Google Tech Talk: Simple interactive 3D modeling for all – VideoTrace

3D models from basic video… This can be huge in all sorts of ways.  For exponential growth you need to go virtual.

  • This is a technology called VideoTrace from Australia
  • The Siggraph paper describing VideoTrace is available here (pdf 6MB)
  • Larger videos available here, with a more compressed version here.

Amazing New Feature for Flash 10 – FileReference Runtime Access

I have been consuming all the great additions to Flash 10 this weekend and one that really jumps out after you get past the visual, text and sound features (which are spectacular btw and most of what the community was asking for). But one feature snuck by, this is the one that ByteArray (Thibault Imbert) mentions/pointed out for managing files directly within Flash.

File Reference runtime access — Bring users into the experience by letting them load files into your RIA. You can work with the content at runtime and even save it back when you are done through the browse dialog box. Files can be accessed as a byteArray or text using a convenient API in ActionScript without round-tripping to the server. You no longer have to know a server language or have access to a server to load or save files at runtime.

This greatly lowers the bar to using Flash as a photo editor, document manager, customized application experiences, marking up content and saving locally, all without the need for server side script. I am a big fan of server side technologies and develop with them but even for bettering performance this could be huge.

Scenarios where this might be useful is editing applications, note taking (download a book with your notes), editors for docs/games/3d/textures,,, the possibilities are endless really.

Flash 9 just got mainstream and production ready (flash 9 penetration) at the tail end of last year but there are so many great things in the new version that I hope it comes out very soon. Flash it turning into quite a platform.

Alternativa Platform also has updated their engine for Flash 10 already (they must have had some inside early accessibility to it) and there are great possibilities here.

It is only beta (Flash 10) but there are great market opportunities to prepare for when this launches. Keep your eye on where the puck will be, not where it is currently at. I was concerned when Adobe bought Macromedia and the future of Flash but it appears they are taking this bull by the horns.

If you are ready to play with Flash 10 here is Flex and FlashDevelop updates to help you get started.

Also here is some code posted at ByteArray from Pleh for testing the new FileReference runtime access, usage is extremely simple and rests on this

var data:ByteArray = fileRef['data'];

/*
  FileReference Load Example By Pleh 17/05/08
*/

package {
	import flash.display.Loader;
	import flash.display.Sprite;
	import flash.events.Event;
	import flash.events.MouseEvent;
	import flash.net.FileReference;
	import flash.net.FileFilter;
	import flash.utils.ByteArray;

	public class Flash10Test extends Sprite
	{
		private var fileRef:FileReference;

		public function Flash10Test()
		{
			fileRef = new FileReference();
			fileRef.addEventListener(Event.SELECT, selectFile);
			fileRef.addEventListener(Event.OPEN, openFile);
			stage.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK,stageClick);
		}

		private function selectFile(e:Event):void {
			fileRef['load']();
		}

		private function openFile(e:Event):void {
			var data:ByteArray = fileRef['data'];
			var loader:Loader = new Loader();
			loader.loadBytes(data);
			addChild(loader);
		}

		private function stageClick(e:Event):void{
			fileRef.browse([new FileFilter("All Formats (*.jpg,*.gif,*.png,*.swf)", "*.jpg;*.gif;*.png;*.swf", "JPEG;jp2_;GIFF;SWFL")]);
		}

	}
}

AS3 Creative Papervision 3D Flash Games

Recently on the papervision lists there have been some really creative uses of pv3d in games. I will highlight two here:

The Bowling Buddies game is made by the very creative Playfish.com company (more on the release at their blog). They have some great facebook/social network games combined with flash. With bowling buddies they created a game similar to Wii bowling (even with customize characters) and the best part is how they have scaled down versions. You can play in 2D, 3D and at different levels of quality to make it accessible to everyone. I think that will probably be needed with 3d flash games (Shockwave Director has LOD (Level of Detail) that helps with scaling down to slower machines but you have to do that yourself with the state of 3d engines in flash so far).

Bowling buddies and most playfish games are Facebook/Social Network based. You might say, why? (especially if you aren’t in the US where facebook is the biggest social network). But even Activision’s CEO calls facebook a threat to online gaming as we know it, this is because of the community aspect and the ability to play with friends and multiplayer games easily. Rather than setting up your own player find mechanism, facebook has it built in and all the viral aspects you need to garner more fans. So those into facebook and gaming are possibly ahead, but also it will be extremely competitive.

[ try bowling buddies ]

Airship is a really creative game that has been impressive to watch grow over the last weeks. It is now textured and performs pretty well. The best part is the Airship model and the fans. Very neat and I hope this one is seen through to a launched game. It is a bit like a RTS/Strategy overhead game that would be very cool to play multiplayer with Red5 server as well (just need the TIME!).

[ try airship demo ]

The best part is you can see after a year+ of release papervision and the other 3d engines are really changing the way gaming is done online. What was once a Java or Shockwave only capability, flash now has with evolving 3d engines, and there are playable fun games to prove it that are commercial ready.

Get your game on!

