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Creating Flash Content on the cheap

Discussion in 'Software' started by panopticon, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. panopticon

    panopticon some restrictions apply

    So I just recently got turned on to the advantages of using flash as content. I am soooo pleased with the comparative load times to video under vvvv, I did a set that was 80% flash last night and my light jock said it was the best set of mine he's seen thusfar. For that I used a bunch of freely available content I found online, but, of course, I want to make my own.

    I know that with the whole Adobe thing something has happened to open up the flash standard, given that there are suddenly a bajillion actionscript editors/tweakers/manipulators available. What I'm wondering is, has anyone a solution for creating the graphics part of flash without having to jump for the cost of purchasing the flash suite? Not just because I'm a cheap bastard, but also 1) I much prefer to support open source/GPL initiatives if possible, and 2) I really don't need all of the capabilities of that software, mostly I just want to be able to import SVGs that I create in inkscape and move them around, fade in and out, etc.

    I've looked through OSFlash.org, but I'm not considering that a comprehensive list, since I found a bunch of stuff on sourceforge that wasn't there. So far I've found two promising looking IDEs that only run under linux, and one Windows product that runs, but doesn't actually do anything, other than generating a lovely bug report.

    Anyone have anything?
     
  2. vj_jasper

    vj_jasper imagination

    imageready can export SWF's

    also have a look here..
    http://www.brothersoft.com/downloads/create-swf.html

    this one may be of interest..
    http://www.brothersoft.com/web_author/web_design/easy_flashmaker_(swf_creator)_40718.html

    flash is easy really. just make a keyframe using F6, delete a keyframe using shift-F6, only have ONE thing on each layer if you want to animate any parameters at all.
    if you must have multiple things on a layer, that's cool. just do not animate any of those multiple things, they have to be left alone. there are workarounds but that is where it all gets complex - multiple objects or "MC's" with their own timelines.
     
  3. dePICT

    dePICT Obstacles for yo Opticals

    There is no substitute for Flash. If your into the vector/swf visuals you'll realize.
    But, until then I recommend Sothink SWF Quicker http://www.sothink.com/product/swfquicker/index.htm
    Check it, the trial version is full featured, but it throws up a rather faint watermark ever so often, good for learning on, and if you got a SWF decompiler export the file without the watermark.
    I bet that Adobe has a good trial of Flash, I know Macromedia did.
     
  4. hamageddon

    hamageddon Motion Mapping Looper

  5. vj_jasper

    vj_jasper imagination

    hey thats right - swish! good call.

    have just recalled three apps that may be of enjoyable assistance in the mission of creating SWF's: Swift 3D Wildform's apps WildFX and WildPresentor ... these will provide hours of content creation possibilities.

    wildform swf toolz:

    wild fx
    http://www.wildform.com/products/wildfx/features.php
    http://www.wildform.com/products/wildfx/wildfxdemo/

    wildpresentor

    http://www.wildform.com/products/wildpresenter/

    erain's Swift 3D app:
    http://www.erain.com/products/swift3d/

    sort of like the 3D version of flash.


    this one may seem amateurish, but it does animate still images automatically, providing different cross-wipes between pix.

    http://www.amarasoftware.com/flash-slide-show.htm
    http://www.amarasoftware.com/flash-slide-show-horizontal.htm
     
  6. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    If you haven't done so, check out using CCs/LFOs to control Flash variables. I'm still figuring it out (still in the bouncing ball stage!), but it's a really powerful way to sync/beatmatch your Flash movies, especially with CC curves and values coming from Ableton Live.
     
  7. panopticon

    panopticon some restrictions apply

    Thanks for all the input, guys. I am definitely still interested in all of these things, but it turns out I have access to a friend's machine with flash on it to do some experimentation. So I'll be playing with them, just not with as much desparation as previously.

    Hambone: mind-blowing idea on the lfos, man. Also, I bet hooking up a FFT could cause some interesting results. I'll definitely play with that once I have a better understanding of what I'm doing.

    Now I'm running into an interesting problem, and I don't know if I should post this as a separate thread, or if it's even appropriate for here since t's fairly specific to vvvvv. Essentially, some swfs I've downloaded play automagically in vvvv withouth the "play" and "pause" bits being set on the renderer, and some, including all of the ones I can produce, don't. If I turn on play and pause, the ones I make work, but the ones that worked before sort of flicker by in a single frame.

