Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FLVPlayback in Flex ActionScript Project

If you create an AS3 project in Flex you will not have access to the FLVPlayback component by default. You could always try to use the Video class and a NetStream, but what if you want to add in cue points dynamically? The netStream will only send cueEvents, it does not have an API to add new ones.

Therefore you are going to need to add two things to your project in order for you to use the FLVPlayback component.

1. Open your project properties and click on ActionScript Build Path. While in the "Source path" tab, click on add Folder. Add the following folder:
Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Flash CS3\en\Configuration\Component Source\ActionScript 3.0\FLVPlayback

That will at least allow you to import the playback class, but it still will not compile without adding the swc library.

2. Open your project properties and click on ActionScript Build Path. Click on the "Library path" tab. Click "Add SWC" on the right. Add the following swc file:
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Flash CS3\en\Configuration\Components\Video\FLVPlaybackAS3.swc

Now all you have to do is import the class into your as file: import fl.video.FLVPlayback; and you are good to go.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Million Dollar Idea

I am going to have one sooner or later I just need to keep on chugging away at it. Today's idea is midget grass. Its normal grass for the most part, it just stops growing after a certain length so that you will never have to mow your lawn. And don't even try to put this in the same league as Astro Turf. This grass is living, producing oxygen, and is much softer and more visually appealing than Astro Turf.

However, I see two problems with this:
1: I know nothing about grass.
2. Some scientists already have a head start....

Thats the problem with these million dollar ideas. They are usually taken. Beach pillows? Taken. Single use packets of peanut butter? Taken. Yard Zamboni??? Now that one is not taken, but that idea clearly sucked and would never work.

So midget grass may not be the answer. But I am getting closer. One of these days I will have one of those cardboard tshirt folder ideas.

Friday, April 25, 2008

mouseEnabled vs mouseChildren

The more I learn about AS3 the more I enjoy it... however, figuring out all the little insider tricks can be aggravating.

My current struggle has been with the mouse enabled feature. Basically if you click on the screen, Flash will register the click with the top layer regardless if that top layer is being used or not. My current application contains many gradients, masks, and transparent layers and since it was not my design I sometimes do not even realize they are there. I may have a button that I can see plain as day (who came up with that quote? and better yet, who still uses it?). But I can not click on this button because of some masked/transparent evil movieclip that is on top of the button. So I dig through the layers and try to find this evil movieclip that was created to cause me misery and I set its mouseEnabled to false... which basically means the mouse ignores this layer and checks the next layer. You'd think that would solve it, and in some cases it does.

However, there is a catch. What if this evil layer is so clever that it had another invisible evil layer hidden within it as a child. Well shat... My first reaction was to dig through each child and set the mouseEnabled to false. However, Flash comes to the rescue with mouseChildren. Basically if you set mouseChildren to false then Flash will ignore the mouse clicks of all the children of that Movieclip.

Even with all this grief I do have to admit I prefer this setup over having movieclips being accidentally clicked in the background (which occurred frequently in previous versions of flash).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Teachin em Real Good

I have always had an interest in teaching in some capacity, whether it is helping out with a lab, leading a seminar, or being an adjunct professor. I realize I am still fairly "green" and could use a few years under my belt. But just for shits and giggles I have been wondering what would I teach... hmmm.

I'd be most comfortable teaching flash development or some sort of interactive design course with a focus on Action Script. I'd obviously cover the basics and give as much personal insight as possible, but there are a few things that I would definitely focus on which I think were missing in my education.

The main one is building a portfolio. It should start from day one. Every project and every assignment should go towards that portfolio. During my senior year I started looked for jobs and the first thing I was asked was "Show me your web portfolio." Booooooy sir, I ummm have a few videos on cd I could mail you and then I have this one project I made for so and so but I think its offline now... Thanks but no thanks. Everything needs to be easily accessed at all times. As soon as it is complete it should be placed in the portfolio. None of this scrounging around at the last minute trying to find a working copy of a site you made three semesters ago.

Soooo, my thought here is that the first assignment is to make a blog. Fill out the about me section of the blog and make your first post to be your goals. Goals for this particular class as well as future career goals. Every future written assignment will be posted on your blog. Classmates are encouraged or possibly even required to critique each other's work via comments.

Every project that involves anything visual should be described in the blog and then linked to flickr. Whether its an art piece, storyboard layout, or just screen shots of a working assignment. And again, classmates should post comments and critique.

