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Tales from the GDC Vault returns with newly-digitized lectures

[Digital historian Jason Scott returns to his "Tales from the GDC Vault" series to introduce freshly digitized lectures from GDC's past, including a keynote from The Matrix's John Gaeta.]

Hi, it's Jason Scott, GDC archivist. My job has been to digitize older materials from the GDC archives and get them into the GDC Vault site, so that years and years of GDC talks can join their more modern brethren and educate and entertain for years to come. I also disappeared for a while.

What, did you think I was gone forever? Actually, I've been very busy, even though it hasn't translated to any blog posts for a while. Without further ado, let's talk about what I've been up to.

First, take a look at the picture above. that's what 173 Betacam SP tapes look like after you digitize them -- just a hard drive in a dock. Besides the 200+ hours of tape this translates to, it also has dozens of hours of audio recordings as well.

They range from a couple choice pieces in 1996 up through to 2004. After 2004, GDC switches to MiniDV tapes, and I've got that box waiting for me in the future, but it's the oldest material that we're going for right now.

During this time, GDC organizers upgraded the back-end of the GDC Vault, moved some servers, and I held off too much aggressive uploading. But we're in back in full now, and I've got some dedicated machinery creating the .FLV files of these long-lost talks and getting them to you.

I've also been transcribing the session descriptions from a library of programs provided to me, so you can get a solid preview of what you're going to see and hear. Or, in a few cases, not so solid at all.

gaeta.jpgThe winner for me in the "description bonanza" category has to be special effects wizard John Gaeta, who did the effects for the Matrix series and is credited with the "bullet-time" effect that is still showing up in films more than a decade later. This description of his 2004 keynote leaves... well, perhaps it leaves everything to the imagination.

The session's lengthy description covers topics from all over the map, spanning issues such as using "computer graphics for curing the criminally insane," "the rise of telekinetic programming," "the persistence of Japan," and much, much more. It's an eclectic, sometimes confusing list to be sure, and experiencing the session itself is the only real way to make sense of it all.

Weighing in at a hefty 80 minutes, Gaeta did not disappoint along the lines of "talking about a lot of stuff". Check out the full video for free on the GDC Vault.

Next, here's a video that has some great content, despite some presentation hiccups. The problem doesn't lie with the presenters themselves, but with the fact that the video doesn't show what they are discussing.

wheresthescreen.pngThe talk in question is titled "Destruction on a Diet", and talks about methods for adding dynamic environments into a game, optimizing AI code so that objects and backgrounds can fall apart (somewhat realistically) while characters and objects react appropriate. It's a great talk -- but we only see the presenters! John Crocker and Bruce Woodward are great speakers, but prepare to watch them refer to images on a screen we never see.

While this might not sound ideal, the Vault previously only had a strictly audio version. There's a very good chance that buried in these tapes is a second tape aimed at the screen during this talk. If so, a new version will go up. Until then, I have "upgraded" the talk from audio to video and added it to the selection.

To see the talk in full check out the free video on the GDC Vault.

Here's a few more videos up with this round:

- "Practical Implementation of High Dynamic Range Rendering"
Presented by Masaki Kawase. "This lecture should help clarify some of the problems when equipping HDR, introduce some techniques of HDR expressions that are possible to use on present hardware, DX8 and DX9, and indicate the expressions that can be advanced from HDR." (Japanese, with English Overdub) (2004)

- "Deferred Shading on DX9 Class Hardware and the Xbox"
With Rich Geldreich and Matt Pritchard. "A presentation so bright the presenter's gotta wear shades." (2004)

- "Real-Time Global Illumination"
Presented by Eskil Steenberg. "A brief history on various global illumination techniques is given and then the presenter explores how they can be adopted into real-time 3D engines." (2004)

The audio cassettes are rolling in quick. It's just an easy grab and then a render out to mp3, so here's a nice selection for you from previous years. (Remember, the following are audio-only!)

- "Common C++ Performance Mistakes in Games"
By Pete Isensee. "The Xbox Advanced Technology Group reviews dozens of Xbox games at the source code level, analyzing performance, pinpointing bottlenecks and recommending solutions. Naturally, the focus of these reviews is on graphics and Xbox hardware, but it's surprising how often C++ performance issues crop up in games." (2004)

- "Apparent Intelligence or Inanimate Objects Make Good Friends"
By Chip Standifer. "Learn how to convince users that man's best friend is actually a dust mote named Bob." (1997)

- "Getting the Rights Right: Owning and Protecting Intellectual Property"
By Bruce Maximov. (1997)

- "Representing Artificial Personalities"
By Michael Prevost and Greg Pisanich. (1997)

- "Holy Foley, Batman!"
By Hamilton Altstatt. "Give your interactive title a unique and distinctive flair by recording original sound sources from scratch, often with common household objects." (1998)

The machines are humming, the digitizers are digitizing, the renderers are rendering and the uploaders are uploading. Let's get that GDC history online, where it belongs. More next time!

Tales From The GDC Vault

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