"History / Vision"    [ 01 ]   
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words
Jan 2010

Ten years ago, I fell into the world of Web Design / Multimedia with the same foresight as a hiker slipping and tumbling into a swamp. As the Training Director for a dot.com (long since defunct) I received orders to turn all the training manuals I had written and CBT content we created into "web-based training" (WBT). No more CD-ROMs to ship out. It was all supposed to translate entirely through the internet.

 2001 · Space Station V

Back then, this was radical thinking . . . and I had *no* idea where to begin! So I took a crash-course on Authorware and Director then (Feb 2000), spending a scant two hours poking through a little application called "Flash 4". Since this 'Flash' generated content specifically tailored for online deployment, and those other juggernauts still produced CD-ROM CBT's, I opted for Flash — and the rest is history!

Within weeks, I pulled together a crack team of developers to help pioneer our WBT efforts. We began building fully-interactive training experiences founded on original design principles which have long since become common WBT architectural practices. The Catalog Maintenance Utility (archived here) featured free-range navigation and "Pop-up Videos"-like instruction bubbles, while the Purchase Order Training Module (archived here) introduced a click-&-hide scrollable menu along with a bevy of sound FX and interactive prompts (AND cooler pop-up instructions).

During these heady days of nonstop exploration and rampant creativity, I made a decision to turn these exciting new abilities toward a more personal venture... I would build a website dedicated to the creation of excellent (or at least fun) Flash-based animations, and encourage other artists to submit their projects to this portal as well, and just see how it might grow, where it might lead. (Keep in mind, at that time I did not even know how web-hosting worked or how to secure a domain, let alone how to build a fully-functional website) Thus in the year 2000 the original concept of "Tombo Studios" began to take form, launched in January of 2001.

While my multimedia career soared, my personal creative efforts stalled between the desire to build a Really Cool Website, and the dream to generate original free-form content unhindered by site structure and maintenance concerns. Other creative types in the industry began to rise to international prominence, showcasing their work through wonderful multimedia conferences like FlashForward. I always found myself scrambling just to catch up on last month's code, let alone build an award-winning site. Like Space Station V in "2001: A Space Odyssey" Tombo Studios remained in a constant state of un-finished construction, orbiting the internet like some relic of misplaced dreams. Now here we are, staring down the actual real year of 2010, with not even so much as plans for a 'Space Station V' to show for it . . no 'Discovery' spinning around Jupiter, and certainly no 'Alexei Leonov' charting interstellar missions through merciless space ... no Heywood Floyd to be found — and definitely no 'Hal·9000' . . .

"Just a moment . . just a moment . . I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit..."

The key to Genuine Success on the internet is not found in another whiz-bang Coolio Flash site. It is found in connecting » person(s) to person(s). Whether this is done through FaceBook, Twitter, or even some choppy YouTube video, it doesn't really matter, so long as inspirations and passions can be shared, possibilities explored, and new territories charted together. This may be realized in the cloud-crowd of EVERYBODY online in a communal sense (think 'Second Life'), or even just a couple chatting quietly through eHarmony .. or yes, even associates via email. It truly is 'all good' out there amid our innumerable social networks!

Much to my surprise, a few folks actually read a dozen 'mini-blogs' I wrote back in 2007. Even more astonishing still, the interactive feedback/conversation at the time focused not on the many Flashy project examples I had slaved over and posted. No, it was all about the blogs.

Words
Ideas
=  Connection  =

This realization took me right back to first grade, when I learned the basic building blocks of Writing. The possibilities of interrelating mind-to-mind, imagination-to-imagination, simply captivated my heart. Even at that tender age, I was struck by the awesome potential such avenues could afford . . the wonder . . . the danger . . . the MAGIC!  Straightaway, I began writing stories with a zeal unencumbered by the passage of time . . .

Movies and Books, Music and Plays, now chat rooms and blogs, tweets and even web-based animations can tell the most amazing stories, can share fresh experiences, open new doors where none were ever suspected! What grand stuff this is, this sharing of our souls, no matter the format!

