Relaxing in Perth
Australia, 2007

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After my trip to Rottnest, I headed through the city to the speakers' dinner

Salty, tired and happy.


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Bubble tea, great conversation... and faux meat Asian style - what could be better?


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Travelling camera!




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The following afternoon we headed to the hall for a continuing discussion about Web 2.0 and new media opportunities in the East.

Megan re-capped her keynote about games and handheld media. She had many insights, and I peppered her with questions all weekend! 


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Paul's talk was another highlight of the trip. He designs and builds models and miniatures at Weta Workshop.


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The talk focused on King Kong - which had a stunning array of models. He covered a small set of what they built for the film,\but even in that small sample you could *taste* the care and attention to detail. \Everything from the way the model is shot, to how it is flocked and aged, to the way it is integrated with animation and live action fillm. It was a fascinating talk from all perspectives: technical, artistic and narrative. Just great.


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There was a quality of wonder and peace in the way that Paul spoke about creating these models that was almost contagious. I think that's probably just partly how he is, as a person - a "tinkerer", who spends a lot of time observing how the world works, how things are big, or small, but always perfect for what they were made to do or be.

While I was intrigued by the technical discussion of scaling and compositing shots using motion control cameras, it was the craft of the individual pieces that stuck with me in the following days.

I was especially struck by his comments about dirt.

Essentially - the sets for the LOTR and Kong both had "permission", in a sense, to be dirty, beat up, broken in places. This kind of aging, or disorder, really helped give the models depth and character.. sometimes so much that they had to be processed down a bit to fit with the other components (CG and the like).

Similarly, they often use real live plants when shooting natural sceens - slowing the film down (shooting at a super high speed) so that their ambient motion appears as large as they do on screen. This contrast between live things, dirt and decay, and mathematically designed forms is what gives those films their magical quality, I believe. It's an alchemy!



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Paul, Megan, Melanie and I had a long chat about his presentation the following morning. just as I had with Mia. Later, Chris came by and we had  lunch, chatting about music, looking at some more of his tech, and discussing the state of Australian game development..

This conference convinced me that the B&B format is ideal for housing guests at a local conference - and I would do it for any events I organized. In a modern hotel, you have all this distance from the other speakers. But at the B&B,  because you are in the same house, eating breakfast all sleepy from dreams (which were probably about the talks you've been attending)... it just creates an environment where you feel comfortable continuing the conversation beyond the lecture itself.  


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I prepared for my talk in the afternoon, and then took some photos just because once again, the light was so captivating.



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I spoke on Sunday evening - last of the show. No photos - as I was.. talking!

The speaker before me was quite brief, so I talked for a long time. A little over 2 hours!

It had 3 parts - an introductory discussion of how games are made, a section on using MDA to design new games (drawn from my GDC 2007 presentation)... and then a conversation about new IP development and challenges we face as an industry. This was the second "conversational" talk I gave on the trip and I had a lot of fun with them. If you approach the talk as a conversation, suddenly you are free to offer ideas, just as ideas - instead of having to be "right" or "knowing the answer". It also gives the audience room to participate.

Funny how "putting the player on stage" works itself into these nooks and crannies!


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Then, too soon - it was time to leave.



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I captured some of the things I'd been seeing each day, to remind me of my trip.

Little visual souveniers.



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Then I went across the street to Hyde Park, to commune with a giant Fig tree that lives there.

It was like a church!


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Saying goodbye is always the hardest part about meeting new, interesting, inspirational people.

I've made it a personal goal to travel to NZ and visit Weta within one years time.

Wish me luck!