FL is an intuitive visual programming environment – a kit of reusable components, Flash units and filters - that can be "wired" together to build so-called scenes. Those can comprise complex visual filters, effects and interactive Flash movies. Using FFL, you create graphical flowcharts to perform real-time effects on with your content.
You build your effect as a model of boxes. Boxes, also referred as nodes are the basic functional units of FFL. Boxes have connectors through which they can communicate with each other. To attain a contact between two boxes you just drag-and-drop a line between the desired connectors. Boxes can be separated into two types. The first type contains the generator boxes which are creating data based on their inputs and parameters. The created data is typically a bitmap or a movie clip which are the main visual data types.
On the other hand there are modifier boxes which make use of the input and modify it by their proprietory parameters. The modified data is available for following boxes through the output connector. Generally at least one generator box and one or more modifier box are substantial to create an effect.
In the end Output boxes are necessary to display the created scene in a window. The resulted movie can be downloaded as SWF file in order to be used elsewhere. More advanced users can export their FFL scene for re-use into Macromedia Flash, through the .fla (FLA) export option.
The scenes made by the community of FFL are stored on the server. Every user has is own storage space where besides the public or private scene file, the users can also upload and share their Flash movies and pictures used for any kind of input for a FFL movie. For easy management, all the files and scenes can be categorized by using keywords.
The website for the FlashFilterLab itself offers a lot of services for the community: Public FFL scenes can be viewed, rated, commented and tagged through the gallery. This way, effects, movies and ideas can be shared.
Through the open-source FFL API, everybody is able to write and include his own module in the LAB. The API enables input and output connectors to be assigned to movie clips and variables; this way a module written in actionscript can easily be imported to be a reusable, functional module in FFL. Modules can be shared among the users which makes the whole system a huge, mind sharing place for all the Flash developers. Let us take an example: Someone uploads his component class to FFL and shares it with the community. Now someone else is free to connect this item to the input connector of another scene. E.g. you make a small Flash animation of an insect which shows the looped movement of its wings. Connecting this movie to the existing so-called FFL particle module you would get a swarm of flies, all animated and flying around. Connected this to a module which calculates fields of force, your flies could easily follow an other object. This could be easily extended, which shows the unlimited possibilities of mind sharing which FFL API has to offer. The free combination of filters and components leads to the astonishing huge potential our application. With its ease of use and the fascinating pool of different visual variations, FFL has everything to be the ultimate, real-time editing tool for web designers, VJs and video compositors as well as special effect creators.