I am a single father of three amazing daughters, and if nothing else, the last five years have shown me that Time is of the essence . . . in a good way, a challenging way! (Budding artists are blooming right here under my roof) So with this turn of a decade (and a deft code-hacking scalpel), I have sliced away the old Space Station V   Tombo Studios, and re-fit it for ease of maintenance. This truly is a 'retro' step, shunting it back to a simple HTML/JavaScript framework rather than sustain a curious Flash-based gizmo (last image at the bottom of this page) indefinitely. By doing so, ALL my Creative Energies can now be focused on generating Original Content rather than sapping hours just to maintain the site! A simple fast ROI framework is the solution that escaped me for so long — but now (finally!) it is here: a fully-functional Tombo Studios website, with every link 100% operative and full of content! In a very real sense, it is a dream realized for this writer / coder / composer / animator. Regular blogs can now be as long or as short as desired, packed to the brim with graphics and/or page-popping links . . or kept as sparse as a desert wilderness of cascading text . . . (Sure beats manually word-wrapping text into a 1.78" blog column)

So with a keen sense of anticipation, the re-imagined "Tombo Studios" is launched in the first week of 2010.  ~  Rifling through a heap of old files brought to light collected past versions of this website, so I thought it proper to take a glance back at the 'old' Tombo Studios before ╡warping╞ into the Future, starting with this 1-minute review of different title logotypes employed over the years:


     "Tombo Studios" Logotype   [ 1-minute sequence ]

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 Tombo Studios 2001

 

TOMBO STUDIOS © 2001   ["Deep Keys"]

My first stab at this featured an original music bed, loads of active graphics & animation (including nine golden keys rotating in z-space), and a big wooden sign that slammed down and creaked on a nail when inoperative links were clicked:

"Not Mapped Yet..."


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 Tombo Studios 2002

 

TOMBO STUDIOS © 2002   ["the Grotto"]

This one never even made it online. These are screenshots from a mock-up made in PowerPoint after modeling the environment in a big plastic tub and roto-tracing the photographs. I built a pretty slick mouse-controlled, neon dragonfly preloader designed to buzz into this full-screen swampy grotto. Five floating rocks would serve as primary navigation. A number of randomized elements, such as ambient sound FX and fly-by bugs and ripples in the water, would provide a 'naturalistic' feel to the overall experience. I planned on programming a frog to peek up out of the water to whip a tongue at the dragonfly (positioned on a central leaf by now) if you didn't stay alert.  :-)  I always regretted not building this; however, a different, simpler design had taken form in my sketchbook by then . . .


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 Tombo Studios 2003

 

TOMBO STUDIOS © 2003   ["Back Yard"]

This was a standard HTML structure over which Flash-based elements and animated gifs were placed, though I never did get around to building the central tree image . . . that ugly placeholder remained the centerpiece for this site during its entire run. Back then, the domain 'Tombo Studios' still belonged to somebody else, so I temporarily plastered "Tombo Productions" across the top of the page. This moniker is still reflected in some of the Flash projects from that era. (The dog house linked to a puppy pix/info page for my then-wife who raised/sold Papillons on the side)


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 Tombo Studios 2004

 

TOMBO STUDIOS © 2004   ["Porcelain"]

I finally took the plunge and decided to make my website look a little more professional, designing it this time around a handy bit of code called 'iframes' . . which the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) then immediately ruled as 'obsolete'.

 

-    •   perfect   •    -


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Tombo Studios 2005-2010

 

TOMBO STUDIOS © 2005-2010   ["Dragonfly"]

By the time I returned to the drawing board for the fifth time, I had seen so many über-cool Flash websites that I figured I had better get into the game. This dragonfly gizmo took a while to figure out, and therefore held its own as the default website for 'Tombo Studios' for five years — my online business card from 2005-2010. Meanwhile, Flash versioned-up four times, ActionScript advanced to AS.3, and I found my Creative Forces swamped by those never-ending website maintenance issues! So at long last, I pulled the plug and re:designed Tombo Studios for EZ-support and intuitive accessibility. Web-dev efforts now result in Positive Tangible Results instead of =[invisible]= architectural functionality . . .  how websites are *supposed* to work !

[ Only took 10 years to figure it out! ]

 


 

*      This re-worked Tombo Studios went live @ 11:11pm · January 7, 2010      *

 

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