Aussie Ninja's got a ticket to ride
Tue, 21 August 2007
by: Australian Ninja
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Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature from that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into two sections in the one page. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image). The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you.
After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.
Stopping off for a burger and brief browse of the city shops, it was soon time to wade through the crowded Melbourne streets towards Federation Square.
Once inside the ACMI building, I bypassed the stereotypical tourist trap known as the souvenir shop; lest I be consumed by my lust for buying licensed products featuring animated characters.
The maze-like interior of the ACMI building proved baffling to a first time visitor. There were signs pointing out the exhibits, but these were subtle hidden signs, (the kind that M Night Shyamalan would be proud of) and not the usual "it's over here you jerk" kind with bright colours you could see from a mile away.
Deciding which exhibit to experience first was a tough choice. Rationalising that I hadn't actually played my Game Boy Advance on the train as planned, I knew the Pixar: 20 years of Animation could wait, while I got my gaming fix at the Best of the Independent Games Festival 2007 showcase.
BEST OF INDY GAMES FESTIVAL 2007
|It's the games that ACMI west rejects, that make ACMI the best! |
Entering the exhibit I realised the futility of visiting any publicly accessible place during school holidays. Flocks of small humanoids decorated the demo PCs like cockroaches. Hovering about like a predator, (knowing that I could move faster than children with their short little legs) I swooped onto a PC and chair the moment one turned away or paused to check on a parent.
The room itself was two conjoined rooms, full of PCs. Some snazzy projector-on-wall action let you know what other people were playing on their computers just by glancing up from your PC station to look at the wall. Separate touch screen kiosks strategically positioned in various spots had info on all the games, which no child read for more than two seconds on account of all the games to play.
Overall it was a nice set-up, each PC station had its own mouse, keyboard and quality headphones, and I could tell people were really enjoying the games by the way their eyes were glued to their monitors.
At the entrance to the Game Lab was some wall display text commenting on the exhibition. Themes such as games no longer being played just by sad lonely teenagers, the rise of the female gamer and other interesting topics were covered in a mature and dignified manner.
While not able to play every game on that day, I was impressed with the quality and variety of games on offer. The sheer creativity of the games and peoples enthusiasm for playing them really made my day.
Overall it was well worth visiting. Out of the games I played my favourites were
Armadillo Run and Aquaria (grab the free A.R. demo at www.armadillorun.com).
A big thank you to the people at ACMI for hosting such a fun exhibit.
Be sure to check out the full details of all the games featured in the Indy Games 2007 exibit, and take note that several have links to free demos on their parent websites, such as Fizzball at www.grubbygames.com
PIXAR 20 YEARS OF ANIMATION
|Programs, get your programs. |
Heading towards the Pixar exhibit, I made my way to the back of the depressingly long line. While paying for tickets they offered me an iPod for $5. Seriously. One double take later I accepted their ridiculous offer, perhaps these iPods had fallen off the back of a truck? Sadly it had to be returned later, but it was loaded with a fairly decent audio tour of the exhibit. Then came the bag check in.
You'd think this was an airline of some sort with all the lining up and confiscation of personal goods. After frantically stuffing my valuables (Game Boy, wallet, pen and paper) into my jacket pockets I claimed my rental iPod then migrated down the staircase to behold an iPod that didn't work. Five fiddly minutes later - with assistance from two friendly staff members - the headphones were replaced and the audio tour began.
Once inside the actual exhibition area my senses were overwhelmed with eye candy of the finest quality. Paintings of Nemo, original pencil sketches of Woody, actual storyboards from The Incredibles, sculptures in glass cases created for Monsters Inc, and enormous lift out text "quotes" littering the walls and towering over you as if spoken by some God of animation.
And then there was the Zoetrope. A what? Yeah I didn't know what that word meant either. So make a quick stop at Zoetrope explanation land. It's like thirty seconds reading tops. Okay, so this circular carousel-like spinning disk starts off kind of slow then builds to an amazing speed. The strobe light flicks on and off real fast and then solid three-dimensional inanimate models come to life before your very eyes. It was pure magic to watch, and something not to be missed by anybody who visits the exhibit (this particular Zoetrope contained characters from the Toy Story films).
