Over the last couple of weeks I have been revisiting my old MAAP player project, bringing it up to speed to take advantage of some new technologies that flash player 11 offers. Mostly, this was an exercise in keeping up with my talented team and exploring some possibilities for the Flash platform for some upcoming project work, but I also do like to set myself a challenge every once in a while to stop my code chops from atrophying too much in my largely management and creative role here. Since the MAAP project seems to have fizzled out, I thought I would purpose it to my own musical project, Digitonal. I’ve been doing quite a lot of ambient stuff recently and thought it would be fun to write something specifically for it.
The primary technologies I’ve used in this rebuild are listed below and it’s been interesting working with these new frameworks which I think offer much to the flash platform.
Starling: A fantastic framework for gpu-accelerated 2D animation, which makes use of the new Stage3D access (formerly known as Molehill). The smooth animation of the orbs that I’m getting here, and the effortless particle system are both based in Starling and, whilst it has some quirks (largely due to it’s insistence on mirroring the normal Flash display stack) the results you get from it are stellar. This is pretty much always hitting 60fps without blinking and I know that my previous implementation of this idea had a performance way, way below that.
NAPE: A very promising new physics engine. I’ve always struggled with the more or less standard Box2D framework and so this is a refreshingly useable alternative which has been a joy to work with. Strongly recommended for your physics modelling needs.
Tonfall: Andre Michelle’s fantastic as3 audio framework which I’m using here for the sample-perfect looping, pitch control (couldn’t even have conceived of coding something like that myself) and support for WAV samples (which, whilst it obviously places a huge burden on filesize for online delivery, helps raise this into the realm of something approaching what I’d envisage as an artist).
The whole thing took about 2 days to code and I’ll make the source code available on this post as soon as I have some time to refactor so you can point and laugh. I’m also keeping a very close eye on AIR’s forthcoming Starling support for iOS and I’m hoping to do an iPad port of the application at some point in the near future.
>> Launch the Digitonal Ambient Box (N.B. – the site uses high quality audio samples about 11Mb in total – fast connection and a little patience required!)
I have a massive backlog of posts to get up on this blog which I’ll address after the much needed holiday I have coming up. Things on my mind include the inaugaral Digital Shoreditch festival and summit which was brilliant, some new flash work which I’m hoping will be the seed of a great idea (btw, if there are any Children’s artists/designers reading, get in touch) and some thoughts on the new 3D technologies that are coming to your browser soon.
In the meantime, I meant to get this complete for my TEDx demonstration, but ran out of time…but couldn’t resist it. It’s not big or clever (was coded in about an hour, if that!), but it does fulfil a childhood urge which I just couldn’t resist!
Andrew Dobson has been building websites and interactive applications since 1996 and is Technical Director at Grand Union.
Andy regularly lectures on creative technology and other geek matters and writes, records and performs as Digitonal
He lives in North London with his family, the world of cat, and a righteous collection of classic electronica records.
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