Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fellow full of surprises

Steve Jobs (who's not the man designated by my title) often seems to be saying that, if only web developers were to get profoundly involved with HTML5, they would soon discover that they can achieve all the tricks they once performed using Adobe Flash. Clearly, this is not the case, and I fear that it will never be the case. Look at this comical Flash site that I created, years ago, for a local friend: the above-mentioned "fellow full of surprises", who seems to have polluted his webspace with pop-up windows and publicity, which you can disregard.


There's no way in the world that you can create anything like that in HTML5. Incidentally, I'm particularly proud of the trick I invented to get the plane (borrowed from another Flash creator) to fly behind the flat two-dimensional image of the mountain. Here's how I did it. I simply created a front layer (closer to the viewer than both the existing background and the plane), ready to receive a copy of the visible face of the mountain. As soon as the nose of the plane touches the left side of the mountain, I activate this front layer, which effectively hides the plane. Then I remove this foreground layer as soon as the plane has totally emerged on the right-hand side.

The friend for whom I created this little animation is truly a remarkable fellow, named Luc Kaufmann. He used to run a small rural restaurant just up the road, on the other side of the village of Choranche, named Mandrin's Farm. On the slopes behind the restaurant, he raised pigs in an old-fashioned style, and this provided the pork served up in his restaurant.

At the beginning of the excellent film shot in the Vercors entitled The Girl from Paris (with Mathilde Seigner and Michel Serrault), there's a bloody scene showing a pig being slaughtered in a farmyard. The fellow wielding the slaughterer's knife was Luc.

When Luc informed me that he had become a ULM pilot, and wanted to set up a business that proposed joyrides over the Vercors, he had already abandoned his restaurants and his pigs, and was contemplating the creation of a fancy cliff-face bar in Pont-en-Royans, with a glass floor through which you could look down into the river, far below. At the last moment, however, the authorities concluded that, if a fire were to break out in such a place, the only way of escaping would consist of jumping from the windows and diving some twenty meters into the Bourne. Unfortunately, that was hardly the kind of emergency exit that might be authorized. So, Luc's lovely project fell through.

The latest news is that Luc has turned to hypnotism in a healing context with overtones of Oriental medicine. His austere website (quite unlike the little red plane) is prefaced by an intriguing quote from Freud: "In the early days, words and magic were one and the same thing." Like Luc and his constant quest for exotic projects.

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