Archive for the ‘MOTION’ Category

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

The interactive space is blowing up with releases of really good iterations of software.

Just this week the iPhone 3.0 SDK was announced and available for download for developers, Unity3D 2.5 was released with a windows development capability (was previously mac only) and now Silverlight 3 is making some waves as it was released at #MIX09 (with the Moonlight open source mono version hopefully not too far behind…).

There are a few things that piqued my interest in Silverlight 3 beta notes and that is hardware acceleration on video, 3d canvas and pixel effects (unclear if these are hardware accelerated like shaders or pixel bender) similar to filters and with the possibility to write effects similar to shaders or Adobe’s Pixel Bender pbx shaders.

  • Support for Higher Quality Video & Audio. With support for native H.264/Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) Audio, live and on-demand IIS7 Smooth Streaming, full HD (720p+) playback, and an extensible decoder pipeline, Silverlight 3 brings rich, full-screen, stutter-free media experiences to the desktop. New and enhanced media features in Silverlight 3 include:
    • Live and on-demand true HD (720p+) Smooth Streaming. IIS Media Services (formerly IIS Media Pack), an integrated HTTP media delivery platform, features Smooth Streaming which dynamically detects and seamlessly switches, in real time, the video quality of a media file delivered to Silverlight based on local bandwidth and CPU conditions.
    • More format choice. In addition to native support for VC-1/WMA, Silverlight 3 now offers users native support for MPEG-4-based H.264/AAC Audio, enabling content distributors to deliver high-quality content to a wide variety of computers and devices.
    • True HD playback in full-screen. Leveraging graphics processor unit (GPU) hardware acceleration, Silverlight experiences can now be delivered in true full-screen HD (720p+).
    • Extensible media format support. With the new Raw AV pipeline, Silverlight can easily support a wide variety of third-party codecs. Audio and video can be decoded outside the runtime and rendered in Silverlight, extending format support beyond the native codecs.
    • Industry leading content protection. Silverlight DRM, Powered by PlayReady Content Protection enables protected in-browser experiences using AES encryption or Windows Media DRM.
  • Empowering Richer Experiences. Silverlight 3 contains new 3D graphics, animation features, hardware accelerated effects and text improvements that enable designers and developers to create next generation Web visuals. Additional features include:
    • Perspective 3D Graphics. Silverlight 3 allows developers and designers to apply content to a 3D plane. Users can rotate or scale live content in space without writing any additional code. Other effects include creating a queue in 3D and transitions.
    • Pixel Shader effects. These software based effects include blur and drop shadow. In addition, you can also write your own effect. Effects can be applied to any graphical content. An example would be to make a button appear depressed on rollover you could use a drop shadow effect on the pressed visual state.
    • Bitmap Caching. Silverlight 3 dramatically improves the rendering performance of applications by allowing users to cache vector content, text and controls into bitmaps. This feature is useful for background content and for content which needs to scale without making changes to its internal appearance.
    • New Bitmap API. With Silverlight 3, developers can now write pixels to a bitmap. Thus, they can build a photo editor to do red eye correction, perform edits on scanned documents or create specials effects for cached bitmaps from elements on the screen.
    • Themed application support. Developers can now theme applications by applying styles to their Silverlight 3 applications and changing them at runtime. Additionally, developers can cascade styles by basing them on each other.
    • Animation Effects. Silverlight 3 provides new effects such as spring and bounce. These make animation more natural. Developers can also now develop their own mathematical functions to describe an animation.
    • Enhanced control skinning. Silverlight 3 provides easier skinning capabilities by keeping a common set of controls external from an application. This allows the sharing of styles and control skins between different applications.
    • Improved text rendering & font support. Silverlight 3 allows far more efficient rendering and rapid animation of text. Applications also load faster by enabling the use of local fonts.
  • Improving Rich Internet Application Productivity. New features include:
    • 60+ controls with source code : Silverlight 3 is packed with over 60 high-quality, fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting and media, new layout containers such as dock and viewbox, and controls such as autocomplete, treeview and datagrid. The controls come with nine professional designed themes and the source code can be modified/recompiled or utilized as-is. Other additions include multiple selection in listbox controls, file save dialog making it easier to write files, and support for multiple page applications with navigation.
    • Deep Linking. Silverlight 3 includes support for deep linking, which enables bookmarking a page within a RIA.
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Silverlight 3 enables users to solve the SEO-related challenges posed by RIAs. By utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, users can automatically mirror database-driven RIA content into HTML that is easily indexed by the leading search engines.
    • Enhanced Data Support Silverlight 3 delivers:
      • Element to Element binding : UI designers use binding between two UI properties to create compelling UI experiences. Silverlight now enables property binding to CLR objects and other UI components via XAML, for instance binding a slider value to the volume control of a media player.
      • Data Forms. The Data Form control provides support for layout of fields, validation, updating and paging through data.
      • New features for data validation which automatically catch incorrect input and warn the user with built-in validation controls.
      • Support for business objects on both client and server with n-Tier data support. Easily load, sort, filter and page data with added support for working with data. Includes a new built-in CollectionView to perform a set of complex operations against server side data. A new set of .NET RIA services supports these features on the server.
    • Improved performance, through:
      • Application library caching, which reduces the size of applications by caching framework on the client in order to improve rendering performance.
      • Enhanced Deep Zoom, allows users to fluidly navigate through larger image collections by zooming.
      • Binary XML allows communication with the server to be compressed, greatly increasing the speed at which data can be exchanged.
      • Local Connection This feature allows communication between two Silverlight applications on the client-side without incurring a server roundtrip: for instance a chart in one control can communicate with a datagrid in another.
  • Advanced Accessibility Features. Silverlight 3 is the first browser plug-in to provide access to all system colors, allowing partially-sighted people to make changes such as high contrast color schemes for ease of readability by using familiar operating system controls.
  • Out of Browser Capabilities. The new out of browser experience in Silverlight 3 enables users to place their favorite Silverlight applications directly onto their PC and Mac, with links on the desktop and start menu—all without the need to download an additional runtime or browser plug-in. Further, the new experience enables Silverlight applications to work whether the computer is connected to the Internet or not—a radical improvement to the traditional Web experience. Features include:
    • Life outside the browser. Silverlight applications can now be installed to and run from the desktop as lightweight web companions. Thus, users can take their favorite Web applications with them, regardless of whether they are connected to the Internet or not.
    • Desktop shortcuts and start menu support. Silverlight applications can be stored on any PC or Mac computer’s desktop with links in the start menu and applications folder, and so are available with one-click access.
    • Safe and secure. Leveraging the security features of the .NET Framework, Silverlight applications run inside a secure sandbox with persistent isolated storage. These applications have most of the same security restrictions as traditional web apps and so can be trusted without security warnings or prompts, minimizing user interruptions.
    • Smooth installation. Because Silverlight applications are stored in a local cache and do not require extra privileges to run, the installation process is quick and efficient.
    • Auto-update. Upon launch, Silverlight applications can check for new versions on the server, and automatically update if one is found.
    • Internet connectivity detection. Silverlight applications can now detect whether they have Internet connectivity and can react intelligently including caching a users’ data until their connection is restored.

