September 15th 2011 | Jens C Brynildsen
The Elevator Pitch was a huge success last year and this year again it was a whirlwind tour of great ideas and projects that are strange, fun, stupid, clever and really everything in between. This day also held the surprise many talked about in the corridors - this was indeed the last Flash on The Beach
Every speaker gets 3 minutes to present on any topic (vetted by John Davey) and it's a really diverse collection of speakers. From good advice to bad advice, from good products to crazy products - this is a session that you do not want to miss.
Mathieu Gosselin encouraged us all to "create better stuff". Surya Buchwald has created a framework for realtime music data visualisation. Neil Nand offered a Flex based CMS that works across iOS and Flex. Kathryn Rotondo gave five top tips for better code review including a crowd favourite, "don't have meetings". Mike Cobb showed how to use fidgets to enable physical interaction in the real world.
Martin Jonasson created a system for exporting animation assets from Flash so they can be used with other systems. Seppe Buyse creates beautiful ad banners in less than 40k. Peter Måseide showed us how to build a game in three minutes using his FunGrid framework. Anders Figenschow presented using a presentation tool he wrote himself. He certainly harvested the most laughs with his absolutely ridiculous talk on the Subtitler 3000 and "his tool".
Matthew Burton McFaul gave us some tips for working with MovieClips. Stephen Chan showed his AEGIS project for using mobile devices to control games. Graham Odds explained the principles of layout design. Marcel Klammer explained the theory behind augmented reality. Lukasz Twardowski explained how 'Use It Better' @useitbetter can be used to record game sessions for analysis and playback.
Jason Stone urged us to go outside for combatting designers block. Renaud Forestie showed how to code text to speech using his software. Dominic Graefen demoed a 3D face wrapping technique he put together in 5 days for a client. Ward de Langhe showed how he is using Molehill to create generative music videos. Mikko Tormala showed how he used Pixelbender to dynamically colour your graphics. Lastly Simo Santavirta showed how APEXvj streams music from SoundCloud and visualises it.
This session really was a fantastic collection of cool things happening in the community. The stupid thing about this format is that while we would love to write more about each project, we really don't have the time. However, you can find the complete list of speakers and their URL's at the FOTB website.
Paulo came to the second Flash on The Beach and totally fell in love with the city. He also fell in love with a Brighton girl and he now lives here and the two of them make up the mini-agency JadeHopper focused on mobile apps. The whole session was based on the 101 things that he wished that people told him before he got started in mobile and devices and it was packed with advice to any budding mobile developer. Technically it wasn't a full hundred of things, but through a series of app examples, he showed a multitude of how to do and why not to do certain things.
Paulo always looks to put the fun in fun(tionality) and he went over everything from UI to code. How big to make buttons, what tricks to use for debugging, what services to use and so on. Very handy stuff.
Another graduate of the Elevator Pitch was Tom Vian who gave us a thorough review of open source game engines for Flash. Using a couple of simple game examples he walked through how to build them using Flixel, FlashPunk and PushButton Engine; and for comparison, from scratch without a framework. What was interesting was seeing how many lines of code it takes with each approach.
All of the frameworks help to make the management of game mechanics a little easier. Flixel and FlashPunk are relatively similar. They are both inheritance based blitting engines. PushButton engine however is an entity based system. This requires more code to write but is more flexible to work with, especially at scale.
On the whole the DIY approach works best for something small (or if you just don't like frameworks) and PushButton Engine works best for very large projects. As with any technical decision, it's a lot more nuanced than that, but it was very interesting to have the comparison.
After six great years, John Davey have found that it's time for a change. My two favorite sessions this year (Seb & Jared's) were not really Flash sessions. They were all about using whatever technology is right and that's pretty much how my job has changed too. I still use Flash a lot, but I also use HTML/JS as well as other languages. This trend is nothing new and the conference speakers have also reflected this over the years, but the name "Flash on The Beach" has remained (and there has certainly been some Flashing on that beach!). Now, this will change. John's been thinking of something along the lines of "Code, Design, Inspire", a nice and professional sounding name. The conference probably won't change too much, but if anything, I would guess there will be less Code and more Inspire?
While I find it sad to see the name go, I fully understand why this happens. It's sad though (and so was the food at Bills this year). It's like an era has gone by - or maybe it actually has and we just had too much fun working with Flash to notice?
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.