Robert Hodgin/Flight404


I first happened upon Ben Fry and Casey Reas’ a/v-oriented programming language, Processing, when I attended FITC back in 2005. (I even did a little write-up about it on Tween.) Since then, Processing has caught on like wildfire. Visualists of all stripes have discovered how useful—and fun—it can be to create generative and/or interactive systems with surprisingly simple bits of code.

Initially, Processing attracted a lot of Flash developer/designers who were frustrated by Flash’s then stunted abilities at handling bitmap data and 3D space. (Current versions of the Flash player do support pixel-level manipulation of bitmaps, in addition to many other real-time effects that seemed impossible only a few short years ago.)

Through Flight404, an ongoing experiment in visualization, interaction and design, Robert Hodgin proved himself to be an envelope-pusher when it came to Flash. It makes perfect sense, then, that he jumped on the Processing bandwagon and is now creating breathtakingly beautiful projects like “Nova” and “Magnetosphere,” seen below.

The Flight404 blog gives you a little insight into the process behind each work, with generous linkage and occasional bits of source code that can help you start thinking like a Processing pro. Robert’s work is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of visualists are using Processing for everything from performance art to mapping the human genome. But I think Robert’s sensitivity to music and ambiance create a nice entry point into the world of a programmatic visualization for the uninitiated.

I’ll try to make more Processing posts in the future. In the meantime, feast on this:

Flight404’s Vimeo Clips
The Barbarian Group (How Robert makes his money)

Thanks for the nudge, Sean.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



Really great work by flight404! And your posting summarizes the importance of Processing for visualizations very well.

I believe that generative tools are gaining ground in motion graphics (remember the Nike One by Motion Theory realised with the help of Processing – check out the applet), because you can come up with much different aesthetics and results than with usual animation software. Furthermore, the design process is simplified because you have realtime feedback.

(Actually I submitted the link last week already because of the new videos there, but it seems the submit mail address is not working?)

Simon Robson

mmm, I’m really not sure about this type of motion graphics work. I think it’s the process which is interesting as opposed to the result. On a purely aesthetic level, ignoring the intellectual interest in the process, i would say the pieces engage for the first 30 secs or so, but then become too repetitive to hold my attention. At the moment, i fail to see the human hand behind the code.

I think this type of work is much better when used in an interactive context. In the early 2000s many wonderful interactive experiments in Shockwave and Flash were created by Noodlebox, Praystation, Deconcept and many others. There was a huge explosion in radical interface design, based on experimental code generated graphics. This movement seemed to stall with the bursting of the dotcom bubble. Mores the pity.

Without doubt there is huge potential in creating linear animation from code. But we need themes expressed and stories told if this artform is to evolve beyond the ambient graphics shown here.


I agree. Bring on the narrative aspects of processing. It’s long overdue!

Adam B

ehhh…. very blah


I partially agree with the first couple of comments above, I think it’s a beautiful project but like Simon said, it was really interesting for the first minute and then became repetitive. I don’t think that makes the piece less interesting though, since it is a experimental project and it’s exploring Processing. Like Andreas posted, Motion Theory used it for their Nike spot, showing that it can be used not only for creating beautiful imagery (that could be even printed, since it’s all vector right?) like flight404, as well as commercial use, like the Nike spot.
In my opinion overall it’s a great piece, good concept, aesthetically pleasing and it goes very well with the song.


Those would make awesome cat toys…

I think they’re cool…just gotta do something with them…


god DAMN IT!!! i cant belive someone used that trentmoller track before me!!! i HATE it when that happens.

nice stuff though….. even though i must hunt you down and smite you from this world.


Now that was something special. Thanks for share :)


Very impressive.


I’d like to see this in IMAX


anyone here using this? i’m wondering what the leap from motion graphics to this stuff is like. i’ve been mucking about with particles lately and the abiltity to manipulate them via a camera or music is far more interesting than typing in numbers and rendering. as far as i can see this is the future, tv/film is a ‘dumb’ medium, the screen needs to be interactive and fun.

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