Imagina 2005 or ‘hymn a gene a’ as French females provocatively pronounce it, is a conference, trade show, exhibition and four day festival of French frolics between the beautiful Mediterranean borders of Italy & France. Imagina2005’s trade show floor mixed American and German interactive virtual research projects with oriental drawer pulling ecosystem students (it’s true) and a smattering of French educational & media training institutions alongside 3d apps, telcos, ISP, vendors, support agencies, 3D TV systems and a man from Dubai – apparently the only country at the centre of creativity in the world – according to the glossiest brochure I have ever binned.

The conference featured panels discussing Games, Animation, HD, FX, Digital Animated and Feature Films, Architecture and some super mega techie number crunching algorithm server type complexity stuff that I obviously understood!

The management of creativity in games development discussion between EA’s Rory Armes and Shinji Hashimotoe of Square Enix suggested that EA’s current development methodologies (much maligned recently) are set to move towards Square’s hierarchal pyramid model, whereby the ‘creative vision’ holder of a large team delegates from it’s zenith.

I was wide awake and busily scribbling right through all those hour and a half sessions – although I honestly confess to catching 40 winks waiting for the ‘cut & a shave’ plug-in guy to get his laptop to perform in real time, it looked productive and intuitive but when the ‘bring my own laptop’ gremlins showed up, he just kept diggin’ & diggin’ while the audience & I entered R.E.M.
Some highlights were the discussions around the implications for broadcasters in the context of HD roll out. The Virtual Actors forum proved interesting and illuminating. The Sony pictures Imageworks’ President Tim Sarnoff explained how across the Spiderman franchise they had evolved their ‘pipeline systems’ and environment creation from low poly environments with high levels of texture detail to Spiderman 3 where they’ll practically model all the rivets on the gutters.

The ‘alternative business models for Games Companies’ session didn’t throw up any surprises, there was a degree of waffle around legally bonding games but good general info around ‘serious’ games from Noah Falstien, for me Jon Jordan from Develop Magazine made the most sense on the day. I did really enjoy the IBM multiplayer server solution’s plug and the on-line member numbers/stats of 17.5 million on one network in Korea used as part of a sponsored evening special event.

The toughest question of the conference “So can you tell me how you solved the gait problem?” (Audience member to Stephane Donikian developer of an interactive real time character animation system) – was so apparently complex and confidential that uttering the answer would have the same effect as the funniest joke in the world and would therefore instantly kill every single member of the audience if heard. At least that’s what I think the translator intimated the professor had said. Now – headsets, translations and the quality of translators – something Peter, Mark and myself had cause to discuss more than once, having attended mostly English speaking gigs like E3, GDC/ECTS, Xfest, etc., I had been accustomed to silently chuckling internally as foreign visitors scrambled for the headphones at the door. Fully engaging, understanding the speaker and topic, depends on the quality of translators & the old native tongue principle. However I had the misfortune of turning up at one Adobe and Matrox seminar, where headsets weren’t actually supplied. The first 10 minutes were grrrrrrreat, then the adobe presenter just said, “I’m really terrible at English am I not yes, so I’m going to do from here the rest of this in French.” L’eau avec gas Clevercelt ? Oui, au revoir Imagina2005!

Author’s Bio: Clevercelt is usually to be found somewhere near Dundalk where he is the manager of the MIDAS initiative, a project which aims to develop a cluster of small to medium sized digital media companies in the east border region. Previously he worked at Microsoft in Dublin.

MIDAS has recently developed a dry-hire high definition post production facility called the ‘Bright Room’ at Dundalk Institute of Technology. MIDAS will be launching its own website very soon…