Friday, September 3, 2010

3D Basecamp Day 2 Recap

Alright I owe you an update. It's Friday, 3D Basecamp has ended, and I sit here in Denver International Airport writing this on my iPad. I'll do my best to summarize the awesomeness that was yesterday, day 2 of Basecamp.

Yesterday was the longest of the three days, the only full day. We got going with Breakfast at the Dairy Center at 8, then went into the main lecture room to begin the Unconference part of Basecamp. 

After an introduction, anyone who wanted to was given the chance to take a post it note, write a conference session idea, then come to the front of the room and speak about it for a moment. What was scheduled for an hour really took nearly an hours and a half because of the great, fascinating ideas that came about. Post it notes were placed on a whiteboard with time slots marked out, and the Google staff had the challenge of placing the sessions into different slots. An unplanned bonus was using the last slot, instead of having unconference sessions, but have an all-group idea generation binge for SketchUp version 9. Version 8 was released on Wednesday, at the Basecamp keynote address. I'll come back to that, though

Throughout the day, I attended 5 unconference sessions over the four time slots. They ranged from someone in particular showing their tips/tricks/application of SketchUp to open, roundtable discussions.

I felt it appropriate to attend the education discussion proposed and unofficially moderated by Diego Matho of the Boston Architectural College, a friend since 3D Basecamp 2008. Discussion included the preconceived notion that "SketchUp is simple and easy," when in reality it takes practice...and how that can be a turn off for users who expect to come to a single class then expect to meet their Friday deadline. We also discussed what initial stumbling blocks teachers encounter with their students during the early days of SketchUp exploration. I believe I was again the youngest at the conference. At least, is timely, I didn't need a chaperone. To my knowledge, there was only one other student, a 22 year old from England who I happened to be at dinner with on Wednesday. 

During the second session, there were three events I wanted to go to (the inherent problem with conferences) so I told myself I'd go to two. I went to one, got hooked, and stayed. The topic was SketchUp use in the film industry designing sets, but also with a discussion of SketchUp's [seemingly lacking] camera views for professional cinematographer. There had been a windows plugin, Film &Stage, but it wss found to have bugs before the [I believe it was] SU7 release, so it was pulled and has yet to be fixed. After seeing some of the creative and tedious work-arounds created by the professionals, I can understand their frustration.

Following lunch, i straddled two sessions during the 3rd block: a [quite technical] discussion of Dynamic Components, and a discussion relating to Building Maker. Not much to report from these sessions, really. I had kind of burnt out and needed a break this point so much of what was said went over my head and was, in some aspects, too technical for me to understand.  

Following a break in the hall during which I hung out with Aidan, SketchUp Evangelist,  I went to an interesting session lead by a professional theater set designer from France who uses SketchUp models to design her sets. We were showed sets from Dracula, A Midsummers Nights Dream, and others. Quite interesting  to a stage manager AND SketchUper. 

Then came time for the unplanned idea roundtable for SU9. During the day, people had the opportunity to propose ideas on a whiteboard, then during the session of nearly all 250 attendees, those who wrote ideas had the chance to further explain them. Aidan write them all on a notetaking application projected on the screen, then ideas most desired were determined by loudest applause. Sounds 5th grade, but it amazingly worked because everyone knew their applause meant real potential. Depending on the applause, Aidan changed the size of the test of that given idea. Some ideas decreased from 12 pt font, but some gained great support, growing quite large in size.

There was one moment when Aidan went online to Google to find the Basecamp website. Basecamp 2008 was the first link, THIS BLOG was the second link, and Basecamp 2010 was the third link. I was terrified in those moments that he was going to click on my blog. I love putting stuff up here but was not prepared see it on the screen in front of 250 of the most hardcore SketchUp users.  

Now to the party. After an hours break, we were invited to Google's Boulder offices, only a block away from the Dairy Center... With significantly less security and formality than in 2008 at Mountain View, we felt welcomed as guests and were invited to look around the offices, play rockband and pool and foosball, as well as enjoy the delicious dinner on the second flood deck of the offices. With massage chairs scattered around the office, I found one at the end of a quiet hallway. After two 7 minute massages, I felt quite revived. All this SketchUp talk, plus meeting tons of people, makes you quite exhausted. I went to bed following the party. The hotel was only a three minute walk away. 

More later about Friday. 


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