It wasn’t that long ago that I got an invitation via Twitter to visit the FITC Amsterdam Sneak Peek event. Put together by the Dutch Adobe User Group and FITC, the event gave lucky ticket winners an exclusive sneak peak of the work of a few of the FITC Amsterdam speakers. Every speaker was asked to answer the question, “what is your passion?” in 20 minutes. A question which was answered very diversely, much like the speakers themselves. The line-up consisted of Lee Brimelow, Grant Skinner, Geoffrey Lillemon, Andreas Muller and Golan Levin. What do these people have in common? They love to create, experiment and fail, and they all have a deep rooted passion for what they do and create.

Starting at 7:30, attendees were welcomed at the MediaMatic Bank with an open bar and 150+ guests made up of Twitter contest winners and other FITC Amsterdam speakers.

Bert Hagendoorn, one of the Adobe usergroup managers, opened the event with an introduction to the event and why the Adobe User Group Nederland exists for creative professionals. While keeping his presentation short, he did take the time to thank the founder of FITC, Shawn Pucknell, for organizing five years of cool shit in Amsterdam! What did they get him? A bottle of Champagne and a joint!

Lee Brimelow kicked off his by talking about his passions: baseball, porn, AIR and games. At FITC Amsterdam he is scheduled to talk about gaming in AIR 3.2, video and some of the new tooling Adobe has created for developers. Attendees got a sneak peak at ‘Monocle.’ A telemetry tool that allows the Flash Player to hook in your SWF and see what is going on. Profiling without a debug player, it gives you a very visual way to see through your SWF and to where slow code is, what function calls are made, record and playback profiling sessions and it has a Stage3D simulator. This new tool makes it possible to replay your Stage3D content and see what is happening at every frame and will be released in the coming months.

The last thing Lee showed was Stage3D on mobile devices, a long awaited feature which is well worth the wait! He shows a demo with the so-called ‘BunnyMark‘ benchmark. 3750 bunnies are bouncing on the screen like mad at 56 fps - quite impressive. After a few more demos of AIR apps running super smooth and incredibly fast on Lee’s iPad, the next speaker was up.

The next speaker is somewhat of a hero of mine, Grant Skinner. He started off by saying he has probably the least sexy session of all speakers and told us about how he got into making his own tools. His late grandfather, a carpenter, was his great inspiration. When he passed away, and Grant was helping clean out his workshop, they found all these pegs and widgets - his grandfather’s own handmade tools. Inspired, Grant made his first tool, the gModeler - a UML diagramming tool still used today by developers. This also put him on the map in the Flash developer community, and made him an expert in his field. However, he actually made this tool for his own learning experience, to become a better programmer and more knowledgeable in UML.

While showing us some stuff he created over the years he gives a really quick peek at CS6 (SWEET!) and a JFSL console panel for it. He showed us ‘Wanderpaint’ a tool for painting with pieces of a comic book in kaleidoscopic patterns.

At the moment he spends his time developing in Javascript and HTML because he says, “I know Flash by now and most of the bugs are fixed, HTML5 is a mess and has so much stuff to figure out and hack.” His latest endeavours are EaselJS, TweenJS and a suite of JS products that are ported from his ActionScript work.

Next up was Geoffrey Lillemon, who graciously prepared a talk last minute, as Memo Akten was unable to attend. With the serenity of a Buddhist monk, he talked about a piece of generative art involving Bugs Bunny and fluids simulations. He used this as inspiration for a commercial project for a fashion brand and talks us through the iterative process. We follow him into even more psychedelic ‘oculart’ and videos involving Swan Lake, fluids and penises. From here we went into 3D scans of grandmothers in San Francisco and projection mapping on still live compositions. This was a very beautiful presentation, especially on such short notice - I was quite impressed.

The next speaker to take the stage was Andreas Müller, whose talk was called “Anatomy of a failure (so far)”. He told us he had this idea about making a machine that would allow a feather to float; a contraption which he hoped to be playful and fun, as well as look sexy and appealing to the eye. He walked us through his process with the control software he wrote, and the simulations he created. So far, so good. Then he decided to buy a 3D printer online hoping he could build it within a day or two. This turned out to be two weeks! Not the best choice. The printed objects looked like a pile of molded plastic and the calibrating of it was even worse.
Throughout the whole process Andreas stayed positive, because despite of everything going wrong, he did learn a lot, and that is what passion is about for him. Failure is an option.

The final speaker, Golan Levin, began his talk with a video from his kid playing with different kinds of toys. And that is basically all I can say about Golan Levin’s talk. They are breaking about 10 patents with the stuff he did and are still talking with lawyers to finalize it all. All I can tell you that what he is about to reveal to the world will shock an awe most toy companies and bring joy to kids and parents alike. But I can’t say anything else about it. And I won’t. My lips are sealed. But you’ll love it. The whole room went wild with enthusiasm and Golan got a standing ovation. If all goes well he will reveal it to the public in the coming days. Fingers crossed!

After this final speaker it was time for drinks, networking and some finger-food. The lineup was superb, and the atmosphere inspiring. Really hope FITC does the same thing next year. See you then!