Quick Update, CHCH, AKL, LSGM

  • Went to Christchurch, it’s flat. Heard some good dubstep and DnB, took photos of the Garden City Big Band and plenty more of the city itself, made the mistake of going up the gondola while it was covered with cloud.
  • Went to Auckland, attended Semi-Permanent 08 and spoke at the Media Design School. More excellent dubstep (Loefah!) and awesome people. Also, Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I have Learned in my Life So Far is a great project/list.
  • Participated in the Lost Sport finals with Team Wellington. We won gold in the 7 circuit labyrinth!
Photos of the above to come as I process them. Currently deep into a project pitch with a tight timeline and the potential to fulfill a longstanding design desire.

Team Wellington – Multiverse Olympics 24 Aug 2008 from Jo Eaton on Vimeo.

Victory for Team Puppy Guts!

Serious F*Artist How awesome is this? Team Puppy Guts, the kick ass crew that I shot production photos for a few weeks ago, has just won the NZ 48 Hour Film Competition with their short film F*Dance. 6 finalists are chosen as the winners from their respective cities, then the local Kiwi legend Peter Jackson goes through the other runners up from all the cities and selects 3 more films as his Wild Cards which are then added to the finals.

Corie and co didn’t know until just this week that they had been selected as a Wild Card, so he had organized a small get together at his place to watch the finals as they were broadcast on C4. So tonight we got to see all of the other finalist films (some of which were really fun) and the Wild Cards (which were all great). The Runner Up was announced, Beyond Belief by Team Lens Flare, who were a Wild Card pick. We all sat around wondering who was going to win the whole competition. Then F*Dance came up. Moment of stunned silence, followed immediately by clapping whooping and hollering. We couldn’t quite believe it.

Immediately text messages and phonecalls start flowing in from friends and family. Was a great thing to see. Then the star of the film, Reagan, calls. He’s up in Auckland for the weekend and is at the bar where everybody has just seen F*Dance win. The arts crew for TV3’s major nightly news program is there and want to interview him! Great, we’ll turn to TV3!

After all of the other real news, and a bit about running down the ski hill in Queenstown with dogs, there’s Reagan on camera and looking totally thrilled. A few words with him and then Nightline proceeds to play the ENTIRE FILM ON PRIMETIME NEWS! Sweet.

48 Hours 2008, PKN Wellington, X|Media|Lab

Speak to Me Time flies, so the saying goes, and I haven’t felt it this much in recent memory. Fun, joy, excitement sums it all up. As a result the fourth dimension darts forward resulting in a pleasant sense of vertigo. 8 weeks since I arrived, conversations where I was measuring time in country in days are still fresh and vivid. Where has it gone?

For starters into the depths of Sidhe Interactive. They’ve done a fantastic job ofRehearse making me feel at home. As has Wellington on the whole. Excellent people and a friendly party culture that reminds me of Montreal in all the right ways. New coworkers universally kick ass and one group of them are participating in 48Hours, a competition to write, direct, shoot, edit, and finish a movie in 2 days of straight madness. A few of my photos fell into the Coder Art presentation during a Friday show and tell and they asked me to document their 48Hours. Sounded like a chance to shoot a bunch and give the new lens a workout so I agreed. Then they told me to be at the office at 8am on Saturday morning. Ouch.

Still, it was great to watch everybody work, Corie Geerders directed and kept the whole ball rolling and the crew rocked the whole thing to get it done before the deadline. Game artists are used to working with fairly tight deadlines, but even this was hardcore. I wonder if Team Puppy Guts has more FX shots than any other production? When the video hits the web I’ll post a link, but the movie, F*Dance, deals with finger dancing. All of their hard work paid off as Puppy Guts are in the Wellington Finals, if they win there it’s on to the nationals!

  • Shots taken: ~1500 (approx 20 hours worth of following crew around)
  • Shots processed: ~120
  • Posted to Flickr: 39 (although Corie has put 64 of them up on his Flickr)

IMG_8375 Work resumed post 48Hours and ticked along quickly until Wednesday night when it was time for Pecha Kucha Wellington vol 02. A solid PKN (anybody heard how the first Vancouver one went?) with some really fun presentations. Of note was Kris Sowersby of KLIM Type Foundry who did a wonderful 20×20 on what a Typographer actually does. Inspired me to take a swing at the same thing on Game Design, since nobody has a clue what we do outside of the industry and it will be a good challenge to make a compelling 20×20 out of it. Kris and some cohorts came up with a font that would save 10 to 15 percent of the space in a phonebook. Might not seem huge but have a look at the white pages or yellow pages and think about how manyIMG_8419 pages that would save. Massive. Of course the phone book company turned it down. Sigh.