Every video project should be written about on the blog and then linked to a youtube account.

Every website/flash piece should be written about on the blog and then linked to a portfolio page.

Getting the theme here? Everything should be posted online. Every piece of work is a reflection of the student and should be portfolio worthy.

There are a few other ideas up my sleeve and maybe I will post about them soon. But that is the biggie. Getting the work out online for everyone to see should be a requirement.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Turning a Page

Finally found an apartment in Indy. Going to be moving just north of the broad ripple area. Should be good times. No offense to my Lebanon Peeps (which I can only thing of one), but I can't wait to escape.

In an attempt to re-connect with the Indy world I restarted my Facebook account. It is kind of fun to see so many old faces and catch up. It will also be good to see what kind of Facebook widgets are out there and see if they can be useful in our advertisement campaigns. If anyone has some favorites, please give me a shout, I would like to try them out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Technical Support

Like everyone else, I usually do not have much luck with technical support. Usually you get the run around. You get people reading cue cards and not even knowing what they mean. And my personal favorite, you get to talk to a good ole "Americans" named James who just happens to have thick Indian accents. Why do they do that? Do they think they can fool us into thinking we are talking to someone in the United States.

Anways, this post is not a complete rant. That tangent has been explored a million times over by countless bloggers. What I want to do is commend Adobe for its outstanding technical support. Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic (for a change).

I recently tried to upgrade my home version of Adobe Creative Suite from version CS2 to version CS3, but when I entered my CS2 serial number to upgrade it would not work. Turns out I had bought the wrong upgrade package and should have spent quite a bit more money. "James" explained this to me and was very understanding. He then talked to his supervisor and made a one time exception so that I did not have to shell out even more money for the upgrade. That completely made my day. I thought I was out another couple hundred bucks. Go James!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Man, these guys have way too much time. But it is awesome!


Thought it was fake at first, but I think there are too many imperfections for it to be fake.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I eat my words. They are delicious.

As soon as I open my mouth about not wanting to a play a 3D Flash game on its own merit I stumble across Space Hockey. Simple. Fun. Addictive. Still get some frustrating choppiness, but that is probably my old lappy's fault more than anything.

It was created with Papervision and Tweener. I am guessing the instant replay is done with Tweener... that is how the instant replay worked in the Nascar example.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Away 3d 2.0 Released

Check out Away3d's homepage, it contains the specs on their latest release as well as a demo called Green Planet. If you experience a choppy frame rate, try using the full screen mode in the bottom right, it seemed to help me.

Papervision and Away3d are no longer alone... engines seems to be popping up all over the place. I just stumbled across a new one this week from Alternativa Platform. Check out the lighting on this demo of a woman's face.

I am enjoying this rush of 3D advances and am excited about it's future. However, even with all of the recent advances, it still has a long way to go. Most of the demos are only impressive because they are done in Flash and not because of their own merit. I would never play the demo I mentioned above if it wasn't done in Flash. Granted it is just a demo, but this goes for almost all of the 3D Flash games I have seen thus far. (Anyone try to play Prison break? Just move around for 30 seconds and see if you don't get frustrated). The only draw is that it is a new technique in Flash. These sites make splashes in the Flash community, but how much does that translate to the actual customer?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Web Service Bug

I found a small bug in the web service component that I referenced in my last post. It involves casting a String to Boolean. The code tries to convert a string to boolean with a simple Boolean cast. However, the following call Boolean("false") would actually return true. The reason is that any nonempty string returns true. The only time a string would return false is if it were null or empty (""). Therefor, to fix the bug, open WebServiceResponse.as and change the case on line 155 to the following:

case "boolean":
return true;
else return false;


Hope that helps.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AS3 Flash to .NET using SOAP

Ok, I admit the title of this post is absolutely ridiculous. It breaks all the rules of capturing people's attention and getting them excited to read what I have to say. Plus it almost has just as many acronyms as it does real words. Well, tough. This post is for anyone who may be falling into the same trap I did today.

