Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Augmented Reality Christmas Card [Flash, Papervision, FlarToolkit]

Happy Holidays from The Basement!

Todd, Amy, Dan, and Joseph have been very busy these past few days getting their heads wrapped around placing Papervision into FlarToolkit and coming up with a Basement Christmas Card: Check it out.

Dan took the lead on sound. Joseph did the 3D modeling and Animation. Amy designed the 2D aspects of the site. Todd brought it all together in Flash.

Special thanks goes to the Papervision team as well as Saqoosha and the Spark Project for their open source contributions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Flash Freelancers Needed

2010 is looking as though it will be a busy year for The Basement. We are looking to add Flash designers/developers to our current entourage of freelancers. If you are interested in working with us, please submit the following information to mark[AT]thebasement[DOT]tv

1. Name
2. Location. Anywhere is acceptable; however, bonus points will be given to those in Indianapolis and are willing to work in house.
3. Portfolio
4. What types of projects are you most qualified for? Banners, Microsites, Websites, Games, RIA, etc.
5. What types of projects are you most interested in working on? (See list from #4)

That is all we need at this time. Once projects start coming down the pipes we can get into the nitty gritty details.

Feel free to send any questions or hit me up on twitter.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flash Break Out - Indianapolis Flash Event

*Update* We will be meeting upstairs in Theory room 13. Park wherever and there should be signs pointing to the room. Also, ITT has opened one of its labs for us. If you don't have a laptop, no worries, bring your work in on a flash drive or e-mail it to yourself and you should be fine. Thanks!

Flash Indianapolis is going to kick off the new year with something a little different. Instead of meeting for an hour during a weeknight, we will be holding a Saturday afternoon event. Instead of having a speaker, we are going to let everyone to bring their laptops, their work, and their questions. We will focus on collaboration and discussion. It will be an open room, anyone can request help on understanding a topic or a specific problem they are working on. People can branch off into side tables to discuss things they are interested in. Some people will be answering questions, some asking, some both... there will be no assigned roles. Questions can be anything, but please try to tie it into designing and developing on the Flash Platform.

Feel free to get the discussions started on the forums as we will get much better answers if we have time to prepare and collaborate before the event.

Anyone is welcome to join. You do not need to be a member of Flash Indianapolis nor do you have to even live in Indianapolis. Feel free to spread this around and invite your friends.

Saturday - January 30th

1:00pm: Doors open.
4:30pm: Wrap up and Recap. Share findings.
5:00pm: Head to Rock Bottom for Dinner and a Beer

ITT Technical Institute has graciously offered Theory room 13 and Lab 12 for us to meet in. Their building is located here:
9511 Angola Court
Indianapolis, IN 46268-3160

Feel free to RSVP here.

Adobe Clears air on Flash Player 10.1 Runtime Restrictions

One thing you can't deny about Adobe is that they are listening. Be it a forum question, a blog post, over even a tweet. If you have a genuine question, they will do their best to give a genuine answer. For that, I highly respect Adobe.

Earlier this month I was confused about how Adobe could promote the Open Screen Project while they were still using an End User License Agreement that stated you could only run Flash on a PC.

Adobe responded in force:
John Dowdell said he understood the rule to mean that one can no redistribute the Flash Player without a license and that the device needed to be able to update the player.

Tom M Nguyen, Product Manager for the Adobe Flash Player, added his take on the forums by saying the main restriction is that the device needs to be able to update the Flash player since non-update-able devices would be detrimental to the user's experience.

Emmy Huang, Group Product Manager for the Adobe Flash Player, ended the debate by saying the EULA I was referencing was dated February of 2008 and will be updated once Mobile builds are ready for beta. Here is her response in full:

The EULA and distribution agreement have not been updated yet. We don't have mobile builds posted anywhere since they aren't in beta.

If you check the date, the EULA is from Feb of 2008.

Also, keep in mind that Adobe may not be the ones distributing the player binaries. Through Open Screen Project, partners can license source for porting in which case the EULA does not come from Adobe.

Also note that OSP royalty free terms are for open systems with the goal of providing a consistent runtime for web browsing and applications. Closed systems do not qualify for royalty free licensing. If you have a question about whether your use case qualifies for OSP terms, you can contact OSP here

That should clear up the debate. As long as your device can download the player and update itself then you will be able to use Flash Player 10.1 without a special license or fee. So back to work everyone, continue planning your mobile devices and non-PC content.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hypocrisy -> Adobe Flash Runtime Restrictions for Player 10.1

Update: Adobe Clears the Air

I am confused. Not a first, I know... or a last for that matter. But follow me on this one and see if this makes sense to you:

1. Adobe leads Open Screen Project initiative to "Enable consumers to engage with rich Internet experiences seamlessly across any device, anywhere". (Sources: OpenScreenProject, Oct. 2009 Press Release)
2. "Adobe Runtime Restrictions. You will not use any Adobe Runtime on any non-PC device or with any embedded or device version of any operating system." They go on to list mobile, digital signage, TV, etc, as examples. (Source: Flash Player 10.1 End user License Agreement)

#1 seems clear enough. Everyone use Flash Everywhere! Yeah Flash!

#2 also seems clear. Flash is only for the PC, otherwise do no pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

Hmmm. The press release states that Flash 10.1 is going to be geared for desktop AND mobile. The 10.1 EULA states that you need to contact Adobe Licensing for more information on obtaining a license on non-PC devices... including mobile.

After a quick Google search, it seems I am not the only one confused. Even 'Expert Digital Signage Consulting' is confused. AND they are experts! (and consultants!)

In the comments of the post you will notice that Bill Gerba, of WireSpring states:

We have been told -- in no uncertain terms, by Adobe legal themselves -- that if you want to use an Adobe-provided Flash player for digital signage, you HAD to license it from one of their special licensing agents, regardless of operating system, size of screen, or any other factor.

This can't be right. Open Source for all devices yet you need a license for digital signage???

Adobe, hear our plea! Clear this hypocrisy up please!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hire me, Headblade (Based on the true story of Eric Romer)

Many people are on their way to becoming professional job searchers. They have their application process down to a science. When a new job gets posted they proceed with their usual routine:

1. tidy resume/portfolio
2. customize cover letter template
3. cross their fingers and hope for the best

Professional job searcher, in this context, becomes somewhat of an oxymoron. The better you get at your routine, the more times your routine has failed. Maybe it is time to break the mold?

Take this job posting from HeadBlade for example:
Interactive/Social Media Marketing Manager

HeadBlade, Inc. is seeking an Interactive Marketing Manager to strategize and execute online marketing initiatives and engage social media networks to further extend the brand and reach new customers. HeadBlade’s best known product is a proprietary head shaving razor on wheels that has revolutionized head shaving and received accolades for its design.

Eric Romer, a proud user of HeadBlade, found this job posting and felt it would be a perfect fit. He lists his specialties on LinkedIn as the following: "online brand management, search marketing, SEO, corporate blogging, integrating traditional advertising with new media".

Sounds good to me. His specialties match the job description, his experience meets/exceeds the requirements, and the fact that he has been using the product for four years doesn't hurt either.

If he sent in his resume & cover letter and then followed it with a strong finger cross he may have a chance. However, Eric decided to break the mold. Hell, Eric shattered the mold. Here is his approach:

1. Invent a unique identity for himself... a brand or slogan if you will: "Hire me, Headblade"
2. Create a twitter account: @HireMeHeadblade
3. Create a Facebook fan page.
4. Buy "" and tie it all together with a clean site & blog.
5. Proceed to apply for the Social Media job THROUGH Social Media outlets. His fan page is gathering steam. He has tweeted to HeadBlade directly and encourages others to do so as well. He was even able to get Lance Moore, wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints (for all you non-fantasy football players out there), to support his cause.

Where does the story go from here? I am not sure. However, if you were on the hiring end, would you go for the guy who is crossing his fingers or would you go with the guy who bought ""?

