André Michelle’s first visit to Singapore was for The Actionscript Conference (TAC) 2009, so naturally we would not miss the chance to interview the man who started the Adobe, MAKE SOME NOISE campaign.
Flashmech.net: Hi André! Thanks for your time for doing this. Can you share with us how did you first start out learning Flash?
André: I started using computers when I was working for a company modeling 3D exhibition booths in 3D Studio Max. It was then when they came up with an idea to create CD-Rom applications, and I told them that the only software capable was Macromedia Director. So we bought Director, and I got to go for a four day Director training course. But after the first day, I went home, opened Flash and coded all night. That was eleven years ago and since then, I haven’t stop. [both laugh]
Flashmech.net: Since you only started using computers back at the 3D modeling job, that means to say that you got no programming background at all?
André: Yup I had no programming background at all. It was all self-taught. That’s something I can be proud of.
Flashmech.net: How was the learning curve to you? Had it been tough initially?
André: Flash 4 was more of playing around. There were lots of stuff with the timeline, and finding workarounds because there was no real programming language. In fact, I wasn’t aware programming languages existed. With Flash 5, it was like, “Oh ok, now I get the idea of objects and methods, and doing some structure,” and then it grew continuously till now.
Flashmech.net: [laughs] I think I learnt the same way as well. So when did you start delving into sound with ActionScript?
André: It was when AS3 was released, and there was a Loader class with a method called loadBytes. That suggested to me that I could embed a sound object in my own swf file, and load it inside a running application with ByteArray. I tried it and it worked. And then things went very quickly from creating the first synthesizer, to the point when Hobnox approached me and said they wanted such an application as well.
Flashmech.net: Really cool to see how all these got snowballed. I would guess that it is also your passion that drives you to create all these music and sound related projects right?
André: Well I come from music. Even though I never considered myself as a good musician, I still love music. I can listen and search for new music all day; I can never get enough from music. There is only one way to get living with it and that is to create tools to make music for my own. The audio tools are just one first step, a proof of concept, that it is possible to make music with Flash. What we actually want to do is to create weird plug-ins to make weird music! [both laugh] That’s more fun actually.
In the first place we have to do something serious, so it’s half and half.
Flashmech.net: What kept you going when you encounter difficulties finding solutions to your problems?
André: Well there’s no single day that I feel that I cannot do anything right. That is why I think I have yet to reach a stagnant point at my job. There is not a point that I think I cannot go further, or that I have learnt everything I can. There are always more things to learn, and there is nothing that you cannot learn; everything is possible when you just spend a lot of time on it.
Flashmech.net: Cool! Will that be your advice for people who are starting out with ActionScript?
André: Yeah, don’t cut off the learning. Before I joined Hobnox, I always had to earn money by doing clients’ works. There was no problem however, to spend two or three hours per day for research, and this knowledge always comes back to your work. In turn you are able to do clients’ works quicker than before, and thereby leaving yourself more time for your own research.
Flashmech.net: Excellent advice André! Thanks for your time!
After the interview, I checked out the latest work that André was up to, and I must tell you, it has been a while since I last played with something so cool! Check out the Tone Matrix! Be sure to keep up with Andre’s musings. 😉