Scripting Salon #2

Well, the notion of a ‘salon’-style get-together got a second chance today and seemed to work relatively well. I’ve dumped some notes about it below. The venue was Think Coffee, a fairly good if overly-NYU-student-populated spot. If we had arrived an hour or two earlier I think we might have grabbed an entire table for our group, which is something to consider for the future (perhaps noon is the best time to start?).

Anyway I’m certainly committed to salon #3, in two weeks’ time. I hope to see even more people there.

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Salon #2 review:

In attendance were Adam Elstein, Che-Wei Wang, Mark Collins and Toru Hasegawa (both of Proxy), and yours truly. Others dropped by briefly to chat.

While I think we had labeled the event as a ‘working session’ of some kind, it became clear from the outset that in fact everybody really wanted to talk. As the event evolves (and we know each other a little better), I imagine we will be able to get work done without much trouble, but in this session everybody wanted to discuss specific technologies (Houdini got a good showing), talk about teaching, muse about the challenges of scripted work, and discuss the potential value of various collaborations (especially in publishing, I think). On the possible collaboration front, I don’t think we uncovered any new types that I didn’t mention in my last post. Actually, I guess Proxy’s idea of a constantly-updated book was new to me: a kind of FILO stack of content that gets printed at any point you like with whatever chapters happen to be in the stack. But then they have already taken the first step towards doing this — see their book on their website (I just ordered it, gentlemen!).

Only two laptops were ever turned on, I think. Shreds of ideas from the conversation included:

- Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wrapper of some kind for Processing, to turn it into a primitive 3D modeler?

- tapping the income stream of ‘forcing your students to buy your book’, which is non-trivial when one counts up all the students we teach as a group over the course of a year.

- discussion of how much better Maxwell is than V-Ray as a plugin for Rhino (especially to teach with, because it has some nice ease-of-use features!).

- general recognition, it seemed to me, that Maya actually does great formal scripting and that we may be abandoning it too soon (for Rhino) without ever having really tapped its true power (which would involve really creating parametric objects, I think — but alas, I’m not a Maya scripter). Oh, also, the newest Maya uses Python, for Christ’s sake! (compare with VBScript in Rhino)
- mention of a whole bunch of cool projects I hadn’t seen before, many by Proxy, such as their clever OpenPoly project, which really shows the power of plain text as a stepping stone between programs (in this case from Rhino to Flash).
- discussion of a website that would store and map scripting methodology. This is a pet project of mine that I hope to kick-start soon.

- discussion of how to teach technical material, especially coding. I was impressed to learn that Mark and Toru actually teach students to write pseudo-code before they write ‘real’ code. Of course this has its challenges too.
What else? Hit me with some comments, folks.

1 comment to Scripting Salon #2

  • It was a good discussion – to be honest, I’m not sure if it will ever be a ‘working session’. But thats fine, we all are doing enough that just to talk through experiences is probably more helpful! I think we should continue to think through a project or some kind of effort that we could talk around, or that could at the very least aggregate some of this knowledge that we are unearthing independently (and perhaps sometimes redundantly!). The ‘best practices’ guides, via book or website, seems like a nice project. The focus should rightly be on practices, standards, resources – this is a pedagogical issue, trying to talk about complex things in a communicable way. This is super helpful to all of us!

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