The great news is we have all major companies about software, mobile and the web are focused on interactive development. If you are an interactive developer with programming skills and design skills, this is the time.  Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, even Google with Chrome (javascript engine ineteractive focused), and others are all on development that suits needs and requires skills of people that know the interactive and web platforms and are able to develop the best solution with the best technology for that solution. The programming depth is getting deeper (Adobe’s Alchemy, Silverlight/Moonlight/Mono/C#/Unity3D) but the capabilities are growing exponentially with what you can do with these new markets.

There are so many new, emerging and re-newed market forces in interactive development that things are going to shake up a bit and there is plenty of opportunity no matter what platform you might be locked into.  However I recommend not locking yourself into one platform and exploring, but specializing in what you do best. There has never been a better time for developers looking to take the web to the next level with cooler game development visuals, more immersive virtual spaces and applications that have usabililty and design in new ways and mimic the great usable design of the iphone; for developers going mobile or specializing in web game development this is a good time to be in the game.

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Libspark from Japan is a treasure trove of great flash advancements, they seem to realize the great things that can come from porting in existing solid libraries from C/C++ etc into flash and have been scoring lately including augmented reality in flash porting the ARToolkit to FLARToolkit.  Recently a port of openCV for as3 called Marilena was found and it is for object detection and decent facial recognition (it is a computer vision library from intel) considering the processing power needed to do this.

Face Detection: Here is the sample included with Marilena showing facial detection on an image.

marilena1

Lots of recent action has blown up on this front from Mr doob, quasimondo (optimizing the Marilena classes for better performance) and Boffwswana. Also there is a kit called deface by sshipman that is the first foray into this a year ago doing similar things but it was just a bit before it’s time and a bit slow in previous versions of flash, it performs decent now in this sample. Flash 10 performance of the AVM2 and future directions with Alchemy will lead to more interesting stuff just like this.

