Archive for the ‘MOTION’ Category

Saturday, December 15th, 2007


haXe, one of the coolest and most versatile languages and platforms of today just released something to add to the already amazing feature set of haXe.  Nicolas Cannasse has posted about releasing haXe Video 1.0. I have been engulfed by Red5 for a few weeks and this could not have come at a better time for fun.

haxeVideo is an opensource video streaming server entirely written in haXe.

Features of haXe Video 1.0:

  • FLV streaming using RTMP protocol
  • Webcam and Microphone recording to FLV file
  • Live streaming for web conferencing
  • light and fast scalable server
  • only 50 KB of server source code : modify whatever you need !

Links

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Only a year after release Papervision is getting a major update to 2.0.

Get it while it is hot from the SVN server on google code: http://papervision3d.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/branches/GreatWhite

Papervision3D, launched a year ago, really sparked the AS3 and flash/flex world and inspired every flash guru I know into working on this code. There have been some great tools made and some fwa’s won but it is only the beginning.

I am mostly looking forward to performance enhancements, ascollada integration, culling and Andy Zupko’s 2d bitmap effects on 3d.

New features:

  • Faster!
  • ShadeMaterials
  • Shaders
  • ASCollada (animation support)
  • Frustrum Culling
  • Multiple Viewports (3d editor anyone?)
  • Render to Scene
  • and more!

SVN server and branch:

We do indeed like to ride the racecars!

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Another great new 2D physics engine for AS3 has been released called Box2dFlashAS3 that is based on the excellent kit Box2D for C++. It has been a busy year for physics engines in AS3. FOAM was released this month, APE, the highly anticipated Motor Physics from polygonal labs and plenty more still I am sure.

The Box2dFlashAS3 version has some great demos available on the site that show, use the arrow keys to move to the different demos highlighted here.

  1. bridge
  2. ragdolls
  3. compound shapes
  4. rube goldberg / domino / tank tracks etc
  5. stacked boxes
  6. slider crank / piston
  7. pulleys
  8. gears

Box2DFlashAS3 is an open source port of Erin Catto’s powerful c++ physics library Box2D. Cycle through the demos to see some of the features.

Full source code for the engine and examples can be downloaded from the project’s sourceforge page found Here.

This kit is nice because it mimics Box2D for the crossover and ability of developers to use it in C++ and Flash AS3 moreso than other kits. It looks good and performs well except for a memory or FPS pause I get intermittently.  The demos are already inspiring many uses of the features highlighted for games and effects.

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The Proposal

Moses, the maker of FuseKit, is hoping to influence Adobe product lines to include a common base for animation and motion going forward. Currently the AS3 world is very alive and is inspiring developers like myself to build lots of toolkits and really creating reusable code and kits that can make things very easy from going to Flash to Flex. But wouldn’t it be nice if a part of these kits that have to be downloaded every time you have an application use them be part of the native Adobe applications, or a core animation kit that partially standardizes animation basics to build upon further?

Are we just asking for trouble or is this a good idea? I don’t’ think it can hurt to bring this to the surface. I know that common syntax and familiar kits can really help the developers and designers move from Flash to Flex to After Effects to Javascript, it could also help Adobe with usage and usefulness of their entire suite of products. Or further this could be a standard that allows Silverlight to also build upon (open standard) and may the best platform win.

I think it would be very wise for Adobe to:

  • Standardize animation toolkits across their products and
  • Start standardizing some of the basic tools of building motion and filter kits to native but still allowing a flourishing open source and community research and development aspect.

What MosesProposes:

Moses did speak with someone at Adobe about this and it is generally in the plans:

“It was also a pleasure to see Richard Galvan present the upcoming crop of Flash features: the sleek update to the animation timeline (better late than never?), support for columnated flowing text (double finally!) and the big one, native 3D player support for Display Objects as rotatable 2D planes. He ran out of time and didn’t get to a few others shown at Adobe MAX, such as built-in IK (inverse kinematics) and faster pixel-level drawing for texture-mapping and photoshop-like filter effects.

Talking to him after the presentation I learned that Richard has a keen awareness of exactly where each feature is at currently. We chatted about low-level animation mechanics of the Flash Player, and I found out that the holy grail of a time-based player is indeed on the distant horizon, but that each rev will need to be a small step toward this goal. The new Flash timeline features meld After Effects, Premiere and Live Motion, and from what I’ve seen I have to say that they are nailing this long-overdue upgrade with great design decisions and a level of usability we’ve never seen in Flash. Kudos, team!”

