A post by Guest Author VJ Ecin (Ben Guerrette), find more about him at the end of this article..
While a lot of VJ content is produced with high-end motion graphics, 3D modeling, and video editing software, Flash provides some advantages over these platforms not immediately obvious. Although its primarily purpose is as a tool for web development and user interface design, its now a portable weapon of choice that fits nicely into any VJ’s arsenal. Besides its scalability, small file size and custom programming abilities, many video mixing software companies like ArKaos, are now embracing its capabilities by adding the ability to feed Flash EQ and text data for real-time visual manipulation.
Adobe’s Flash has grown significantly since its initial 1.0 release that focused solely around animation. Not until version 4.0 did it receive full scripting implementation allowing for some exciting new visual opportunities. It was widely considered nothing more than a toy by serious programmers until the release of ActionScript 2.0. With the recent release of ActionScript 3.0, the majority of new Flash users typically come from a development background. Animators attracted in to 1.0 have likely moved on to other packages or embraced ActionScript for all of its frustration and glory. Even then, Flash still attracts all forms of designers, developers animators and dabblers.
Since my discovery of VJ’ing I immediately saw the advantages of using Flash. With the majority of my content being video I shot with my Sony Digitial8 camcorder, the juxtaposition between the gritty scenery I filmed and the hard crisp lines of vector objects of Flash, provided the visual style I was aiming to achieve. Some simple vector animations on a black or white background are great matte’s for luma key effects showing the footage in or behind those animations.
One of Flashes strengths lies in its ability to be completely resolution independent. As we grow to higher resolution standards, Flash grows with us. Additionally, changing aspect ratios to accommodate various display environments is as simple as opening the source file, changing the document properties and publishing. No need for re-renders or rebuilds with higher resolution source material.
Compared to After Effects, Flash may seem limited in its abilities. The seasoned motion graphics artist might gawk at the simplicity of the Flash timeline and tools available. Its strengths lie in the simplicity of its vector animation tools. With a little bit of ActionScript knowledge combined with a few timeline tweens you can create some pretty incredible particle style effects. I’ve found trying to achieve similar effects in After Effects using mask layers & plugins tedious and time consuming. Don’t get me wrong, After Effects is still damn incredible, but they each excel in their own way.
ArKaos GrandVJ provides some new Flash functionality not available in ArKaos VJ Midi by way of a 9 band audio EQ. Additionally, it no longer relies on the Flash 5 player and ActionScript 2.0 can now be utilized. GrandVJworks best with timeline based scripting so the class based system of ActionScript 3.0 isn’t recommended. In addition to the 9 band EQ there’s also variables for Low, Mid & High. Tying movie clip properties, X position, Y position, rotation, etc, to any of these variables gives some pretty cool audio-reactive effects. Crawl outside of the standard EQ style audio-responsive box and you can build objects that grow and populate based on any of the 9 bands values. Consider a simple rain animation where the speed and size of the rain drops increase exponentially. Use an additional band to control the direction of the rain and you end up with a raining life form that reacts and grows with the music.
I spend my day job as a web developer so I continually see new ways Flash can be used in my VJ sets. It’s sometimes difficult to stay focused on work when all I wanted to do is spend my time building new content. Fortunately there’s a trade-off in that the ideas I have for Flash VJ content sometimes carry over into the websites I build and can provide a new approach to the execution of my projects. With a little ActionScript and some simple vector shapes, the opportunities are endless.
Keep an eye out for a future article covering the basics on creating audio-reactive Flash animations for use withArKaos GrandVJ
About the author: VJ Ecin (Ben Guerrette):
Ben Guerrette is an interactive motion graphics designer and VJ from Los Angeles, he has developed audio-reactive Flash animations that comes bundled with GrandVJ and NuVJ. He is also the founder ofTriggerMotion, a portal for sharing and trading of Flash visuals.