Mr. doob head tracking sample, be sure to check lots of other examples there

mrdoob_facedriven3d

Boffswana example of head tracking Johnny Lee Wii style with only a webcam and flash, no wiimote needed since it uses facial detection to check where you are and how close you are in the screen and then moves accordingly.

bofswana

This is stemming from the recent explosion of the FLARToolkit and augmented reality in flash as well as the gimmicks used by Nintendo with the wii and Johnny Lee’s great head tracking advancements. Porting great libraries to flash seems to be the phase we are entering now judging by the recent excitement around Adobe Alchemy and the LLVM along with the lead from the libspark.org contributors. We have also seen this heavily last year in ports of Box2D for 2d physics and other toolkits using established working code and porting that to flash now that is is mostly capable of handling the performance.

OpenCV (Open Computer Vision Library by Intel) is quite a powerful platform that allows you to do all this and now it is available in flash. There are other great libraries for nearly all platforms now. I have done some previous work with Aforge which is also a port of OpenCV mainly for motion detection. This was always around but not until the recent performance updates and the innovation that has come with Alchemy and the thinking that goes along with that (porting in libraries to flash from C/C++ etc), has allowed this to flourish in flash and thus the web.

The amazing new things we can do with flash by porting in existing libraries is only going to get more intense as alchemy and flash 10 are even more mainstream.  It is almost as if Flash will eventually just become a web renderer and simplified front end to many great toolkits that exist in more native environments like C/C++ but with the speed and distribution access of the web with Flash.  Exciting times ahead.

Monday, January 12th, 2009


(use arrow keys and spacebar to control the red ball)

A new 3d physics library is under development and in early stages called jiglibflash.  Like the Box2D ports it is based on a C++ library of the same name called jiglib, only this is 3D instead of 2D.  It is similar in purpose to WOW Engine which is the other current open source 3d flash physics engine.  For more on this toolkit see the links below.

UPDATE: katopz has also ported this to use Away3D as the renderer.

UPDATE: Also updated for the sandy3d engine as the renderer.

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Augmented reality is a very cool technology.  It is the star wars holograms that we always want, it is playing a game that maps out the physical world mixed with virtual assets, it is straight up cool.

The FLARToolKit is doing some of this cool in Flash.  This little toolkit is pretty sweet mapping points and sets of points to patterns, colors or other visual queues that technology can latch onto.  Combine this with a webcam and you have some pretty cool AR.

(more…)

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Jono is giving SWFZ to science and the open source devices.

The SWFZ engine is one Flash 3D engine that took a different approach. It is a bit early in its technique used but the author at custom:media Jono has decided to float the source code out there in ghost mode (no active development but not dead). It is just ready to branch and others to run with it. He is floating the source but I think in 1-2 years this will be the preferred method if processors and multicore parallel usage is optimized. We shall see.

The implementation method and difference with SWFZ engine in Flash for 3d is that is is a pixel based renderer or scanline. It is based on a really fun game engine called Irrlicht which has been pretty active for the last few years but is a C++ DirectX and OpenGL engine. Since SWFZ has to run in Flash and it is a pixel renderer/scanline it has some limitations currently in Flash. Games and renders have to be fast to pull this off and Flash is limited by the software renderer but as computers get multiple processors and flash player gets better at this then this will be a viable option (it is the same thing that limits Canvas based renderers right now). One main problem with this is you can’t go too full screen the biggest sizes that perform well are smaller windows 320×240 etc. But if the processors can handle it it is actually more efficient when it removes overlap, extra triangle drawing and painters algorithm like problems dont’ pop up (triangle overlap when on same plane). This method draws pixel by pixel but fast enough flash engines like Papervision, Sandy3D and Away3D draw overlaps due to the drawing technique, back to front.

But SWFZ still manages to pull off some amazing feats such as these demos

Quake Demo

Terrain Demo

Yoshis Hip Hop Couzin

Jono has put some great classes into SWFZ engine such as bsp parsers, quake md2 parsers, animated mesh, and lots of great examples in porting C++ Irrlicht to AS3. This was a very early example of how AS3 was fun for programmers to port stuff from C or C++ into Flash. AS3 is just fun. Also be sure to check the site for more samples like an FPS game, some basic ai etc.

Jono has been working on 3d in Flash for a while and actually this message is what shows the difference betweeen this approach and other flash engines the way Papervision, Sandy and Away3D (pv3d derivative) make 3d in flash fast enough (Painter’s Algorithm and drawing skewed movieclips and textures.

