I’ve been back in the UK for 4 weeks now, and yes, it’s safe to say I miss Vancouver and SIGGRAPH! It’s taken me so long to compose this post due to how epic the trip was, I’ve been searching for the fine line between packing in everything I did, whilst still making it an interesting read. Hopefully I’ve succeeded …
The city hosted me for 6 days after I leapt across the Atlantic specifically for SIGGRAPH. My job for the 4 day event was pretty straight forward; to demonstrate how good Nvidia’s brand new Shield Tablet was by getting busy with their new art creation app, Dabbler.
As the event sponsor, it was unsurprising to see Nvidia had one of the biggest booths, and being pride of place at the main entrance meant they attracted some pretty huge crowds. Along with my Dabbler zone there was an Nvidia stage and an area showcasing the New Tesla Model S, an electric car which Nvidia had a big hand in powering.
The first thing that took me a bit of getting used to was talking to SO many people, my normal day to day business is done from the relative calm of my home where my main source of conversation is my lovely partner Harriet, of Hello Harriet. Compare this to 20 thousand people and you have yourself one big learning curve! As a consequence it didn’t take me long to learn all the ins and outs of the device, it’s safe to say by the end of the event I was a tech wizard. Though, it really helped that the senior marketing guys on the booth would introduce me as "a freelance illustrator who helped develop the program”, right away people would stop asking me tech questions about the device, like what sort of processor The Shield uses, or about the accelerated GPU, but instead enquired what it's like to be an artist for Nvidia, or just an artist in general. I was much more comfortable answering those types of questions! They would then clock the video of me demoing the device on one of the many computer screens above our area and almost double take. The accent definitely helped add to their intrigue too, even without the introduction from Nvidia, people would be fascinated with how I spoke (especially once I notched up the elocution by about 20%). Once in the flow of things I really started to get into it, meeting so many people actually became one of the highlights of the entire trip. With so many of the attendees having completely different backgrounds it made almost every conversation unique. One moment you could be talking to a neurologist, then a computer game programer, next an artist, a 3d modeller, a chief executive of a software company, a student, to a biologist, the list really was endless.
Click HERE to see Nvidia's blog post about the day.
It has to be said I was very well assisted at the event, my helpers were Dana, Jaime and Doug. A bunch of cracking guys that not only accompanied me during SIGGRAPH, but also outside the event too. They made my time in Vancouver a very fun and exciting experience. Even though it wasn’t their native country, they made me feel very at home.
There was only one minor downside to the event, and this relates to myself, or more specifically the video of me… As previously mentioned I had made a little video with the advertising agency demoing the device, giving people a very quick (approx. 2.5 min) taster on how to get started using Dabbler on the Nvidia Shield Tablet. The first edition of the video was made three weeks before the event at the Ad agency’s beautiful (very busy) head office in London. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and lots of great editing, the video had to be scrapped due to poor sound quality. Fast forward two and half weeks and exactly 3 days before I was due to fly out, we are filming video No.2 in my (much quieter) studio! Everything seemed to flow much more smoothly this time, obviously the practise from our first attempt helped quite a bit! Also the Nvidia guys now knew exactly what they wanted in terms of content, so rather than talking at length about what Dabbler could do, I was able to pinpoint the different steps needed, and be more concise with my delivery.
… So back to my grievance, although I was initially happy with my demo video, it was played on loop. Just above my head. With the sound right up. By the end of the event something happened that I never thought imaginable : I was bored of my own voice. What was worse was that it even started to effect my super positive American buddies. It’s safe to say we’d all heard enough from 'video Luke'.
Day four and Siggraph’s over, my new friends have all headed back to Santa Clara leaving me alone in Vancouver for two days, free to explore. I’m so pleased I had this extra time get to know the city. It's an extremely friendly, beautiful place, it felt familiar whilst being totally different to anywhere I had been before. It’s certainly left a very good impression on me, and is somewhere I will try very hard to go back to.
My first full day of exploring was mainly taken up by trekking around the utterly charming Stanley Park, there can’t be too many cities with a park like this at its heart; Hyde or Central, no match at all. There were a few occasions where I got chatting to various local people, I think it might have had something to do with being abroad on my own, something I have not done before. Maybe I looked a little lost. Either way it allowed me to meet some absolute characters.
My Last day was in part spent with an old artist friend, Jessica Gowling. Someone who I’ve known for about 4 years but due to geographical difficulties had never actually met. Who says modern media only drives people apart? It’s thanks to Twitter that my final day in Vancouver was another highlight of the trip! After a quick meet downtown we whizzed off to the nearby Granville Island, a popular area with a whole lot going on! It was really interesting to get a guided tour from people who knew the place well, left to my own devices I would not have had nearly the same experience. It was a really fitting end to my swift but jam packed trip to Canada’s eighth largest, but most beautiful city. I was sad to be leaving but there was, however one good thing about returning home was that I flew with British Airways (as every good englishman should), thus reuniting me with an illustration I completed a month earlier for BA’s inflight magazine, Highlife. A fitting conclusion to the trip if ever there was one.
No promises were made, but this might not be the grand finale of my so far expansive and exciting Nvidia adventure. Watch this space or as they say in Canada “Eh …..Right?!!"
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