The speakers included:
David Andrade and Mark Olson from http://www.theoryanimation.com
Matt Berenty and David Bokser from http://www.loveinthetimeofadvertising.com
Kenny Roy from http://collabs.arconyx.com
Michael Cawood and Shane Davis from http://devilsangelsanddating.com
The biggest innovation that my short film ‘Devils, Angels and Dating‘ brought to virtual studios was the Facebook-like news feed on the front page. With this no matter what time someone checked in they could see new progress being made in all departments. It was very re-assuring (a lot like Facebook is for your social life). But it’s only part of the solution. That works to ensure that the ones that are working, are doing something. But it doesn’t reveal anything about the ones that aren’t, and that’s what would worry the decision-makers the most. Enough to avoid remote collaboration.
I’ve heard of productions keeping a Skype window up and active during work sessions, which creates the feeling that you’re both active. But that requires a lot of bandwidth and only works for small teams. If you’ve seen the TV show 24, you may remember the small vertical video chat devices they all seemed to have beside their computer monitors. If we could get used to these being turned on more often, without feeling the pressure to fill the void with conversation then we could get to a place where everyone can see each other working. To reduce the bandwidth maybe we could have some software that only updates the image when it changes significantly, i.e. it doesn’t send changes to the image if someone is barely moving in the frame, which is often the same when they’re working. But wave a hand or say something and it activates more bandwidth so that the image updates smoothly again. Ultimately though this is an implementation of current tech, and I suspect it’ll be a new tech that changes our habits more and really brings the change we need.
Virtual Studios have a long way to come to really make an impact, but most of that distance has more to do with perception than what’s possible with the technology we have. It’ll only take one big success story to start a wave of copy-cats. Proof of this has already occurred in the collaborative short film making market. When I started making my short film, hardly anyone was doing it anymore. There had been so many failures people were pulling away form big volunteer projects in favor of smaller portfolio pieces. I pushed through the naysayers, created a unique new platform and lead the way to where we are now. And where are we now? With more short film collaborations in production than there’s ever been, using a variety of tool sets either similar to mine, or in a few cases even directly copied from mine. I’m quite proud of that, and it’s likely the biggest accomplishment my little project can boast to. To this day I’m a big supporter of other collaborative projects, helping the team leaders with tips and tricks to make it work for everyone involved.
To finish off here’s the Question and Answer session from the Siggraph presentation, which went on quite a while and brought up some very interesting issues for discussion.