Also that evening I met the talented and wonderful VJ Zoo, Kat Black and Jasper Cook. This was to be the first of several encounters over the coming week and the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Pitsch Leiser and the PKN Wellington crew did a great job and I’m looking forward to vol 03. (Which will be in Wellington itself rather than Lower Hutt 🙂 )

One thing rolled directly into another and I found myself attending X|Media|Lab Wellington as part of the Sidhe posse. X|Media|Lab is basically a traveling think tank. WelcomingThey land in a city with a theme for the conference (Wellington’s was Commercialising Ideas) and a group of local and international mentors who have had success in their respective fields. The first day is a set of lecture presentations, capped at 20 minutes each, from a few of the mentors but the real fun is the Saturday and Sunday. Working on the premise that all of the real work at a conference happens during the coffee breaks XML is just one long series of coffee breaks. There’s a minor scramble to sign up for an hour of a mentor’s time (10 one hour blocks over a day and a half) and then all of the teams start meeting with the sages.

The conversations that happened over the course of that weekend ranged from business to creativity and rarely fell short of thought provoking. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Sidhe crew had our minds expanded a little. You can see the list of speakers at the XML website, and all of them brought great value to the discussions. I could write pages about each one, but this is already getting longer (and later) than I’d like so I’ll leave it at: Tom Duterme from Google can freaking dance! Kat and Jasper got a last minute gig to VJ for DJ Krush on the Saturday night at Sandwiches, and did a great job as well as sneaking Tom and a few others in the door. I saw Krush checking out the visuals behind him more than once.Whiteboard Scrum

Bottom line, if an X|Media|Lab is happening and has something to do with your field, get there. Doesn’t matter where it’s happening (Wellington had visitors from Australia and Germany) throw in an application for your project to go through the XML wringer, it’s well worth it and quite frankly not expensive.

Right, time to edit this and get to my bed. Another week of high speed good times awaits tomorrow!

Crossing the World

10 Tips at GDC GDC was, as always, a great experience. This time it was different because I was both a presenter and actively looking for a new gig. In the past I’ve been willing to hear about opportunities, but I was always gainfully employed and mid-project. After a few months of contracting it became clear that working by myself on my laptop just isn’t my preferred way of doing things. The rapid exchange of ideas that happens on a team, the conversations, meetings, and arguments are all such a huge part of the game development process and my social nature. So I began looking for the next Right Thing, with an eye to traveling abroad if possible.

During GDC I was talking with studios from all over the world and had a lot of great leads, but as is always the case the HR process is either blindingly fast, or painfully slow. Studios that I really wanted to work with had plans change, staff free up, projects cancelled, all of the usual issues. One studio though was extremely straightforward, didn’t mess about, and really went out of their way to answer my questions and try to convince me to sign on.

So, two weeks ago I arrived in Wellington, New Zealand to take on a three month contract with Sidhe Interactive. I’m  heading up the design for a new project that has a broad, extremely fluid brief and being encouraged to create something great for the studio. For the first time I’m tackling an original IP with some resources, instead of just skunk working it or doing it entirely on my own time. I’m thrilled to be working with an incredibly experienced artist who just got here as well, and the trust placed in us to deliver is a refreshing change. Before the three months is out Sidhe and myself will know if a long term commitment is the way forward. Again, great no fuss business attitudes.

Wellington is a beautiful city, very similar to Vancouver in more ways that one, although when the locals warn you that the wind is serious here they’re not joking. It’s quite compact, you can walk from one side of central Wellington to the other in 30 minutes. The hills surrounding the downtown core slope up and out steeply and remind me of San Francisco, but in places the houses cling to the hills in ways that make SF’s look positively tame.

As with most places in the world, people are friendly, but the hospitality here has a distinctly islander feel that I recognize from home and noticed in Hawaii as well. Business is serious, but with a minimum of bureacracy. (Opening a local bank account was a snap.)

Warthog at Armageddon The pictures in this post are from my first wanderings around Wellington, expect more soon . The Ghostbusters and the Warthog I bumped into at the Armageddon Expo, a local comic/game/anime/otaku convention. The Ghostbusters guys were great, super friendly and had taken a lot of effort with their costumes. The Warthog is just… wow. Weta’s attention to detail Ghostbusters is simply unreal and if you’ve watched the Lord of the Rings extras and seen what their workshop is capable of then this piece of the Halo universe will come as no surprise.

With a regular schedule again I hope to post here more, including more  information on Wikis and a few other odds and ends that have been sitting in my ToWrite box for a while.

links for 2008-04-10