Life at the ETC

Life at the Entertainment Technology Center is… crazy. My awesome partner in crime, Lynnette, always says that the best way to describe NUS Computing is “pressurizing fun“, but I think that phrase is a lot more relevant here. There’s way more pressure here, and yet it’s so fun that we actually don’t mind all the hours we’re putting in. Think 9am to 11pm (or later) every day of the week, public holidays included.

So our first semester here is really structured and we have 4 allocated classes: Building Virtual Worlds (or BVW, which takes up 90% of our time), Visual Story (which takes up 5% of our time), ETC Fundamentals (or Fundies, 3%), and Improvisational Acting (or Improv, just go to class and have fun). Which basically leaves you with 2% to do other stuff ._.

BVW is really, really fun. You get together with a group of 2 programmers, 2 artists and 1 sound designer to build an experience from start to end in 2 weeks, after which you switch teams and start over again. The exceptions are lightning round (1 week, happening NOW), Story round and Festival round (3 weeks). You don’t get to choose your teams (except Festival round), so it forces you to learn to work with people from vastly diverse backgrounds, which I really love. You have no idea what each round is about (which is the fun of it, so NUS juniors who are coming here, I’m sorry for spoiling your fun), and you can only build for non traditional platforms like Google Tango, Myo Armband, Oculus Rift, etc. Interim presentations are held after the first week so you can get feedback, and the important thing here is to not get too attached to your work so you can throw stuff away if need be.

Dressing up for presentationDressing up for presentation because craziness is encouraged here. That team’s world was about a monkey collecting bananas haha.

BVW is definitely the craziest class I’ve ever taken, but also the best and most fun one ever! Check out my Round 1 world here – I dare say it was the best world for that round, as it impressed my prof (who also happens to be founder and CEO at Schell Games, and is well known enough to have his own Wiki page and profile card when you Google him) enough that he tweeted it out (: At the end of the sem, ETC throw a huge BVW Festival where the public is invited to come and play the best worlds of that sem.

Then there’s Visual Story, which in a way is pretty similar to 3343. There’s a lot less emphasis on post-production here though, and instead on pre-production and production. You also get assigned to a team of 5, but this team doesn’t change for the rest of the sem. My team only has 4 people and I’m the only one with any production experience, so that was kinda scary at first, but we’re still doing fine so far (thankfully). In fact, our first group assignment went really well, and my prof liked our video a lot (: There’s a 48 hour assignment coming up soon which I’m a bit worried for though D:

Fundies is an interesting class. Like what it’s name suggests, it’s almost like an “administrative” class where they go over stuff like the ETC handbook, resumes, networking, project pitches, and other stuff which you need to know to survive in ETC and the entertainment tech industry. There’s also the “creativity” section of it where they try to teach you how to be creative, where you have to draw stuff (even if you’re a programmer who can’t art :P), and get the chance to sign up for optional workshops like life drawing (SUPER FUN). Oh and the super awesome Adventure Module which is basically an all expenses paid school trip with friends :P That’s where my new Facebook display picture was taken hehehehe :D

Omni Bedford Springs ResortOmni Bedford Springs Resort. Yes, this was where we went for Adventure Module :D

And then there’s Improv. I was really scared of this at first because, well, acting. Turns out those fears were unfounded, because everybody is in the same boat, and what happens in Improv stays in Improv :P It’s also nice to not have any homework, and be able to just go to class and relax and have fun and not think about BVW. We usually start off/warm up with a game of tag LOL. It’s also super funny to watch other people come up with crazy stuff! While this might sound like a waste time kind of class, I think it’s pretty useful as it teaches you stuff like how to react to situations, to embrace the unknown, be fun to play with, etc. Apparently, Improv is the secret sauce of why ETC works so well, but you don’t really feel the benefits till you go out into the industry? *shrugs*

Aside from classes, we have the most amazing building ever. Some of you have probably seen my pictures of the life size statues here, which are awweeeesssooooommmmmeeeee! We have lots of pictures, and posters, and figurines, and other crazy stuff lining the corridors, because they believe being in such an environment helps you be creative. We also have nice facilities like a green screen room, a sound room, a makers room, a wood shop, a props room, etc. The only thing we don’t have is… a cafeteria ): Which means you have to bring/order in lunch and dinner every day T.T we do have lots of free snacks and a popcorn machine though! :D

Po from Kung Fu Panda!
Po from Kung Fu Panda!

As to why I have the time to write this post during Lightning round… Let’s just say we were given the opportunity to choose our platforms this round and all the teams are fighting for the same 2 platforms and the TAs still haven’t released the results yet so we have nothing to do. Which is scary, because that means 5 days left to build a world on a platform which we might have to start brainstorming for from scratch again D: The results came out as I was typing this and we didn’t get our first choice of platform ): Ended up brainstorming with my group till past midnight and finally settled on a crazy idea which requires us to build a big, physical thing… Keep an eye out for my video to see if we succeed or fail spectacularly hahaha.

Oh well. I shall try and make it a point to start blogging again since it’s a good habit and I really want to preserve the memories of my time here because I’m absolutely loving it here! Till next time (:

♥ sarrie

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One thought on “Life at the ETC

  1. Pingback: BVW Lightning Round | Sarrie's

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