Update: Campaign was a success. He was hired during his visit this weekend. Begins working in 1 month!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Indianapolis Multimedia Social Event (Raising the Bar)

This month we are going to get away from our usual speaker routine at Flash Indianapolis and go directly to the social after party. However, instead of just meeting amongst the usual crowd, we hope to "raise the bar" by inviting the following user groups to attend:

Flash Indianapolis
IndyFusion (formerly Hoosier Fusion)
IndyMediaArtists (formerly CIDMAG)

The event is Tuesday, December 15th starting at 6pm at the Rathskeller and will run as long as people are still standing. Please come and go as you please. Eat/Drink/Be Merry. If we make it to Old Point for nachos then it has been a success.

Feel free to invite anyone whom you think may be interested. It should be an interesting mix and a great opportunity to meet new people and network.

RSVP so I can warn Rathskeller how many we may have.

Site note, that is quite an impressive list for Indianapolis User Groups. Please take a minute to check out the various groups and see what they have to offer. If you have a group that should be added to this list, please leave a comment or feel free to contact me directly.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Basement Design + Motion's Latest TV Spot (Pocket Purifier)

The motion graphic team at The Basement Design + Motion recently finished their latest TV spot. It should be broadcasting nationally soon, but you can get a sneak peek below:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Online Competition

I've sat here for way too long trying to come up with a more descriptive title. However, I don't want to pigeon hole myself by trying to describe the competition w/ a few catchy words... so lets just roll on into the details.

The thing is, its not one competition. Its a community for online competitions. The competitions can be very specific such as create a 3D model of a Sumo wrestler using Maya or they could be very generic such as create something that expresses the word "Tantalizing" using any medium as long as it can be captured in a digital form and uploaded to the site. If you make a fifty foot jello mold, that is perfect... just make sure you can take a picture of it that shows off its majesty.

Some competitions will just be for fun and the winners will get recognized on the site. Other competitions may be sponsored by a specific organization and geared towards their needs such as make an interactive Flash banner to raise awareness for Pica. Winners for these competitions may get money, software, or contract work. And lastly, we will have at least one competition a semester geared towards students and the winner of that competition will get a scholarship to any college/university in Indiana. Please note, you do NOT have to be from Indiana to participate in any of the competitions.

How do we determine the winners? Well a community vote of course. Everyone can view the submissions, leave feedback, and then vote for their favorites.

Still reading? Great, check out Indiana Uploaded and sign up for updates on when the site will go live. We are looking for people interested in competing, sponsoring events, and even people who just want to check out the art and vote.

The thing that excites me the most about this site is the potential. Right now, it can be molded into anything the community wants. If we get enough interest, this could be a great forum for holding Flash specific competitions such as 4k Flash games... The hard part will be getting enough people on the site to make it an active community. So quit reading... er wait. keep reading... sign up, invite your friends, and check the site often once it is live... OK, now quit reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Flash Indianapolis (November Meeting): George Evans

George Evans is currently a Partner and the Creative Director at Brandwidth. He is an award-winning writer, producer and Creative Director, having worked in the advertising and marketing arena for 29 years. He has worked for such agencies as Ketchum Advertising, HBM/Creamer (Della Femina), DDF&M (Ten United), St. George (Marc USA) as well as for a number of boutique creative shops. There are few categories in which George doesn’t have experience, but he made his bones for the majority of his career in brand development and new-product introductions. He lives in Indianapolis with Karen, his symphony musician wife, and is the author of “Buffalo & Rochelle,” a recently published collection of short fiction. His son George IV is his pride and joy. (source)

George will be bridging the gap between old marketing concepts and new technology channels. He will reveal the thought and planning that goes on behind the commercial work. He will also talk about the Industry in general and where he sees it heading in the near and distant future. If time allows, we will open up the floor to Q/A.

6:00pm: Doors open. Everyone can meet and greet
6:30pm: Presentation Begins
7:30pm: Open Floor
8:00pm: Local Bar for Drink(s)

We will be in Brandwidth's conference room:
9650 North Augusta Drive Suite 534
Carmel Indiana

Check out our site to learn more about Flash Indianapolis and be sure to check the events page to RSVP.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Butler University Media Arts Class Registration

If you are a current Butler student and are registering for classes this week, then be sure to check out MDA 290 52. It falls under the Media Arts department but I could see it being beneficial to a variety of disciplines. You can find the proposed curriculum here. Drop me a line if you have any questions.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It does not take Social Media to Create a Following

Many marketing "gurus" have thrown all of their chips on Social Media and have spun the roulette wheel of success. While for some companies it has hit, for many (if not most) it has missed.

The main goals of Social Media in regards to commercialization is to reach new customers and maintain repeat customers by starting a conversation, building a personal relationship, and establishing a following. While I agree that all of these goals are excellent and can be very important to companies, especially national and international brands, I do NOT think that Social Media is always the best path for obtaining these goals.

I hear small business owners being told they need to start a blog, a twitter account, and a facebook fan page. Really? Do they?

Sure, I don't think it will hurt anything if they do, but I can think of better ways to spend your money and your time.

Lets look at one of my favorite restaurants in Indianapolis: Yats. Yats is a Cajun Creole Restaurant founded by Joe Vuskovich. First off, Yats offers fantastic food, cheap prices, and a fun New Orleans atmosphere. However, those qualities alone will not guarantee success, let alone a following.

Yats's success stems directly from Joe. Half the time I visit Yats (which is almost weekly), I will see Joe. He is not acting like a boss or an owner... he is opening the door for people. Bringing their food. Taking orders. And socializing with the local patrons. This is where the personal relationship begins. If Joe spent his time writing blog posts, I am sure he would get some followers... but his following would not be as large or as personal as the relationships he is building each day by being there in person.

Joe's personality has spread throughout the entire organization. The staff does an excellent job of being friendly and remembering repeat customers. This is key, when you come and are recognized you feel as though you are part of the group. You belong here, you are member of the Yats family. It makes you want to come back, to bring your friends, and to leave healthy tips.

The thing that keeps coming back to my mind is that you are treated as a friend instead of a customer. A prime example of this is that I visited a month ago and forgot my money. I about left the line, but they said not to worry about it, just get them back the next time. Seriously? They didn't even take my name, number, or amount I owed them. They just handed me my food and said they trusted me. Wow! Immediately after lunch I got some money and made sure I left a hefty tip.

The point of all this is that you can build personal relationships, conversations, and a following without starting a Blog, Twitter Account, or fan page. In fact, those tools should be used secondary... your primary focus should be how do you run your business. Are you running through the motions or are you building friendships?

If you are a business owner who is currently thinking about starting a blog, stop immediately. What could you be doing in your store to create a following? What can you be doing to start conversations? What can you be doing to create personal relationships?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google and Bing now search Twitter

Techcrunch recently posted about how Google and Bing have made deals with Twitter to add searching "Tweets" to their services.

They mention ranking tweets as being a hard problem to solve... at first I thought what is so hard? You already have twitterholic, twitterank, and twitter grader. Twitter Grader seeming to be the most in depth and informative, while TwitterRank comes up with an ambiguous number (hurray! I am 15.93... whatever that means) and Twitterholic comes up with a rank for the site as well as a rank for your location.

However, it is the "real time" aspect of the search that seems to be the issue. When it comes to Tweets, it is all about timing and keeping ahead of the latest and greatest wave of information. When you search on Twitter, you find the most recent posts which have nothing to do with relevancy or ranking mentioned above. If I search for Bing today, I would want to see tweets about how Bing is now searching Twitter. I would not be interested in tweets about Bing's initial release months ago, even if those older tweets were from @Bing itself.

So there is the rub. How do you obtain the most recent AND most relevant posts? It will be interesting what they come up with. It would be great if they could track the number of times a tweet has been Retweeted, but I am not sure if that is a possibility especially considering how many retweets either get a comment added to them or they get edited down to fit in the user's name.

If it were up to you, would you put more emphasis on how recent the post was or how highly ranked the user is?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Very Slick Web Portfolio: Mighty Dream

I've been on a kick of portfolio based blog posts ever since I got the gig to teach the "Online Portfolio" class at Butler University next semester.

Sick of them? Well, sorry. Move along, because as the title suggests I have another portfolio post for you.

I am biased, since he is my cousin and all, but Mighty Dream just got a huge face lift this month. And by face-lift I mean going from a splash page to a full service portfolio w/ integration into Tumblr and ties to social media. Check out what the Mighty Dream has to offer.

