FLEX | 360 Atlanta | Day 3

From the community…
people I saw quickly but didn’t get to attend their session: Renaun showed off his voip app Pacifica,  Zach from Yahoo showing some things available with Yahoo Maps AS3 API, Adam talking about Merapi where you can access Java from AIR apps and Joe showed us some awesome music app he’s working on, keep your ears open for noteflight(?)!

Brad Umbaugh- Practical 3-D: Immersive interfaces for regular people

Brad Umbaugh , Senior Developer @ effectiveui. In the discussion of 3D we pointed out that 3D is associated with the future. There have been many 3d success stories such as: games, CAD, sketchup, maya… But we decided that making good 3D interfaces is a lot different than making 3D interfaces- just because it’s 3D doesn’t mean it’s good.
Brad explained the steps in the 3d graphics rendering pipeline: place object in world coordinate system, illuminate models, transform world coords to viewing coords, perform clipping, project to screen and rasterize. Luckily there are 3d engines that will do all of this so we don’t have to think about it. It takes a lot of Linear Algebra Math. 3d apps are constantly performing lots of calculations, and thus can perform rather poorly.
Brad discussed the process of his Discover Earth Live project. They started project with papervision3d, but had problems with pinpoints and how they were wrapping around the globe as it spun. So, they tried Away3d and it fixed these problems “out of the box”. Another plus to Away3d they found is that it lets us do correct Z ordering.
We then talked about setting up the scene in away3d and making objects and he showed some 3D Globe examples: nike, mars.com, wii forecast, discovery earth live.

Ben Stucki – Reinventing Flex:

Ben an independent flex developer (nice soundtrack by the way), let’s talk about Flex, baby.
He started out giving everyone a pair of red/blue anaglyphic 3D glasses and showing us mr doob’s anaglyphic rendering tests. The 3d glasses work by filtering different colors to give your eyes two different views of the same image. Red filters out the red lines, cyan filters out the green/blue lines.
Ben has his own staging area for code that’s not yet released… lots of it is probably broken… but it is open source (benstucki.googlecode.com).
Ben then walked us through lots of openflux, his project that is rebuilding some built in componentes of flex with different proerties and capabilities in mind. Great job Ben!

Dave Hassoun – Flash Video tips (and tricks)

Dave from realeyes taught us about video codecs! Flash video gives us the compression options of sorenson, on2 VP6 and the famed H.264.
Sorenson is easy on cpu performance, but struggles with good color and quality. For the quality the file size is a bit high, but sorenson is a good standard.
on2 vp6 has high quality image, but lots of processing demand, plus it has transparency capabilities!
h.264 (& AAC/AAC+ audio is the newest with the most bells and whistles. As it’s new it’s only supported by flash player 9 (which is beginning to be less and less of an issue). It does support true HD video (1080p), multi-core support, many devices, and lots lots of metadata.
A general rule (equation) to help with encoding: frame height x frame width x frame rate) / compression = total bits/sec
Tools he mentioned to help with encoding: rools, riva, fmpeg, on2fix, sorenson squeeze, cs & adobe media encoder.
Dave pointed out that flex video integration was simple, but too simple, making it weak. There is only video display, which is very simple. AS3 is way better equipped to handle video.
h264 streaming requires a streaming media server, can stream or seek to any point (non-linear or random access), has quicker playback and is much more secure. H264 contains a lot of metadata: length, dimensions, codec, seek points, cover art, subtitles, audio book chapters, image tracks, and more!
Dave’s tips for video compression: quality in, quality out | use the right codec for the job | be creative | code reusability! write stuff to be reused | metadata is your friend, use it
He gave so many resources! I won’t copy them here, so go check his Presentation Notes and source. Here is one resource though, Tinic Uro‘s blog about the flash player and video.

Juan Sanchez – Degrafa

Juan (better known as scalenine) taught about his open source project Degrafa – Declarative Graphics Framework for Flex. Degrafa uses mxml to make graphics so you don’t have to use the AS3 drawing API! It makes drawing objects more intuitive and allows you to do it using less code! Plus, rather than creating graphics in photoshop and importing the static image (which takes more memory and then can’t be modified), we can bind properties to the graphic and make it dynamic in flex. So far Degrafa allows us to make surfaces, shapes, objects, fills, strokes, groups, geometry compositions, segments, graphic image, graphic text, and even use svg path data, with much much more in the works! Degrafa is a great way to add custom graphics to your app and it supports advanced css as well, so it is very simple to skin your app! Juan showed us many examples of what degrafa can do and promised there is much more soon to come. Thanks for this great library Juan and everyone else at degrafa, and thanks for the T-shirt as well!

Personally, I got the most out of Day 3 at the conferenc! It was awesome! I got to attend sessions about 3D, drawing graphics, and video! Thanks to all the speakers and Big Thanks to Tom and John, who are Flex360!