Anigames and Columbia
One of the benefits of Siggraph 2010 was the opportunity to meet Jimmy Martinez from Naska Digital. He had a proposition for me. A new conference was developing down in Latin America called the Anigames Expo. Intended as the first of its kind, Jimmy extended an invite for me to come down to Columbia to talk about previsualization to his students. How could I say no?
Like most Americans, from what I gather, I was a little concerned about the idea of traveling to South America. Our general impression of Columbia is a country riddled with strife, drugs, and unrest. I'm not going to say these things are not a concern of Columbia, there were its share of armed guards on the streets and drug sniffing dogs stationed at the entrance of my hotel, however what I found in Bogota was a pleasant surprise.
Bogota is a thriving and modern city. The Expo was held at what appears to be a science and technology museum of sorts. The most impressive part of the facility was its domed theatre. It could house at least 400 to 500 occupants and utilized a threefold projection system. As a result, lecturers could display three different streams at one time, or for high definition output, the image could be spliced together across the three projectors. The result was nearly 130 degrees of viewing area. Pretty cool. It kind of reminded me of a mini Cinerama Dome.
There were a reasonable amount of vendors located on the show floor. Small by US standards. But the message was clear. Columbia wanted to prove that there was an interest the animation and gaming communities. I saw various recognizable gaming vendors, local broadcast design companies showing off their capabilities, and of course the obligatory booth babe...Columbian style.
The Columbian government was also on hand represented by the organization known as ProExport Columbia. This group worked with the show organizers and the lecturers to obtain more information on how Columbia could become a center of animation talent. I'm finding a number of countries are trying to export their talent base as a means to attract more business into their region of the world. If Columbia fosters more events like this one, along with improving its educational base...who knows....in 5 years we may be exporting roto and wireframe removal tasks to Columbia rather than India or other various asian countries. Personally, I was impressed. Hats off to Naska Digital for helping to organize a fantastic event.
One the last night of my trip, the organizers of the event took us out for a traditional Columbian meal. The main course was a very tasty chicken corn chowder. Although I'm not that much of a drinker, they did have a nice selection of beers. The desert was a form of flan or pudding. Also very good. I highly recommend it.
Update: Here's a nice video overview of the event.