    I'm probably going to ask around vvvv.org about this, but I figured I'd toss it out here in case anyone has any good input, since it's sort of a multidisciplinary question.
     
  8. vj_jasper

    vj_jasper imagination

    there is an option in the export options of flash to choose whether a quicktime mov export's playback setting loops or not.

    if it is to do with the swf, perhaps try put an action on the last frame:
    " goto and play frame 1 " although i thought the default was to loop anyway.
     
  9. asterix

    asterix IMAGINEER

    It should loop automatically.
    Flash is freakn cool for vjing. When you get busy with actionsript you can really get some funky results. Especially if your vj software supports actionsript 3.0. Resolume has a flash var list you can link to your flash clips. Heres one I made that wouldn't work in Flowmotion, and the flash mixers wouldn't run properly because of a _global var issue. I quickly compiled a keyboard mixer for it.
    Keys are 1 through nine. Plus loop load keys for each clip (the three below the one that loaded the clip).
    VLIGHT mixer control is the best app I've trialled for actionscript and interface. But I had the _global vars issue which Im working around.
     
  10. panopticon

    panopticon some restrictions apply

    Okay, I've (sort of) fixed the issue, at least in a workaround. If I make the swf so that it's one frame, and all of the animation happens within "movie clip" objects, it works fine. So, really, I don't actually understand what's broken, but I can work around it long enough to get far enough to actually hope to comprehend it at some pont. Got a friend tossing me an actionscript book tomorrow evening, so I'll have plenty to digest soon.
    Oh man, that is awesome. Can I have permission to use this in my set? I am all about the heads. Even if not, any chance of me taking a peek at some of your source code so I can better understand what's going on here? It works in vvvv, but it has some odd behaviours specific to that app that I'd like to track down. Right now I am trying to get my hands on as much source for cool stuff as possible so I can do some truly funky stuff.
    yah, the Vlight site is where I snagged a lot of the initial content I've been playing with. The app doesn't quite give me the flexibility I've come to love in vvvv, but I'm seriously considering it for my secondary/inhouse/just throwin' clips machine.
     
  11. asterix

    asterix IMAGINEER

    I'll swap ya. VVVV patch for source code :)
     
  12. panopticon

    panopticon some restrictions apply

    asterix: done. You just want the patch I'm using to play the flash, or you want some of the cooler stuff I do with the results?
     
  13. asterix

    asterix IMAGINEER

    cooler stuff is nice.
    PM me your email addy :)
     
  14. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    You can do some really crazy stuff. It works well with Ableton Live. I keep 12 CCs (41-52) looping in Live ReWired to Arkaos, and can launch or stop 12 different Live CC looping scenes with 12 Faderfox buttons, or sequence the changes. Some scenes contain follow actions (including some randomness) that keep the CCs interesting, and they're all automatically beatmatched. Right now I'm applying them to Arkaos effects, DMX lighting, and Live audio effects, but I want to be able to use them to control Flash variables. I keep CC52 for scratching (assigned to the Arkaos speed controller). I've got a library of auto-scratching Live CC loops for one-button synched and beatmatched scratching.

    By using the same set of 12 CCs for audio, video, and lighting, everything works together. If CC41 sweeps the laser back and forth, using CC41 to move a Flash graphic element back and forth across the screen will cause them to always move together.

    It's just a bitch keeping everything organized!
     
  15. ConsciousPilot

    ConsciousPilot New Member

    Hambone, I have been reading your posts for a long time on the Ableton and VJ forums. I have to admit, you have the most informative posts on how to sync MIDI with visuals. I like the way you integrated MIDI and DMX with Ableton so much that I made mention of your setup and website in my thesis paper on MIDI/visual/lighting synch at my University at Cal Poly Pomona. Your success has been quite an inspiration to see what I can accomplish.

    Anyways, this question isn't a technical one - but an operational one. My ableton library is also growing quite large, as well as my VJ clips - and you just mentioned my upcoming problem: Organization! How on earth do you go about organizing not only your music and vj clips, but all of your lighting and arkaos rewired live clips?
     
  16. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    I mostly try to organize and document my Live sets, and use spreadsheets to help. For example, I use a separate Live track for each of the CCs I use, and a separate track for each Arkaos note, so I can see if there's going to be a conflict. Organizing the Live browser helps, too. I take screenshots of the G-Force patterns, and various Arkaos settings for each note, print them out, and stick them in a notebook.

