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Following three events in 2000, the Flashforward 2001 conference was held on February 19-21 in San Francisco. Flashforward 2001 is the world’s premier Flash event and expected to draw more than 3,000 Web animators, programmers, designers and enthusiasts. The three-day Flashforward 2001 conference features the finest Flash artists to share their ideas and processes. This month’s Shift presents a report by Jimmy Chen who also attended the Flashforward2001 as one of the guest speakers.

Most designers who have been working on the web are very familiar with Flash technology that can enhance both their company/personal site and client sites. As designers and programmers begin to share ideas and methodology FlashForward became a platform for Flash developers to share their experiences.

This year, the conference took place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in rainy San Francisco.

After the opening remark by Lynda Weinman and Stewart McBride, Kevin Lynch, President of Products for Macromedia presented his keynote speech. One of the main topics that Kevin focused on was usability. He presented a few sample sites that represented the good and the bad execution of Flash. Sites like Giorgio Armani and Michael Douglas web site, it was difficult for users to sit through multiple intros and hidden content. Kevin pointed out MTV2 and General Motor’s web site as examples of well-designed Flash sites which prove that creative design and good usability aren’t mutually exclusive.

Hillman Curtis‘ session of Making the Visible Invisible started out as the first presentation of the conference. He took us on a brief tour of his work and showed some sample works from designers we all admire. He shared with us his creative process and key ingredients to deliver an effective project.

Chris MacGregor of enlightened Flash designers regarding designing a user-friendly Flash site. He emphasized that users may not have the patience to wait for the download, the ability to use awkward navigation system, fuzzy type and bad color scheme. He further explained that conducting surveys and testing can help us understand the end user. Establishing the trust with the user by giving them control, the site will have a better chance in succeeding.

ioReseach presented True Interactivity: History, Reward, and Multi-User Spaces. The team, including Josh Ulm, Kris Griffith, Ryan Tandy and Jon Williams started out with an audience poll regarding what they think interactivity is. From book reading to sex, the team demonstrated their 7 characteristics of interactivity (subject and participant, intention, investment, participation, change, awareness of effects, and history of evolution). Using their previous projects as examples, ioResearch definitely know what the heck they are talking about.

Brad Johnson and his team from Second Story had an in-depth presentation regarding broadband storytelling. Using their project “Unwrapped: The Mysterious World of Mummies” for Discovery/TLC, they revealed their process which helped them develop the site. This intricate and complicated project revealed to the audience concepts from interactivity to dynamic audio tracks.

Joshua Davis from Praystation showed the attendees an inspiring way of finding inspirations with his presentation called Mentalities and Anomalies. From destroying paintings, taking things apart, to crashing computers, the message he gave us was to look at ordinary objects with a new perspective.

Natalie Zee’s, Interactive Design Director at marchFIRST, presentation about Pitching (and Successfully Selling) Flash to Corporate Clients was both insightful and entertaining. She demonstrated to attendees about how to educate clients through presentations using Flash. Natalie also stressed on the importance of preparing yourself before the meeting by preparing the presentation specifically for the client, documentation detailing proposed use of Flash, previous Flash projects (both commercial and personal) and a vision for the future regarding the client’s goals.

She also noted that it is important to make the client feel comfortable with your grasp of the technology and what it can do for them. And once you are able to accomplish that, then you can start pitching more ideas to them.

The final event Monday night was a party held at the Sound Factory. A fun night of booze brought the Flash developers together.

Wednesday started off with a tribute to Jonathan Gay and the Macromedia
Flash Team. He was then awarded the FlashForward Orange Arrow for his

The day proceeded with a presentation by Brendan Dawes and Jimmy Chen from Typographic. Utilizing After Effects and its motion scripting, Brendan was able to share with us how some animation in After Effects can operate the same way as action scripting in Flash. Jimmy demonstrated how After Effects can be integrated with Flash by outputting sequences of images into a movie clip can enhance Flash animations.

Brad Kozak from Grok Media, presented Making Flash Work in Business. He explained that using Flash, you can increase visibility of the brand. Using simple interaction and animations, one can create engaging marketing materials such as mini-commercials and ad banners.

Overall, the conference was a success. Flash developers were given a platform to share their experiences with the attendees. From technical to creative sessions there was something for everyone whether the attendee was a novice or an expert.

Date: February 19-21, 2001
Place: San Francisco’s Bill Graham
Address: Civic Auditorium, San Francisco CA

Text and Photos: Jimmy Chen From Typographic

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