29 Feb

FITC Amsterdam 2012

29. February 2012 by George Profenza

fitc1 This year I was lucky enough (thanks to Tink and Alias) to attend the FITC conference in beautiful Amsterdam. It was a great opportunity to meet with fellow technology enthusiasts and put the finger on the pulse of the continuously changing web and interactive development.

Business in the front: I’ll get the industry related things out of the way first. As expected, the accent was placed on the shift from Flash to JavaScript. Even though the conference is called Flash In The Can, and there were 4 tracks, for each talk there was at least one track focusing on JavaScript.

Adobe demoed quite a few HTML5 tools and although the trend seemed to be “make EVERYTHING in JS”, it was still obvious the there’s still a few rough edges when it comes to web development: lack of mature tools, fragmented performance across platforms and browsers, language specific issues, etc.

Jon Howard’s talk based on his experience building games in flash and in html5 was insightful regarding what can/can’t be done and should/shouldn’t be done in JS. There were still quite a few Flash related highlights like updates to Away3D 4.0, ASFEAT (AS Computer Vision library) and an upcoming newer version of the Alchemy tool which allows C/C++ libraries to be compiled as Actionscript ByteCode.

From my point of view, Actionscript is still pretty relevant: there are tasks where life is so much easier. As Seb Lee Delisle highlighted, it’s fairly easy to a Flash developer to build impressive content in JS: simply port stuff that done in Flash a while back :P

On that note you can see my little demo based on Seb’s code at the conference here: spherical coordinates. There’s a couple of controls on the top right to play with, and yet, it was done in Flash first. JS can be quite handy, not just for the web, but as an application scripting language, especially with CS, where js is used to automate Flash/Illustrator/Photoshop/After Effects/etc. I’ll start posting some scripts in the following posts.

fitc3 Party in the back: I am very interested in interaction in general, but probably less excited about the web these days. There were a lot of ‘creative coders’ showcasing interesting works, like Andreas Müller, who among other things wrote “a program to help computers dream about flowers”. Spending a bit of time myself with toolkits like Processing / Openframeworks / MaxMSP and having an interest in building tools in general, I was very impressed by Marcin Ignac’s presentation, where he showcased compelling data visualisation projects build for various clients, including CIID. Some of these projects were made using a toolset he wrote called Plask.

fitc4Memo Akten talked about work starting from things that fascinated him as a child: programmable computers and how things work. Some projects, like My Secret Heart and Fragile Tension Depeche Mode video were a great insight into how ideas and code blend. Crafting software that can be tweaked with the intuitiveness or instruments is an appealing perspective to programming. Looking forward to see details on his latest piece called Forms which should premiere on the 8th of March at Bradford.

fitc2 For me, the highlight of the conference was the brilliant talk gave by Golan Levin called “Machine Code and Visual Culture”. Some of his older and current projects were beautifully showcased, both from the conceptual and from the technical point of view. It was amazing to see how much can be learned about human - machine interaction from interactive pieces and was great to able to ‘steal’ some of that experience. This remained on my mind: “…there’s a moment when a person interacting discovers his potential as a creator.”

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