It needed to be reworked, and I had less than 36 hours to do so. Don, David and I headed to a bar to discuss a new strategy for the talk. We threw out more ideas than we kept, and each one had a baptism of fire that left it scorched but stronger. The message was honed and the slides were shortened (to ten). The end result was a presentation part revivalist preacher, part Vegas magic and part 12 step program. By 9am on Tuesday morning I was pumped up, full of energy and ready to deliver. It went off without a hitch, and I got a lot of compliments from attendees. Don, David and I took a snoozer of a talk and turned it into a great presentation that had people on their feet more than once.
Of course, reworking the presentation cut into the time that I usually spend writing the daily reports. So, instead I offer you this wrap up.
flashForward2001 was a four day event this time around, with the addition of two pre-conference workshops on Flash fundamentals and ActionScripting. I was not able to attend either of the classes, but I heard great feedback on both. Attendees of Amanda Farr and Seth Jackson's Flash Fundamentals class were given a well paced introduction to Flash 5. With nearly 150 people in the class, Amanda and Seth passed on the essential skills that a Flash newcomer needs to get started developing Flash content for clients. Colin Moock wowed another crowd of more advanced Flash developers with his class on ActionScripting. The concepts and lessons that Colin shared were "well worth the cost of the entire conference" said one attendee.
Sunday night the Flazoom.com crew went to the Tonga Room for dinner. Fellow Flazoomers David Gresham, Don Synstelien, Amanda Farr, Seth Jackson, Kristin Henry and myself had a great meal of Chinese food while watching indoor rainstorms and lounge singers. It was a great time and a fantastic chance to meet with some of the people behind Flazoom.com.
Macromedia started the conference off with a keynote focused on Flash usability and the growth of Flash on third-party platforms. Flash was shown running on a Pocket PC, the PlayStation2, the Excite@home set top box and other platforms. Macromedia also announced the Flash usability contest. This contest challenges Flash developers to push the envelope while maintaining usability. I am very excited about this contest, as it will help to show the nay-sayers that Flash developers do care about their users and can build a usable site! I am also a judge in the contest and I can't wait to see the entries.
After the keynote I met with folks from Macromedia and talked to the different vendors sponsoring the event. later that afternoon I attended Brendan Dawes's talk about Flash usability. I found his presentation to be very entertaining and insightful into the lessons that he has learned about usability. the rest of the afternoon I spent in my hotel going over my own presentation and collecting paper for airplanes. I missed the rest of the days events, but not the party or the FlashFilmFestival!
The FlashFilmFestival celebration was a blast. The entries this year showed a remarkable step forward from those at FF2k in San Francisco last year.
Here are the winners:
- Cartoon - eStudio
- eCommerce - USABancShares
- Game - Bumper Boats
- 3D - MTV2 - UK
- Experimental - Natzke
- Story - Zombie College
- Navigation - MTV2 - UK
- Original Sound - Cheshire Smile
- Typography - Walking
- Technical Merit - Popwire
- Motion Graphics - abnormalbehaviorchild
- People's Choice - Chi Chian
Tuesday morning was a blur. I woke, dressed, ran through my notes once again and took off for the Polk room. At 9:10 am I was to give my presentation, and I wanted everything to run smoothly. Hats off to everyone in the Polk room on technical support. You all really helped me to relax and I needed that. The folks behind FF2001 picked professionals and it showed. After speaking I was whisked away to a Q&A session and then, I could finally enjoy the conference.
I attended presentations on The Wireless Web, Flash in 3D and Audio Strategies for Flash developers. I enjoyed all three, but was disappointed with Thomas Dolby's presentation. personally I could have listened to him for the entire 50 minutes, but Thomas only spoke for ten, leaving the rest of the time to his employee who demo-ed some new software from Beatnik. In some way, this reflects my only criticism of FF2001. I personally thought that more non-Flash folks should have spoken. At times it seemed to be too much preaching to the converted and too little expanding horizons.
Wednesday was my favorite day of the conference. I started my day with a session on business strategies. After listening for a strategy other than hook on the coat tails of a big time director like Tim Burton I exited instead for the navigation session from David Lai. There were gems in that session, and it opened my eyes to a number of new thoughts and techniques. After that I went to lunch with some folks from FlashMagazine.com and Friends of Ed at Mel's diner. We all ate some of the best food I had seen all week (other than the Tonga Room). in time we wandered back to the conference to catch the end of Brad Kozak's eMercials presentation. Maybe I was looking fro more from the business track sessions, but I felt let down by this one. It just did not grab my attention, and I soon found myself in the Internet Lounge.
Joe Sparks saved the day. His presentation was hands down one of the best I saw. Joe was energetic and funny, guiding all in attendance through the development history of Radiskul and Devil Doll. The folks behind the schedule did a great job keeping Joe for the last slot in the main room. He really finished up the sessions with a bang.
The final event of the conference was Lynda and Stweart thanking all the resource sites (like Flazoom.com) on stage. They then thanked all the folks from UDA and Lynda.com for putting on the conference. Special thanks go to Margaret Carlson for building the program. It was the best FF conference by far! Then a raffle of various sponsor products, and Flazoomer Nav even managed to pick up a free Wacom tablet!
The conference ended with many good byes and a hint of sadness. It was a blast and I will not soon forget the friends I made or what I learned. FF2001 will continue in New York in July and Amsterdam in October. Mark your calendars folks, cause this year's FlashForwards will be talked about for years!