This is the second part of Hipstomp's reporting from the inaugural Autodesk CAVE Conference, which took place in conjunction with their annual Autodesk University event last week in Las Vegas. See Part One here.
Following Tibbits' talk, the entirety of the CAVE conference attendees filed into a ballroom at The Venetian to see a rare presentation from the legendary Syd Mead. (Mead will typically not travel in December to give presentations, but he relented for CAVE, a testament to the conference's attractiveness.) At 80 years of age, Mead has the killer combination of a lifetime's worth of experience and an irreverent, devil-may-care veteran status that allows him to say whatever the hell he wants; I won't name the Hollywood stars or clients he skewered in passing asides, but I will say his stories were funny.
More importantly, we were treated to a narrated slideshow of Syd Mead images projected onto a gi-normous screen so that we could see every detail, every dot of gouache. And of course there was Mead himself to explain the thinking behind the vehicles and sets of Blade Runner, how he's managed to "future-proof" his concepts—making futuristic sketches from the 1960s still appear futuristic today—and showing us the sketches (and exact drawing) that got him the job on Elysium.
Syd Mead artwork, courtesy of BravinLee Gallery
It was during Mead's presentation that CAVE started to come full circle for me, and I began to see the light. Mead was discussing one of his more technical renderings for Honda, and as he went in-depth, explaining the drawing's composition, content and framing, it echoed what Louis Gonzales was discussing that morning. Gonzales is a storyboard artist and Mead an industrial designer, so the terminology and context was a little different; but the principles they were discussing were precisely the same. Whether you are Gonzales, Robertson, Gaiman, Tibbits or Mead, you are creating something and attempting to convey ideas to others. The brilliance of CAVE is to get all of these creative bodies into the same space, and to allow us attendees to connect those dots.
Then it was time for dinner and drinks—but the informative content didn't end there. We were treated to a stage presentation by John Cleese, whom I incorrectly assumed had been hired to provide entertainment, i.e. comic relief. But I scrambled to get my recorder on as I realized Cleese wasn't delivering a stand-up routine at all, but an inspirational discussion on how to harness creativity. He addressed the crowd of predominantly Americans with "I wanted to tell you—ah, sorry, I've been in England too long—I wanted to share with you my thoughts on creativity."
For the next hour, Cleese unfurled a scholarly—and because it was Cleese, quite funny—talk on all he's learned about tapping into your inner creativity. Cleese not only has a wealth of experience in generating everything from comedy sketches to sitcom and movie scripts to one-man shows to motivational lectures; as Gonzales studies story, Cleese studies creative breakthroughs and how their originators arrived at them. Citing everything from a 19th-Century book on creativity, to psychology experiments carried out at the Art Institute of Chicago to a 1970s U.C. Berkeley study of the best and worst architects, Cleese broke creativity down into stages and listed examples for how certain combinations have time and again proved to be successful, across a wide variety of disciplines.
I absolutely cannot decide which of the CAVE talks I saw was the more informative. And I only saw a fraction of what was on offer. With its blend of riveting speakers, relevant topics, cutting-edge technology old-school creativity and most importantly, valuable information that you can actually use, CAVE is obviously going to become a well-known and must-attend creative conference. Make sure you get there next year.