One of the programmers on Messiah:Studio, he's personally responsible for at least one innovation that's going to forever change how digital animation is done. (much raving to do on that subject -- we can talk about this in another post)
- Bay Raitt
Gollum, in the Lord of the Rings films, had the most convincing facial animation of any CG character to date. This is largely due to the thousand or so blend shapes created for his head, based on a study of Paul Eckman's Facial Action Coding System. And perhaps more importantly, their organization and interface which reduced all that complexity and allowed animators to actually work with this mess. Anyway, that's all Bay Raitt's doing. This past year, he's been instrumental in seeing Normal Map technology delivered to the masses (again, a post for another time) -- any meaningful research or discussion you're likely to find on that subject originated on his message board.
- Meats Meier
This is a name you'll see in any "best of CG" kind of compilation. They always select him, and with good reason. If you follow the various 3D art publications, you'll know his work on sight.
Examples: Mother Nature, Etcher, Rocking Horse, and my personal favorite, the Captain.
He teaches at the Gnomon workshop now, and I've had the pleasure of being in one of his classes. Just a great guy all around.
- Zack Petroc
Clay sculptor turned digital artist with a stronger-than-most grasp on human anatomy. Recently made a name for himself as model supervisor on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
- Ken Brilliant
Also a clay sculptor originally, Ken is responsible for several of the images which convinced me that ZBrush was worth investigating. He's also responsible for writing the tutorials that convinced me it was possible to learn this program (the early versions weren't exactly friendly).
My desire to be there doesn't need much explanation. Big ol' graphics nerd -- 'nuff said.
And over in Santa Cruz...
- Old friend Kevin Kmetz will be doing his death-metal/funk/surf music shamisen thing on the 13th, and his Gypsy/Flamenco/Rumanian folk shamisen thing on the 17th. I don't know if his other band's performing anywhere between there. But hopefully they will, since I think that's the only forum we can catch him on guitar these days. (update: looks like "no.")
- Kevin's easily the best guitar player I've ever heard; one of those tragic genius figures who'll never receive the accolades they deserve because they'd rather challenge themselves (and by extention, the audience) than follow the path of least resistance. A few years ago, he sold all his belongings, put aside the guitar, and headed to Japan to reinvent himself, studying Tsugaru Shamisen under one of the last surviving masters. He returned to America and quickly turned things around, signing with Mimicry Records, where he records and tours with just about every band on the label. ...on an instrument I've never seen him play.
That doesn't sound so drastic, but it's actually somewhat profound if you think about the ways we all define each other. This pretty much makes him a person I've never met.
He's been back a while. I figure I ought to introduce myself.
Now, January 10th happens to be the first day of MacWorld Expo, so cheap hotel space will probably be difficult to come by. But I'll find a way. A couch to sleep on, perhaps. I've got some phone calls to make, but three weeks to figure it out.
If any of that sounds interesting and you happen to be in the area, drop me a line. Likewise if you're in the area but not interested in any of that -- there should be plenty of downtime between there for us to meet and, I guess, stare awkwardly at each other since we have no common interests. =)
I think I was misreading the Fishtank Ensemble page -- that show on the 17th was 2004. Nothing's announced for them this coming January.