Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ADAPT Conference with photos

We had a great time at the cocktail mixer last night. I was chatting with Bill Kroyer from Rythm & Hues about shared experiences in Mumbai. I also caught up with Justin Jackson, a recent graduate of Loyalist College and former Soft Siggraph intern.

Kevin G. Clark, Phil Tippett & Marc Stevens

As I mentioned last night - it' so great to be able to attend an event like ADAPT and enjoy the opportunity to mingle and meet people. It's also cool to read about our fair city in from the eyes of our friends from CG Society:

Kevin G. Clark with CGSociety's Paul Hellard (L) and Andrew Plumer (R)

Anne-Marie & Jonny - The indefatigable ADAPT conference organizers

Ron Martin (Stage 3 Media) &Maggie Kathwaroon (Meteor Studios)

I am looking forward to Greg Punchatz and his wife Liz's arrival in Montreal tonight, we are meeting them for dinner with a few other guests from out of town.

I was also catching up on Marc B's blog this morning. It's great to see Modus hiring so much talent in October. Montreal is growing so fast - there are so many jobs here for XSI artists!

And if you need any help installing XSI - I now have one install under my belt!

The rest of the album is here:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday at ADAPT Montreal

Blogging live from ADAPT, standing here with Softimage customer Ron Martin, Bill Desowitz from and Jonny Abenheim of ADAPT. We are about to go into the Autodesk cocktail party, just chilling in the lobby first.

It's a beautiful summer-like day in Montreal, and close to 1000 people have gathered in Montreal to attend presentations from studios around the world like Double Negative, Pixar, Bioware, Ubisoft and more. This is the second year of the conference, and its great to see how its doubled in both attendance and sessions.

It's great to see so many faces here from SIGGRAPH - our friends Syd Mead and Roger Servick are here again, our friends from Gnomon are in town, the House of Moves team arrives tomorrow, and of course, ADAPT systems sponsor Dell are also represented. For us at Softimage, its great to be able to spend the time connecting with customers and listening to their presentations. Something we don't get to do at SIGGRAPH - actually take the time to watch and listen! Dilip and Herman and Sid are attending the sessions today, I think more Soft staff will be there tomorrow.

I am looking forward to Ron's Sanctuary presentation tomorrow, and I am VERY pleased to say that I personally installed the license for Greg's preso on Thursday. Yes - my very first install - and it worked flawlessly (Of course!)

Anyway - time for cocktails. See you tomorrow - with pictures!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Softimage on the Road.. in Montreal!

Even when we are home, we have something going on!

Today is the beginning of ADAPT Montreal - a great conference being held here right here in our home town. In it's sophomore year, ADAPT has a line-up of the industry's best and brightest artists and legends.

Check it out:

Greg Punchatz (Janimation) and Ron Martin (Stage 3 Media) are flying in to be our guest presenters, and we are also excited to see our local talent Rob Moodie (Buzz Images), Marc Bourbonnais (Modus FX), Sebastien Racine (Ubisoft) and Pierre Raymond (Hybride) tell their stories.

We have events going on all week, so Kevin and I will be reporting on the conference and the activities as it goes on.

Looking forward to our friends and partners coming to visit our fair city, including Syd Mead and Roger Servik, Patrick Hannen (Dell) and my favorite party co-host Scott Gagain (House of Moves).

It's great to be home and even better to have such an exciting event to come home to!


Photos from India

And last but certainly not least, here are the photos from our Mumbai, India week. We are all home now, and we are ready for ADAPT Montreal, more on that later today.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Update from India… the last of the Asia & Southeast Asia Training Tour.

Update from India… the last of the Asia & Southeast Asia Training Tour.

Hello from Mumbai! It’s 3pm in India, and we are about halfway through our last training day on this whirlwind tour.

Mumbai is a place that’s so hard to describe. Busy, bustling, friendly, religious, commercial, rich, poor – all whirling and churning and constantly on the go.. you could spend weeks in this city and see only a fraction of it.. Of course, if you are trying to get through Bombay traffic on the Wednesday of the Ganesh Festival, you might see even less, at a much slower pace. LA traffic is NOTHING compared to Mumbai!

