Event Report: 3DS London with DBOX and Rockstar North
Once the domain of a handful of committed artists in the know, the 3Ds London meetup isn’t the well-kept secret it used to be. Thanks to the hard work of organisers Simon Moir, Josh Newman
and Nigel Hunt, this month’s free independent event saw more than 200 people RSVP to watch talks by DBOX and Rockstar North’s Mirriam Bellard.
On the first Wednesday of each month, tucked away in the basement of Truckles pub, the organisers of 3DS London put on a free event with the kind of high-quality organisation and talks you’d normally find at expensive commercial conferences. Each night follows a similar pattern. After some general networking and chit-chat, recent news and vacancies, a new speaker is invited to showcase their work. That might be an intimidating prospect in front of a professional crowd, but Sini Software’s offer of a free annual license of their Max Plugins, the chance to participate in the friendly community, to raise their profile, and potentially get spotted by an employer certainly helps sweeten the deal.
Then we get the meat of the evening – the headline presentations. This month, not one, not two, not three, but four artists from DBOX got the ball rolling in style. Partner Christiaan Klaassen delivered an interesting overview of the studio before handing over the reins to Motion Director Jeremy Cheung to present their latest film projects. Art Director David Connolly followed on with a detailed discussion about the studio’s work for the Tulip project by Foster and Partners. Finally, Laura Frasson concluded the presentation with a fascinating insight into the production planning and delivery of some of the studios more complex film projects. Unfortunately, the animations themselves are not yet publically available for us to share, but DBOX has kindly allowed us to reproduce some stills taken from the films to give you a taste of their work.
Following DBOX, Miriam Bellard, took to the stage. After gaining an architecture degree, Miriam’s varied career has included filmmaking, set design, art direction, and currently, working as the head of visual development at Rockstar North. Her department occupies an unusual position in the game-dev pipeline that is perhaps unique to Rockstar games. The visual development department helps out with environments that are “particularly difficult or problematic”, this includes difficult exteriors and all interior environments.
What is meant by tricky? Unlike film, in a great many video games the player controls the camera limiting the traditional tools of cinema to tell stories. However, Mirriam’s department helps developers to manipulate the player’s experience by controlling what’s on-screen by using the environment to direct the player’s movements and attention. She calls this principal spatial cinematography and her engaging talk systematically explored this concept with reference to several theoretical ideas from art, science and psychology and showed them in practice using examples from GTA V Online DLC.
The founder of 3DS London Simon Moir described Miriam’s talk as “possibly the best presentation ever”. High praise indeed, and if you wish you’d seen it you’re in luck! Although not recorded on the night, an earlier version given at GDC earlier this year is available to watch online. Also, like all the best talks it leaves the audience hungry to learn more, fortunately Miriam was kind enough to include a fairly extensive reading list of all the books and research mentioned during the presentation.
That shelf-buckling list gives attendees plenty to read while they wait for the next meetup, scheduled to tak place on 2 October at 7pm. Three speakers are already booked: FloodSlicer’s Daniel Flood will be presenting the story of the 13-year-old multi-location studio and share some of the studios latest work; Purest VFX’s Rupert Thorpe will be talking about the infrastructure, tools and workflows that the larger companies use to complete epic projects; and Leadson Viz‘s Claudia Parnia and Laurentiu Stanciu will be talking about their studio’s latest work as well as 3DS Romania and a recent book titled ‘Great talks about photorealism’ by Bogdan Sasu.
Remember 3DS London is a free community event, If you’re a 3D Artist and you find yourself at a loose end in London on the first Wednesday of the month, you’d be a fool to miss it.
Find out more about the next event on Meetup and check out some images from the last meetup below.
Disclosure: CGPress are media partners for the 3DS London events. Expect more news and features soon to help keep those planning to go informed, and share a flavour of the events for those who are unable to attend in person.