Flash man, Hillman Curtis, dies

Hillman Curtis, one of the people who was responsible for moving the web from a text based medium to a multimedia format, has died. He was 51.

Hillman Curtis, who started out as a musician for the popular beat combo “Green Things,” re-invented himself to become a first-generation web designer and a visionary figure in the internet’s evolution

He became the art director of a San Francisco software company in 1996 when he designed the first website formatted for the Flash Player. At the time it was just a browser plug-in that could be used to turn out high-quality animated imagery quickly.

While the technology had been around for a years, Curtis used it in such a way it took off.

His Flash Player design technique evolved into online advertisements, Facebook applications and video sites like YouTube.

In 2000, Curtis published a popular how-to book, “Flash Web Design,” which sold more than 100,000 copies and remains a standard online design text.

HillmanCurtis, which started in Brooklyn in 1998, churned out web designs for commercial clients including Yahoo, Sprint, Adobe, Rolling Stone magazine, Fox Searchlight Pictures and the Metropolitan Opera.

At the height of his web career he packed it all in to learn to make movies with a handheld video camera.

According to the New York Times, he was just beginning to get noticed for this with short documentaries about designers and artists when he was diagnosed with the colon cancer that killed him.