This portfolio has everything a portfolio should include. All the necessary information... check. A plethora of work... and quality work at that. You'll notice he only has his latest and greatest work... nothing that is outdated or things he no longer cares to pursue (like his old Flash projects or video work). And finally, like all great portfolios, the site itself is a worthy piece. It displays both his slick design skills as shown in the layout, logo, and custom icons AND his coder skills as shown by the dynamic aspects of the site. He describes both the design and code he used in his about page.

Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear some critique on either side of the fence.

*He did not put me up to this, nor does he know I am doing this.... I don't even think he knows I have seen the page yet.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Attend AdobeMax? Live in the Indianapolis Area?

I am putting together a small and informal panel of people who attended Adobe Max for this month's Flash Indianapolis meeting.

We will give each panel member a chance to briefly describe what they learned and experienced. I will have a few questions prepared such as what was your favorite session or what was your biggest take away. Then we will open it up to the floor for Q/A.

If that wasn't enticing enough... Afterwords we will run the beer/nacho gauntlet down Mass Ave.

Comment or tweet if you are interested in being on the panel. For everyone else in the area, keep an eye on Flash Indianapolis for specifics on the upcoming event.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flash Player and iPhone Support (Adobe Max)

There seems to be some confusion about the "Flash support" on the iPhone as I am having the same conversation multiple times.

Here is the deal as I understand it:
1. The iPhone does NOT support Flash. Not the current player, not the 10.1 player, and not the player that will come with CS5.
2. Flash player 10.1 will be supported by "most" smart phones. These phones should come out in 2010. "Most" does NOT include the iPhone.
3. Here is the tricky bit: CS5 will be able to export to an iPhone app. Again, this does not mean that the iPhone is supporting Flash, this means that Flash is exporting in a format that is accepted by the iPhone INSTEAD of exporting as a SWF file. 8BitRocket summarizes this well by comparing it to the process of exporting an FLA as a Projector file.

What does this mean? Well it means that Flash developers should no longer need to learn Objective-C to develop iPhone apps. Hopefully it will be a painless experience to develop for the iPhone. But who knows, Keith Peters and a few others have expressed their doubt that it will be smooth sailing... That's right right Keith, I am calling you out ;). Personally, I can deal with some hurdles and some restrictions as long as the performance is there in the end.

What does this NOT mean? This does NOT mean that we will be able to put SWF files on the iPhone. It does NOT mean that we will be able to make websites for the iPhone or content within websites for the iPhone.

From a business perspective, this seems to be the perfect compromise between Apple and Adobe. Apple maintains its App Store and its revenue for selling apps, but it loses its strangle hold on the Objective-C development. Adobe, on the other end, gets its foot into the iPhone arena and becomes an instant player on the iPhone app development front, but it still does not have its holy grail of getting Flash browser support on the iPhone.

It will be interesting to see if Apple accepts this compromise or if it pushes back in some manner.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What makes a Portfolio Successful? Whether you are a Freelancer, Studio, or Agency... Does your Portfolio Qualify?

First off, lets make sure everyone is on the same page here and understands that your portfolio (be it freelance or for your company) is THE most important tool you have. Yes, its a tool. Its a way for clients to see what you can do. Its a way to convince them that you can complete the work that they desire. It helps get conversation started and it helps seal the deal.

Your portfolio starts conversations and opens doors when it gets passed to potential clients and they are impressed by your work. You want them to think "Shit, that is badass. We need something like that." Sorry for the foul language, but the client was impressed and couldn't help it. This type of reaction is what allows you to begin to network and develop business with potential clients that previously did not know you even existed.

On the flip side, the portfolio can seal the deal when the client comes to you with an idea but wants to be convinced that you can complete the work. This is where your portfolio needs to be filled with projects of quality and caliber that is similar to the ones you are going after. If the client is looking for an interactive game, you sure as hell better include some games in your body of work. Verbally saying, "Oh yeah, we can do that. We have a Flash guy." may work for the inexperienced, but it is not going to land you jobs with the big fish. You need to prove that you can do it and the best way to prove it is by having already completed similar projects before. You got to see it to believe it. This proof is one of the best ways to seal the deal with a potential client.

Now that we covered why we need a portfolio... how do we get clients to say "Shit that is badass" and prove to them that we can do the work they want? The most obvious thing you must include a collection of previous work. By definition, that is what a portfolio consists of. However, as obvious as this step is, it can still be fucked up. First off, don't include every piece you have ever completed... only include your most recent and your best. Each project should have a reason for being in your portfolio. Whether it shows that you can work on a national campaign, that you can do 3D, that you can make games, etc... Each piece should show a different side of your work. DO NOT INCLUDE EVERYTHING! If you don't want to do banner ads, don't include any banner ads in your work. If you don't want to do print design... don't show it! Fill your portfolio ONLY with the type of projects you enjoy doing and want to continue doing.

The next step in proving your skill set is including verbiage that describes what your role was on the project. This is important because you may not have worked on every aspect of a project and you need to be clear which parts were your own and which parts were done in collaboration. The goal here is to be very clear about what you specialize in and not leave clients wondering what your capabilities are.

So you have your focused body of work w/ detailed descriptions all ready to go. The final question, and one of the most important ones, is how do you display this information? You can get by with a clean and easy way for users to find your work and cycle through them. However, making your portfolio a piece of art in itself will take it to a whole new level. By making it a piece of art you are doing two things. First, and most importantly, you are giving yourself a chance to strut your stuff. This is your chance to flex your muscles with no client restrictions. Use this opportunity to prove to clients that you can do work that they may not see in your portfolio. If you want to prove that you can make a game but you don't have a full game in your portfolio... make your portfolio a game. That is what I did back in 2005 ( painful to see now, but you get the point). Second, by strutting your stuff you are increasing the chances that the potential client will think your portfolio is "badass" and therefore increase the chances they will reach out to you. No matter how polished your previous work is, if it is not presented in a quality manner then the client will be distracted by the presentation and think less of your overall work.

In summary, a successful portfolio is one that "wows" clients, proves to clients that you can do the work, and ultimately leads to more work for yourself and your organization.

Using this definition, does your site qualify as being successful? Does it show the type of work that you would like to continue doing? Is the site a portfolio piece itself, or does it just present your work? What does it do well? What could be improved?

For full disclosure... here is The Basement Design + Motion's most recent homepage and portfolio. The site showcases different design styles and disciplines (3D, Motion Graphics, Interactivity, etc). Every team member had their hand in the project at some point or another.

Do you think this site qualifies as being successful? What does it do well? What could be improved?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Indianapolis Art Scene (Art vs Art, Oranje, Penrod, Psst3)

Its a great time of the year for the Indy art scene. Last week kicked it off with a Screening of "PSST3 Pass it on" on Friday and then Penrod, the Indianapolis Art Museum's sponsored art show on Saturday.

The fun continues tonight with Oranje, which is a mix of art and music. Self described on their website as being:

ORANJE is a contemporary art & music event showcasing progressive artists and musicians. The goal of ORANJE is to create an interactive experience of art and music presented in a stimulating, urban environment.

Then next Friday we have one of my all-time favorite art events: Art vs. Art at the Vogue. The best way to understand this event is to check out the videos on their homepage. Basically, it 2 art pieces square off in a 1v1 competition. The piece that gets the crowd to scream the loudest goes on to the next round. The losing piece has a chance to get auctioned off. If it does not sell for enough money, it will suffer the consequences of the "Wheel of Death" and get destroyed. This setup brings out a mix of emotion because you don't want to see pieces you like get destroyed... yet at the same time its kinda fun to watch so you can't help but cheer on their destruction.

Even if you can't make the event, you can have a saying in which pieces make the final tournament by checking out the following site and voting:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flash Indianapolis (Sept): Augmented Reality

Chauncey Frend earned his undergrad degree from IUPUI's Media Arts & Science program and is currently earning a Masters degree in Media Arts and Science. He works for IU's Advanced Visualization Lab as and Analyst/ Programmer. His work includes the construction of an immersive smell movie theater, and for graduate school he is building an Augmented Reality outdoor video game using a golf cart and head mounted display. He is preparing to submit his portfolio to Disney Imagineering. You can see a lot of this work on the blog.