This week we held two seminars – one in a university nestled in the heart of Bollywood, one at a downtown ATC.

The university in Bollywood was the first event on Wednesday. This was the day after we arrived from Phuket, and Nikki and I are wearing the Marriott golf shirts that we received since our luggage was lost (it has since been returned to us) – this is not the latest Softimage uniform!

Anyhow – Whistling Woods – the university - was amazing. Founded by one of India’s top film directors, Whistling Woods is an elite academy that teaches everything from acting to sound design to animation. Whistling Woods is a partner with several international academies in the world, and has a very rigorous admittance policy. The location is next to the sets where the majority of Bollywood movies are shot. Actually, the school in the middle of a nature reserve, where leopards are free to roam in the hills. Really.

Here’s a quick story about the worst thing I have ever heard visiting a studio or a school..

[me] Do you ever see any leopards?
[client] No, they stay away. I do see a cobra once in a while when I go for a smoke.
[me] Haha, very funny.
[client] Why are you laughing? Since we are trespassing on cobra territory, every once in a while we need to call the cobra catcher.
[crickets chirping]

For those who know me, having scenes in our reel from ‘Snakes on a Plane’ was hard to watch. So was the Corona commercial. I don’t like snakes. At all. Not on a plane, near my beer, or least of all in a garden 20 feet away from me!

Anyway.. back to training..

Since the sessions in Mumbai are all in English, I have enjoyed being an unofficial TA. I have been trying to learn the tools and commands to support the class during the intro to XSI session. Although I can’t really help more than navigating property pages and opening scene files, I have perfected the “Nikki – please, we need some help over here” command very well! My favorite part of the course is watching people just go and really dive in and move ahead with the software. GATOR time is the best.. I like watching people get it.

Best quote from today… “that’s the beauty of our GATOR.” Yes, yes it is.

The best part of working for a company like Softimage is seeing and remembering that the CG community really knows no borders. Animators are animators – they are passionate and dedicated and intelligent and high-main.. I mean highly skilled – and they are all focused on homing their skills and showing their stuff.

We met with some of the head CG community leaders here in Mumbai, and how animators here use the web forums slightly differently than in other parts of the worls. If an animator working in a film studio is stuck on a technical issue, he will go to the central web station (not everyone has web access at their desks) in the studio and post a question on or He or she will then go back to work, and check back on the responses later. Animators in Indian studios are very careful about being anonymous, since it’s a tight community and not hard to tell who is working where and on what. This gets particularly tight-lipped in studios working on outsourced projects.

Tomorrow is my last day here in Mumbai, and as every fabulous city that hosted the training tour, it will be hard to say good-bye to our friends here. So I won’t just yet.

More pix tomorrow. It's 8:30pm, and its been a loooooooooooooooong day.


Monday, September 17, 2007

I didn't know the meaning of intense.. I do now.

It's Monday, Sept 17th at 5:40pm. Nikki, Teresa and I are in Bangkok, Thailand, waiting to leave for Mumbai.

We spent 1.5 days in Phuket over the weekend, taking a break and splitting up the long China
-> India journey.

We were scheduled to fly from Phuket to Bangkok and then onto Mumbai yesterday.

At 3:45pm, our plane was on the runway, next in line for take-off when the an extremely powerful squall hit the airport. Nikki and I looked at each other and asked.. "Are we really taking off in this???"

We didn't, because the same time we were sitting on that tarmack getting ready to leave, the One Two Go Jet crashed on the runway.

It was sad and surreal and scary and the next 24 hours were dedicated trying to Bangkok. We ended up taking a three hour bus ride to Krabi, where Thai Air had a jet waiting to get all of its passengers to our destination. They were wonderful and took very good care of us.

We are about to leave for Mumbai, safe and sound, and happy to be ok.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shanghai Training Day - 'Intense' is probably is the best word for it!

We held the Shanghai Training Event yesterday. It was a really intense session. The room was full - at least 30 trainers and professionals were there - and we stared at 10am and ended at 6pm. Nikki led the training, and Alex provided translation and hands-on support.