Demos

More about the Engine Some Notes

The SWFZ engine.

Overview:

SWFZ engine is the result of four years of me messing with 3D in Flash.

I was a complete newbie to 3D, so a lot of learning has happened to get to here.

If you’re interested in 3D engines check out the resource links at the bottom of the page:

The Demo:

Model

  • .md2 format from ID’s Quake2.
  • Uses frame based animation
  • Textured with jpeg
  • No lighting, No Gouraud Shading, just plain texture

Skybox

  • Textures are just jpegs.

Boxes

  • Rendering – Textured Gouraud , Textured Gouraud with Alpha, Textured Gouraud with Quick Alpha, Gouraud Shaded, and the large box is just Textured.
  • Star Texture – Targa (.tga) file format.

AS3 classes

  • 171 classes and interfaces

Scene

  • No lighting
  • No collision detection

SWFZ engine technology:

The demo only shows a small part of the capabilities of the engine. In the coming weeks I will get www.custommedia.co.nz up and running and start to post more info then.

Currently implement stuff:

New file formats supported

  • .tga – Targa Image
  • .bmp – Bitmap Image
  • .3ds – 3D Studio Max
  • .bsp – Quake3 levels
  • .md2 – Quake2 models
  • .obj – Wavefront 3d object (static)
  • .zip – Read from a zip archive (all in Flash, no server side scripts)

3D Rendering

  • mipmaps
  • perspective correct texturing + affine texturing
  • Flat shading
  • Gouraud
  • Textured Gouraud
  • Textured Flat
  • Textured Two Layers
  • Gouraud Alpha
  • Textured Flat Alpha
  • Textured Gouraud Alpha

3D Scene

  • Billboards
  • Parent, Child scene nodes
  • OctTree
  • Skybox
  • Static Meshes
  • Animated Meshes
  • Basic collision detection
  • Scene node animators

If any code is useful to you maybe drop him a donation or what would be nice if this was all setup at google code and used to be integrated into other engines. Irrlicht ports are fun and there is a future in this method when processors catch up I think.

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

TweenMax (Speed Test) has been released that adds a main feature missing from GreenSock’s offerings in tween animation libraries and kits over Tweener. That is the bezier curve tween. Tweener is very popular for use in PV3d and AS3 due to the bezier curve and Zeh’s great example that is really the base of a possible 3d editor. TweenMax now adds this and bezier tween capability for the GreenSock animation libraries.

Tweener and TweenLite have become the micro animation kits as well as micro kits you can make with Go base kits. TweenLite, TweenFilterLite and TweenMax divided up into different kits allows it to be embedded for banners or small assets easier if you don’t need the filters or other advanced tweens (this comes into play heavily with large games and asset collections when the compiled SWF each need the library). Tweener packs all features into one kit for simplicity. GreenSock kits are divided up for need. The comparison together is about the same but for basic tweens TweenLite is only 2k.

Performance is one area that the kits from GreenSock have really shined and since the addition of the speed tests and benchmarks it has become a great focus on showing how the open source kits are much better than bloated included animation calls in Flash and Flex defaults. I think all the kits have niches that they fit and Tweener and TweenLite are just very simple to use which adds alot to an animation kit success.

List of Animation Kits for AS3 (some for AS2 as well)

If you are using the Flex of Flash default animation classes, I am sorry…

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I was messing with water effects and Perlin Noise (sandy3d) and some other stuff and collected some water effects and simulations that are fluid like for research, a snapshot of the state of fluid and water effects in 3d in flash.

Ralph Hauwert, of course one of the original pv3d team members, posted some great samples on water effects on 3d objects in Papervision 3D. Of course the papervision list spawned this discussion from another great post on water simulation in papervision and away3d by Exey Panteleev .

Also, some other water like effects from Fabrice Closier and the notorious mrdoob.

Ralph’s Water Effect Demos:

Hey look, the water ball is smiling at you.

Exey Panteleev’s Water Simulation:

Some other Water Like Fluid Effects:

Water is hard in flash. Fluid dynamics will probably have to be cheated but it is still looking pretty good. The amount of processor usage depends on how real you want it to look.

If you are looking to make some agua, with x, the y AND the z in Flash or Flex, these are a good place to start.

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Moses has posted some nicely presented info on Go performance.

So far it looks almost neck and neck with TweenLite in drop dead sprints for fastest performing exhaustive tween kung fu-ing.