    Here's a page with 4 G-Force patches that I can recall with a Faderfox button, or sequence:
    [​IMG]

    Here's one of the Arkaos pages for a note from a live camera feed patch (uses CC 41 for Cam 1 transparency, 42 for Cam 2, 43 for Cam 3 to allow for CC-controlled fade-ups/down/crossfades):
    [​IMG]

    All of the lighting DMX channels and parameters are in a spreadsheet.

    I learned that although I can do millions of things, if I try to do that many, I get nothing done, and just end up screwing things up! So I've whittled things down to a manageable number. For example, the 8 color washes can each do 14 colors. I use 5 of the colors, and tend to do them in pairs to keep it simple. I also know which wash colors give the best live video feed results, so I get them to match up. There are obviously millions of combinations of effects and clips that could be done in Arkaos, but I just pick a handful that work the best. And I'm all for letting Live randomize various parameters within reason.

    Here's a section of my Live set that controls the lighting and video. I have Faderfox buttons that can launch a single lighting scene that contains lasers, scanners, washes, strobes and blinders. Many of the scenes contain Follow Actions to, for example, randomize the strobe patterns. Another bank of Faderfox buttons launches an Arkaos scene. I've got another bank of Faderfox buttons that launch what I call 'combos' - an Arkaos scene and a lighting scene that complement each other. For example, I've got one button that sents a chromokeyed explosion to the screens (randomly chooses 1 of 4 explosion clips), and simultaneously fires a single strobe hit and a 4-beat blinder fade-out. Another bank of buttons chooses the G-Force patch that's wired into Arkaos. Some songs have the video and lighting completely sequenced, so I can play live percussion, work the remote pan/tilt/zoom cameras (now under Live control), work the text messaging, or go take a piss!
    [​IMG]

    Here's a snippet of the Live set that controls the DMX lighting. The first is for the laser, and the second for the scanners.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    All of the Live surround audio is done with a Yamaha 01v, BCR2000, and Yamaha DD-55 drum controller.

    I'm sure I could get a lot more done if I were more organized.

    Hope that helps!
     
  17. ConsciousPilot

    ConsciousPilot New Member

    Wow! Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to know!

    Thank you so much. You must have spent quite a bit of time writing all that up and taking screen shots! Seeing the routing in the screenshot helps out alot.

    One last question though, how do you deal with transitioning between clips in Arkaos (not the live cam feeds)? For example, lets say you trigger a new clip in Arkaos, how do you blend the new clip in with the old one? Do the new clips just start when they are triggered, or do you have CCs controlling the opacity of each different layer, and when a new clip starts, it's invisible then slowly gets blended in (I believe I remember you said that you used three layers in Arkaos). In resolume, I control the layers like a DJ mixer with my Bitstream 3x, blending it by hand moving the fader up and down, but with Arkaos it is not so straight forward as clips aren't layed out into predefined layers, I.E. how you choose what is in layer 1, 2, and 3. I hope you understand what I am trying to ask, as I am much more experienced with resolume than I am with Arkaos.

    Thanks again for your help,

    Jason
     
  18. vj_jasper

    vj_jasper imagination

    i had no idea it was possible to run g-force as a 'patch' in arkaos... but i am on version 3, on a mac. perhaps the latest version brings in g-force as a patch?

    arkaos can have a fade-in effect assigned to a clip
    can also assign a CC controller to the opacity and just dial the clip into visibility
    interested to see how hambone makes it work!

    if there was an emoticon for jumping up and down excitedly and also all like - wtf? that would be my inclusion here... hambone u got it totally happening with arkaos more than i thought it would ever be possible.
     
  19. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    Glad to help. I find that explaining this stuff to someone else helps me to understand it better. I feel like I'm re-inventing the wheels sometimes, though!

    I do wish G-Force would run inside Arkaos. I have to run it separately on an iBook, then pipe the iBook's s-video output into a capture card on the G5 running Arkaos and Live. The iBook is MIDIed to the G5 to allow Live to control the G-Force parameters, either sequenced or triggered with Faderfox buttons.

