Blender Conference 2015
Last weekend (23-25 October. It came with extra Friday.) I attended the 2015 Blender conference, and then the Monday after wondered across Amsterdam to have a look at the Blender Institute. Was a good weekend - learnt a lot, drank a reasonable amount and talked to a lot of cool people. Probably the greatest part was the shear variety on display. There were talks by scientists covering crowd simulation through to brain visualisation, talks by film directors on making their films, talks by architects on blowing up buildings, talks by developers on adding features to Blender and many others, including talks by people who teach Blender. This last category is why I was there, as I gave a talk on 3Dami.

My talk is now available on YouTube:

I additionally made a supercut of all 11 3Dami event films thus far, to show:

My talk was in some respects very limited - if you ever visit a 3Dami event it may look like chaos, but an awful lot of thought has gone into how its run. Its hard to communicate that in just 30 minutes, in particular how something so chaotic can, reliably, create films. This is assuming we even know - its hard to disentangle the luck from the design. Plus I was a bit of a stage hog and was actually up there for 40 minutes:-) Still, I covered a fair bit, and I hope it inspires teachers to be as crazy as we are. Or contact us, so we can do crazy stuff together!

It was the second time I have been to the Blender conference. Last time speakers were given an hour, rather than the 30 minutes they now get. It is of no surprise that 30 minutes is much better - despite the naive belief of every university ever, its foolish to expect people to concentrate for a whole hour. The other big difference, for me at least, was how I got there. First time I took the overnight ferry, this time I took the overnight bus, in both cases to save money. Having just bought a flat I had to be particularly aggressive this year. Yeah, I'm the only one losing sleep over that, but I was really worried about the bus due to getting travel sick. Its hard to beat the ferry - overnight, with a bed and trains either end, for less than the price of a hotel. Plus it was particularly interesting that first conference, as on the way back we went though a major storm. Which was a treat. There is nothing quite like standing on the deck of a colossal ship at midnight, in the middle of the North sea, with it rocking so hard that you have to crawl when you run out of handrail, or hit the deck. Your coat doing its best to defy gravity, and drag you into the sky. The bus, by comparison, was boring, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I get travel sick, but am absolutely fine on boats, so thought the ferry was where I would sleep, and the coach where I would feel ill. Turned out the ferry had a compliment of screaming kids and lights so bright you could perform surgery. The bus, on the other hand, was dim and invited you to shut your eyes. Which mostly stops the travel sickness - I actually got a little sleep! I also got a fairly spectacular sight on the last leg to Amsterdam, as we were driving into a foggy sunrise, wind turbines bathed in a glorious warm glow.

To get back to the conference, my favourite talk was, as last time, Hjalti's talk on animation. I can't animate, but the energy and insight he brought was excellent - would recommend watching it. He has great comic timing in his presentations - probably related to being an animator. Second would be the talk on the making of Alike, as it had some great tricks and insights. Daniel's other talk, on rigging, was also excellent, and I can't recommend Alike enough, having seen it at the conference during the Suzanne festival. Given the last Blender conference I went to I got to see The Missing Scarf they are doing a good job at showing great films. Plus we got Glass Half, which was quite funny, and I still need to wrap my mind around how they did all the awesome motion graphics. No clue what that spinning one was about though.

Visiting the Blender institute is highly recommended. Firstly, it took me twice as long to get there as I thought it would - not because I did not know how far it was, but because I had to keep stopping and wondering off course to take photos. My mistake for leaving the hotel during the golden hour, then walking through such a damn pretty city. Makes me wonder why the hell I put up with London. Firstly, the institute was much bigger than I thought (London expectations, where only the super rich avoid shoe boxes?), and opposite a zoo that is redeveloping so they will be able to see great animals out of their windows! Plus their local is called the windmill, because its a pub in a windmill. I can only be jealous. The institute was packed with conversations, and I took the opportunity to wonder around and listen, talk and generally chill out. My original plan, to stay an hour and wonder off, got mislaid, as the conversations were just too interesting to leave. In the end I left it so late I skipped supper, and walked directly to the coach park where the bus picked me up to head home. Looking back at the map, I walked 7km that day, for no good reason and not including diversions to take photos. Probably says something about the awesomeness (in space?) of Amsterdam.