Convention Reports
CG Overdrive 2007 - Singapore

Singapore is far from home - very far indeed. In fact, it took 30 hours of travelling time (if you count the lay overs at Seattle and Tokyo airports) to reach our destination. Fortunately, I brought along a few good books and that made the whole travelling ordeal a little more bearable. One of the books I read was Arthur C Clark's Rendez Vous with Rama which kept me turning pages in anticipation. If you like sci-fi novels, I'd strongly suggest you try that one.

We landed in Singapore completely drained of energy. From the airport, a driver brought us to our hotel. I gotta say, the folks at CG Overdrive did not skimp on the lodging. We were treated to The Oriental, a 5 star hotel that would be perfectly suited for royalty and celebrities.

Getting over the jetlag is not an easy task when you travel half way across the globe, so the first few days were a bit of a blur. Still, I managed to perform all the duties I had committed to.

The second day of our arrival, we were brought to the Singapore Expo where the convention was taking place. There, I met the other speakers who were a truly talented bunch. They had been flown from all over the world to share their expertise. There were representatives of Spain, USA, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Germany etc. All of us conducted a soundcheck of our respective presentation and everything worked fine. As far as I could tell, no one experienced any problems of compatibility, which is always a fear when you bring equipment from one part of the world to another. I bought a brand new laptop specifically for this presentation so I was relieved to see everything working smoothly.

The third day, I gave my 2-hour lecture to an audience of about 800 people. Despite some technical problems I experienced for the first half hour, it went very well overall. I discussed the importance of imagination over technical skills, as I consider this to be one of my main asset. A lot of CG animators are concerned with software and hardware, but in my way of thinking, these things are peripheral and should always be at the service of imagination and not vice versa. To quote Einstein: "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

During the lecture, I gave a sneak peek at some of my upcoming projects including 2 and a half minutes of animation I recently completed, for an upcoming short film. The response was tremendous. All and all, the presentation was a success and I could have easily kept going for another 2 hours. The last 15 minutes were devoted to Q&A and I gave copies of my books to everyone who asked a question.

After the presentation, I did a couple of interviews with the media and walked around the hall. It was interesting to see that my old school, Sheridan College, had a booth on the floor. They are actually in the process of starting an animation division in Singapore. I ended up talking quite a bit to the folks at the booth and, Angela Stukator, the associate Dean of Animation, told me that she would be most interested in having me lecture at the main school in Toronto. I'd definitely be up for that, as I haven't been in Toronto in quite a few years and I'd love the opportunity to spend a few days there.

Other booths of interest included Imaginary Friends where my pal, Edmund T Shern and a group of talented Singaporean artists were showing off their impressive work. Lucasfilm also had a presence as they recently set up shop on the island. They were showing some of the footage from their upcoming CG series, Clone Wars, and what I saw looked quite nice.

On the 4th day, Kyle Balda (Pixar/ILM) and myself were escorted to the National Broadcasting Station where we were interviewed live on radio for about 45 minutes. It was an interesting experience that had me quite nervous at first but ended up being a most relaxed and pleasant time.

Here's a recording of the interview:

Part 1 (2mb)
Part 2 (11mb)
Part 3 (15mb)

This was my last scheduled assignment. Kyle and I rode back to the expo, where I spent a few more hours on the floor chatting up colleagues.

The organizers were extremely nice and helpful. They treated us to 2 wonderful dinners and were always ready to cater to our every need. I'd like to give my most sincere thanks to Sen Lai, Selina Ang and Sophia Ang for going above and beyond the call of duty.

After the convention, Nancy and I spent another 5 days enjoying life in Singapore. We traveled all across town in the MRT (Singapore's transit system); we ate a lot of sea food; we went to the cinema to see a silly Singaporean movie (Men in White); we explored the Science Center; we saw a cool film at the omnimax theater; we rested in Sentosa Beach where we ate among roaming wild cats and peacocks; we did tons of walking around Clark Quay, Chinatown and beautiful downtown Singapore.

We were impressed by the kindness of the Singaporean people, the cleanliness of this ultra modern city, as well as the extreme efficiency of the public transportation. Singapore is a kind of utopian society where people from various ethnic backgrounds enjoy a very high standard of living. A very nice place.

Michel Gagne, June 2007

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