Paul Robertson's words, punctuated

Thoughts on development, user-centered design, code, etc. by Paul Robertson

My "Flash-back" - a glimpse at some of my earliest Flash work

I’m sure I’m not the only one doing this today, but in honor of the 10th anniversary of Flash, I’ve put up some of my early Flash work for historical and humorous observation. These are presented in roughly reverse chronological order:

  • Camera Simulator (Flash MX - May 2002): Assignment for an academic course. It’s part of an instructional module designed to teach how, in photography, relative sizes of objects change based on camera position (but conversely, do not change when the camera stays in the same place and just zooms in or out). This uses a 3-d algorithm (adapted from Ch. 2 of Macromedia Flash Super Samurai by Michael Brandon Williams) to adjust the size of objects as the camera “moves” toward or away from the scene.
  • “How to install a scanner” tutorial (Flash 4 - Fall 2000): Assignment for an academic course (“interactive tutorial”). It’s a tutorial on how to setup a specific model of scanner, based on the instruction manual. My favorite part is the drawing – I loved how Flash’s vector graphics let me draw something in great detail and then scale it to the size I needed, which allowed me to reuse lots of assets (like the USB cable) at different sizes.
  • Color Quiz (Flash 4 - Fall 2000): Made for a presentation in an academic course, on using programming in Flash (it wasn’t called ActionScript yet!). Each question is on a frame; the “correct” and “incorrect” popups are on frame 1 and are reused for each question. Each frame has some code setting variables with correct/incorrect answers. The code for handling correct or incorrect responses is placed on frames after the end of the content, and the “call” action was used to call the appropriate code. Boy, coding in Flash sure was different back then!
  • Animated brochure (Flash 4 - Fall 2000): Assignment for an academic course (“create an animated version of a brochure”). At the time I worked for the International Center at my university, so I took one of our study abroad brochures and added an intro with some music, and non-linear navigation (my first Flash drop-down menus).
  • Animated poem (Flash 4 - Fall 2000): Assignment for an academic course (“animate a poem”). This one is one of my favorites – I just thought it was a fun play on the words of the poem (notice the poem doesn’t mention chalkboards at all). It took lots of tricky work with masks to make the chalkboard “erase” itself. I was pretty proud of the animated feet, too.
  • Reunion web site introduction (Flash 3 - summer 1999): My first “skip intro” piece (the “skip” button only shows up briefly at the beginning - bad usability, I know!). At the time I worked for a university International Center; this was the splash page for a web site advertising an international alumni/friends reunion.
  • Sneezing pumpkin (Flash 3 - early 1999): My first-ever Flash animation. Back in the “good old” days Flash shipped with several tutorials that actually ran inside the authoring tool – a pretty impressive concept, I think. (Anyone else remember animating the bee to learn motion guides?) Anyway, one of the tutorials had you draw a triangle to demonstrate the “auto-shape-recognition” capability. I never could get it to recognize my triangles, but after drawing a few I noticed that I had the makings of a Jack O’ Lantern, so I decided to complete the animation. Notice the shape tweening on the flame, and the gradient light that is “cast” by the pumpkin as the flame gets bigger (probably an alpha motion tween, although I can’t be certain). Although it ends with “to be continued…”, I never did decide the ultimate fate of the poor pumpkin, so alas we’ll never know if he exploded in a ball of fire or if the flame peacefully snuffed itself out.