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FITC 2010 Amsterdam - Day 1

FITC 2010 Amsterdam - Day 1

It's been years since we attended FlashInTheCan Toronto, but as FITC is now all over the globe, this year we were able to go the Amsterdam event. With four parallel tracks, this is the largest FITC Amsterdam ever and the first time Europeans get to see Flash Player 10.1 running on a series of devices.

FITC 2008 coverage

As in former years, the event is held at the Felix Meritis but this year it's expanded to also include a room at the nearby hotel The Dylan. This room is really something with mirror walls, delicate lighting on structured walls, lovely lounge area, comfy chairs and even two small fireplaces (!) inside. Quite an upgrade from the plastic chairs in the Felix Meritis and I'll certainly try to find sessions in this room.

The drawback of four rooms is of course that with so much going on at all times, you're bound to miss out on something that you want to see, but given the amount of good sessions you're bound to find something you like. Conference organizer Shawn Pucknell started the conference (reading his introduction from a paper?) and then left the stage to Adobe for the keynote.

FITC keynote

This years keynote was given by Flash PM Richard Galvan and Marc Anders. This presentation was less heavy on Flash Player penetration charts and general sales stuff - a welcoming change as most of the attendees know this already. They started by talking about how many of the advances in Flash are driven by the users and mentioned Andre Michelle's campaign for better sound support.

The next part of the keynote focused on how the Open Screen Project has enabled Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 to now run on a variety of devices. Thanks to the cooperation with NVidia, they've also been able to offload a lot of the work onto the GPU found in the graphics cards. This enables you to play videos for up to 3.4 hrs, animation for 6.5 hrs and standby-animations for 14.5 on a low spec'ed device so Flash Player will no longer be as battery hungry. Memory consumptions is also seriously improved and you'll find more on this in our Day 2 coverage. A lot of it is automatically handled so you'll be able to reap the benefits of this without any changes.

Next up was showing mobiles and netbooks running Flash Player 10.1. Among the applications shown were AIR 2.0 / Flash Player 10.1 audio recording, USB file access, launching native players (Quicktime) as well as a multitouch drawing app allows you to draw multiple lines with your fingers while simultaneously adjusting the stroke width. A lot of devices will get eventually get both AIR and FlashPlayer 10.1 and this is only the start.

Something never seen before were two new demos from the Away3D team. One showing a 8000 polygon jet fighter with multiple light sources playing at stunning speeds. The other demo showed an early version of BSP and PVS sorting with a Quake-like demo playing back super-smooth.

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The crowd also got some Flash CS5 sneaks and while most of these had already been shown there were a couple new bits. The authoring process for iPhone and Android really looks smooth now and a sneak that we have not seen before was the new Device Central that allows you simulate the multitouch and accelerometer features of your app.

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One fun sneak that we got a good shot of was the new startup logo for Flash Builder. Adobe is apparently leaving the square startup images for something new?

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Scene.org Awards: The Best Real-Time Graphic Demos of 2009

Bent Stamnes

Bent (aka Gloom) started off with a short intro to the demoscene and then started showing demos from various Demo parties. Given that only 3 ppl in the room knew much about the demo-scene, the opposite would probably have been a good idea but it worked out well.

The Demo scene has been around since the Commodore 64 and Amiga days. It's a community of geeks that love music, graphics and programming and use it to squeeze every last bit of graphical power out of their computers. By pushing the limits by creating realtime 3d models of complex cities with ambient occlusion, lens distortion and other effects - all set to thumping techno that's also generated in realtime, they really get to push the limits of technology. Many of todays game-makers have a background from this community where they learned the basics that now enable them to make unique effects.

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Bent "Gloom" Stamnes presenting

The crowd was mix of both technically skilled and more visual people, but it looked like they all enjoyed the demos by Stargazer, TBC, Fairlight and others. Good fun! FITC have worked a lot these last years to not be just a Flash conference and adding stuff like this spices things up as we get to see what we might be able to do when Adobe decides to add proper 3D to the Flash Player.

Sixteen Colors

Peter Nitsch

This session was a very nice and low-key journey through the world of ASCII art, a topic that have kind of obsessed Peter for a while. One would think this is something long gone, but the ASCII art scene is still existing and releasing new stuff. If you're not old enough to remember the Commodore and Amiga computers, this is how the early games were made - with graphics based on the 128 or 256 available in the fonts.

Peter showed his ANSII viewer (done in Flash) that reads text files, renders them and then has a host of options for display such as switching fonts, zooming and much more. He's also made a Flash based drawing program for ANSII that offers, drawing, copy/paste, color selection and more. Its very beta for now but already offers full draw and export. The ANSII community is quite opinionated so "obvious" features such as image to ASCII conversion will not be added or he'd loose the community support. To explain how dedicated this community is he showed an ASCII version of the game Portal and "demos" from TDMC - the Text Demo Competition.

Peter also showed ASCIImeo - an application that uses the Vimeo API to play back videos as ASCII and a version of ASCII space invaders where he used the original C code that was converted on the fly to AS3. For performance reasons, he had tried using Alchemy but he found it to be too buggy (i.e. the heap based memory allocation is broken and more).

He's also going to add multiuser features to the drawing program and in true retro style it'll be added via Telnet! After doing the first versions of his Telnet client, Peter even got a request to build custom Telnet client for running a cheese factory!

You can find the source for both the ASCII viewer and the Telnet terminal on Google Code and you can try it out yourself at flashterm.com

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Summing up day one

We also attended several other sessions and Flash conference heavyweights like Mario Klingemann, Ralph Hauwert and Jared Tarbell didn't disappoint a bit. Mario had taken his playing with Voronoi and images to a new level and produced som impressive end results using one images as input to "paint" another image. Ralph had lately played around with raytracing and the end result was just beautiful!

Sessions such as the "Cool Japanese Flash" had many people leave due to a slow pace, but it caught up at the end when they stated showing some of the awesome things you can find on wonderfl.

Day 1 saw several technical problems at both The Dylan and the Felix Meritis. Audio/video dropouts and feedback, microphones that failed, wifi dropouts for both attendees and presenters, projectors that were so dim that they were hard to read and resolution so low that one could not reach important UI elements. Hopefully, this will all be sorted out by day 2.

About Jens C Brynildsen

Jens has been working with Flash since version 3 came out. Since then, he's been an active member of the Flash community. He's created more than a hundred Flash games (thus the name of his blog) but he also creates web/standalone applications, does workshops and other consulting. He loves playing with new technology and he is convinced that the moment you stop learning you die (creatively speaking). Jens is also the Editor of this website.

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