Fall Hiatus: SCAD Workshop, North Woods Getaway, Upgrade to CE 2018

First, a very sincere thank you to the people at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for their warm hospitality during my visit on October 3-4 to conduct a basic CityEngine workshop and talk about Geodesign — READ THE STORY. This was one of the most comprehensive talks I’ve given to date, where I tied CityEngine visualization into my experience with storytelling as a writer of public outreach media for major public works projects, and as a former broadcast journalist working in television and radio. I typically don’t talk about myself beyond a short introduction, but the fact is storytelling with CityEngine and GIS is just my latest incarnation. Same job, different stories, different tools.

I met Professor Christine Wacta at the ESRI 2018 Geodesign Conference in Redlands. We quickly discovered we shared many of the same interests and goals in working with visualization. A word of advice, friends; I have now been to two ESRI functions in Redlands, the other being the 2013 Forestry Conference. Both trips have been hugely valuable to me in both knowledge gained and professional relationships established. Go to a conference, listen to the presenters, but get out there and meet people. Ask questions.

I was hugely interested (and a bit stunned) to see SCAD’s architecture students working with both ArcGIS and CityEngine, and doing their designs on a “canvas” of data and information. I would expect this kind of understanding will place them at a huge advantage as they go into the working world. They were approaching the middle of their term and they hadn’t been around CityEngine that long, but they were getting results. For my part, I wrote three very basic exercises on Computer Generated Architecture (CGA) coding; one was based on the “primitive shapes” exercise in a previous post “Why the Split( ) Operation is Your Friend”. Most of us learn CityEngine by going straight into the tutorials. As good as they are, they are not for the unskilled or the faint of heart. My feeling is that very basic CityEngine instruction can provide some easily remembered takeaways that beginners can leverage right away in their work. This will be one of my missions going forward into 2019.

Y’know, every job I’ve ever had in my professional years involved public performance in one manner or another, every job has involved both a typewriter and a microphone. One very important item I mentioned is the value of “getting on the right stage” in your career, a holdover from my ancient days as a music major. I told the group if they didn’t remember anything else I said, they needed to take away this: you must always perform in the right venue, one where you are learning, growing, building your chops like a guitar hero, and where you are noticed by someone for cryin’ out loud. If we’re going to improve, we need the feedback of an audience and the ability to step back and look critically at our own work. No one likes performing to an empty room, even if the echo is nice.

Students doing a basic exercise based on my "Why the split() operation is your friend" post.

This exercise involves procedural modeling on a primitive cube shape. The cube is split vertically into three sections which are colored, shaped and moved into position to form a water tank shape.

Suddenly, I'm the gray-bearded professor.

My friend and colleague, Professor Christine Wacta, who came to the USA from Cameroon via France.

My Uber driver warned me the Spanish moss is crawling with mites and critters. Many years ago, it was used to stuff mattresses and pillowcases. So much for my plan to bring six trash bags of the stuff home on the plane.


Meanwhile, yes, I’ve still been working on learning CityEngine and I’m progressing, getting all of the layers in my continuous coverage to play nicely together.

Part of my fall hiatus this year was spent in northern Wisconsin. I visited the area where naturalist Sam Campbell used to live many years ago. So in just three weeks, I visited a climate where temperatures were in the 30s, another where temps hit 90, AND experienced both here in northwestern Missouri.

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