Colleen Stein

Colleen Stein

As a child, I would entertain my out-of-state cousin by mailing her letters with Crayola caricatures of obnoxious family members and clippings of crazy folks found in post-dated National Geographic magazines. Now, in the ever-evolving world of technology, I can make my cousin laugh just as hard by emailing her a cartoon baby dancing in its crib gurgling to the tainted version of Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrrty.”

“Got some juice in my sippy cup, I feel my diaper fillin’ up!”

Flash animation is becoming an increasingly popular internet-viewing tool. Programs like Shockwave and Macromedia flash act as psychotropic supplements opening the locked doors lining the halls of cyberspace. This form of web animation is a stepping stone into a future world where computer monitors make television sets obsolete.

Promotions director of SDSU’s student radio station KSDJ, Ryann Fradenburgh became interested in the computer animation phenomenon at age 14.

Stumbling across www.newgrounds.com, an underground site run by kids his age, Fradenbugh and his friends became engrossed by the untapped world where cartoons could be manipulated for amusement on the computer screen. In the Baker, Mont. public library, Fradenburg and his companions spent long hours venting their aggressions playing games like Assassinate Britney and Kill the Backstreet Boys.

Major flash animation sequences viewed on the internet are created by the AtomShockwave company.

Originally two different companies, Atom Corporation merged with Shockwave.com, Inc. in January 2001. The private company now hosts over 2,000 films, games and animation titles and is currently the leading entertainment provider on the web.

While Shockwave is more oriented toward younger generations with its virtual cartoonish effects and interactive games that have far surpassed Nintendo, Atomfilms caters to audiences of all ages. Offering up a slough of short movies that could only otherwise be seen at Independent film festivals.

Atomfilms.com produces cartoon, comedy, drama, extreme (a.k.a. pornography), thriller and foreign features.

As someone who has only brushed the surface of the Flash world, SDSU Senior and computer science major Ed Ballou prefers sites like ifilm.com and macromedia.com instead. Ifilm, much like Atomfilms, presents movie clips, trailers and music videos.

A bit more underground than Atomfilms, ifilm amuses its viewers with lesser known film blips referred to as viral videos.

Some of the more interesting pieces on the web site show Vin Diesel break dancing at age 15 and an MTV 2002 Movie Awards clip where hosts Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jack Black star in a perverted yet hilarious reenactment of an excerpt from Lord of the Rings.

While he could not provide extensive information in the macromedia world, Ballou did reveal that Macromedia’s ColdFusion, a new streamlined server used for advancing web services and program applications like flash animation, has extreme potential for the future and is currently hot on the market.

The public may wonder what the difference is between the Macromedia and Shockwave internet downloads and the media players commonly installed in their home computers. Window’s Media Player and Real Player have the potential to play a variety of different music medias like MP3’s and Waves and prove to be superior to Shockwave programs in terms of functioning and playing capabilities. Yet in terms of file size, Media Players require about 10 megabytes to download while Shockwave programs use only one megabyte and is faster to access and operate.

In addition to a longer download time, media players tend to lose sound and viewing quality–especially in MPEG-4 and MP3 formats. Concerning the limitations of conventional Microsoft media players, Fradenburgh explains,

“You can get MP3s that sound like they’re being played out of a tin can or watch movies that have glitches and bars running across them. With flash and Shockwave, you don’t get that.”

Despite all of the innovations Flash provides the modern-day internet user with, local businesses and companies have yet to warm up to all that new form of web site viewing has to offer. Brookings web designers, webattitides, fail to see a growing trend in flash animation when it comes to building web sites for local clients.

“[Shockwave] is viewed as too busy. Our company used it for a bit but we found it was not something customers were interested in using. Our clientele basis seems to have no need for it,” Webattitudes technical director Andrew Ford said.

Regardless of the lack of local enthusiasm for Shockwave, the use of Flash animation continues to grow throughout the SDSU campus and dorm rooms and can even be seen among the younger kids who frequent the Brookings public library after school. While the older generation lacks the need for its extravagant special effects, Flash animation has found its place among tomorrow’s jobholders and business leaders.

Presently offered in the guise of crude and amusing emails and political parodies,