Jess Garland

Prior to this project I created an interactive portfolio to be used on A CD business card using Flash, so have some experience using the programme. I would like to develop these skills further.I encountered some problems with my last project so would need to concentrate on areas I had difficulty with. One of the main faults with my last project was usability/ accessibility which I have researched this week in great detail. I can see that I need to be far more conscious of the design- not just the aesthetics but the way everything works..As a photography specialist, these skills will be extremely handy when I enter the media industry as I will be able to update my own promotional material. It will also make me more employable as I will have a wider range of skills under my belt.

I have decided against the idea of creating an interactive game portfolio; primarily because after taking a step back and thinking about my industry, I realised that my users will not have time to play a game to see my work. I want to interest them but provide a quick way for them to see my images and gain their interest.

I have researched what is new in the Flash World and realise that audio slideshows are becoming more important. A game could be too interactive, a slideshow allows the viewer to be entertained. People are often interested in the thinking behind the images, Creating a slideshow would allow me to add audio sections to demonstrate this.

This will also give me an important skill which I can continue to utilise to update my site. Therefore I can keep it fresh and interesting so that people revisit it to view new photographs I add and allow them to understand how/why I took them.

I have done a little research into using Audio in Flash, it is fairly straight forward to import audio into the programme and control when it is played. Action movie control will allow me to control when the sound stops and starts in relation to the images.

Flash support several formats of file, I would probably use mp3 as it is the smallest size, and therefore quickest to load. Flash would also allow me to add a sliding control for the volume so that viewers can adjust this to suit them. As far as Usability/Accessibility is concerned, I would need to make sure my audio had the transcript attached to the file as not to discriminate against the deaf, or people without speakers.

I think this idea is very promising and look forward to it developing as I continue to research.

INTERVIEW WITH A FLASH PROFESSIONAL

I emailed a bunch of people, a man called Drew Trujillo, who specialises in Flash got back to me, here are his responses to my questions:-

What do you feel is important in Flash and the New Media today?


capturing, analyzing, visualizing and sharing data. in my case, i’m in love with color so i tend to focus on the colors of paintings and photography. using flash along with php and mysql – although it could have been any middleware and database – is a huge benefit because we’re beginning to see the CS3 apps evolve in functionality, allowing us to extend the original purpose of online flash experiences like In The Mod: Color Analytics (ITM). 


adobe illustrator cs3 is probably the best example in the new creative suite that allows us to create – within AI – a swfPanel, which basically is a floating window with a swf that is imported either from your hard drive or a server. so now i can create a custom swf that communicates to the same php scripts that i have already developed for the web site and have the web site basically exist within AI. the advantage being that if you want to use one of the color palettes from the ITM website (without using the swfPanel), you have to go through multiple steps to download, unzip and import the palette into the Swatches Panel of AI. with the ITM swfPanel, after finding the palette you like, it’s as simple as clicking a single button to populate your Swatches Panel. magic! here’s a video of it here


in addition, swfPanels within AI can actually control Bridge, Photoshop and After Effects in the background and this is of great importance because you can actually create your own custom über-applications now. this not only improves your workflow, but from a creative perspective we can now create experiences in print, video and online that we would not be able to do by hand. 


What do you like about flash?

it’s ubiquitous. it’s a single format. the content can be layered. 


i wasted a lot of time in the early years of the internet focused on design and technology issues like how to make images and design elements look nice when i had to slice-n-dice them around copy. font issues. compatibility issues like dhtml on one platform/browser versus another. no thank you – i’d rather create. 


for the longest time, we’ve chased this concept of create it once and publish it anywhere. with the new CS3 apps and the ability to integrate swfs into the mix, i think this concept is finally becoming a reality. 




What inspires you creatively?

colors. paintings. photographs. architecture. life. natural systems like how ants forage for food – with the idea of emulating that behavior in order to define brushstrokes. 


one of the main things i like to do is go out into the world and really soak in the art, flowers or environment i’m in. there are tons of inspiring moments floating around us all of the time… it’s just a question of whether or not we’re open to them. 


i remember standing in front of a van gogh painting at the getty museum in LA in 1993 and simply being blown away by the illusion of movement he created from the colors he choose and his brushstrokes. a seed was planted and it took 12 years for that to come to fruition as In The Mod. 


Do you have any suggestions for creating an interactive Photography Portfolio using Flash?

make sure it’s easy to update and to navigate. eg., on DrWoohoo.com, i simply upload a new image to the directory online and it adds it to the cue. with that said, even though it has a VCR panel to control playback of the images, it really needs the ability to reveal a thumbnail panel so the user can easily jump around non-linearly. 

His comments have been very useful and I will take his views into consideration when I am planning my project. Thanks Drew 🙂

A brief introduction to- Flash.

Flash addresses a complete range of multimedia solutions, these include video, audio, rich interaction through Actionscript (its programming language) Flash has the tools needed to build complex and intelligent games, websites, simple animations, slideshows and much much more.

Flash works mainly around a timeline utilising layers to organise separate aspects of a design.

Through flash a creator can make engaging vector graphics, produce small files (SWF) that users can smoothly download, and flash has a playback device that can interpret the downloaded movies through flash plugin, nearly 99% of users have this plug-in.

These types of files can be downloaded on demand within flash movies-

  1. Sound: MP3, AU and AUFaudio files can be downloaded into a flash movie through actionscript.
  2. Video: Shock video and DAT video can be loaded directly into flash.
  3. JPEG Gragpics
  4. CodeYou csn break up your code and re-use it/have it reused over and over again as files that can be downloaded off your website. Splitting your code up into external files is the basis of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) which is an efficient way to re-use code.

After interviewing Drew and researching into the Flash programme a little i relise how important Flash is becoming in the industry. Drew has pointed out how he works and what he looks for in a prospective employee. The guidelines he has given me are extremely useful indeed and my brief outline of flays underlines the programmes possibilities.

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