Although, as unofficial TA, I am not sure how annoying I was.. probably slightly. Every once in a while I'd lean over to Nikki and whisper.. "psst.. look, that guy is struggling, he has the no icon texture map on his tank!" .. "Nikki.. psst.. that girl is having a hard time transferring to the medium res model... should 'we' help her?"

Bless my patient colleague, she didn't tell me to hush up!!

It's interesting to see and observe people learning something when you don't speak the language. I spent all day gauging people's reactions to the material and the software. The people being trained yesterday really embraced the material, and many who hadn't really seen much of XSI other than a demo were enjoying the experience of diving into the workflow. It was awesome watching a room of people GATOR at the same time!

One of the trainees new to XSI said "XSI should be the future of 3D in China - no other package out there can compare to it in terms of workflow and performance." Two artists from a post poduction studio outside of Shanghai took a 3 hour train ride - EACH WAY - to get to the event. They have been waiting for XSI training for a long time, as they want to switch their pipeline over to XSI as soon as they can.

I can't say enough what a great job Adam Sale did on this material. Using the soldier model from August Zhang and the material built by our content team for the Six Education tour, this is such a comprehensive training package - i was learning more about Crosswalk & Maya today! Its going to be instrumental in helping schools and trainers around the world teach the next generation of 3D artists. Speaking of, very cool to see how many young women are studying 3D in both Shanghai & Seoul. We need to keep trying to balance out that sky-high level of testosterone out there in the industry!

Nikki said something so brilliant today.. "Women working in 3D today are the warriors for the next generation." Love it.

I stayed in the hotel today while Teresa, Alex and Souma-san went to visit clients. Nikki and I had a top secret assignment to finish, something long overdue for our WW education & training community. I'll write more about it in the near future, once the kinks have been worked out and it's approved by our management team. (Hi there, Management Team! :)

Photos from the event:

I also added more photos to this folder:

Tomorrow is a travel day, with potentially a client meeting in the AM. Saturday is a day off somewhere fabulous, and Sunday we head to Mumbai, India for the last leg of this Amazing Training Race.

It's going to be sad leaving Shanghai, this has been an incredible week.

Hope you are doing well, wherever you are!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Trying to blog from Shanghai...

It's funny.. I can't see anything I post on the blog page, but through a feed on Facebook I can see my updates.. but i can't post any photos onto Facebook.. but I can use Picasa.

Using the internet from China can be a challenge, although this is a very small problem compared to last year when I was here with Mark, and he was trying to download the latest RC of version 6 from here. Since downloading a file of that size wasn't working through our network, Mark had to find alternate ways to access the latest build. Something about splitting the file onto newsgroups, etc. I still don't like to think about that, it was a stressful few days last December!

So this is Day 2 here in Shanghai, were we have spent the last 2 days visiting clients and Education partners. Personally, I was feeling a bit somber today, being 9/11 and all, and so far from home, remembering where I was that fateful day 6 years ago.

Back to present. We visited a few studios here that have set-up outsourcing pipelines, and it was interesting to hear and try and help solve a set of concerns and issues that are the same, but different. When supporting a company that provides outsourcing services, the support requirements range from strictly modeling and or animation, to full project pipelines. I met with an Art Director today that is managing over 2 dozen simultaneous projects with a team of just 130 artists. While he stated that the projects ranged from Big to Small, the fact that all those projects going on at once doesn't leave time for training and development. Speaking of Big and Small, they had the funniest conference room names.. Small 1, Small 2, Small 3.. Big 1... etc. I found this both amusing and brilliant in its simplicity.

Tomorrow is a big training day, where we bring out new material to the local market. It's going to be an intense 6 hours, with Nikki doing the training and Alex doing the translation.

I should have more blogging time as the week progresses, although Shanghai, as always, is a complete whirlwind and the days are over before I realize it!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

UPDATE: Picasa Album links

Sorry.. all thes newfangled programs..Picasa, Blogger.. I am still working out the kinks!

