Occasionally I get bummed out with my job. It pays well, it’s really not very hard, and I’ve got it a lot lot better than most other people. Still, every now and then I get a bit down on the whole thing.
Back when I was, oh, 10 or so, I thought the most amazing job in the universe would be to work for Industrial Light and Magic. You know, the people who did the special effects for Star Wars, and lots of big Sci-Fi films since then. They were the guys. The best. What could be cooler than working on all the ‘gee-whiz’ stuff that makes X-wings skimming across the surface of a battlestation the size of a small moon so awesome?
I was kinda into computers, and I knew that ILM used Silicon Graphics computers to do their computer based stuff. In fact, what I’d heard is that ILM pretty much drove the development of SGI’s gear. This is back in, oh, 1992 or something, and I had to do work experience for school. I figured getting a job at SGI would be a good stepping stone towards working at ILM. So I wrote to them to see if I could get a job there. No dice. I got a polite letter saying no, though.
A few years later, I saw a little animated short of a little drum toy being chased by a baby, by a company called Pixar. They had this cute logo/splashscreen thing of a lamp jumping on a ball. Then I saw the animated short with the baby lamp and the mummy lamp, which was sooo cute, and just the most amazing characterisation. I think I’ve watched every single movie they’ve made since.
I was working in corporate IT by this stage, and had pretty much shelved the dream of working in computer graphics. I’d never really progressed past rendering roman columns and greek pantheons against a marble-clouded sky in POVray. I did telecommunications engineering at uni, not computer science.
But the description of Pixar in that link up there describes what I’d always thought it would be like to work for a really top notch company doing amazingly cool shit. Yeah, sure, a lot of it would be boring, and I’m sure they have crappy management sometimes, and lots of office politics too. But they make movies with talking robots in them! It sounds like it’s full of fun people doing cool stuff.
That’s the kind of place I’d like to work some day.
I remember being interested in the graphics thatTV channels used before their shows – rolling 3D images of the station logo with a pompous orchestral swell. I even “reverse” engineered my school graphic design perspective classes to code 3D stuff on my Amiga. Good days.
It’s a pity New Zealand are kicking our arse on this stuff because I’d love to be able to digitally recreate the MCG in Bradman’s era, Marvelous Melbourne of the gold rush, Cyclone Tracy all these things…. but it’s the day before a holiday so my optimism is without bounds….
I reckon the games industry is where it’s at now. Computer games pull in more revenue, and ever since Wing Commander III (with Mark Hamill!) it’s been becoming more interactive story than pure game.
And then you have machinima, where the game engine is used for storytelling, like Red vs. Blue.
The future is amazing, and even better than I’d imagined it would be.