David J McClelland

Experiences at the Intersection of Programming & Design

Archive for the ‘Practice’ Category

Flash Tiled Backgrounds

There weren’t many results for a search on “Flash Tiled Background”.

I found a code library awhile back that has a decent implementation. The library, flashscript, can be found at http://www.flashscript.biz/.

If you import biz.flashscript.background.TiledBack and create a TiledBack instance you can duplicate the familiar css background technique to fill the stage with a repeating pattern of a bitmap you provide.

Here is an example class to try the class out:



    import biz.flashscript.background.TiledBack;

    public class TiledBackgroundMain extends MovieClip

        public var background:TiledBack;
        public function TiledBackgroundMain()

        private function init():void
            background = new TiledBack(stage, "exampleTile.png", stage.stageWidth,stage.stageHeight);

Example Tile

Example Tile

Example Output

A Win: Best of Show


Distinguished Award / Best of Show for Dave Pesce, Sue Birkbeck, Jeff Denmark, Dave McClelland, and Sharon Ryan’s work on the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics VITROS 5600 Integrated System Operator Training. A customized e-learning course was created to train customers on the operation of a new blood analyzer. Novatek developed the e-learning to prepare learners to participate in a 3-day instructor-led course, eliminating approximately 8 hours of classroom training.

Since this training will be offered worldwide, Novatek anticipated translation costs and proposed an XML-based solution, which significantly minimizes translation costs. To support OCD’s vision of training as a sales differentiator, our team incorporated simulations, branching, and motion elements in the e-learning. This improves the learner engagement, while also serving as an effective method for transferring knowledge.

  • Filed under: Practice
  • Dangerously 3D

    3D is the safe place for training dangerous subjects

    I developed several training solutions that simulate devices that address dangerous problems. In some cases a detailed digital model was created and used in several modules. In other cases a technique called 2.5-D was used that did not require a model.

    In all cases the training objectives justified the time and expense required to develop a 3D solution:

    A Rare Critical Situation

    Pre-Release Training
    Role: Instructional Designer, Photographer, Trainer, Author (including compositing animations into compositions, programming and design.) Role: Photographer, Author (including compositing, Design, Interface, Programming)

    Device Scarcity

    Critical and Dangerous Situations
    Role: Instructional Designer, Photographer, Trainer, Author Role: Author, including concept design, compositing animations, programming, instructional design and writing)

    2.5D Working Example

    Expensive Situations
    Role: Author: including concept design, compositing animations, programming, instructional design and writing) Role: Multimedia Programmer, Animation, Compositing, Fire SFX/Animation


    Confession: I Use Paper

    I use paper to design with.

    I find that people have a healthy reaction to proposal drawings that are sketched on paper. By healthy I mean they have a tacit understanding that we are looking at a proposal and not a final product. A hand-drawn sketch conveys the idea that things are still in flux and easily changed when compared to “digital sketches”.

    My site sketch
    Rough Sketch

    This is an early, very rough sketch of the portfolio portion of this site. It was not intended for a presentation – I show it here as an example of my creative process, which consists of rapid, iterative sketching. Pushing pixels around is too goal-oriented to promote further exploration of basic concepts. It’s not just clients that leap to final solutions prematurely.

    Game Scene Sketch
    Game Scene Sketch

    City Scene
    Game Scene Final Illustration

    I moved from Industrial Design into media development when I worked on a computer game. I started out doing illustrations for the backgrounds, vehicles and architecture. In some cases I did final illustrations and animations. It was fun, and it led to a lot of more meaningful work in multimedia. Ironically, I am not all that into computer games myself.

    Navigation Concept
    UI Concept Sketch

    UI Final Delivery

    In this example the look and feel had already been designed by an outside firm. I was asked to design and develop a navigation system for it. Not ideal. I presented a tight concept sketch overlayed on an existing screen. Tight means I had everything pretty well figured out: concept, layout, dimensions, type, color. There wasn’t time to iterate or show multiple designs, so this was “it”. I hope it doesn’t look like the afterthought it was.


    Certification Stamp
    I am certified as a Flash Master by Brainbench, scoring in the 98th percentile of those tested. I am also certified as a Director Developer, in the top 80th percentile.

    What is a Brainbench Certification?

    Brainbench certifications on software are designed to indicate proficiency based on answers to a variety of questions presented in a timed test.
    Brainbench has served over 5,000 corporate and 5.5 million individual customers, including companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, EDS, Ford Motor Company, H&R Block, IBM, Interwoven, JPMorgan, Kaiser Permanente, Manpower, Prometric, SAIC, Siemens, TAC Worldwide, U.S. Government Agencies, Verizon, and Wells Fargo.

    My Results

    BrainBench Results
    BrainBench Results

  • Filed under: Practice
  • Why a Portfolio Blog?

    A blog site is the best tool I have found for creating and maintaining a portfolio – here’s why:

    • It allows me, and the format prods me, to continuously update the contents. I can do so from virtually anywhere, at any time without special software.
    • Content is added/improved incrementally without the site looking incomplete, becoming obsolete, or wasting money or materials.
    • A portfolio CD with links to the rest of the site (About, Home, entries) can be created as needed. Improvements and additions to the site are immediately available via the CD.
    • Writing ability and other talents are presented without me standing there talking about myself too much or the viewer feeling rushed.
    • The point is more about results than tools- I am working the underlying code and information design to present effectively, not to show off.
    • The user experience is a familiar one, but one that is uniquely my own.
    • Information wants to be presented in levels of detail starting from a macro view.
    • I can arrange a fluid organization of content around different points of difference I may represent to different audiences. I am a content developer, I am an eLearning developer…
    • There is a certain anonymity and distance, yet I can share fairly intimate project details.

    Why aren’t more design professionals doing this?

    There are a few minor shortcomings:

    • If you already have an online portfolio you can start a blog and link to the portfolio site.
    • Blogs are organized temporally. Assuming a portfolio can ever be completed it will just sit there and advertise it’s age. I removed the calendar and monthly view from the interface- this helps. The syndication model still requires new entries to broadcast updates though.
    • Correllary: the blog portfolio can never be finished: subscribers will think it is abandoned if they don’t get regular updates from it. But when I get a job I might be fine with lying low again.
    • Related issue: what if the best work examples happen to be the first posts – how do they get out to new subscribers? If I change their date they will be repeats to earlier subscribers who saw it when it was first added to the site. A plugin could address this…

    Since I first posted this some additional ideas have come to mind that one should consider:

    Unlike a personal or even professional blog, I think it is important to self-host a portfolio blog. Why? Most of the free blog sites I have seen include links to other blogs, advertising and other distractions. It’s important to demonstrate that you understand the importance of, and have the ability to provide a controlled user experience- from the URL to the look and organization of the site.

  • Filed under: Practice
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