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Sunday, April 5, 2009

The 7 Wonders of the Flash World [The Best and Most Beautiful uses of Flash]

When browsing around online, you realize how rampant Flash is. Most of the time, you see the same old, same old, and each time you enter a new site, you pray "Please God, don't make this site have another slideshow made in Flash!"

Then there are those sites, often made for big Hollywood movies, that take 10 minutes to load, and all they do is let you see trailers and photos for the upcoming movie, and links to where you can download wallpapers cluttered with titles, logos, and release dates.

Cheap interactive advertisements on the side of pages, where you just can't help but click to speed up santa so he can outrun the elf, or shoot the ducks, seeing how many you can hit before you are forcibly redirected to some site that wants your credit card number in return for sending you "free" stuff.

Video sharing sites, where you can find anything from a guy waving a lightsaber around almost dislocating his shoulder to a ninja giving advice on life. Thousands of Terrabytes of video, filled with thousands of duplicates of other videos hosting TV shows, movies, and some crap someone made in 3 minutes with their webcam.

Game sharing sites, where you can waste hundreds of hours doing something that won't make anyone's life any better (or so they say. I disagree. The more you play, the more developers like me get paid!), most games only a clone of a classic or previously made game.

Finally, there are those sites filled to the brim with embedded with YouTube videos and Flash Games, often made by 13 year olds who have just found the glory of using templates and hosted websites.

Is there nothing original with Flash anymore in this world?

Now and then, I stumble upon a gem online, something original, so amazing that it cannot be described by words, but requires Flash to display it's pure beauty. Maybe it's the developer in me who sees these gems, amazed by how much time and effort must have been put in to making this possible, or perhaps the child in me, amazed by all the special effects and flashing lights.

Nonetheless, to free you out of the dark days where everything online made in Flash looks exactly the same, I bring you SWF files that stand out beyond the rest:

IKEA - Kitchens You Dream About
Countless hours rendering the output from your 3d modeling program have brought you what? A fantastic display of kitchens frozen in time where you can fly around from house to house looking at kitchens and activities therein. Beautiful.

Soy Tu Aire (I am your Air) - More than just music
Despite being rediculously long to load (like all worthwhile flash apps are) this is a beautiful display of what would happen if you mixed a Japanese Paint program with Windows Media Player. I wish there was more music set up to play this way.

GE - Plug Into the Smart Grid - Argumented Reality
If you don't have a webcam, get one! This display is totally worth the 5 dollars you spend on a cheap camera. Also requires a printer. When you print out the sheet on the page, hold it up to the camera, and watch it come alive.
If you don't have a camera or a printer, at least watch the "See how it works" video, so you at least you know what you could have spent the last 5 minutes messing around with and thoroughly enjoying!

And then there was Salsa!  [Added Mar 5, 2010]
Looks like an ordinary commercial? Prepare to be amazed...

Mercedes from A to S  [Added Mar 13, 2010]
The ambient music (that's what it's called right? I have never been good with this 'new-agey lingo') sets a nice mood for these ninteneen different interactive slides which each bring out some little information about their suite of cars.
Many of the effects, although very neat, are actually quite simple. I might even write a small tutorial one day, taking one effect at a time and explaining how it was done.

The Scale of the Universe  [Added Mar 14, 2010]
You never realize what a tiny speck earth is in the middle of nowhere. This interactive display lets you zoom in and out of the known universe from the Strings of String Theory to the edge of the known and observable universe.
The images are mostly low quality and vector based, but they still get the point across, and if they hadn't been drawn in vector, you would likely need to wait 15 minutes for the entire presentation to load, so it works just the way it is and is still very well done.

The Eco Zoo  [Added Mar 26, 2010]
If you take a close look a the animals there, you might be able to get some tips to live in a more environmentally friendly way. 
A fantastic interactive 3d presentation. I'm not sure if they are using a publicly available library such as Papervision, or if they are using their own library, but whatever the case, it is very smooth and nice. One thing I didn't realize at first was that you can move around in the pop-up book scenes like you can in the main tower scene.
This is how story books are meant to come to life. Just add a story narrated by James Earl Jones, and make each character move around, and you have got yourself a story book that even the technology spoiled youth of today can enjoy.
(In my day, we had books made of paper, and the closest thing to interactivity was Barney. Now my 10 year old niece has her own phone, her own laptop, and several MP3 players)

FlashMoto's 10 top Flash Websites  [April 12, 2010]
Similar to this blog entry, FlashMoto added posted a blog entry of the 10 most fascinating Flash websites they have come across. Instead of reposting them all here, check it out on their blog.

[Work in progress. Leave a comment if you find anything else that deserves a mention]

This is an Open Post, which means that the list will keep getting added to over time. Subscribe to the feed for this page to be notified of any updates.


  1. Added the "And then there was Salsa" link.

    This "project" is still open, so if anyone finds any more, please post the link in the comments.

  2. Added the "Mercedes from A to S" link.

    Post is still open for further additions.

  3. Added "The Scale of the Universe" link.

  4. Added "The Eco Zoo" link.

    I have made several updates now in March, maybe I should repost it as a new thread?

  5. Added the link to FlashMoto's blog post