Adobe Opens Flash Format Specifications for SWF, AMF and Flash Video FLV (Open Screen Project)

Adobe is taking the inside lane in the industry it seems with the Open Screen Project. What does this mean? It seems like SWF and FLV formats are now largely open and licenses removed. With the XFL format possibly on its way (probably based on mxml) to replace closed .FLA files it is pretty clear that Adobe and Flash will see a large uptick in the mindshare. As well as looking to create a broader mobile platform for the flash player.

The Open Screen Project will address potential technology fragmentation by enabling the runtime technology to be updated seamlessly over the air on mobile devices. The consistent runtime environment is intended to provide optimal performance across a variety of operating systems and devices, and ultimately provide the best experience to consumers.

To support this mission, and as part of Adobe’s ongoing commitment to enable Web innovation, Adobe will continue to open access to Adobe Flash technology, accelerating the deployment of content and rich Internet applications (RIAs). This work will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash® Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

This is big. It has mutiple prongs. Adobe would like to make Flash a common mobile standard, hrm no Apple on this list (it is probably a slight move there against that).

Adobe would also like to continue their lead of web video. And they finally are recognizing the closed format of SWF is not as desirable as an open one, there is still considerable control for Adobe over the player. But they get insights and contributions from many large companies to help make it work on their platform, engraining the format further. The providers, especially mobile and internet tv, will want to provide good user experiences to compete with the iPhone and regular T.V. respectively. Flash being open helps both of those markets.

Adobe is also moving further to open source key formats and technologies like the recent Flex 3 SDK and now the AMF format which was a roadblock. This is probably good news for servers like Red5 and also many other media servers and remoting services in many more place. AMF is particularly nice because it is a binary, extremely compact and limited bloat format. Without it being open it loses much of its benefit as a standard. Being open and a further crunching from the XML bloat services, this can be very good for many reasons such as throughput and faster services, apps and games with remote data.

Another reason is the desktop market. They want Flash to work flawlessly on Linux but they don’t’ have the manpower for a 2% market share. So this is a very smart move for the desktop players (AIR, and Linux Flash).

The only thing that partially makes it scary is the line up, Sony, Verizon, etc. As long as these are contributors and not partners in DRM crime then we have something. Hopefully they are in it to make better entertainment and mobile platforms cheaper.

Being able to peer into the code and a move to allow better open integration makes it a better platform, where better stuff can be built on top of that. Let’s hope it is done right. Everyone is making Apple look really closed and locked down lately.

AS3 Flash 3D Engine Alternativa Platform Drops A Nuke – Isometric and FPS

This will blow you away. Found first via mrdoob (with quantum rss reading capability, before the message is concieved mrdoob is there).

Alternativa Platform, previously Alternativa Game, launched their Alternativa Platform milestone 1 and really one demo would have been enough but there are some great demos there that literally put them what appears a couple laps up on the 3d FPS style engine in Flash.

The engine is highly optimized and smooth, heavy on the processor, but using the ‘t’ key you can see some nice revealing triangle rendering. Also, playing with the field of view adds for some nice game effects. (try jumping on the fans in the half-life like room in the first demo)

Check the textures

See the Matrix

Get superpowers

From Above, Isometric

Here is what is to come from the platform:

Congrats to the Russian based Alternativa Platform, the world is watching.

PyAMF 0.3 Released and Sample on Google App Engine

A great Action Message Format (AMF) remoting kit for server side for the pythonistas is pyAMF, they recently released PyAMF 0.3 and have a sample running up on Google App Engine. There is also a tutorial for getting PyAMF running on Google App Engine. Aral Balkan got this running as well.

Features of pyAMF currently:

More on the PyAMF library:

TweenMax Bezier Tweening Released for AS2 and AS3 by Jack at GreenSock – And List of Animation Kits

TweenMax (Speed Test) has been released that adds a main feature missing from GreenSock’s offerings in tween animation libraries and kits over Tweener. That is the bezier curve tween. Tweener is very popular for use in PV3d and AS3 due to the bezier curve and Zeh’s great example that is really the base of a possible 3d editor. TweenMax now adds this and bezier tween capability for the GreenSock animation libraries.

Tweener and TweenLite have become the micro animation kits as well as micro kits you can make with Go base kits. TweenLite, TweenFilterLite and TweenMax divided up into different kits allows it to be embedded for banners or small assets easier if you don’t need the filters or other advanced tweens (this comes into play heavily with large games and asset collections when the compiled SWF each need the library). Tweener packs all features into one kit for simplicity. GreenSock kits are divided up for need. The comparison together is about the same but for basic tweens TweenLite is only 2k.

Performance is one area that the kits from GreenSock have really shined and since the addition of the speed tests and benchmarks it has become a great focus on showing how the open source kits are much better than bloated included animation calls in Flash and Flex defaults. I think all the kits have niches that they fit and Tweener and TweenLite are just very simple to use which adds alot to an animation kit success.

List of Animation Kits for AS3 (some for AS2 as well)

If you are using the Flex of Flash default animation classes, I am sorry…

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