    Because the capture card has about 200ms of latency, I send the audio to the iBook straight from a mixer send, and delay the audio 200ms going to the PA. That way, the G-Force waveforms are exactly synched to the audio when they hit the screens. The 200ms delay also lets me set up various delays for the lighting in Live. The laser, for example, has about a 50ms delay after receipt of the CC, while the scanner panning needs all 200ms, and the scanner tilting 150ms. The strobes need 125ms to be firing exactly in sync.

    Yes, Arkaos can use CCs to control layer opacity. I don't do it with a fader, though. I use Live CC clips assigned to buttons, or sequenced.

    Sorry for hijacking the thread! It's the individual Flash variables I want to get tightly synched to the audio and lighting next.

    So much to do, so little time...
     
  20. vj_jasper

    vj_jasper imagination

    g-force could license the app to be provided with arkaos as a patch, and receive a percentage/royalty amount with every version of arkaos that is purchased. /OT

    the 200ms buffer makes sense, i have no idea how that would be done except by software.. would headphones require 200ms delay also?
     
  21. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    I'm hoping for big things in Arkaos 4! A useable 21st-century interface, and project management would be good starters. A built-in customizable visualizer would be great.

    I do the 200ms delay in Ableton Live. The live percussion obviously goes straight through without a delay (apart from the crappy mLAN audio latency). I don't cue the audio tracks with headphones (I know the songs!), but use a wireless in-ear monitor for monitoring the audio and listening to a click track for playing live percussion in sync between songs. As the audio tracks are warped in Live, they auto-beatmatch, and I have preset Live CC crossfade curves (instant, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128-beat) that I launch with BCR buttons.
     
  22. ConsciousPilot

    ConsciousPilot New Member

    Awesome, thanks. Would it be too much trouble to post a screen shot of how you have a sample CC envelope set up for fading from one visual layer to another automated, so I can see how you do it? So when you mix from one visual clip to another, it smoothly fades into the next one, automatically by how you programmed it yes?

    Heres an example, let me see if I understand it right

    Lets say I set up CC 41, 42, and 43 for layer 1, 2, and 3 opacity. Lets assume that there is visuals running on layer 41 and 42 at the moment. I set the blending mode in the clip properties, so just assign an envelope to send CC 43 value from 0, fading in to 100% at the end of a measure for a 1 bar fade in, for example, to blend in the top layer over the others? So all 3 layers will be running at the same time, then after layer 3 is at 100% stop triggering the bottom 2 layers (in this case, layer 3 won't be superimposed over the other 2 layers, will take priority)

    Also, Would it be possible to set up both CC controlled envelope clips, and as well assign it to a fader for manual mixing as well if I wanted that option? (the CCs would take priority over the fader position though, although this is something secondary that would just be nice to have)
     
  23. Hambone

    Hambone New Member

    There's a Faderfox button assigned to launch the cameras, fade camera 1 up over 4 beats, and fade camera two down over 4 beats. The button next to it crossfades the other way. They're pre-sequenced in some of the songs so I don't have to do it, and the camera pan/tilt/zoom settings (and exposure, night vision, etc) and appropriate lighting are launched by Faderfox buttons or pre-sequenced, too. On some of the sequences one camera fades up, then after the other fades down, it repositions to one of 6 preset pan/tilt/zoom settings (that I set up for each venue), it then fades up and the other fades down, then the other camera repositions while it's faded down, etc. Toggling like this gives the illusion of 12 cameras cross-fading back and forth. There are some preset super-slow pans around the room, too. Most of the live feeds have various synched Arkaos effects and layers, like a chromakeyed G-Force visualizer, or (my current favorite) Bubbles, Saturation, False Color, and pulsing Neon, all layered over the top.

    Here's the MIDI clip that zeroes all Arkaos keys and launches the two cameras:
    [​IMG]

    Here's the CC clip that fades up camera 1:
    [​IMG]

    and the camera 2 fade-out clip:
    [​IMG]

    You can assign a fader and a button-launched or sequenced CC clip to control the same parameter, and use either one. I have audio auto-crossfade clips assigned to BCR buttons:
    [​IMG]

    and to a BCR knob:
    [​IMG]

    Live continually feeds CC119 back to the BCR, so I always know the cross-fade position based on the LED ring around the BCR cross-fade knob.

    Now if I could only remember what each Faderfox, BCR2000, 01v and FCB1010 button/knob/fader does, I'd be sorted! (Mmmmm.... Lemur with labelled buttons, faders & knobs...)
     

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