Does Flash Have a Future?

Spider-Man Animated in HTML5Animation created in HTML5

The controversy about Apple’s exclusion of Flash from the iPad may appear to have minor relevance to animators, but considering the number of artists and studios who animate with Flash, the issue will affect the animation community sooner than later. Primarily, it raises the question that if Flash becomes obsolete as a way of delivering video over the Web, is it also headed towards obsolescence as an animation production tool? The tool was never designed for broadcast animation production to begin with, and Adobe’s poor track record of supporting the needs of broadcast animators hasn’t endeared it to the community.

This article at Wired magazine is the single best piece I’ve read about what HTML5 is all about and how it will replace Flash on the web. The article includes this Spider-Man animation created entirely in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 (note: it is not viewable in all browsers). It is crude, but no cruder than what was being created with Flash’s predecessor, FutureSplash, in the mid-Nineties. Nevertheless, reading this making-of about the Spider-Man piece is an eye-opener. It amazes me how much effort is required to make cartoons that look less sophisticated than what was being made in the 1920s.

What Flash has working in its favor is loyalty from a core user base. Many animators still think that Flash is the best option. Nick Cross, who has made numerous shorts with the software, wrote an impassioned defense of Flash and explained why he doesn’t intend on abandoning it anytime soon. Adobe would be wise to listen to these animators and ensure that they don’t jump over to the next piece of technology that comes along.