All 11 entries tagged Flash

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May 09, 2008

Flash shopping video

Writing about web page

If you’re interested in creative uses of Flash video, you might want to take a look at this shopping site . Try mousing over any one of the models, or click on “Night” or “Weekend” or “View women’s outfits”. It’s very clever, and beautifully art directed, but at the same time isn’t it just a little bit… weird?

April 04, 2006

Flashy SUVs

Writing about web page

It seems that Chevrolet are looking for new ways to promote the Tahoe, their big SUV. One idea they've hit upon is inviting viewers of their web site to create their own advert. This is technically quite brilliant; it's a little timeline editor which lets you choose snippets of footage, add your own captions and choose a soundtrack, all in a Flash applet inside your browser.

But the best bit about it is this: it's abundantly clear that they're not moderating the adverts which their users are creating. Take a look, for example, at this. (If anyone can work out how I can save a local copy of that advert, please tell me how; I'm sure it won't be there forever. ;-)

Update: Thanks to Tom for pointing out this montage hosted by which I guess has more chance of sticking around for a while. Still can't save it, though; curse these parameterised playback widgets!

August 24, 2005

Warwick from above

So like lots of people I’ve played with Google Maps and enjoyed the fact that you can view fantastic satellite imagery ranging from a view of the whole country all the way down to individual buildings. Disappointingly, though, there is no high-res satellite data for Coventry or Warwick at Google yet, so the chance to see whether there really is a concealed missile base on campus still eludes me.

Or at least it did. Enraged by this oversight on Google’s behalf, I vowed to provide equivalent imagery for the Warwick campus. And here it is.

Obviously, the hard part was getting the VC to agree to let me use his satellite (and figuring out how you switch it from “death ray” to “camera”) but after that, the results were quite pleasing. You can zoom in and out, drag the map around to pan, rotate the map or reset it. There are keyboard shortcuts too if you aren’t a mouse person; arrow keys to move, plus and minus to zoom, square bracket keys to rotate, space bar to reset.

The imagery required to do a zoomable map which goes to this level of detail is quite chunky; the original image used to develop the application is 24,000 pixels square, so it takes a while to open it up for editing. But the final effect is, for me anyway, endlessly entertaining. A prize for the first person who can tell me how many swimming pools and tennis courts are visible in the image. :-)

August 20, 2005

Flash Earth

Writing about web page

There's a continuing debate amongst web developers about whether Flash or Ajax is a better platform for interactive web applications. Google make some cool apps using Ajax – Google Maps, GMail and so on. Now, one guy has experimented to see whether the Google Maps satellite imagery interface could be done as well or better using Flash. The results are impressive: the redraw is better than Google's original, as is the panning and zooming, and he's added rotation, which is easy in Flash, but hard in HTML.

His interface feels nicer partly because he's gone to some trouble to polish the behaviour of the application; when you click the "zoom in" button, or the "pan north" button, the zoom (or pan) starts and slows to a stop smoothly. Handling both rotating and panning using the compass is a nice UI touch, too. And letting the user switch seamlessly between Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth to compare and contrast the two is clever and elegant. It's details like that which make the difference, and at the very least, this shows that Flash can do as good a job as Ajax for certain types of application – and, of course, this application works in every browser that can handle the Flash plugin, and there only needs to be one version of the code for all browsers – no conditional hacks to hide things from browser X. Worth a look.

July 03, 2005

Liquid man

Follow-up to Slightly disturbing animation from Autology: John Dale's blog

For every yin there is a yang, it seems. When I wrote about the way the Falling woman Flash animation disturbed me slightly, I should have known that there would be some mirror image animation somewhere which is just as pleasing as Falling woman is disturbing. And here it is. This guy swims towards the mouse pointer as gracefully and pleasingly as falling woman falls painfully and clumsily, and he's also a more elegant piece of physics – a fully flexible model rather than a model with a number of exaggerated joints.

June 30, 2005

Slightly disturbing animation

Writing about web page

This Flash animation is quite clever; it models a human body falling through an infinitely deep void, bouncing off white spheres as it goes. The physics seem reasonably well worked out, although the body is too flexible in too many places to be entirely realistic. Eventually, the body gets stuck somewhere, and at that point you can use the mouse to pick the body up and "throw" it in a new direction.

What I find interesting about this, apart from it being mildly mesmeric to watch the body falling, is that it's also slightly icky and unpleasant, especially if you elect to use the mouse to throw the body. The reason isn't hard to deduce; it's a female body, clad just in a bikini, and somehow that makes the animation feel slightly sordid. But why? Would it be just some mildly clever physics if it was a stick-figure? A cartoon figure? A photo-realistic crash-test dummy? A fully clothed woman? A man? Would it be more unpleasant if the woman was nude? Or if it was a child? I wonder if the programmer was aiming for "slightly disturbing" or is entirely oblivious to this aspect of it.

March 31, 2005

Flash image resizer

Writing about web page

This is a very nice Flash applet which lets you crop a photo in your web browser. I wonder if this would be useful for us? Of course, once you start supporting image manipulation, it's a slippery slope because there's always more that you could do – rotation, zooming, brightness/contrast, red eye – the list is, if not endless, then at least long.

But I like the applet; I like the way the handles display an affordance for what they do, and how they light up when you move over them. There's a java version too, both of them open source.

February 01, 2005

Zoomify mania

We played around a little bit last year with a clever Flash applet called Zoomify although we never released any applications that used it (we experimented with a zoomable campus map, but didn't take it all the way to production).

Now Delft University a research institute called TNO TPD in the Netherlands have produced an utterly amazing zoomable image using the tool. Details which are all but invisible when you first see the zoomed out image (the yellow crane, the cars on the right-hand side) can be zoomed in on with sufficient detail to read writing on them. Just flabbergasting – and amazingly performant.

It's a 2.5 gigapixel image made up of 600 stitched-together digital photographs, and they have some details about how it was done:

All 600 photos were taken over a period of 1 hour and 15 minutes. Taking a single photo and moving the camera to a new position took approximately seven seconds. Thanks to the long 'exposure time', some interesting artefacts are visible at the edges of the various photos. They include a parked car that seems to merge into a bus and a walking torso.

After the photographic session, considerable effort was required to calculate the final result. It took about 24 hours to compare the overlapping photos and optimise them. Stitching the photos into one image required the capacity of 5 high-end pcs for three full days.

They even ended up devising their own image format in order to cope with enormous file sizes. Amazing.

January 02, 2005

Sonic in Flash

Writing about web page

I loved the Sonic games when they first came out on the Megadrive. I'm mildly dumbfounded to discover that some dedicated coder has faithfully recreated the Sonic experience entirely in Flash. What little I know about coding in Flash leaves me impressed going on bemused that there are people with the talent, creativity and patience to make this fairly lame-ass tool do such cool things.

July 15, 2004

Elegant Flash

Writing about web page

It's perhaps not something you'd expect from Microsoft, but this web page has one of the best Flash presentations I've ever seen. I'm not commenting on the message or the claims that MS are making for their products – that's not what's impressive – it's the dazzlingly high production values put into the Flash story-boarding, animations, narration and music. And to cap it all, try clicking on the "Accessibility" button at bottom left, and see how well they've thought out and implemented keyboard control.

June 25, 2004

Flashy Alice

Writing about web page

Got kids who are (or will be) old enough to enjoy a brilliantly animated Flash version of Alice in Wonderland? Or was it a favourite of yours when younger? Either way, this is absolutely worth a look (or a right-click and Save As for repeated viewing by younger readers).

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