1: Flash has taken the online world by storm, but do you think Flash will expand into other media as well? Smartphones are an ideal place for Flash like content. Do you think this may happen in the future?
Flash is definitely spreading like wildfire. Many of the next generation cell phones are already using Flash for the visual display of animations, videos and information. In addition to cell phones, video games being developed have Flash powered interfaces and menus for everything outside of the physical game itself. These Flashed out interfaces in phones and games are not only impactful from an animation and visual standpoint. They are also very expandable allowing for the developers and distributors the ability to re-use interfaces in multiple languages.
2: Looking at the capabilities of Flash today, where do you think it's features will move into next? Can you see any gaps in its capabilities that need filling?
I think that Macromedia is doing a great job of catering to and adapting the capabilities of Flash to the ever changing needs of the Flash community. The only visible gap that I can see is that Flash text is not currently indexed by search engines. In order for Flash to become an acceptable and viable option for all businesses and websites on the Internet, Search Engine Optimization must be addressed. Using Flash to display content is currently impossible for companies and sites that rely upon Search Engine rankings and indexing to fuel traffic to their businesses. In those cases, Flash usage is unfortunately limited to simple animations for images which do not factor into the SEO of a site. In addition to this, Flash sites are not structured like HTML sites where single pages of content exist to be indexed, linked to and grouped together to create a site. Flash development is flexible allowing sites and applications to be programmed and built in thousands of different combinations, structures and methods. Since there is no finite structure in place (like a standard HTML site) it makes it nearly impossible to accommodate a person trying to link directly to specific content from a search engine link even if Flash text was able to be indexed.
3: Flash was great because it delivered full-motion animation over a slow dial-up Internet connection. Now that broadband is almost ubiquitous, how do you think this will affect Flash in the future? Are there no real constraints anymore for the Flash designer?
With broadband upon us, even more time, constraints, and factors must be considered by Flash Designers/Developers on any given project. From web standpoint, the average screen resolutions are finally expanding beyond 800x600. This is both a blessing and curse. Although we are now gaining more screen resolution to play with, bitmaps, Flash animations, video and other processor intensive actions must now fill up these spaces once again slowing down sites (even on the fastest computers) and bloating file sizes even larger than what they need to be. Broadband is definitely the solution for making larger file sizes accessible but has nothing to do with how fast a computer can render a full Flash site running at 1024x768+ with a series of complex animations or large size video stream. Broadband is also problematic from a development standpoint because of the length of time and the multiple skills it can take to develop an impactful website or presentation. Broadband allows the convergence of multiple mediums like design, video, 3d and data into one package but the downside or constraint is that broadband websites & presentations can take longer to develop, require more skills (and possibly more people) and definitely cost the client more money. Time and cost alone are two monumental factors which can constrain a Flash designer and/or client from doing the next ground breaking broadband site.
4: You design websites using Flash instead of an HTML package like Dreamweaver so you can include advanced animations and graphics. Do you think that we will need a whole new set of tools to build the multimedia websites of tomorrow, or can programs like Flash handle this if they evolve over time?
The core of Flash is about the convergence of mediums and technologies. It does a great job of integrating the current popular technologies and file formats from existing major multimedia tools like: Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, 3D Studio Max and others. I consider it the glue which brings these outside programs and their strengths together into the shape of a website. As long as Flash keeps abreast with the technology updates happening with these individual programs and the mediums they each represent it will continue to be one of the major tools considered for publishing content on the Internet.
5: I have just viewed the cartoon finalists for the Flash Film Festival. These are stunning uses of Flash and offer an insight into how Flash has become a tool that can do much more than simply animate a website. Which creative areas do you think Flash will touch on next?
At a recent speaking engagement artist & designer Joshua Davis (www.joshuadavis.com, www.once-upon-a-forest.com) presented on how he uses Flash to create randomized vector artwork. In a nutshell he used Flash to create a custom application which takes provided vector images and randomizes, rotates and duplicates them thousands of times creating incredibly detailed compositions. Joshua continues to randomize the vector objects he chose to input until he comes up with a composition which is appealing to him. He then exports a postscript file from Flash and has the artwork printed as posters or used in his websites. This is a very unique and innovated way to utilize his advanced programming skills along with artistic vision to create multi-format artwork. His latest work can be seen on both of his websites. Another area I see effected is in the video world where artists and designers are slowly starting to usescripted and non-scripted Flash animations to create assets for video projects.
6: Flash has allowed a lot of artists and animators to show off their skills. In the past this was very difficult due to the high costs of cell animation. How much of an impact do you think Flash has had on animation as a whole?
I use Flash mainly for website development and I really enjoy how I can quickly and easily I can translate the ideas in my head to the work on the screen. Flash makes it very easy to conceptualize, animate and see immediate results allowing a person to quickly come up with several motion concepts and choose between them in very little time. This ease of use, combined with the fact that Flash is more easily attainable than the tools used in cell animation make it a great option for people looking to learn about animation in general. This will only serve to get more people interested in animation captivating a whole new generation of cell animation artists who concept and complete all of their artwork on the computer.
7: As an educational tool Flash can be fantastic. How do you think Flash will be used in the future as an educational tool?
There are endless possibilities for the creation of educational applications and tools in Flash. The only limitations would be the ideas themselves and the time it takes to develop those ideas in a Flash driven application. One use I could quickly envision would be using Flash and the Flash Communication Server to create a real time application or environment allowing teachers and students to interact with one another thru video, text and file sharing. College degrees obtained thru internet classes are quickly becoming legitimate avenues for upgrading a person’s education. With that in mind rich media Flash applications would only help to bring life and human interaction to communication between teacher and student who may be thousands of miles apart.
8: Any other comments you would like to make about the future of Flash.
I really enjoy using Flash because of its versatility. With each project I involve myself, I am continually challenged into learning something new in regards to animation, programming, asset management and process. In other words I never get bored and there are so many things Flash c can do that I am continually challenged and intrigued by new hurdles and their solutions. The future of Flash is bright because this versatility will continue to draw in individuals with diverse backgrounds, visions and skillsets and solution infusing new ideas and uses for Flash.