Back to work.. now in Shanghai, China

Hello again..

It's Monday, September 10th, and Nikki and I are now on our own in Shanghai. It was hard to say goodbye to Seoul and our friends at CORE, Animal Logic & Blur. Saturday market the end of our stay in Seoul with Jay, Lee & Choi from CORE taking Nikki, Jeff and I to a fabulous restaurant that was on a mountain overlooking the city. Later we went to the King's Palace and finished the day shopping in a Korean open air market.

Last week was stellar. This one will be too, I can feel it. Shanghai has this incredible pulse to it.

We flew to Shanghai on Sunday morning, and had a few hours to explore the city by day and night. It's amazing that I was here 8 months ago, and I had a totally different experience. Last time, we were staying at a so-so hotel that was in a very unexciting part of town. Now we are right in the center of the action on Nanjing Road. As I type this, I am looking at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the famous Shanghai landmark. I never want to leave my room, because the skyline at night is art in itself - much better than watching TV!

Nikki and I would have made our male colleagues proud yesterday.. the very first thing we did was go to the awesome Sai Bo market, which has EVERY electronic device known to man (and woman!) there. We had to leave before we spent a fortune, but what FUN! We felt a bit too geeky, so we headed to the Yu Garden after, this great open air market that has everything you'd expect a Chinese market to have.

Today we are waiting to meet Alex Liao, our Sales Manager for China, to go over the training requirements and head to the location where our event will take place on Wednesday. This week will also be filled with client meetings. Teresa Manley, our Director of WW Marketing, arrives tomorrow, and she'll be joining us for the rest of the tour.

Here are some photos from the last week. Posting images on the blog is a bit tricky here, not sure why, but I cant add photos to this or Facebook as easily as I was able to in Seoul. Could be the connection, could be me, it's hard to troubleshoot because my Blogspot interface is now in Chinese!

Anyway - Picasa works, so here you go!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Technical Seminar &

So Wednesday was our seminar day, and today was our Technical Seminar. Animal Logic, Blur & Softimage all gave 3 hour presentations on studio pipelines & face robot.

I thought the production challenge was long. WOW. This was an intense day for the presenters, and the 80 attendees. It's just amazing to see that level of concentration from the audience for 9 hours. I was constantly ducking out here and there, but 80 people stayed and stayed, with only a break for lunch. It was intense!

It was really interesting to hear about the custom tools both Blur & AL developed to work with XSI and other software within their pipelines. I felt techy-d out after a bit.. it was a bit over my head!

Although, since I was able to install an addon yesterday for the training seminar.. I wonder what else I could pick up with XSI?

Off to dinner now. It's 7:0pm on Friday night and everyone is exhausted. Thomas, Jeff, Nick, Remi, Damien and Jeff are all heading home this weekend, but Nikki and I leave for Shanghai on Sunday to meet Alex Liao from our Taiwan office and my boss, Teresa Manley.

No more blogging for the weekend, but I will post some photos with Picasa tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Our first Training Seminar

Thanks to our sponsors from Dell, we were able to hold two hands-on training sessions today with our Seoul-based training partner, SoftimageATC (

My colleague Nikki Bridgman trained over 30 users with our brand new Professional User Material recently developed for Softimage by Adam Sale.

The day was great.. Trainers from local universities and top studios in Seoul were present to learn an overview of the software. Our partners here now have 30 more hours of material to present once we leave. We'll be making the material available ww very soon, stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Seoul Seminar Wrapup - Animal Logic & Blur

Nick Hore & Damien Gray of Animal Logic.

So many times at events like SIGGRAPH or GDC, I only get to catch half of a presentation before I am pulled away for something. It's such a treat to be able to sit down and listen to our clients talk about their projects for an entire presentation.

Yesterday, thanks to Animal Logic and Blur, I was able to do just that.