Chauncey will be speaking about his experience with Augmented Reality using the FLARToolKit with Flash and Flex. He will be discussing and showing design examples of his outdoor video game that will be in AR. A few demos will be shown from his work with AR for Indiana University's summer camps. Then we will open up for discussion about the actual value of Augmented Reality for present times.

6:00pm: Doors open. Everyone can meet and greet.
6:30pm: Presentation Begins.
7:30pm: Open Floor. Discuss Next Month
8:00pm: McNivens

We will be in the conference room of Noodles & Co. Address is found on the events page.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Indiana Multimedia Job Market is Opening Up (UI Designer, Web Developer, Flash Developer)

If anyone out there is looking for some work... you may want to consider Indiana. Not exactly the top place you would think of when you think of Flash Development or Interactive work; however, it is definitely a place on the up and up. In the past week alone, Flash Indianapolis has had 3 Job postings:

Senior UI Designer/Architect - Indianapolis
Web Developer - West Lafayette (Purdue Research Park: Knowrtl)
Senior Flash Developer - Indianapolis (

You can view the full descriptions by checking out the job board.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deep thoughts: an FLA or a FLA?

There is actually nothing deep about this, but we had a mini debate at work... do you say an FLA or a FLA? And please, if you are one of those that say "Flauh" instead of F.L.A. then please move along... you make me want to sock myself in the face. Side note, is that a British thing? I'd love to pin that on the brits... ;)

Ok, now that I just offended a nation, lets get back to the important stuff. Grammar.

Which of these is correct? Please fill in the circle completely w/ your #2 pencil:

A. The quick brown fox watched a FLV that he published in an FLA.
B. The quick brown fox watched a FLV that he published in a FLA.
C. The quick brown fox watched an FLV that he published in a FLA.
D. The quick brown fox watched an FLV that he published in an FLA.


Take your time.


When in doubt, pick C.


Ok, pencils down.


The correct answer (according to my sources at Wikipedia) is D.

And here is why...

An is used before words starting with a vowel sound, regardless of whether the word begins with a vowel letter.[1] Examples: a light-water reactor; an LWR (although this example only applies if the letters are intended to be pronounced); a sanitary sewer overflow; an SSO; a HEPA filter (because HEPA is pronounced as a word rather than as letters); an hour; a ewe; a hero; a one-armed bandit; an heir; a unicorn (begins with 'yu', a consonant sound).

Feel free to read the full description here. And while you are at it, learn what a pangram is here.

FLA is pronounced "EF-EL-AYE" (NOT Flauh!!!) and since F sounds like it starts with a vowel then we need to us "an" before it. Since FLV and FLA both start with F then they both need the "an" which means that answer D is the correct answer.

How did you do?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flash CS4 != Crash

Back in November of last year I vented about how often Flash CS4 crashed. The blog post became fairly popular and still seems to be one of my top 5 posts read each month.

Back in May, Adobe released an update to Flash CS4 which Galvan discusses the specifics here. Ever since I downloaded that update, running Flash CS4 has been extremely smooth. I no longer have the crashes that I had before. I no longer save every time before I compile (although that one will probably bite me at some point). I am not going to say it hasn't crashed since that update... but I will say that I can't remember the last time it did crash. I know I just jinxed myself hard core, but it needed to be said.

Flash CS4 != Crash. The doors are open for those of you who ran away and the light is green for those of you who waited for a safe build.

And no, I am not being paid by Adobe. Although donations from Adobe would be accepted ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009

SXSW Panels are up for Voting... I may have a Suggestion

2000+ panels to choose from is a bit overwhelming... let me help you out and narrow it down a bit for you... just vote for this guy:

Here is a brief description:
This presentation is for anyone who has a passion to work in the interactive industry but is currently not at their dream job. Whether you are a graduating student or disgruntled professional, this presentation will focus on avenues to take in order to break into the industry.

Unfortunately, if you are here at my blog, then I would guess that you are already in the field, already participating in the community, and already know what it takes to keep up with the latest and greatest... HOWEVER, if you think my topic would be good for Students, Beginners, and people mentioned in my description, then go here vote for me.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Portfolio? I don't need no stinking Portfolio!

Ok, I lied. I do... er at least did need a portfolio in order to get the position I have today. And judging by what I have seen, every aspiring Media Artist needs to have an online portfolio. I'd rank it at the top of the credentials list, way before resume. Putting above resume would be blasphemy to most guidance counselors; however, its the truth. Would you hire someone without seeing there work? I think not. I don't care what GPA you had or where you worked, I need to see what you can do.

With that in mind, I recently wrote a course curriculum for a class on establishing an "Online Portfolio". I submitted it to Butler's Media Arts Department and pending final approval I should be able to teach the course in the Spring semester!

I am excited about the opportunity and hope I don't jinx it by talking about it too early. However, I want to mention it now so that I can put the course online for review/criticism. I think what I have is a good start, but it could be improved on with some input from the community.

1. If you were teaching a course for Online Portfolio, what would you make sure you included?

2. What do you wish you had known in college that you know now?

3. What are some resources (websites, tutorials, forums, groups, etc) that you would point out to the students?

Write any ideas that pop in your head in the comments below.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Flash & Flex Developer's Magazine Issue Available for Free Download

The last issue of Flash/Flex is available for free download. You can grab it here.

Check it out, just be sure to skip over my ugly mug. It may scare you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flash Game Distribution: Game Analytics

At the beginning of this month I signed up for Flash Game Distribution and used it to help distribute AQI Zoneout. After just one go around, I must say this tool is amazing.

First off, it helps you get organized by making you write up a description, instructions, compile thumbnails, etc and it keeps them in one place for you. From there it has a long list of sites that you can manual submit the games to. You select the portal and it keeps all your game information in one frame which you can copy and paste into the portal's sign-up form. Very cool. There is also a feature to upload to Mindjolt and get your game on MySpace and Facebook... however, I had trouble with the API and didn't have the time to debug it.

The most impressive feature of FGD, however, is the automatic distribution. We applied that to our game and we surprised by the results...

We officially launched the game on July 1st. It remained solely on at this point and we directed people there by adding a button to KnoZone's homepage as well as by sending out a message to everyone who is a fan of KnoZone on Facebook. Using this PR we had the following number of visits:

Day 1: 114
Day 2: 162
Day 3: 22
Day 4: 14

Hmmm. Not exactly going in right direction here... On day 5 I manually uploaded it to Kongregate, Newsground, and a couple other sites and saw the following visits:

Day 5: 765
Day 6: 518

We had mediocre ratings on both Kongregate and Newsgrounds (altho good feedback on newsgrounds). Unfortunately, we did not get rated high enough to stay on the front pages and quickly fell off into oblivion from those two sites.

However, about this same time is when Flash Game Distribution's automatic distribution kicked in. On day 7 I did a google search for Zoneout and sitting there in the top ten was a game portal in Espanol that was hosting our game. They even translated the instructions to Spanish! I thought this was amazing... there is no way this game would have reached this portal without FGD.

When we looked at the analytics we were receiving a small number of hits from a wide range of sites and countries.

On days 7, 8, and 9 we averaged around 650 hits.

On day 10 we got picked up by a portal in the Netherlands...

Day 10: 13,900 (who knew the Dutch loved Air Quality Puzzle Games?)
Day 11: 8,270

We then got picked up by a site in Romania which kept our hits over 5k through day 15. From there we dropped:

Day 16: 1,252
Day 17: 707
Day 20: 466
Day 26: 262

By day 26 we've had 54,500 visits.

Visits by Geography:
1. Netherlands: 26,250
2. Germany: 8,122
3. Belgium: 4,434
4. Romania: 3,364
5. United State: 2,215
Austria, Argentina, Switzerland, Spain, and Mexico round out rest of the top ten.

FlashGameDistribution shows that Zoneout has been requested by 24 sites. It has been submitted to 195 sites. And it has been e-mailed to 497 publishers.

There is no way I could have achieved that kind of leg work on my own. And there is no way we would have reached such a diverse population or received anything close to the number of visits without FGD's help.

I must admit I am a little bummed by how quick the number of hits fall off for Zoneout... but I must realize that an Educational/Advert Puzzle game is not high on everyone's list for games they seek out.