The Current Situation

Right now Tweener and TweenLite (and animation package and a few others) have a unique position in that they work the same almost for AS2 and AS3 (Flex or Flash – with minor property changes such as _x to x as that has changed in AS3). But it would be nice if these kits also had a version for After Effects (really bringing that tool into Flash/flex developer worlds) and Javascript and it would be great if Silverlight also were supported (AgTweener anyone?).

Tweener is leading the pack in this aspect of creating a similar experience from AS2 to AS3 in Flash and AS3 in Flex and even JSTweener for Javascript, and a kit for haXe which is becoming my favorite toy and the dark horse with the most upside potential, with haXe on the loose these points may all be moot as haXe can target any platform (except After Effects easily, correct me if I am wrong and Silverlight but it could easily be done so to do it for Silverlight 1.0 which is ES3 based).

I don’t use After Effects as much right now but if I could easily incorporate this into Flash/Flex and script and animate in a similar syntax and way I know After Effects would definitely have a boost in interest.

Also, the forgotten one Director, can we please get an ES4 based language in that application, or an update? Then kits and add-ons are much more possible. I really miss hardware accelerated 3d in browser as a pushed technology, Director is still around but it does not get the focus it needs. Feel the freedom and coolness just in this small test here in director, hardware accelerated 3d is the best, the Director application environment and Lingo and hacked in javascript are not the best. As a long-time Director user, hobbyist and professional I am disappointed in Director’s support at Adobe thus far, but I digress.

The Reality

The reality is right now the only problem with kits like Tweener, TweenLite, Tween, mx.transitions, mx.motion, etc is that the source has to be embedded in movieclips multiple times. Sometimes there are multiple animation kits per compiled SWF that have to be used for more advanced features. This adds bulk that if common might not need to be there (this comes into play still on mobile and large games/apps).

Let’s say you have an application that pulls in many disconnected SWFs and they all have animation in them, well if you have 20 of these let’s say, and you embedded a very small Tweener at 9k per SWF. That is about 200k of duplication of AS code. Due to the kits small sizes this is not a problem really but when animation kits like Animation Package come into play, you are talking 40k per SWF which would leave you with almost a meg of just duplicated animation code. I don’t think this is that major of a problem for kits like Tweener (9k compiled) and Tweenlite (3k compiled) but as projects get bigger and more depth of animation platforms needed this can be a problem. This can also be solved in architecture with a controller and dummy SWFs to animate but there are times when you need animation in the compiled SWFs and then also need it in many others and the controller.

The other reality is the animation kits (mx.transitions.easing, mx.transitions.tween) for Flex and Tween for fl are a little bloated, more difficult than needed to use and as has been seen, much slower than kits currently available in the community. My one fear about this is that if Adobe makes this, possibly like Microsoft’s toolkits and libraries they put out, they are always bloated and slower, then because they are embedded they are untouchable. If it was standard enough as building blocks that are faster because they are native, then this is the best option as embedded script would be hard pressed to beat native code in the players/applications.

The Future Plans

Some of this is underway….

Animation kits for future, Adobe is releasing Flash 10 called ‘Astro’ that has many new improvements in tweening with xml closer to flex or even Silverlight like transitions and storyboards. Aral Balkan, a sponsor of OSFlash, posted on this and even that Diesel Flash CS4 will include more Tween tools for IK/bones. Tweener , TweenLite, Animation Package, Animation System etc these are all helping to define the best way to do animation kits.

Physics toolkits have their own animation kits currently usually to handle the movement according to algorithms. FOAM, APE , Box2DFlashAS3 (just released very recently will be posting more on this after I check it) and Motor Physics (unreleased but heavily demoed at polygonal labs) are great physics toolkits and I like this being part of the community to get refined, maybe one of them or the best performing ones becomes part of the proposed Adobe Animation bundle. These will define the best way to do physics kits.

3d in flash toolkits have also been emerging rapidly in 2007 with Papervision3D, Away3d based on pv3d, Sandy, and even engines starting to get built on top of these platforms.