I spent hours today trying to figure out how the hell I am supposed to get Flash to talk to .NET. I am comfortable with Flash and Java Servlets, but .NET is completely another beast. I found Flex solutions. I found AS2 solutions. But I really had to dig in order to find an AS3 Flash solution (seems like Adobe got lazy on porting the AS2 version to AS3). If you stumbled across this post because you are in the same boat, please check out the following website: wellconsidered. Here you will find an AS3 component for Web Services. So far it has been a great blessing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Videos on Flickr

Techcrunch reported today that Flickr added video capabilities to their current services. I've always enjoyed Flickr... its a great way to store and share your photos. It will be interesting to see how much of the video market they can capture. I think my main two concerns for them are the $25 yearly subscription fee as well as the strict file constraints. However, they have a good brand and strong following so they have a solid shot.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Clinically Proven to Annoy

If you put the words "clinically proven" in your advertisement then you might as well have fraud written in bold letters at the bottom of the screen. I don't care if what you are selling does actually work, I am not going to believe you if you say it is clinically proven. Those two words rate right up there with "4 out of 5 Doctor's agree" in the vague statistics category. The only thing that might be more annoying are the before and after photos which make you wonder throughout the entire ad if they are the same person or if they were photoshop'd.

If your medicine/diet/hair growth is so great, why do you need a commercial? Why isn't there a buzz in the medical world? Why aren't patients and doctors writing about their experiences online? Make something worthy and people will spread the word for you.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Rands in Repose

A couple weeks ago I ran across a blog called Rands in Repose, by Michael Lopp. It is mainly geared towards Software Developers and focuses on management, tech life, and being a nerd. The first article I read was call The Nerd Handbook. If you are a nerd, are dating a nerd, or know a nerd, then you will probably get a kick out of that article.

I ended up spending a few hours reading through his most popular posts and then went so far to order his book: Managing Humans. I enjoyed the book so much that I am here to say that you should definitely consider checking it out. How can you not love a book whose first chapter is called "Don't be a Prick"? The book is geared towards software developers and managers in tech companies, but I think anyone who can relate to Office Space would be able to gain from reading this book.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


If you are into Flash game design but do not want to mess around with the nuts and bolts that go with it, then check out FFilmation. Its a free AS3 Isometric Engine (a lot more complex than my old portfolio page.) Make sure you click on the example demos. The lighting effects they've pulled off are very impressive.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Aviary Invites

Just got an invite to test out the Aviary Image Editor and Pattern Maker. I have 5 extra invites if anyone is interested... just post a comment below.

If you have not heard of Aviary, just think online editing tools similar to the Adobe suite (images, typography, music, 3d, video, etc).

My first impression is a very positive one. I have seen online image editors that crop and remove red eye, but this is much much deeper. Their Image Editor (Phoenix) includes layers, history, filters, and some of my favorite Photoshop tools such as clone and transform. Their Pattern Maker (Peacock) has a slick interface that allows you to swap in filters with easy. It is hard to explain, so check out this video from Mario Klingemann.

The software still has some bugs to work out. I was getting an error each time I tried to save an image and then import it. I had better luck just exporting it to my desktop and then importing it from there.

I'll post more if I get some time to experiment with it. Let me know if you are interested in an invite.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Immersive Media

If I have not forced you to check 360 degree video already, please check out the following website: Immersive Media. Make sure you click and drag your mouse to pan the video. The website is full of details on how they accomplished this feat as well as a bunch of different examples of how the technology is currently being used.

For our purposes all you need to know is that they are using 11 cameras to record the video and then projecting the compiled video onto the inside of a sphere. You are sitting on the inside of the sphere and are just changing the camera angle. Now here is where the really cool part comes in (at least for me). The sphere is done in Flash using Papervision3d. Why is that cool? I am glad you asked.

Check out this papervision aquarium (give it a few minutes to load, it will sit at the logo for awhile). It has some similarities. You can move your mouse around to change the view and you feel totally surrounded by the image. The two key differences here is that this aquarium has a static background image instead of the video and it has the additional 3d moving fish that you can click on and interact with.

Since both sites use the same underlining technology, lets combine the two. Not only would you have an immersive video, but you can also click and interact with with objects within your "viewing sphere". You could have the underwater aquarium video playing in the background while you have interactive 3d fish swimming in the foreground. This could easily be turned into a game or some sort of choose your own adventure. Lets say if you can find and click on Nemo in the first 30 seconds the video will seamlessly cut to Nemo swimming with the Narly Turtles (yeah, I liked them too). But if you don't find Nemo in the first 30 seconds then you will seamlessly cut to a video of a Nemo getting eaten by a shark (just to motivate the kids, they better try harder next time or Nemo will get it).

The Nemo thing is a tangent. But regardless, there is a lot of potential for interactive videos/games on the web and from the looks of it we are very close to seeing it.