Tired of statistics yet? I got a few more to throw in. There were 4 levels in Normal mode and then if you beat that you could unlock hazard mode, which lasted 100 rounds.

Of all the people who played:
17,000 beat level 1.
6,500 beat level 2.
3,000 beat level 3.
1,500 beat Normal Mode.

1000 people gave Hazard mode a shot.
15 people made it through all 100 rounds of Hazard mode.

That is all the statistics that I can cram into one post. Hope you found some useful information in this post somewhere...

Monday, July 20, 2009

After Effect Expression... Birds Eye View

Since the Basement is half Motion Graph and half interactive, I've been trying to get my hands dirty on the Mo Graph side by learning some Expressions that could help in After Effects.

1. I read through Adobe's help and API. Its a great place to start, but don't expect much from the API.
2. I read through Marcus Geduld's After Effect Expressions, which was a decent, quick read for beginners... more geared towards non-programmers though. A few of the programming examples made me cringe, but its ok, it was helpful in figuring out the layout and rules of the road.
3. I then went to Dan Ebberts's and ran through some of his tutorials. There is a lot of overlap between MotionScript and Geduld's book, you are probably better off just checking out the website and skipping the book.

After all of that, here is what I've figured out:

1. Its based on javascript so Flash devs will feel right at home.
2. You can apply any math/physics to any property. Just think Keith Peter's ActionScript Animation minus the mouse/keyboard interaction.
3. Instead of interacting with the mouse... you can tie properties of compositions/layers/effects to each other. So if a butterfly's wings rotate down, you could make the butterfly's body move upwards to simulate thrust.
4. AE makes tying properties together very easy. There is a tool called a "Pick Whip" that makes it as simple as dragging and dropping properties onto either other.
5. However, you need to be careful when tying properties together since properties can return different number of variables... for example "rotation" may have 1 value while "position" may return [x,y].
6. You can't create new layers on the fly. If you wanted 100 butterflies to flock, you would need to create one, place the code on it and then duplicate the layer 99 times... imagine needing to make a change, yuck.
7. Expressions that are coded on one property can not be accessed from another property, nothing is global or even public. For example: if we make a variable called "id" on layer 1, we could not access layer 1's "id" from layer 2. Expressions on each layer live in their own sandbox.
8. Expressions live and die on each frame and have no memory of the previous frames. Now this one is interesting. You can't declare a "counter" on frame one and hope to increase it on frame 2. When the expression on frame 2 executes, it will throw and error because it will not know what "counter" is, even though it was declared on the SAME layer just one frame beforehand.
9. At first I thought this was a huge limitation... however, there are many built in functions for figuring out time, frame number, etc which allow you to script across a timeline.
10. One cool aspect is that you can access a property's value at a specific time (a time that is not the current time). This is actually kinda cool, you can use a future value of another property to impact your current position... something not possible in Flash since future values are unknown.
11. They also added the ability to give random numbers a "seed" to ensure that you get the same random number when you use the same seed. As long as you know the seed, you will get the same results across multiple frames. A little wonky, but it works. And yes, I used the word wonky... I am surprised you are still reading this far to be honest ;)

AE Expressions are nice for syncing properties and adding physics, but it has far too limited sandbox to make anything beyond a neat effect. The real power of scripting can be found in the Extend Script and the Patch Panel. Those are next on my research list.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Augmented Reality: Flash and Beyond

About a year ago, I first got a taste of Augmented when I was watching Mario Klingemann's "Here be Pixels" presentation for the Head Conference. During the presentation, Mr. Doob pointed out that there was a great library for Flash and Augmented reality called FLARToolkit, which was ported over from ARToolkit by Saqoosha.

Since then there have been some amazing examples, but it didn't truly get outside of the playground and the lab until GE's fantastic Windmill example. They aren't the only commercial example, there are plenty more such as 3D baseball players popping out of cards... but the GE example seems to be the one that is referred to the most. Its popularity has helped cause the commercial sector to now crave for this new eye candy for their own sites. The potential is there for some very effective experiences and cool applications. But I can't help but wonder if this is going to get overplayed and become the next 3D Carousel... ;)

Regardless of what happens with Augmented Reality and websites/web cams... Augmented Reality as a whole is not going away. Its interesting, but we need to step outside of the Flash world and look at the bigger picture. I didn't realize how narrow minded I was being on the topic until a friend asked me what Augmented Reality was and I started describing the square marker, the web cam, and 3d objects or fireworks appearing on your screen. He had seen a video so he knew what I was talking about... but unfortunately I did not know what I was talking about.

Check out Wikipedia's definition of Augmented reality: Wikipedia's definition. 3D fireworks shooting from a piece of cardboard shown through your webcam does not exactly sum up Augmented Reality. In fact, they don't even mention Fireworks once... NOT ONCE!

Wikipedia states that AR is the combination of the real world and computer generated data. It doesn't have to use your web cam or even be on your computer for that matter. The page goes on to say that the initial idea of mixing technology with reality has been around since 1849! And even what we are seeing today was predicted over a decade ago as seen in this article from Science Daily.

There are many examples beyond the commercial sector such as Military, Medical, Navigation, Architecture, etc. And AR is definitely not limited to the webcam or the personal computer. In fact, TechCrunch recently had an article about Layar's Augmented Reality Browser for mobile devices. Layars is not the only one in the market, just check out this list from Venture Beat. No webcam? No smartphone? No problem, just put on some of these fancy shades. Why stop there? Why not place them in contacts? (I am sure this has been in some sci fi movie... possibly Minority Report). At that point, AR could be a part of every aspect of your daily life. Kinda scary, but exciting at the same time.

What we need to realize is that AR is a growing technology and a growing field that is not going away anytime soon. We can splash the internet with our 3D boxes and Fireworks, but the real applications and immersive experiences will find their place and will get pushed outside of the computer, outside of handhelds, and into every day life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Future of Television: Adobe puts Flash Into TV

I try to stay away from re-posting what other people have already said, but this video is just too good to pass up.

I've blogged numerous times about how TV is merging with the web and even pointed out some pseudo samples (xbox tv show, DirectTV Interactive, MLB and Boxee, OnLive Gaming, Hulu & Pandora). However, this video is the real deal. This is where TV is headed.

I saw the video on FlashDen, but you can view the original here on Building43.

Holy links... I think I have more links than content.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Game Release: AQI Zoneout

We have a new Flash game out today called AQI Zoneout. Please take a moment and check it out:

Kongregate Version

NewGrounds Version

I posted it at a bunch of other sites... we'll see what kind of ratings and hits we can come up with. So far, Newgrounds has the most action. It is sitting right around 3.25 after around 700 plays. Kongregate has had only a couple hundred hits and 44 ratings. I think you need 100 ratings before it displays. So please go test the game and give it some love.

The project is an extension to the Knozone website. We worked in tandem with Squize from GamingYourWay as well as FatAtom and MilesDesign.

Miles played the role of Agency. FatAtom worked on the back-end for the high scores and challenge a friend. And then Squize did all the heavy lifting and developing. That leaves the Basement with the concept, art, dev direction, and then some final tweaks and menu updates once Squize handed off his hard work.

It was an interesting setup to say the least. I really did not want to go out of house on this one... I hate giving up games. But at the time we had 5 projects and 3 devs on my team (including myself). soooo yeah. Do the math.

Since I was overseeing multiple projects and even had one I was developing at the time, I was a little scared to use a new freelancer. By new, I mean new to me... new to the Basement. It can be hard to work out those initial kinks in communication, coding styles, schedules... etc. However, Squize has a vast amount of experience making games (far, far more than myself), which made the entire process very smooth. He took our game document and ran with it. I may have harassed him with book-long e-mails from time to time... but for the most part he just did his thing and delivered more than was asked of him.

Squize and I may not see eye to eye when it comes to Composition vs Inheritance (check comments), and you may not agree with his OOP practices, but you can't argue with the cleanness and readability of his code. Point being, that even though we have different styles, I was still able to jump right in and find what I needed. That right there is the one of the most important, if not THE most important thing when it comes to working in teams. Being able to look at someones code and figure it out without hassle is extremely important. Because of that, the development went smooth. The handoff went smooth. The only hiccup that I noticed was the menus and that was more of a scheduling/approval problem than anything else.