The general direction is moving towards another platform in there somewhere but I think much work is left to be done to standardized physics systems, 3d and advanced motion filter tweens and bezier, splines (Catmull-Rom), editors, etc. I think it is getting time for basic animation kits to become more standard though and in latest versions of flash this is included in the flex and flash scripts but not the native code.

Right now the standard in syntax and the broadest reach is Tweener and due to the bigger fish syndrome, haXe that can target any platform, it also has a Tweener and can create code for as2, as3 and any target written in if After Effects, Premiere or other apps get more robust and standard animation and motion kits. Tweener has kits made and contributed for AS2, AS3, haXe, Javascript and others.

There is also Hydra and the AIF Toolkit that are standardizing After Effects and Flash shaders and filters into a new shader language like Cg and reminiscent of processing.org.

As humans we trial and error and build new platforms in the market to step on to create better platforms to build cool stuff, it is evolving right now. AS3 is inspiring platforms within platforms of Flash and Adobe kits as well as on Silverlight and in the Javascript world with JSTweener, jquery etc. As these things are refined we build a level standard platform to build more stuff on. Eventually this will be there and whoever does the standard platform for animation will probably reap in users and abilitty to easily add new products and solutions where people already have training. Silverlight is an example with .NET developers. .NET was also an example with C# so similar to Java. ES4 based AS3 has proven it is inspiring all types of new platforms and kits and will continue to do so and it is an interesting time in this industry whichever direction it goes.

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Drew Cummin’s FOAM is a great flash as3 2d physics package that can be integrated quickly and get started with realistic physics in 2d flash apps and games. I have been playing with this since FOAM’s release last week and putting together some tests to show, comparing with APE and really looking forward to polygonal labs Motor Physics to add there.

Three excellent physics engines (FOAM, APE and Motor Physics) for flash in AS3 already. Basically at flash9 player/avm2 market saturation (it is now available to develop on in over 94% of market) is showing the power of the ES4/Javascript2 based Actionscript3 language and how it is inspiring developers to new levels of interest/inspiration. Then again haXe can target them all but I digress.

FOAM was recently released but the author Drew Cummins is showing very good support for the toolkit and released a plethora of goodins to support this great kit, bug fixes, samples, docs and some realistic physics demos as well as in depth walkthrough of creating a force generator and comparison of the Euler and RK4 equations used in that process and their differences (Euler being less correct due to the factors of the platform and intervals and environment, RK4 more correct but more expensive to run)

If you are developing realistic physics in flash games or apps this toolkit is a great source of inspiration.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Flash 9 has reached 93%/94% penetration rates. If 90% wasn’t good enough from July then September and now Oct/Nov numbers are at 94% and probably 95% by now. To put it in perspective last December Flash 8 was at 94%.

If you aren’t using Flash9 and especially AS3 now for performance and code reuse you are hurting yourself and your clients. The recent animation package comparisons in AS2 to AS3 show us the type of power that AS3 has. Now you can jusify it by the numbers…and the tests that compare and show 10 times improvement in scalability compared to AS2, even for small motion apps, getting the most out of performance is important.

Flash Player 6 Flash Player 7 Flash Player 8 Flash Player 9
Mature Markets1 99.1% 99.1% 98.4% 93.3%
US/Canada 99.0% 99.0% 98.5% 94.1%
Europe2 99.2% 99.2% 98.2% 93.7%
Japan 99.5% 99.5% 99.0% 93.7%
Emerging Markets3 Not surveyed in this wave

<!–

Notes

  1. Does not include Flash Player 5 and Emerging Markets.
  2. Supports Adobe Flash Video (FLV).

–>[source]

I won’t even go into the business reasons that include AS3 being Adobe’s main focus compared to AS2 and the AVM1, from now on AVM2 will be the staple of focus at Adobe for the Flash team. Support will continue but don’t get smoked by AS3 interactives that AS2 ones can’t compete with. Get your AS3 learn on

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Currently working on some motion detection with flash/c# and webcams right now. Here’s a basic overview of some motion detection source files and tricks. Most motion detection is based on snapshots and finding brightness of a pixel with all combined colors, then comparing that to previous snapshots to detect enough variance and thus movement. If you have a webcam hooked up, this sample in Flash AS3 highlights this well showing the camera on the left, then the brightness snapshots on the right. It also has an indicator to the amount of movement due to much brightness.

