ACS Conference: The Art of Visual Effects

Photo credit: broewert on Flickr

Photo credit: B. Roewert

Report on ACS Young IT conference in Adelaide – Day 1, 29th May

The Art of Visual Effects by Didier Elzinga, CEO of Rising Sun Pictures

What follows are my summaries of the main points I took away from this talk.

At first, hard work (long hours, late nights) is important. But at a point this stops being true. Instead, the value of what you create becomes more important. You create this value in smaller moments, and you create far more value in this shorter period of time. The rest of your time is training for those moments.

The creative process isn’t magic – it is a rigorous process. For example, coming up with one great idea by brainstorming then filtering down those ideas.

1000 ideas –> 100 good ideas –> 10 very good ideas –> 1 great idea.

To perform this process, you need to make the brainstorming process as cheap as possible, so it doesn’t take too long to come up with the 1000 ideas. The number 1000 here was used literally, so you actually have a list of 1000 ideas before you start to filter them down. If you have less than 1000 ideas to start with, you’ll have less chance of having found the 1 great idea. This process relies on trust, so that everyone present feels comfortable blurting out “stupid” ideas.

Be courageous – don’t do something just because “that’s what everyone else does”. We need to learn from failure, and to do that we need to talk about it.

A classic question – “What would I try if I knew I could not fail?” but this question seemed to be opening up more possibilities for me. Very interesting if you can really look at answering it deeply.

Two techniques for meetings:

  1. You come to a meeting with a problem that you need help with. You state your problem, but before anyone is allowed to answer, everyone has a chance to ask questions (and only questions) to clarify what was meant by the problem. This avoids people getting stuck on the first solution that comes to mind, which is often formed on an incorrect understanding of the problem.
  2. Once people are ready to answer, face away from them and write notes. You are not allowed to talk. This way your own point of view (which hasn’t been able to solve the problem for you) won’t influence them, and they’ll be able to freely discuss a solution.
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