I take a lot of inspiration from nature and physics. I like to try and imagine how a system would work if it were truly realized in the real world.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Russell Savage and I am a Developer who enjoys working in Flash and reinventing the wheel whenever possible. Just because it isn't broke doesn't mean you can't re-imagine it!
What do you do for inspiration?
I take a lot of inspiration from nature and physics. I like to try and imagine how a system would work if it were truly realized in the real world, where it would be subject to all the forces and restrictions of this earthly realm.
I sketch a lot before I start the project and I often do some prototypes to get the core technologies figured out before applying them to the project. I try and work in a new technology or advancement into every project to keep it interesting and make the project more worthwhile.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Alpha Romeo Experience 159 - http://www.experience159.com
This site serves an as a point of inspiration when I want to add a sense of atmosphere and polish to a site.
The Eco Zoo - http://ecodazoo.com/
Everyone is still playing catch up trying to match the performance of the custom 3d system he used on this site. At this time I think Away3d and Papervision still fall short of the 3d system he wrote in 2007 (as far as performance and physics).
25 Lines - http://www.25lines.com/?page_id=186
25 Lines is a site that holds a contest where programmers compete to produce the best Flash project in under 25 lines of code. Although they get very creative with their definitions of a line of code, it is pretty amazing to see what they can pull off.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Being able to work at a company that gives me room to experiment and push the boundaries of my knowledge without needing to see an immediate return on every hour spent on these experiments.
What software could you not live without?
Well, for paid software Adobe does do a great job. I don't think I could live without Adobe Flash. I do try and go open source whenever it is available. FlashDevelop is amazing, it is such a robust and useful application for an open source project. I have also enjoyed TweenLite, which I wrote a custom tween application for link: http://marfastic.blogspot.com/2008/08/create-custom-tweens-for-tweenlite.html
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I created a character animation Air App for the Me Intru 3d site (to animate all of the dance moves and ambient character animations). This allowed a designer to animate the character and export his/her work for a developer to use later.
I would like to continue to work on this program to make it more similar to more high-end 3d animation tools (etc. Maya, Modo), giving the user options like having body parts follow a curved path through space and other features.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
Honestly I don't really follow other design companies closely. The best I manage to do is check the FWA site on occasion to see if anyone is doing any cool, new stuff. One company that has done a couple of sites that have piqued my interest is Soleil Noir.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
The sites that I have done that have had a viral component to it have really been successful (numbers-wise). For the "Macy's Believe" site (www.macysbelieve.com) we had over 100,000 Santas created (which you can then send to friends and add to your Facebook page). Also, so far the Me Intru 3d site (www.meintru3d.com) we have 209,000 monthly users on Facebook.
What area of web design lacks the most?
There are many fantastic interactive and experiential websites out there, but the one thing they often lack is that they don't really do anything useful. I think it would be amazing if we could take all the creative elements that make these sites great and apply it to more practical useful sites as well.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My first website that I did in College was pretty ridiculous but I look back on it fondly. It involved an animated sequence where the topics of the website came out of a giant version of my head in the center, and the background would change from day to night, While the Pharcyde played in the background.
I think I had some good ideas, but I really had no concept of how a site should have polish or coherence at that time. Sadly it is offline, lost to a hard drive malfunction.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have not written any books, nor do I plan on writing any. I am not really the literary type.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Creating a top down perspective game engine from scratch for the Stride Gum website (http://www.stridegum.com/#/spit_it_out_adventure/) was probably the most challenging project I have worked on. This involved writing crash detection and AI, that would run well for up to 15 avatars on the screen.
Another challenge was building a mock 3d environment for all the avatars to explore. I had never really written a game engine, or AI path detection so it was a lot of fun to build all of this from scratch. I did not use any references for this work (AI or Game Development books) so I could enjoy the process of discovering the solutions myself. Yes, I am a big nerd.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
I definitely would not go that far, it doesn't even seem that relevant though either. The difference between Flash AS2 and AS3 is so great that it may as well be another programming language.
Dealing with change and new technologies comes with the working in Interactive. The popularity of the iPhone is one example where I think we will be forced to work outside the realm of Flash.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
Well I did not go to school for design. My major was Computer Science, although I took many art classes. So I think as long as you have an eye for design and animation you can manage to hack your way through it just fine, but I am sure someone who has gone design school will have some advantages that the rest of us will only learn through some trial and error.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
With the maturation of Actionscript into a modern day programming language, it is really vital that someone starting out understands the fundamentals of OOP (0bject Oriented Programming).
It is a difficult concept wrap ones head around, and you really won't have much success if you just take the "learn as you go" approach to writing OOP code. So take out a good book on OOP from your library and immerse yourself in OOP goodness for a couple of weeks.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
A metal Nalgene bottle (Kleen Kanteen $30), so I can easily bring booze along on my camping trips.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
I do like nice clothes, but I find it such a headache to find the right ones. Sometimes I will go with an expensive label to help make my life easier, instead of searching with less luck through a cheaper brand.
However I hate brands that loudly advertise their label on the piece of clothing you are wearing, if their logo is any bigger than a thimble than I am not interested.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Oh, can I do shout outs here? I'd like to give a big shout out to my man Ed Sien for always cooking great meals, and my man Burny for doing those amazing 3d renders, and I can't forget John Noe for being the animating/designing master, and lastly Errol Schwartz for making a mighty fine character modification system.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much.
You're welcome. The privilege is yours, all yours.
Just kidding Rob!