Design, Development, Interaction

Monday, July 19, 2010

FITC 2010: First-Time Speaker, Long-Time Attendee

Flash was only the beginning.

Today, if there’s one thing FITC is known for, it’s inspiration. In less than a decade since its first incarnation as a Toronto-based festival celebrating Flash, FITC has spread around the world and broadened its scope. Now, there’s something for everyone: writers, designers, developers, or creative explorers. It’s that spark of inspiration that unifies the speakers and attendees. I’d like to think it’s that same spark that inspired the entrepreneurs to create Flash (FutureSplash Animator, at the time), and possibly the same spark that inspired the first flock of flashy individuals to come together and create this event.

As if the speakers, networking and parties weren’t enough to bring people together, each year the event is centered on a theme. This year’s “Playground” theme was most evident in the speaker introductions. Each introduction was pre-recorded (and edited) by event creator, Shawn Pucknell’s young daughters. And while it would have been funny, I’m glad they didn’t do this introduction for the “Cool Shit Hour”. Alternatively, they could have just called it the “Cool Stuff Hour”. But that doesn’t seem to have the same impact.

The “Cool Shit” presenters included myself, Chris Allen (, Didier Brun (@didierbyte), Joa Ebert (@joa), & Mikko Haapoja (@MikkoH). And in spite of some technical difficulties, great work was shown. Didier got the whole room singing “Hey Jude” with his great audio analysis prototypes, Joa live-coded a music visualizer with his notorious keyless keyboard. Mikko showed his devotion to creative development with a 3D painting app created using the Voxel Engine/Fancy Engine. And Chris demoed an awesome Star Wars Trench Run game for the iPhone.

Throughout the conference, I was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of everyone regarding Apple’s frustrating decision to control how we create content. It certainly cast a shadow over the Adobe/Flash community. But there was so much more to be excited about. For example, Lee Brimelow showcased the fully-implemented multi-touch capabilities in Flash, and then Richard Galvan & Mark Anders reminded us that almost every other mobile platform supports Flash (and ultimately allows developers to develop for multiple platforms). And personally, this is where the argument for Adobe/Flash stands strong to me. Developing for multiple platforms doesn’t inherently make for lesser applications. It just means developers have to make additional considerations. If an app is developed to “Apple standards” (on any arguable level), they shouldn’t be controlling how the app is developed.

Being a first-time FITC presenter, I only discovered the speaker room on the last day. But I’m sure this debate didn’t occupy the casual lunch conversations between speakers. On the contrary, I echoed Mr. Rick Mason’s (@egnaro) sentiments regarding how exciting it was to see so many familiar faces in Eskil Steenberg’s (@quelsolaar) presentation on The Future of Creative Tools. Having a particular interest in this topic, I was excited with the format.

Eskil began speaking about his multiplayer indie-game, “Love” ( The concept behind “Love” is that, instead of leveling-up your character with various interactions, you level-up the world around you (in a sense). But what was most impressive was that he developed the entire toolset needed to create the game. He demoed a modeler, a uv-mapper, an animation tool, and a few other works-in-progress, all of which were networked together for a practical collaborative workflow. By Eskil’s own account, he loves designing interfaces. And the work he showed demonstrated this passion for pushing the boundaries and dispelled dated metaphors for how we use creative tools.

I was also happy to have had the opportunity to congratulate Brendan Dawes (@Brendandawes) on another great talk. His presentation, The Grammar of Interaction Design was a gem where he showed examples of how magic and silence can elevate interaction to create great experiences. From westerns to websites, this man knows how to present ideas.

At the Source + Imagination panel, Brendan shared the stage with panelists Grzegorz Kozakiewicz, Tali Krakowsky, Craig Swann, and Eric Socolofsky. I missed this presentation, but had the pleasure of chatting with Eric Socolofsky ( about the value of unnecessary interactions in creating meaningful connections between users; a topic that inspired some of the earliest concepts behind my part of the Cool Shit Hour.

I spoke about a motion-based drawing tool I developed called Livebrush ( In addition to the demo, I showed a prototype that adds physics-based drawing to the tool. The audience response was great and I couldn’t have thanked Jamie Kosoy (@jkosoy), Sam Agesilas (@samuelagesilas) & Steven Sacks (@stevensacks) more for their words of encouragement. Then Sam & Steven politely reminded me of the awesomeness of FDT 3 and scolded me for using Flash to build an app of Livebrush’s size. At a personal demo, Dave Gomes (@davegomes from Disney’s Club Penguin) even out shined me using Livebrush!

At the end of it all, the parties and venue made it very easy to share Livebrush and meet up with local and digital friends. I have to give Kudos to illustrators Cassie McDaniel (@cassiemc) & Michelle Runowski (@meeshemellow) for sharing the coolest cards on the Playground. I also enjoyed meeting the “Almer” half of digital shop, Almer/Blank over Tapas, as a quiet end to busy day. And if there’s one thing all of this and the FITC team has given me over the years, it’s confirmation that I’m not alone in my constant pursuit of new ideas and new ways to share them.

Here’s to being inspired @FITC 2010.