Anyways. I just got to rambling. Project was fun. Check out the game. If you are a gamer, give it long enough to unlock hazard mode (beat 4 levels on Normal). I think Hazard is where you will find the replay value. At least I hope...

Monday, June 29, 2009

ArgumentError: Error #2505 (AS3, Flash 9, Loader)

I've been meaning to post about this error for awhile. You can find solutions on the web, but they seem very buried... hence all the key words in my title.

The error appears in Flash 9 when you use a loader more than once and try to add the to the DisplayList after each load. If you are running Flash 10, you will not see the error... The biggest lesson I took from this error is to continue to test on older versions of Flash. If you set your publish settings to Flash 9, but have Flash 10 downloaded on your machine.... you still need to test your site on a machine with Flash 9. Pain in the arse, but worth it if it means catching errors before the client.

Anyways, back to the error at hand, you have a class loader that has been initiated and you plan on using it for your photo gallery. The first image loads just fine and in the completeHandler you add the image ( to the stage using addChild and casting the content as some sort of display object. The second image loads just fine, but in the completeHandler at the line where you call "addChild" and error #2505 will get thrown saying that "The supplied DisplayObject must be a child of the caller".

Hmmph. It worked once, why would it fail?

It has something to do with Flash 9's Loader keeping a reference of its content even after the content has been added to a new parent. A quick and dirty fix to the problem is to make a new Loader for every item you are loading. That worked for my needs, however you may want to be careful with memory and garbage collection if you are loading an intense number of images.

Omar Faleh suggests either casting the content as a DisplayObject and unloading the loader or making a copy of the BitmapData and using the copy instead of the content.

Ed had his 2505 errors occurring when he called "unload()" after adding the to the displayList. He suggests adding the Loader to the stage instead of the content. So you would add just "" INSTEAD OF "" to the display list.

In any case, there are plenty of work-a-rounds. The important thing is to be aware of the issue and make sure you continue to test your sites on older versions of Flash... even if your personal computer runs on 10.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Artifacts in Flash on Mac (FF3, AS3, Javascript, swfAddress)

In the past week or so, the Basement pushed Creative Alliance's new website live. It was a fun little project. I really enjoyed messing around with the orbiting particles... they made fun a fun and playful environment.

One thing I did not enjoy, however, was a little bug. It is somewhat hard to explain, but I will give it a shot then follow it up with a video.

Basically, when you click on things, random sized boxes/rectangles appear on the screen. The client called them artifacts. Since I couldn't recreate them on my end, I requested more information from the client... computer specs, screen shot, etc.

The main spec difference they sent back was that they were using a Mac. And instead of sending a screenshot, they did one better and sent the following video:

Sure enough, when testing on our Mac I could get them to appear. (So much for that small hope that the client's computer was possessed). Sooo, ummm, crap, that the ef are those boxes?

I started taking everything out of the site to see if it was something I was doing. I removed the particles, I removed the content box, I removed the background glow... no nada. Artifacts would still appear. grrrr Finally I disabled swfAddress. Ding Ding Ding. No artifacts. That gave me enough to research online and figure out what was going on.

Turns out, it wasn't swfAddress's fault. In fact, its any javascript call that uses ExternalInterface. For some reason when you call ExternalInterface, little boxes like to appear on your screen and they will do their best to drive you batty.

Luckily, the latest version of SWFAddress takes care of this issue. I'm not going to pretend like I know why or how... but I will tell you that version 2.3 does remove the issue. I think it was specifically taken care of in version 2.2, but I did not test it out.

So if you stumble across this post due to crazy boxes appearing on your Flash site on a Mac. Upgrade your SWFAddress and that should do the trick. If you are making your own ExternalInterface calls, then you may want to look into using a URLRequest and pass the code using navigateToURL(request, "_self");. I haven't personally tried that one, but when doing a little research for this blog post, I stumbled across BigSpaceShip's post which seems to cover the topic quite well... and now I have to wonder why I didn't see this post when I was struggling???? haha. Oh well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MouseWheel Scroll on Mac for Flash AS3 (SWFWheel)

Do Mac mice even have a wheel? They only have 1 button so what do they need a wheel for??? ;)

Apparently Mac mice have wheels and Mac users would like to be able to use them just as their PC counterparts do. Unfortunately for them, the Mac OS gives the browser the focus for onScroll events and somehow Flash is left clueless that anything happened.

There are quite a few third party solutions out there. While researching I came across a great article from Robert Hall on four of those solutions.

From our research it seemed that all four solutions were viable options. However, we ended up going with SWFWheel, which was developed by Takanobu Izukawa.

We chose SWFWheel for three main reasons:

First off, it is part of the SPARK project, which I highly respect due to the quality of the other projects contained in their library.

Secondly, it was announced recently on JActionScripters that SWFWheel was being adopted by the latest Gaia Framework. An endorsement from Gaia goes a long way in my book.

Lastly, the project seemed recent and supported the latest browsers. Most of the other solutions seemed to have been created over a year ago. They could be compatible with the latest browsers, but it was not certain. SWFWheel is the only option that we found that specifically mentions supporting the latest browsers such as IE 8 and Chrome 1.

With that being said, if you choose to add SWFWheel to your project you should start by downloading the source from the project page.

Import org.libspark.ui.SWFWheel into your class and place SWFWheel.initialize(stage); in your constructor.

In you HTML page, ensure that you assign an ID to your embedded Flash file. This ID is used by the javascript to reference the embedded object. Add the the external javascript file: swfwheel.js to your HTML the same way you would add swfaddress.js. Just place the script right below swfobject and you should be good to go.

That is it. Simple importing of the .as file. Simple importing of the .js file. Initialize SWFWheel with your stage and away you go. No black magic. No fairy dust.

So far we have had good luck with it. I commend the developer and the SPARK project for putting together a very clean and easy solution.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Update from the Basement

First and foremost, The Basement got a Silver at the National Addy Awards for our work with Creative Alliance on the KFC Surf The Crowds game.

Secondly, we were featured on Keys to Achieving Online Success: Relevancy, Content, Design Impact. That is one long title. The article has a nice summary of our recent work and achievements. I think the only big project they left out was the Conner Prairie spot.

That's all i got. Thanks for taking the time to see what we've been up to.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Flash Indianapolis - June Meeting

Brian Phillips is the Creative Director at The Basement Design & Motion as well as an Adjunct Professor at IUPUI. Brian has designed / directed everything from video games to TV spots. You can learn more about Brian and his work by visiting his blog.

Brian will be demonstrating his design process for a Mr. Clean microsite. He will discuss the idea, inspiration, sketch, process and final design comp. He will share some of his techniques in PhotoShop and 3ds Max. Afterwords, we will open the floor for questions about tools, concepts, and anything else design related.


6:00pm: Doors open. Everyone can meet and greet.
6:30pm: Presentation Begins.
7:15pm: Open Floor. Discuss Next Month
7:45pm: McNivens (to quench our thirst)

Noodles & Company Near IUPUI
903 Indiana Ave
Indianapolis IN

To find out more information and RSVP for the event, please check out Flash Indianapolis's events page.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Featured in Flash & Flex Developer's Magazine (ffdmag)

I am very excited to announce that I got published! Check out the latest edition of Flash & Flex Developer's Magazine (3/2009). I submitted an article awhile back and was very pleased to be selected to be in their June edition. I received the magazine last night, and to my surprise, not only was I in the magazine but I was also the featured article!

My article is called "How to Become a Flex/Flex Developer" and is an expanded and more polished version of a blog post I made last year.


Cover Close Up:

My Spread:

If you would like to check out the copy, you should be able to find them in your local Barnes and Noble soon. Or you could subscribe to either their print or their electronic issues.

Huge thanks to both Brian Phillips for helping fine tune my points and to my good friend Kate Pierce for editing my article so that I came across as though I knew how to put together a proper sentence.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Interactive Spaces in Indianapolis (using Flash + others)

I think May's Flash Indianapolis meeting was the most interesting meeting to date. We visited the Pervasive Technology Lab at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and got to check out what was in the lab as well as interact with four of the pieces.