Moseying on out of the Zoetrope room, more browsing at a leisurely pace revealed a short ten minute film playing in one area of the exhibit. Only it was full so I had to come back later. In the meantime, amongst the gorgeous artwork I noticed another area; the kid's corner / drawing table. Despite being an area designed primarily for kids to draw pictures I couldn't resist joining in and drawing something myself. The area had a big table, things to draw with and a big space on the wall to pin-up the completed pictures.
Conspicuously being the only adult on his knees at the low table drawing with children didn't slow me down one bit.
My drawings are pretty crap, but I didn't let that stop me so I busted out a crayon picture copying the image from one of the ACMI fliers. The original was a crude marker drawing of Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc. Drawing frantically with crayons I first copied the monsters from the flier, and then filled every inch of the white paper with gaudy bright colours and heavy black outlines.
After pinning my piece on the wall, I admired the other drawings. Seeing the vibrant children's pictures on the wall was one of the highlights of the day for me. I always enjoy viewing kid's artwork, and having volunteered at various schools over the years I've had the pleasure of watching students crafting their masterpieces, and seeing the finished results plastered all over classroom walls and hallways.
|Under the sea, there'll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans, under the sea! |
Later when leaving the exhibit, I noticed a sign I had missed earlier that read:
"Children 12 and under."
Rationalising that had I seen the sign before going over to the drawing table, I would have pretended not to see the sign and joined in anyway.
Exiting the Pixar exhibit area I made a brief detour to play some different games in the Games Lab, and then sculled lots of water upon reclaiming my bag from the check-in, before browsing the souvenir shop.
Most items in the souvenir shop were over priced, as you would expect. Considering how dirt cheap the entry tickets were for the Pixar exhibit, and the fact that the Games Lab exhibit was free - in that context the prices seemed more reasonable.
In the shop, you had the usual character "X" slapped onto generic product "Y" - the kind of junk that nobody needs. However among the things worth buying, there were some excellent art prints featuring Pixar characters and a high quality glossy pictorial book of the whole exhibit that would have been mine if I were a little richer.
The cool looking postcards featuring Games Lab exhibits past and present were the cheapest mementos, so that's what I settled on. Then I headed back to the train station and eventually sweet sweet home.
Did I enjoy the trip, and was it worthwhile? Damn straight it was worthwhile.
Should you bother to go?
Depends on how much you enjoy standing around looking at draw droppingly gorgeous artwork. The people there on the day were a mix of young and old, with lots of families in particular as it was the school holidays.
In my opinion it's a grand day out whether by yourself or with others and I totally recommend checking out both the current exhibits: 20 Years of Pixar and Indy Games 2007. The Pixar exhibit is on until Sunday 14 October 2007, and the Games Lab exhibit is on until Sunday 30 September 2007.
So there is still plenty of time to go. You can see everything worthwhile in a half day; it usually just takes the other half to travel there and back. No photography is allowed, so leave your cameras at home.
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!
Not knowing what to expect on that day, I was relatively free of expectations and emerged almost two hours later (from the Pixar exhibit) in a euphoric state, spending the rest of the day daydreaming about the glorious artworks and relishing the memories of the day's experiences.
I'd like to say thanks to the kind and courteous staff at ACMI for their friendly customer service and thanks to the higher powers at ACMI for hosting the exhibit.
I'd also like to say thanks to the people at Pixar for lending these amazing materials to be put on display for the public to enjoy (not that they would sitting around reading these words when they have films to create).
It was a fantastic exhibit, and this is the kind of art that would not normally be seen by anybody outside of the Pixar studio walls. It's like one of those 'behind the scenes' DVD extras where instead of staring at the TV screen you are actually there in person to experience the creative magic and raw energy that goes into creating the Pixar films.
Tickets for the popular Pixar exhibit can be bought on the day or pre-booked on this page.
The full details of their exhibits, cinemas, ticket prices and more are available at www.acmi.net.au
by: Australian Ninja
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