2010 has been a huge and brilliant year. That’s not to say it’s been plain sailing – I’ve faced difficult challenges, but thankfully they have led to some of my proudest achievements. And it’s been a year of change and flux: where we were initially confronted with uncertainty and fear, I now see that it was a huge opportunity for learning and discovery.
Before I get started I would like to thank you all for your continuing support for my somewhat random and rambling blog posts (over 65 this year!). I really should spend some time redesigning and rethinking exactly what I’m doing. But for now I hope you’ll continue to bear with me and hope it’s at least vaguely interesting. 🙂
So, right before the new year, I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence as I present what 2010 meant for me. 🙂
This year my role changed at Plug-in Media (the creative digital agency I set up with two talented partners Dom and Juliet). I moved away from client work to focus on learning, training, and speaking. I’ve still been consulting on Plug-in projects, but less hands-on than I was.
PIM has continued to grow (around 15 people and counting) and do fantastically well, and we won our 2nd BAFTA in November for BBC project Zingzillas. I was lucky that I got to take the award home for Christmas (it makes a cameo in my xmas video, see below). Although I helped to set up the project, the hard work was actually done by the incredibly talented PIM team.
Speaking and travelling
I became the yes-man of the digital media conference circuit this year – I literally said yes to everything! So 2010 was a year of travelling, with over 30 engagements, and 5 US trips covering LA, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York and Boston. European destinations include Stuttgart, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and an extra long stay in Cologne thanks to the Icelandic volcano!
I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what language you use, your programming skills are totally transferable. In my case it’s my experience with creative graphics and gaming that I’ve particularly enjoyed reimplementing across different platforms.
Pretty much all of the projects I’ve been involved in this year have been self-motivated and usually just an excuse to learn a particular technology. My favourites :
Multi-player Lunar Lander – I never finished this, but was delighted to accidentally create some generative art as all the players around the world left trails on the game screen. It even made it into Matt Pearson’s generative art book!
Kitten Conveyorbelt – perhaps the most pointless thing I’ve done but still strangely appealling. 🙂
Visual sampler – This came as a result of my failure to make a multi-track recorder in Flash. Instead I built this simple visual sampler where you record sounds and video and play them back with the keys.
I can’t seem to find any footage of this although I know there is some – let me know if you find it!
Thanks to Lawrie Cape who found the video from my BLAB talk in Manchester, the visual sampler is 38 minutes in.
Tweaser – It’s pretty alpha but I’m pleased with the simplicity of this anti-tween library.
Dream Machine A collaboration with multiple animators, projected onto a building in Brighton. I made the interactive sections between shows with Processing.
My courses have continued to prove popular, particularly the Flash games training which launched in February. I also recorded a series for Lynda.com in LA and my brand new HTML5/JS workshop early bird tickets sold out in 20 minutes!
I would strongly recommend that you broaden your horizons and mix with people outside of the technologies that you’re familiar with. Although it’s sometimes scary, it can only lead to good things.
What the Flux!?
Without a doubt my biggest challenge this year was my presentation at Flash on the Beach about the future of Flash. A full three months before the presentation I started to gather my content. I went into the process believing that I would polarise opinion, fully convinced that at least half the audience would hate it. I can’t pretend that this didn’t worry me, but I felt a strong responsibility to give this message.
It was a huge undertaking, with labour-intensive video editing, survey, and trawling the internet for evidence. But quite apart from that, I spent weeks analysing my beliefs and challenging my preconceptions to come up with something honest without sensationalism.
I cannot tell you my relief and pleasure at the overwhelming positive reaction to the session. In fact it was easily the most well received presentation I’ve ever done with an unprecedented 100% approval rating. It was truly humbling and a highlight of my career so far.
I finished the year flexing my aching musical muscles with the second Christmas video song with my wife Jenny. It was a lot easier to edit the video this year (Final Cut rather than Premier) but it took longer to arrange and record the song. Unlike last year’s, this was a completely new arrangement and chords. It’s always enjoyable and fun to work with Jenny, but still a couple of weeks work and a couple of very late nights! We only just released it on Christmas eve.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
So to summarise, I’ve done some scary things this year, and really put myself on the line, but every single one worked out! Brilliant. 🙂
So what’s next? Well more of the same, naturally. But this year I’d like to focus a little more on the large scale installations and digital art. It’s also looking likely that I’ll be spending a few months in New York around April. So here’s to continued success and happiness in 2011. Happy New Year! 😀