Damien's presentation on Happy Feet yesterday was great. Based on the Happy Feet seminar presented at SIGGRAPH, Damien went through the process of bringing this Oscar-winning production to life. Happy Feet was shot using traditional filmmaking principles, as if it were a live action movie rather than a CG film. Director George Miller said at the onset of the project that he would have use real penguins in Antarctica if he could. Scenes were developed rather than shots, starting with the voice acting, then mocap shoots driven by the voice performance and later a technique called "lensing" allowed the teams to see what worked and didn't from the mocap shoots.

Damien stated that they were consistently adapting live filming techniques to a CG process and vice versa, which overall enhanced the creative result of the project.

One aspect that I found particularly interesting as part of the character performance pipe was the audition process for each character, where each character was auditioned similar to that for a real actor, with voice and movement. This also proved to be an audition for each animator too.

Damien's parting words from his presentation was that two main lessons were learned during the making of Happy Feet.. 1) The importance of flexibility and 2) Having several iterations minimizes overall risk.

Some fun numbers I walked away from the presentation with.. over 5600 rigs were created, 17 mocap actors were on stage at one time, up to 600 people were on staff at the project's peak, and over all 94 TERAbytes of data were stored.

Next up was Remi's presentation of Gentlemen's Duel. GD is another project that I am quite attached to, because last year during my first Asia tour & the XSI 6 Tour, we were given permission to play the short in every city, so I have seen it probably a dozen times, and I love watching a audience react to this great project. For those who don't know, Blur works on short films as a creative enhancement process for their artists. There is essentially (and again, I am paraphrasing) an open call for story pitches. The winning story pitch gets to be made into an animated short within the studio.

For XSI, GD was the first time the SW was used in Blur's pipeline for animation & rigging. Since GD had a longer project schedule, the team was able to look at what needed to be done in order to incorporate XSI into Blur's MAX-based pipeline. Never easy to incorporate anything into an established pipeline, the artists and TDs at Blur embraced XSI for its artist-friendly workflow, reliable architecture, strong referencing system, scripting with Python and the speed and flexibility in the rigging and animation toolsets.

Remi also talked about the Transformers cinematic, which was all keyframe animation, and a few other ongoing projects that are mocapped based.

All in all - our 9 hour day came to a close at 7pm, where we posed for a few photos before heading out to yet another delicious Korean feast.

Mmmm.. Green Tea Dunkin Donuts.

Not quite Red Bull, but it will do the trick.

Nabe pours a beer for Nick. It's considered impolite in Korea to pour your own alcohol. It's not rude, I discovered, to elbow your colleague and say "Please pour beer. Now."

The team at CORE with Softimage & guests.

Animal Logic & An Artist Finds His Dream Job

About 300 CG artists attended the seminar.

After Jeff and Thomas presented FR 1.8, we heard a few words from Jang Jin-Ho.

Jin-Ho, a very talented modeler from Seoul, was looking for a job in CG and a chance to see the world. He started posting his work on one f our favorite CG sites, . His art was receiving a lot of hits, but no offers were forthcoming. So Jin-Ho went to the next step, and created his own website, and sent off samples of his work out. A short while later, Jin-Ho's incredible work attracted the sharp eyes of the recruiters at Blur Studio, where Jin-Ho will be starting work in October of this year.
Jin-Ho had some advice for the audience here in Seoul that I think resonates internationally - and I am paraphrasing here - "Don't be afraid to speak up .. it's better to try to be heard than not speak at all."

The incredible work of Jin-Ho.

Next up were Nicholas Hore and Damien Gray from Animal Logic from Sydney, Australia. Nicholas talked about the working environment & the potential job opportunities that will soon be available at AL, and encouraged the audience (and anyone reading this!) to check out the Animal Logic website at for current open positions. Nick also mentioned that artists should feel free to send their information in now, so when AL will be ramping up for their next animated feature in a few months they'll have a database of artists to work with.

Nick highlights that Animal Logic is very close to the famous Bondi Beach!

CG Supervisor Damien Gray was up next, and I have to say, gave one of the most illuminating presentations on a film that I have ever seen. I'll admit, I am biased, I LOVED Happy Feet, but hearing the production details were fascinating. Damien started off be explaining the mission of Director George Miller, who's mantra was " The story is not the plot.. the story is the audience's experience of the film."