Although these are not really for competition it is to mainly show patterns for design for purposes that you need. Where this is a more apples to apples comparison (Go vs TweenLite) as the other kits have other overhead such as filters, utilities, even pathing for AnimationPackage and Tweener. TweenLite solved this by separating out into TweenFilterLite and just making TweenLite for animation (and keeping file size extremely small, virtual machine advantages). There is just no excuse for the F9 Tween class though, what the…

It is one thing to build, another to share, another to present information in a very consumable way and then another to make that whole presentation look really good. Moses, like polygonal labs, throws down some nice demos and information posts.

Go was late to the AS3 Animation kit game after pwning with FuseKit in the AS2 age (especially the creative agency love), I think it was the right time as it was released the TweenLite and TweenBencher performance testing utilities put a focus on performance to see just how many more cycles we could get out of AS3 from an animation kit. When building your own animation kits or contributing to one, these observations from various aims helps in the code design.

I still use Tweener in most production work, and TweenLite when I need really small assets if there are going to be many of them. But, I have started to use Go in a kit I am building that I hope to share more in the future, and used it in a small game. But by the speed of the tests and my own experiments it is pretty clear to see that both TweenLite and Go would be excellent base layers to animation kit architecture and Tweener is a bit more on top of that with the filters and bezier tools that it is really a more complete package with less work to do as your animation gets more complex (colors, saturation, bezier, etc). But if you were looking to build your own animation kit or for micro assets a base like Go or a base kit like TweenLite is the way to go). Some notes from Moses’s tests show that performance and sync are also what starts to fall apart as performance critical mass is reached. Go and Tweener held sync the best.

Side notes:

The TweenLite system was highly performative on all three measures. That system also features a very small filesize footprint, making it a clear choice for banners or other filesize-restrictive projects.

Go & Tweener were the only systems here that synced their animations – others ran out of sync to different degrees which yields less visually favorable results. Actually, it looks kind of neat in the tests! But you don’t want out-of-sync animation in your real-life projects. This effect can be clearly seen using the open-source TweenBencher utility, included in the Go package.

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Here is a well done game based on the popular Line Rider phenomenon, only this one is Line Golf and it is using the APE AS3 2D Flash Physics Engine. I am sure game sites are just as excited as game developers like myself about the prospects of games that are more dynamic and fun and even 3d with the flash kits of today all thanks to the power of AS3.

Play Line Golf at Candy Stand

This was posted on the APE Google Group where onedayitwillmakeit explains more on how he modified APE for use in the game.

Friday, January 11th, 2008
Interesting library for html to flash front end. Basically this runs off the HTML in your page to draw the same in Flash. I am sure there are great pitfalls in this but when controlled this could be very key in a flash add-on to CMS or CMS content. Might be useful for many things.

Wrapper is a cross-browser compliant HTML/CSS rendering engine written in ActionScript that sits on top of your standards compliant HTML page. Wrapper eliminates cross-browser issues and makes integrating ActionScript and HTML/CSS projects possible without needing to compile.

Wrappers strives to answer the most common problems web designers face without forcing them to learn too many new things. Most web sites can be created in HTML or CSS, then when you need to extend Wrapper’s capabilities you can either use JSON to call functions within ActionScript or you can load compiled plug-ins. Wrapper also has built in methods within CSS to load custom fonts, display elements as any shape, and fill them with linear or radial gradient background colors. ActionScript’s event model is also implemented within Wrapper’s HTML. Wrapper’s best features are the ones that you get for free because of how it is set up. It’s like getting all the great features of the Flash Player without needing to deal with compiling and being able to create your content the same way any HTML page would be created. Wrapper is fully accessible to the search engines and integrates well with any back-end technology.

Wrapper is currently released as a fully functional open source beta for Flash Player 9. Wrapper is set up as a pre-compiled plug-in but can easily be integrated into any Flex or AIR applications or even as an ActionScript framework for creation of compiled projects.

Documentation can be found in the wiki and news about this project can be found at http://motionandcolor.com

Examples can be found in the downloads http://code.google.com/p/htmlwrapper/downloads/list

Source is for everything is in svn http://code.google.com/p/htmlwrapper/source

I checked it out and it looks pretty well done, most of the time HTML to Flash or vice versa has to be a semi-controlled environment in terms of the markup. This and FlashML which is only AS2 I am using a partially converted to AS3 are part of my rotation for HTML<–>Flash content challenges for research right now. Usually most CMS in Flash has content loaded into the flash and then an alternate (sometimes similar) representation, here this is trying to merge the two which has it’s challenges.

Try out a demo (view source)

EDIT: Title dyslexia