Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brickworld 2009 - Saturday

I got downstairs with only ~15 minutes before the doors were opened to the public. I got my laptop up and running and then waited for the crowds. There were a lot of people who passed by, I actually missed the biggest crowds, since I went out to lunch, but I spent most of the public expo time (10 AM – 4 PM) sitting at my display.

Some people were hesitant to touch my computer to choose a movie even though I had signs telling them to do so, but anytime I saw someone lingering around watching my DVD menu repeat I would point out that they could click to watch the full movies. I was vigilant at making sure there were MooCards for people to take, that the DVD player stayed full screen and that the octopus machine was spinning whenever there were people around. I answered the typical questions (how did you make this? what equipment/software do you use? Are these online? and of course, how long did it take you?) and a bunch of story specific ones (why did they take their arms off? What’s so great about shielding? What happened to the soccer player that soccersaurus kicked?).

Other than that I mostly just sat back and watched as people crowded around the computer and made mental notes of what they found funny. As the kids watched “Out of Bonds” they would point to the soccer field display next to it as different parts came on to screen. My favorite moment was when a ~6 year old kid pointed at the Robert and Phil who were set up in the NNN studio and said “he’s a robber and he escaped from prison and then he hired him!” People also enjoyed looking through the crowd in the stadium and pointing out all the different monsters/crazy characters who were there.

I did do a little walking around during this time (finished up the Botanic Ballroom) where I talked to Ricecracker AKA Issac Mazer AKA the incredibly mature 14 year old and his mother. Here are some other cool things I saw during that time.

Tiffany, Krista, and Tiffany’s friend Anne came up around lunchtime and we went to the nearby Claim Jumpers – a mining themed restaurant I will not be visiting again. Then I showed them my set-up and other creations sprinkled around the room and Anne had to leave but Tiffany and Krista stayed for the last couple hours of the public expo walking around on their own. We talked about their favorites (many of which I had not had time to see) and then I drove them to the Metra station.

I came back and was deciding whether I should go up to my room for a quick nap or hang around the main ballroom for a while. I knew that the CEO of LEGO, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, was supposed to be giving a speech around that time while people were lined up for Pick-a-Brick. However, I didn’t see him around and figured I had missed him and the owner of LEGO, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, entirely. I started heading up to my room and then as I was turning into the lobby, who should I see but Kjeld and Jorgen heading toward the main display hall. I quickly turned around and went back to my table and waited for them to pass by.

Kjeld passed by about 15 minutes later and I said heloo, shook his hand, showed him how Soccersaurus’s legs moved and he watched maybe 20 seconds of “Out of Bonds” and then I pressed one of my MooCards into his hand. He took another look at my name tag and repeated “David Pickett” to himself. I was told before that he is very good with names, so that was probably him memorizing mine. Sweet!

Jorgen did not come my way, but he did give a nice speech to all assembled, during which I told the kids watching my movies that I was closing down the laptop because that was more important. I’m sure his speech is online somewhere since there were cameras aplenty. My takeaway was that they were “overwhelmed” by the things we build.

While I was driving Krista and Tiffany to the train I missed the announcement of the winner of the combo build. This may have been fortuitous. After the Kjeld & Jorgen excitement faded away I noticed that several people had removed their combo models from the judging table. I went over there to see if I could figure out the deal was. As I was approaching my model John-Henry Harris (remember him?) and Asli Bilgin (remember her?) walked over. John-Henry was pointing at my model and telling Asli what he liked about it. He then said that he voted for it and that it was ultimately the winner.

“That one won?” I asked innocently. “I built that!”
“You’re David Pickett? Here, have a prize!”

John-Henry then proceeded to tell me the various things he liked about my model. He compared it to graffiti style monsters he and his co-workers (at LEGO!) had been researching. He also pointed out the heart-shaped face and the golden robot heart in between them. Then he talked about the models/themes he had created as part of his job application for LEGO. It involved bunnies in the forest fighting against an evil steel queen who was intent on destroying the forest. Asli had us pose for a picture (which I need to get from her).

Then I asked if they had seen my display, and the three of us proceeded to walk over there together. I showed them my various monsters and handed them my MooCards and started explaining the story behind “Out of Bonds” to them. I showed them parts of the animation. Asli was confused about the players taking off their arms, but John-Henry understood immediately. We talked for a bit more and John-Henry promised to show my animations to all his co-workers (at LEGO) and said “I lived with some animators for a while, so I really appreciate the amount of time and energy you guys put in.” And then they had to run off to something else.

I was bummed I didn’t get to talk to them longer, but excited that a LEGO designer was getting so excited talking about my creations. I was floating on cloud nine for a while after that for sure. Then I went around to try an see the rest of the creations on display specifically the ones that had been nominated for awards so I could vote for the best ones. I ended up walking around with David Pagano and William Jennings (who was very concerned about how to address just one of us, since we were both David P’s, eventually he decided on Dave {me} and David). Here are more links to pictures of the AWESOME stuff on display.

Then I ran off to Potbellies for dinner yet again and got back just as movie night was starting. David had put together a bunch of LEGO animations, commercials and other related videos and was projecting them for a crowd of about 50 people. He also showed “Out of Bonds” and let me give a little introduction. I stayed for about half of the program, at which point a lack of sleep and a belly full of potbellies were taking their toll. I went up to my room and had a lovely 1.5 hour nap.

I came downstairs and finished my rounds of the halls and finalized my votes and then I prepared for World of Lights. The main lights went down and the creations lit up. Here’s what my display looked like for about an hour and a half.

And here are some of the other AMAZING light displays. I was particularly impressed by the displays that made the light seem natural.

The best part of World of Lights (and arguably all of Brickworld) though, was when Asli brought Tim Courtney and a couple other people over to my display to show them my stuff. That in itself was merely flattering, but what she then proceeded to tell me blew me away. She said that after John-Henry and her had left earlier that they had gone out for dinner and drinks and then proceeded to talk about me for an hour! I understand that “an hour” may have been an exaggeration, but it was clear that they were both really impressed by me. Alsi said she was impressed by my marketing, “You had four components; tactile, visual, take-away and then you, your personality.” And she said that John-Henry was impressed by the way I build stories around my creations and that he wanted me to come to Billund (the HQ of LEGO, where they design all their new products, for those of you who don’t know). This is the point where my jaw hit the floor.

I confirmed with Asli that she wasn’t pulling my leg and she assured me that he really was that impressed and excited about me. She also went on and said that if I ever needed anything from Microsoft to just drop her an e-mail and reiterated again how impressive my marketing was, especially for a 24 year old, but that really I should be working in design. After she went away with her companions I sat in stunned silence for about 10 minutes. My mind was reeling.

After World of Lights wound down I went up to Mark and Mikael’s suite for party times with other cool AFOLs. I ended up talking to Asli some more and found out that John-Henry was already on his way back to Europe (I was hoping to talk to him on Sunday). I impressed Steve DeCraemer and Tim Courtney by knowing about Auczilla and Rec.Toys.Lego. I finally went to sleep around 4 AM

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