The first piece that was shown was an interactive space created by Tony Dewan and Chris Basham, called Waterwall. The video explains it better than I can in words, but I will still give it a shot. Picture an open space in with a large video projection on the wall displaying the ocean and a buoy who types messages to you. You step into the space and the level of the ocean rises. Moving around in the space creates waves and more turbulence for the buoy, who will promptly complain about it. The more people that enter the space, the higher the water and the more waves that are created. It was a very cool experience to see everyone moving about in different ways trying to see how the levels, buoy, and waves would react.

Behind the screens is a camera overhead which is taking screenshots at 5 fps. ActionScript 3 is comparing each screenshot and looking for differences in mass and movement using Threshhold calculations. Mass is calculated by how much space is covered by people/objects. Movement is calculated by comparing the current frame to the previous. Mass raises the water level. Movement creates the waves in the save X position that the movement occurred. Both the capturing of data and the visual display was done in AS3.

The second piece we visited was a multi-touch screen. Currently it is in an early experimentation form and just displays different types of interactions that could occur. Such as playing a guitar or moving multiple windows across the screen while interacting with the contents of the windows. Java was the language of choice for this project.

The third piece displayed was an explorable environment created by Todd Shelton using both Papervision3d and WiiFlash. It was very cool to be able to control the environment with a wii remote instead of a mouse, it seemed very natural. We just passed the wiiRemote around the audience and let everyone take a stab. The outdoor environment has grassy hills (created by a bump map), a small pond, trees (using 2D planes), and a flying bird (also 2D Plane using the MovieClip Material). This framework would allow the environment to be easily changed and altered. If you wanted a mountain in the middle, you would just have to change the bump map. The ultimate goal of this project is to create an environment for students to explore and learn. One idea is for the students to use different tools and take water samples for pollution. The experiment could then alter the environment (ex. adding Cows next to the water) and seeing how this would effect the water samples.

The final piece we experienced was a touch table that had been created for the Indianapolis Museum of Arts. Dr. Polly Baker, who is in charge of the lab, presented the piece. The table displayed images of items found throughout the museum. As you interacted with the images, your actions would change the 3 projection screens around the piece. You could interact with the items using a couple different markers. One marker was used to select an individual image. The selected image would then be projected on the wall so that you could learn more about that particular time. Another marker was used to find out where in the museum it's selected image could be found (using a second projection screen). The third marker grouped the images on the screen in ways that you would not normally associate the items. So if you clicked on an image of an artifact, it might cluster the images in groups by pieces in the museum created during the same time period, by people of the same culture, or artifacts made by the same material, etc etc. It was a very cool and educational way to explore the items in the museum.

After we got to see the four interactive pieces, we then explored the rest of the lab. Some very cool pieces including an 8 screen display, a virtual reality cave, a force feedback arcade gun, plus many more.

A great thanks to PTL, the speakers, and Dr. Polly Baker for hosting us and letting us explore their interactive spaces. If you get a chance to check out the lab, I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flash HTMLText Jumps on RollOver (a: css, hover, bug, as3)

This is one of those posts meant for a Google search... hence the title (I tried to include things I searched for when debugging this issue).

Scenario: You have a TextField that has a style sheet applied to it. It is being dynamically updated with HTMLText. The text that is being inserted contains "a" tags for links.

Problem: When you mouse over the TextField the links move. Some would call it a jump, others a wiggle. Regardless, they move and your client does not think its funny that you call it a feature.

Failed Solutions: Remove Hover tag, doesn't help. Use a style class instead of applying it to all "a" tags... nothing. Use an external stylesheet instead of an AS class... nope. Baseball bat to monitor??? probably not going to help, but worth a shot.

Proper Solution: Stan here at the basement noticed that the AntiAlias on the Textfield was set to Advanced and concluded that maybe the text was changing due to the antialias. DING DING DING! Stan nailed it. He changed it to Normal and we no longer had jumpy/wiggly text links.

Side Note: This same issue will have a tendency to crash your browser if you have Flash player 10.0.12 and are running Firefox or Safari (maybe IE... not tested). It was very strange, the browser would not crash in the latest Flash 9 and it also worked in 10.0.22. It just really hated page changes in 10.0.12. When I went to test Stan's fix to the text bug, we realized that it also fixed our browser crashing bug.

Sooo, long story short, if you are using HTML text and your browser is randomly crashing or text is randomly jumping then you may want to turn off Advanced AntiAlias.

Hope that helps to whoever is unlucky enough to follow our in our footsteps.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Japanese Flash Experts: Stepping into the Limelight

Ted Patrick recently "tweeted" about a new Japanese ActionScript Blog... I apologize for using the word tweeted but there really isn't another word for it...

I've always been impressed, yet frustrated by the Flash work coming out of Japan. Impressed by the quality of work and ground breaking achievements... and frustrated by the fact that I can not read Japanese to figure out what was going on behind the scenes. The language barrier in Japan seemed to isolate their work from the rest of the Flash community, more so than any other language.

In previous posts I've linked to AIR SANPO, FlartToolKit, as well as the amazing work done by "Roxik" including The Eco Zoo, which uses his own personal 3d engine called Sharikura. All of which are truly inspiring projects. And they are just a drop in the bucket... just check out the Spark project for more examples. Speaking of the Spark project... when did that get an english version??? I had only seen the Japanese blog and hoped to stumble across examples/movies ;).

Anyways, the fact that the Spark project has an English version helps verify the point of this blog... and yes, there is a point to my ramblings. Finally, we have a place where the Japan Flash community can strut its stuff to the other communities... and that place is JActionScripters.

I look forward to learning from their expertise.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Latest Site: What can we learn about Flash and HTML/CSS? (Knozone)

The Basement recently released a new site... Knozone: Clean Air Matters.

I mainly played the roll of Technical Director on this project. Todd Shelton did most of the heavy development lifting. It was his first project with the basement team and he did an excellent job... altho I am biased.

The biggest technical challenge that we faced during this project was making sure all of the content was editable. We usually try to do that for every site so it shouldn't have been that big of deal. You either drop the content into XML or you setup a template and receive the content from some sort of CMS. We chose the latter path, but instead of setting up a template (such as 1 picture, title, body of text), we needed to make each page fully dynamic and editable with a WYSIWYG editor.

I figured, no problem, we will implement a Cascading Style Sheet and drop in some HTML text and we will be all set. In theory, sure. In practice, however, there were so many nuances and finicky things that came up it turned out to be quite a ride.

First of all, images and swfs loaded into HTML text is a tricky beast. I realize with Flash 10 they added Glyphs and all kinds of fun stuff that may have been helpful, but we were stuck with Flash 9. And in Flash 9, images/swfs that are dropped into HTML text do not effect the height of the text box (which is awesome for when you are setting up scrolling). Also, you can't do a "clear" on a <span> or <p> to force the next paragraph to drop below the image. The only two ways that we could get the text from wrapping around an image was to either A. make the image the width of the text field or B. add enough <br /> tags that the text appeared below the image.

Speaking of <br /> tags. It seems that on most computers and browsers that all white space carriage returns were treated similar to
tags. Macs using Flash 9 (10 was fine), however, decided to ignore these white space carriage returns. Awesome.

Here is another one. Firefox in Flash 9 on both Macs and PCs could not click in the input boxes of the swf forms that were being dynamically loaded into the html text field. You could still click on the submit button, but you could never get your cursor in an input box or type anything. This bug didn't seem to come up in Flash 10 or in IE. We ended up getting around it by making the 2 pages that required swf forms to use Movieclips instead of dynamic swfs. (A little hack-tastic, I'll admit... but necessary).

There were a couple other gems... but those were the biggies. The ones that had Todd and I hitting our heads against the wall. Its always painful when it works on one computer and not another without a clear explanation... hell, even with a clear explanation it would still be painful.

After this experience I would recommend setting up a more custom and rigid WYSIWYG than just passing straight HTML into Flash. If you do go the HTML route, I would definitely require Flash 10 and be ready for some interesting bugs, or "features" as some call them.

Technical hurdles aside, this was a fun project and I enjoy the end result. I loved Amy's and Brian's design. Especially the balloon/clouds, wisps, building load in, and birds... if you can find them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TV Show exclusively for the XBox

Jacob recently pointed out an article title Xbox makes Primetime play.