C#

Here is a nice example of motion detection using various motion detection algorithms in C#. This is built on the very slick AForge.NET Computer Imaging Library.

If you ever wanted your own motion detection or recording it is all possible with the basics of checking brightness and snapshots in the most simple form checking how much change or variance their was to bright pixels or the count of bright pixels compared to previous snapshots.

// Calculate white pixels

private int CalculateWhitePixels( Bitmap image )
{
    int count = 0;
    // lock difference image
    BitmapData data = image.LockBits( new Rectangle( 0, 0, width, height ),
        ImageLockMode.ReadOnly, PixelFormat.Format8bppIndexed );
    int offset = data.Stride - width;
    unsafe
    {
        byte * ptr = (byte *) data.Scan0.ToPointer( );
        for ( int y = 0; y < height; y++ )
        {
            for ( int x = 0; x < width; x++, ptr++ )
            {
                count += ( (*ptr) >> 7 );
            }
            ptr += offset;
        }
    }

    // unlock image
    image.UnlockBits( data );
    return count;
}

Flash AS2

In Flash this is also possible here is a good article from Flash8 that explains cycling through each pixel to compare the image data and implement motion detection from a webcam.

For instance the basics here show how you can compare each pixel and the change in the brightness for each pixel:

//accuracy
tolerance=10;

//color of the current pixel in the current snapshot
nc=now.getPixel(x,y);

//red channel
nr=nc>>16&0xff;

//green channel
ng=nc>>8&0xff;

//blue channel
nb=nc&0xff;

//brightness
nl=Math.sqrt(nr*nr + ng*ng + nb*nb)

//color of the same pixel in the previous snapshot
bc=before.getPixel(x,y);

//red channel
br=bc>>16&0xff;

//green channel
bg=bc>>8&0xff;

//blue channel
bb=bc&0xff;

//brightness
bl=Math.sqrt(br*br + bg*bg + bb*bb);

//difference in brightness between now and before
d=Math.round(Math.abs(bl-nl));

if(d>tolerance)
{
//there was a change in this pixel
}

Flash AS3

Here is a link to grab a conversion of the AS2 Flash motion detection above to AS3.

Source of AS3 motion detection here.

Grant Skinner has done some interesting things with motion detection with Flash and webcams in the past in the incomplet gallery.

C# or other hardware accelerated capable kits are faster but AS3 and Flash with the new AVM2 virtual machine  should be about 10 times faster than AS2 as much of the improvement in performance and the virtual machine is on iteration speed increases such as loops (i.e. pixel loop).

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Zeh Fernando’s AS2 and AS3 Flash Animation Kit Tweener has inspired a JSTweener port to javascript, why thanks Yuichi Tateno (secondlife).

This actually could be used quite easily with Silverlight and an AgTweener could be very easily created from this. The Tweener like syntax with an object and adding tweens of available properties as an object or array is very simple and could make animation systems much more standard if everything used this not to mention easier for developers to animate in any presentation layer. The syntax makes for the best of the Animation Packages currently available for AS3. If this could be used in other kits it would make animation pretty standard and simple when changing platforms.

JQuery is very lightweight and has a similar syntax on their animate() call. There are many animation javascript kits such as mootools, jquery, dojokit and prototype and others that have similar functionality but it is all handled differently.

JSTweener

JSTweener.addTween(element.style, {
time: 3,
transition: 'linear',
onComplete: function() {},
width: 200,
height: 200,
left: 500,
top: 300
});

JSTweener Source

JSTweenerRepo

Samples:

Found via Zeh

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Sascha over at hexagonstar aka h1dd3n.r350urc3 has created a very cool AS3 Animated Bitmap Class. You might be asking, why would you need this, you already have movieclip animation and time-based animation? Well when making games sometimes you want to lock in a certain framerate or create assets/sprites (in the classical sense) you know will be pixel based that you need to lock their framerate say at 24 while the flash application can run much faster when you need to base off frame-based animation or enterframe situations as your game tick().

In game development sometimes the platform outspeeds the designed activity such as back in the day when the “turbo” button appeared on the 33MHz computers from 16MHz. DOS games built without this knowledge were unplayable because they were so fast. Flash with AS3 is all about performance and speed and at some point controlling that for a pixel based 2d game or iso game might be necessary if you need the rest of the SWF to run faster. You can also do time based animation rather than frame-based animation but there are always times when this could

This class helps situations when you have to have an animated bitmap sequence but don’t want to include all the files for each frame, rather you put them all in one and the SWF export is much smaller and this is always good.