More details later.. we are on hour number 6.. one more demonstration to go!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Real-time updates.. gotta love free Wi-Fi!

This is cool.. we can blog and email during the Seoul Seminar.. not that I don't want to pay 100 per cent attention to Jeff presenting Face Robot... but I can multi-task.. excellent! I just finished my presentation, which Nikki commented was the slowest she ever heard me speak... it's all due to simultaneous translation.. otherwise i would have whipped through it! Imagine last year when the poor translators had both me AND Mark Schoennagel to translate?

So - Nikki and I are currently sitting in a room with about 300 student and professional 3D artists, and the event has begun, with over 6 hours of XSI and Face Robot technical presentations.

Earlier today, Jeff & Thomas Kang were interviewed by several CG magazines based in Seoul. One of them - Graphics Live - has a huge feature on SIGGRAPH. Since I can't read Korean (yet!) here's the link for those who can.. What's fun is seeing the huge article on ARK (SIGGRAPH 2007 Best of Show) and Mirage (2007 Student Academy Award winner) plus the photos of the Soft booth. I'll be bringing a few copies home.

Here's some early photos of today.. or tomorrow for those of you back in my home timezone!
(it's so hard to use this blog program with all the commands in Korean!)

Softimage Press Conference

Keeping watch at the door.

Now that's a banner!

Softimage's Jeff & Remi from Blur

We have all arrived safe & sound in Seoul!

This is so strange, all my tabs and headers on the blog page are now in Korean!

I don't have much to report yet, yesterday was a big travel day for most of us. It was a very international evening at the Inchon airport, with Damien & Nick coming in from Sydney, Remi from LA, Nikki from London, and myself from Vancouver.

We were met at dinner by the team from CORE, as well as Souma-san, our head of Asia sales from Japan.

Today the seminar starts at 12:30pm with a presentation from Softimage Montreal. Oh wait, that's me. Luckily I still have Leo's memory stick from SIGGRAPH with Marc's User Group presentation.. I hope I can do it justice, and try to remember the biggest rule of simultaneous translation.. SLOW DOWN. YES, EVEN MORE.

Then its a full afternoon with tech presentations from Animal Logic and Blur, along with Jeff Wilson and Thomas Kang. We are expecting over 250 people today. Can't wait!

A full report and photos will follow..

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Vancouver Film School Visit

The first thing I did when I got to Vancouver (after digging out my umbrella!) was stop by Vancouver Film School with my colleague Kevin G. Clark to visit Larry Bafia and his team of talented teachers including Glenn, Michael, Nigel and Magic who are training the next generation of XSI masters.

With over 200 licenses of XSI, VFS is one of the biggest XSI training facilities in the world. We shared some of our new material created for SIGGRAPH, including our new reel, the results from the Production Challenge and the 'Making of Mirage,' the Academy-award winning student film by the talented Young Jang.

It was a great visit, and I am really, really glad we stopped by. Huge thanks to Larry Bafia for hosting Kevin & I and taking us through the program and the classes.

Observing Michael Monks' Modeling Class

These guys shared some of the their work in progress on their final projects in the VFS production studio.

Teaching leads at VFS.

There's a Hoodie Guy in every city!

Next stop Seoul, but first 2 days of downtime for me in Vancouver. I'll post next Tuesday, once I get to Korea.

Softimage Training Tour .. the beginning.


I am in Vancouver this weekend, preparing to leave for Seoul, Korea on Monday morning. I am meeting my colleagues Nikki Bridgman, Jeff Wilson and Yoshiyuki Watanabe on Tuesday, along with Thomas Kang, Nick Hore and Damian Gray from Animal Logic and Remi McGill from Blur for a series of seminars hosted by CORE, our channel partner in Korea. It's going to be a GREAT week!

After Seoul, Nikki and I are going to Shanghai and Mumbai to host a series of training seminars with our new training material designed to help professional 3D artists make the transition to XSI from other packages.

Since this is going to be a whirlwind, international tour, I am going to be blogging and posting pictures from the trip. Hope you enjoy.. please feel free to add comments.