW and Lexus, I found the signage concept produced for the Morgan Stanley building in NYC one of the more interesting pieces (QuickTime video below).

Flash 2D & 3D Effects
Ralph Hauwert’s personal work is cutting-edge innovative to say the least with impressive Web-based applications like earthmine. Although Ralph’s work incorporates a lot of 2D and 3D effects (what Flash developer doesn’t use 2D/3D effects?), his presentation should have been entitled something like: Creative and Lateral Thinking : Interactive Paradigms because his session focused rather more on artistic influences and how his passion for experimentation with technology nurtures his commercial client work.

ISO50: Blending Analogue and Digital
I actually skipped the Joshua Davis session to see Scott Hansen’s presentation instead -and it was inspiring.
Scott discussed artistic influences and deconstructed a couple of his rather large poster creative .psd files (I think one had 300+ layers!) explaining his techniques and methodology.
Although his work is entirely digital, Scott’s posters take on a distinctly non-digital feel with warm, retro-weathered colour palettes and a temperament for strong typographic layout and fluid geometric proportion reminiscent of the Bauhaus and German modernism movement.

Breaking Away
Robert Hodgin, founding partner of the Barbarian Group, delivered what I consider to be, one of the most captivating presentations of this year’s FITC conference. Earning a degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, Robert began designing with Flash early on but now creates more esoteric audio-visual experimentations with Processing.
Robert’s Weird Fishes piece created for the Radiohead In Rainbows video contest demonstrates how Perlin noise generated animation can be combined with audio to produce spectacular visualizations.

Weird-Fishes_Arpeggi by Robert Hodgin