The three-day 3D modeling conference for the SketchUp community continued Thursday, with a solidly packed day of "unconference" sessions. Affable and highly entertaining Google emcee, Aidan Chopra, facilitated a large brainstorming session in which various individuals nominated topics for sessions. Individuals were asked to write their ideas on sticky notes and then step up to the microphone to introduce their idea. Their sticky note was then taken by Googlers and put up on a scheduling board.
As you can see, there were plenty of ideas to be exchanged at this unconference! The brainstorming session was actually so fruitful that it ran over the time allotted, and the first unconference session start time was pushed back from 10a to 10:30a.
The topics were incredibly wide ranging, all the way from somewhat expected and highly relevant topics like "Tips and Techniques," to more elite super-user topics such as photorealistic rendering and building information modeling (BIM). There were some tangential topics such as exploring and harnessing the power of social media, as well as eclectic topics such as using SketchUp for set design in the film industry. How creative and unexpected! Unconference sessions ranged in size from 5-6 attendees all the way up to, by my estimate, 40 attendees.
Mitchel Stangl, shown as a topic leader in this picture (see the green shirt), was definitely one of the more engaging and passionate speakers. Mitchel is the very definition of a SketchUp power user; he works with incredibly large and complex models, and has been using SketchUp since 2001, when it was "born." One of his sessions, on the topic of creating 2D construction documents from 3D models, turned out to be one of the most popular topics of the day.
Following the unconference sessions, all attendees were invited to an hour-long session to propose and prioritize features for SketchUp version 9. Yes, you heard that right -- version 9. The very day after version 8 was released, the SketchUp team was already encouraging and soliciting feedback for their next release. (My only explanation is that they must have learned to get by with about three hours of sleep per day.) It was interesting to see which suggestions met with wide support (e.g. reflection property for SketchUp materials), whereas other suggestions sparked quite a bit of debate (an iPad viewer for SketchUp? "YAY!"... "NAY!"... a web-based version of SketchUp? "COOL!"... "WRONG DIRECTION!"...). If you missed out on the conference but have ideas for SketchUp 9, there's certainly many opportunities and avenues to offer your ideas to the SketchUp team. If there's one thing I learned this week, it is that the SketchUp team is very accessible and receptive to feedback.
|Mark Johnson, FAIA and Eric Schimelpfenig, AKBD|
The second day concluded with dinner and a party at the Google offices. The party was on the deck, which was accessed by going up the stairs of a central rec room. It was something of an oversized romper room for adults, including not only this awesome rock wall (note "GOOGLE" in the upper right corner), but also: massage chairs, a ping pong table, a pool table, and super soaker water guns.
The Google deck welcomed us with a beautiful vista of the Rocky Mountains. Can you imagine being able to come out here to this gorgeous deck, to eat your lunch every day? A brown bag lunch never looked so good.
Sadly, my last interaction with the Google SketchUp crowd was this parting shot (literally). I was unable to attend Day 3 of the event, which promised numerous interesting demos from various plug-in vendors ("Friends of Google") for SketchUp. Most of the plug-ins offered functionality for photorealistic rendering as well as energy analysis calculations -- all very interesting stuff.
Thanks to Google and the SketchUp team for being gracious, welcoming, and enthusiastic hosts!