Now Listen All You People, Come Gather Round
A while back, when I was assured I'd be finished on Hellboy 2 by now, I agreed to do a talk about visual effects at a university up North. Even though I'm not actually yet done on Hellboy I was still determined to do the talk. There are a lot of industry people who were very nice to me when I was student and I feel I owe a debt and should give something back. I also like teaching when I get the chance.
I've done lectures before but I've been so busy for the last eighteen months to two years that I haven't visited anyone in a while. This meant that my talk needed completely re-writing to bring it up to the latest technology and put some more up to date films into it. Preparing this new talk was the main motivation for getting that new laptop when I did as I wanted to have a machine capable of playing the newer high-res video I wanted to show. I had spent several evenings running up to Monday night sorting material, producing slides to show and editing video to try and make as slick a fifty minute presentation as I could. I was quite pleased with this slide and the animation I did on it to introduce each element. I spent a whole evening with pieces of paper on the living room floor at home trying to design a flowchart where none of the lines crossed. It took a while but this is the result:
Tuesday morning came and I duly presented myself at St Pancras and took the train north. I went through the town where I latterly grew up, which is a dump, but the scenery improved after that and got properly lovely once we hit Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Train journeys when you are going there and back in a day and for something specific tend to take on a sense of stasis for me and so I sat staring out of the window for the whole journey once the countryside had become good, my mind pretty blank.
Upon my arrival I was snapped out of my reverie and whisked over the road from the station to the campus. I was given a whistle-stop tour, a brief moment to grab a sandwich and drink before I was ushered into the lecture theatre and set my laptop up, plugged it into the college's projector and got my trailers running for the students to have something to look at as we waited for the room to fill up. I got a pretty good crowd: all three years of their computer graphics degree, a few masters students and four members of staff. As we were five minutes late starting I had to take the talk at quite a pace and by the time I was done the whole fifty minutes had gone by in a blur. I get stage-fright when I perform "creatively" (music and such) but I have no nerves about giving speeches or talks. I just don't think I have much in the way of shame. Even so there is a largish dose of adrenaline that kicks in when I speak publicly and I was quite high by the time I was done.
After the talk a few students came to chat in the college coffee bar until it was time to put me back on a return train and I was just coming down off my natural high as we pulled out of the station. All in all a good day. The five and a half hours on trains went at a geologically slow pace but the three hours between getting off and getting back on the train went by in what seemed like a heart-beat. I got some good feedback from the talk and I now have up to date notes so with luck I'll get a few more invites to talk again soon.