Speed, Flash, and Traffic: SIGGRAPH 2008 Wrap-Up

Well, another SIGGRAPH is history. It’s been a terrific creative battery recharge. Thursday and Friday highlights include a really cool Production Session on how the various visual effects companies that made Speed Racer went about replicating the look and feel of anime in a live action motion picture, a very entertaining and interesting overview on the use of Adobe Flash for animation, and an absolutely fascinating class on transportation visualization.
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Tag Galaxy 3D Flickr Visualization

Just heard about a really cool flickr visualization called Tag Galaxy (Thanks, Mike!). When you visit the site you can search flickr for a particular tag and then build a stack of related tags to narrow a search. Related tags are displayed in a 3D visualization in the style of a planet with each related tag displayed as a smaller satellite object orbiting the original “planet.” As you click through each additional tag in the stack, the process repeats narrowing the search. When you are finished narrowing your search, you simply click the central “planet.” Images meeting your search are arranged as the outer surface of the sphere. You can click and drag to rotate the sphere and click on individual images to pull them out and show them in front of the rest on the sphere. Another click brings the full image up and provides some of the flickr metadata and a link to the flickr page for the image.

As a visualization that provides an easy way to browse a large number of related images quickly, this tool is very successful. Often, 3D interfaces do not provide the most efficient means to accessing data. But in this case, there’s and excellent fit. Take a moment to check out the site. It’s definitely worth the bookmark.


Embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint 2007

In preparing for a class on PowerPoint 2007, I ran across a little tutorial on YouTube outlining how to embed a YouTube video in a PowerPoint 2007 presentation. Unfortunately, the audio in the tutorial is really poor, so I thought I’d list the steps here and create a Captivate animation for it as well.

To embed a YouTube video in PowerPoint 2007 follow these simple steps:

  1. First turn on the Developer Tab on the Ribbon by clicking on the Microsoft logo at the top left of the window and selecting PowerPoint Options all the way at the bottom of the menu. Next put a check next to the unchecked item to show the Developer Tab
  2. Go to YouTube and select a video to embed
  3. Copy the URL
  4. On the Developer menu choose “More Controls”
  5. Select Shockwave Flash Object
  6. Click and drag on the PowerPoint slide to add the Flash object
  7. Right Click the object placeholder and select properties
  8. Set the Movie property to the URL you copied
  9. In the URL delete “watch?” and change the “=” sign to a ⁄
  10. Adjust the options for Looping or AutoPlay if desired

Make sure to test the presentation and keep in mind that the video is streaming from YouTube, so an Internet connection is required at the time of presentation.

Adobe Launches Flex Cookbook Community Site

Yesterday, in my post about Adobe’s CSS community site, I mentioned that a similar site for Flex development was on its way. Well, the site is now live. Check it out at:

Flex Cookbook beta

Here’s hoping some good stuff makes its way onto the site. Thanks, Adobe!

Adobe Apollo and Flex

Just watched a demo of Adobe’s new Apollo cross-platform runtime environment. The developer’s release is due out in 1st quarter 2007. We have several projects in the works that will benefit greatly from this new tool. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. More information is available at Adobe Labs.On a related note, I am going to be doing a crash course into Flex Builder 2 and ActionScript 3 for a project with Tom Klingler (from Tulane) and Amanda La Fleur (from LSU). We’ll be building an online course for Cajun French. One of our target audiences is young Cajun musicians who would like to learn Cajun French to be able to practice their craft better.

I’d like to build the site with a combination of HTML and Flex with a MSSQL Server backend. I think Flex will be a nice fit, especially for the interactive exercises and multimedia presentation. I figure the less time I have to spend inside of the Flash 8 Pro IDE, the better. Looking forward to getting to know Flex Builder 2.