The article states that Microsoft is offering an interactive game show that will allow the audience to partake in the game and win prize, such as XBox Live Points.

'Its all happening.' TV, Computers, Gaming Systems... when will they officially be one unit?

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Basement Produces Broadcast Commercial: Conner Prairie

The Basement recently produced a broadcast commercial that will air tonight... er I guess its 12:30am... so it will air last night! Doh. I'm sure it will be on plenty more for those of you living in Indy. For everyone else, you can check it out here.

Congrats to the Basement Mo-Graph team!

Great Flash Work Doesn't Have to be Done on the Coasts (or Overseas) recently posted a very kind article about tech companies in Indy and they featured The Basement.

You can read the article here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flash News Mashup - May 1, 2009

I am going to pay homage to my good friends at 8BitRocket by doing a little mashup of my own (basically I don't have time to write my own content right now, but have stumbled across a lot of good content from other people lately). If you haven't checked out 8Bit, you need to buzz over there. They have a vast amount of tutorials, games, and news about Gaming... Flash and Silverlight. My favorite tho, is their weekly mashup... I always find a few gems in there I normally wouldn't stumble across.

So here goes my take in the order of when I found it...

Windosill: I stumbled across this gem on Jayisgames... which is an excellent site and a must view for any aspiring game dev. But anyways, back to WindoSill. It is part art, part game, part toy. As a whole it is an extremely polished and enjoyable experience. That in its own merit is worthy of a plug, but I would also like to touch on how they are trying to monetize it. They strayed from the typical game portal/sponsorship/ad model and went with a free demo that can be upgraded to the full version for 3 bucks. I wasn't planning on paying three, but after the first few levels I was more than happy to shell out the money. Obviously not everyone will feel the same way as me and they will have many people play it for no return. I would be interested to know how this model will work for them compared to tossing it on kongregate and the rest. I think the trick will be getting the number of hits without the portal's help. If they could get the million hits a portal might provide then I think they would blow away the money they could have made from ads. But if they just get hits from word of mouth and low PR then I am not sure they will do as well as hoped.

PlayMegaPhone: digital signage and touch screen displays are becoming extremely popular in the commercial sector. You'll be seeing them in Wal-Mart, Kroger, Bus-Stops, ext. This is great in its own right, but PlayMegaPhone has taken it to a new level. Without installing anything on your phone you can interact with these screens via your phone. Not only that, you can do so along side people around you. You got to check out the videos to see what I am talking about, but the possibilities this opens up are extremely exciting. Especially for game enthusiasts like myself. As a side note, Colin Moock announced his new company at FITC which has an exclusive partnership with Play MegaPhone...

BitchWhoCodes recently wrote a letter to her student which is a must read. As with most of her writing, it is funny, insightful, and to the point.

Amy from DrawingsInMotion sent me some hilarious code comments via stackoverflow. My favorite: "// drunk, fix later". Brilliant.

With my recent join to Twitter, I found Rands's post on the Art of the Tweet to be very insightful. He has a talent for obtaining a deeper understanding of trivial actions and then explaining them in a way that comes across as common sense. I tend to end his articles with "Why did I not think of that?". In hindsight its because I didn't think... I just went through the act of Twittering and didn't sit back and look at what makes Twitter valuable to the people who get tricked into following me.

And finally, I found this one on 8Bit's mashup. Nonoba is offering a new service called GameRise which seems to be the is the Ning of Game Portals. Very interesting. I'm a big fan of Ning. I first joined Seth Godin's Triiibes, then started Flash Indianapolis, and finally found myself on SmallerIndiana. I am looking forward to seeing a bunch of game portals pop up. Specifically ones that are targeted towards specific demographics and genres... Such as a Retro-8Bit-Arcade... wonder who would do that? ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

soapUI: Open Source way to explore WSDL

SOAP is my least favorite server side web service to hook into. It can be one unforgiving SOB... I've spent countless hours trying to bend and break code to get it to interact with different soap variations. Seems like every company has their own namespace and naming convention to follow and many times these conventions are not labeled or easily found. Tech support for one of these lovely companies recently pointed me to an outstanding piece of open source: soapUI.

Open it up, drop in the URL to the WSDL and it will immediately show you all the Operations that are available. You can then explore any operation and view the variables and structure of the XML that the Operation is expecting. It will even let you enter in variables and hit submit to see what kind of response you will get. This is 100x easier than trying to figure out why the call failed via logs and Flash stack traces... which usually just say streaming error or something else equally generic.

On a side note... anyone have a better tool than wellconsidered as for as AS3 Soap methods go? I greatly appreciate Pieter Michels efforts, they helped me immensely during my first SOAP excursion. However, the more I use it the more I realize how it is unfinished and lacking key functionality. We are considering trying to create a Flex swf just for the SOAP methods and load it into our Flash project next time... but seems like there should be an easier way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Apple may find Flash on the iPhone Afterall

We all know that Adobe already has a Flash version that is compatible with the iPhone. We also know that Apple has denied Adobe access since it would undermine their control and ultimately their App store. It seemed that the only way Flash would hit the iPhone is through competition from other smartphones... which didn't seem like it would happen anytime soon.

However, it there is enough competition out there for Google to throw its support behind the Web as the "unifying platform" for mobile devices. The main points I got Technology Review's article are the following:

1. Web Applications can do similar functions as those purchased from the App Store.
2. Web Applications are free.
3. Web Applications are not be device specific and therefore are easier to develop cross platform.

If fact #1 holds true, and Web applications becomes the common platform as Google hopes, then Flash's presence on the iPhone is inevitable. The article quite clearly states that the one downfall of web apps is the following:

Nonetheless, mobile Web apps may have limited capabilities in the near future. "Apps that will work in this environment will be more text heavy or static," says Sharma. They won't be the type of apps that need to be constantly updated from a server. "But when you get into games or applications that require [device] support, it becomes tougher to develop applications that are browser only," he says.

Can anyone think of a solution? hmmm, Flash perhaps? If Web Apps are the common platform then they will have to accept Flash to overcome the browser's shortcomings... even with Canvas enabled.

NY Times Recognizes that Adobe Flash is Moving to TV

Jacob recently pointed to the following article in the NY Times: "Adobe in Push to Spread Flash Web Video to TV Sets".

The news that Adobe is expanding Flash to the TV is fairly old in our "Flash Bubble". But to see it being broadcasted to the real world (NY Times definitely qualifies as the real world) is exciting. It validates what we already know plus it bring awareness to our industry. It should help us out when we try to explain what we do for one ;). Plus, continuing my with my interactive TV theme of late, it ties directly into my last two posts about merging TV with the web... which you can view here and here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Alright, I finally jumped in. I have been debating twitter for awhile (why is it something that people debate?). My main excuse for not joining was because I don't have internet on my phone... I am old school, I know.

I still don't have internet on my phone, but I stumbled across some good info that was on Twitter and not the blogs so I decided to make an account and start following some people... That is like a gateway drug I guess because now I am following 25 people. And I can't just follow, I need to post things that I wouldn't normally blog about.... sooo yeah. Addiction. Here I am. First step is admitting it, altho I am not trying to break the habit. But if I were, I have the first step taken care of.

If you would like to connect, you can find me here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

DirectTV offers Interactive TV (Plus Dinosaurs evolve from Birds)

My last post showed how baseball was bringing the web one step closer to interactive TV. This weekend it was golf's turn to push TV towards the interactive elements of the web.

On a side note, do you think its a coincidence that our arguably two most boring sports are the ones pushing the boundaries of the entertainment industry? I think not...

But anyways, back to the post. Direct TV allowed its viewers to watch 4 different channels of golf at once while also offering additional stats, history, and trivia. If you didn't get to see it, there is a good image in an article on dish-television.

There you have it. On one hand you have MLB allowing you to watch multiple games, pick your audio stream, and follow your favorite players... via the web. On the other hand you have Direct TV allowing you to watch multiple holes, keep track of stats, and play trivia... via satellite TV.

So what needs to happen before we have true interactive TV? Whats the missing link? We have birds with teeth and dinosaurs with feathers, but how do we prove that one came from the other? Actually that analogy doesn't quite work since it involves one thing evolving and not two things merging... I'll keep thinking...