You can download the class including demo source code and demo image here.

Be sure to head on over to hexagonstar and h1dd3n.r350urc3 because there is a sample there and also a photoshop CS script to help create these and adds a nice little capability to any game development pipeline.

From Sascha:

What are the advantages over using a generic MovieClip? When writing games you might have several animated graphics (also called sprites, but not related to the AS3 Sprite class) that should run with a different framerate than the game’s global framerate. Let’s say your game runs with a global framerate of 99 and you put several animated sprites into your game that were created for playing back with a framerate of 24. With a MovieClip all those sprites would also play with a framerate of 99 which means they play way too fast. However with an AnimatedBitmap you can set every framerate individually. There are a couple of other advantages like that a Bitmap is more lightweight than a MovieClip and it has a isPlaying() method. Also it changes the way of how to embed assets. Instead of embedding many files for one animation only one image for a whole animation sequence is embedded which has positive effects on the file size. The ring sequence used in the demo has 21 frames that use 102Kb as single images but only 44Kb when they are combined to one image.

Thanks Sascha! Be sure to check out the other great old skool gaming tools that hexagonstar has come up with, good stuff like the hexagon framework.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007



Flash Performance and HD (H.264) Video Progress

Fast performance is needed for good video combined with interactivity especially. Quickly comparing AS2 to AS3 shows that AS3 and the AVM2 virtual machine in Flash9 is much faster. If you are combining Flash and video especially when it is time to go HD, you will need performance.

Compare AS2 to AS3 rendering: AS2 & AS3 Note the as2 item only has 10000 pixel operations, the as3 item has 50,000 and is considerably more usable, in fact the AS2 version isn’t usable since it is slow. [source] This is a good test because it checks the movement of every pixel on the screen which leads me to video performance.

Flash HD in the FLV format is pretty nice looking today in Flash9 with AS3. But to keep up there are more formats and a move to support H.264/MPEG-4 AVC I am sure for online TV/Movie market.

The reason to bring up performance and video is because the video battle on the web is heating up even more between Adobe and Microsoft with Flash Video and Silverlight Video. The recent released info regarding HD on Flash is to combat Silverlight HD video that is looking pretty good.

Silverlight Performance and HD Video VC-1

View this Halo 3 video in Silverlight HD:

View it->

Recently Silverlight came out last week officially on Wednesday, really the 1.0 release is just a video and javascript release but when you view the videos below you will see that they have a short coup de tat on Flash video at the moment in terms of HD quality video.

Silverlight also has been pushing TV on the internet. See these samples that are actual TV on web pages already using Silverlight.

  1. Home Shopping Network Online
  2. ET Emmy’s coverage
  3. They also have WWE and MLB.com baseball already using Silverlight video.
  4. Netflix online video uses Silverlight

Flash video is cool and you can do great fun things like neave.tv (flash 8) and high definition FLV video in flash9 with AS3 and on occasion AS2 if it is just video with full screen flash but when you are talking TV and movie quality, it is still up for grabs but both are looking good especially Silverlight and that Halo 3 video.

Flash video is updating to H.264 [source]

Tinic Uro reports the beta player of flash that has HD now. Currently the FLV format is the web leader (you tube, Google video) but is not as good quality as Silverlight until they update to H.264 at least in terms of standards video. This is probably 6 months off?

Video literally changed in the internet in the last two weeks with the Flash announcements and Silverlight launching. I am surprised at Silverlight’s adoption rate and partnerships so far with the 1.0 offering which lacks many programming tools, but I see why on the video front why they did it. When 1.1 comes out it has all the programmer toys, and it will attract a lot of attention I think. It is all about performance and HD video right now.

Yes yes… Quicktime has done HD/H.264 video for a while but Quicktime is just a video format really, it will be able to be used in the new flash video as well as other formats but it doesn’t have the interactive platform behind it like Flash and Silverlight have.

The difference is the choice of format and standards. Silverlight with VC-1 and Flash going to H.264 codec. They are largely competing standards that are both “HD”.

The good news is we have competition to bring really high quality video to the web, the mashups with HD video in interactive games, demos, advertising etc will be very fun.