FOTB 2010: My Review

photo by marc thiele

Flash on the Beach 2010 was my last conference for this year and possibly the most anticipated. I’d heard so many great reviews and claims that it is the best Flash conference out there, I had some pretty high expectations. Obviously I believed it all enough to make the trip out to Brighton and it absolutely lived up to everything I’d heard!

Session Highlights According to Me…

There were so many great sessions it was really hard to choose which to see just about every hour of the conference. I managed to catch quite a few of them, so here are some of the highlights:

FOTB Opening
The conference opened with a hilarious boy band performance featuring a crazy over-sized Steve Jobs mask and life-sized iPhones. I’m sure there were a lot of folks who regretted not getting up in time for the 9am opener!

“My Head Hurts”, Lee Brimelow
I almost didn’t go to this session because it was listed as something else in the program, but I’m glad I did. Lee talked about his thoughts on the whole HTML5 vs Flash and Apple vs Adobe debates of late. If you’re familiar with his initial response to Apple a while back, you might think this session was just a big rant. It was definitely not. Lee took a very balanced and realistic approach and gave a lot of good advice.

“The Elevator Pitches”, A whole lot of people!
I wasn’t sure what to expect for this session, and I’ll admit the main reason I went was because I was staying in the same flat as one of the guys doing a 3 minute session. It just sounds like craziness, doesn’t it? 20 people giving 3 minute presentations back to back in an hour! It turned out to be one of my favourite sessions. You get introduced to a whole lot of really cool projects and people… all before 10am! I was also really impressed with how smoothly this went!

“What The Flux!?”, Seb Lee-Delisle
Seb’s topic was similar to Lee’s from the day before but from a slightly different angle. He showed a whole slew of data gathered from his survey of the Flash community as well as a variety of short video interviews of well known folks from both the Flash and Web Standards community. While you might expect that to get ugly, it was actually a very revealing way to show what people from both sides really think of Flash.

The main message of the session was to stop (or just not) panic and learn to love to learn. Most of us get into this industry because love to learn, but we could all use a little reminder. Especially with everything that has been going on lately. Perfect timing.

Oh, and there was a game show portion of the session where audience members guessed at the survey results, family feud style. Possibly the best way to show survey results ever!

“Makers of Things”, Brendan Dawes
I’ve seen Brendan talk a few times now. He’s usually in an inspiration session slot and there’s a good reason why. He’s very good at talking about his own work in such a way that he offers up some insightful information and inspires the audience to make their own work at the same time. Trust me, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. My favourite thing that he showed was an old video of a guy generating sound from small dots drawn on film. It was really cool and a perfect way to drive home the point that you shouldn’t use lack of tools as an excuse not to create what you want to create.

If you’ve never seen Branden talk, or even if you have, he has a video of his FITC talk from earlier this year up on his site. Definitely worth checking out.

“Comparing Web Video Technologies”, Robert Reinhardt
Robert’s session was the most detailed and practical comparison of web video technologies — especially on the HTML5 video front — that I’ve ever seen. He covered the obvious things that we’ve all seen, as well as way more detailed things like the proposed HTML5 policy for handling cross-domain files and inconsistent “full screen” implementations. He also gave great practical tips on creating HTML5 video fallbacks with SWFObject and working with your clients to determine what video formats they might actually need.

“The Computational Artifact”, Jared Tarbell
Jared is another speaker who always does a kick-ass session every time I’ve seen him speak. His work is amazing, and he was generous enough to bring a whole lot of things he’s made to give away to the masses at FOTB.

A Theme?
Okay, so I’ve rambled on and on for a while now. Reviewing a conference in any kind of short write up is clearly impossible for me!

If there was a theme across all the sessions at FOTB this year, it was to make time to do the work that you want to do. To make time to do what you love and explore personal interests. Almost every speaker had a story about how taking time out to work on something like a personal project had real benefits beyond just checking it off a list of things you wanted to do.

More on FOTB…
For more session reviews, I highly recommend checking out Flashmagazine’s coverage. Those guys managed to get to just about every session and covered everything in amazing detail.

All in all, Flash on the Beach is a conference you should definitely have on your list for next year. If the trip to Brighton is too much, check out another event John has planned for this spring here in the States: Geeky by Nature. If it’s anything like FOTB, it’s sure to impress!

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