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Jon Landau’s Devlearn Keynote


The bullets in Pages don’t quite transfer correctly to WordPress, so I apologize for the lazy formatting. Jon Landau’s presentation was quite inspiring if not a little scattered. The key themes were to build emotional connections with your audience and stay ahead of technology, but to the detriment of your goals.

Learning never stops
What does a producer do?
Al Ruddy, the Godfather – 2000 extras, everyone with a bowler hat
Coppola loses it, tells the producer to leave then goes back and tells some of the extras to take their hats off
Producers are the COO
Avatar took 5 years, they went through the same thing companies do in those 5 years
We are trying to create media content that engages our consumer
so that when they walk away, they are more fulfilled and feel good with their time spent
What kind of movies do we want to make? Movies with a theme bigger than their genre
The plot is something left at the theatre, the theme is waht you leave the theater with, it’s the emotional connection
It’s one thing to teach the lessons, it’s another to let those lessons resonate
Movie industry survives through innovation, despite constant calls for the end of movie industry
You develop brand loyalty from the feeling
Landau’s parents produced independent art films
His parents innovated by taking long form narrative to television (iceman cometh, waiting for godot)
His first movie was Beat Street, started as a gofer, then supervised post production; they couldn’t make Cannes delivery date in time, producer told them “I pay you to tell me when things get done, not when they can’t”
Titanic filmed in Rosarito, Mexico
Tank built, set built in tank, used technology to bring the tank to life
40 acres of land, 10K workers
only built one side of the ship, since other side faced the ocean; they had to flip the film to show the other side of the ship
Sometimes tech doesn’t solve everythilng, you have to go back to the old tricks
As deadline for production came, everyone was panicking
Bought a book for his department heads – “the little engine that could”
Taking what could be possible and finding innovation that makes it possible
TEch in Titanic was later used in Avatar – look ahead, if you’re applying this now, what will it allow me to do in the future?
Found motion capture to capture performance of an extra and used those performances to populate the scenes
Push how learning is taught, something prior generations could not do to deliver learning at the moment of need
Engages the learner and connects them to the teacher, like movies connect audiences with characters
You need people not afraid of innovation
How you get up from your failures define you instead of just your successes
Define what your goals are then use technology
Jim Cameron writes scripts without regard for what is possible
Terminator 1 & 2 were written as one movie, but he seperated the two because the liquid metal technology was not possible at T1
IN the Abyss, they didn’t want to use CG, since it wasn’t quite at a level that was realistic (it was a stylized thing)
Integrating the CG was scary, they had to take it to the next level
Invented Photoshop to use in the Abyss
Entire dept had 900 megabytes of storage, on Avatar they had a petabyte
Don’t wait for the technology, come up with teh ideas to stay ahead of the wave; like a surfer
Avatar was written in 1996, the tech wasn’t ready at the time, but it eventually used to mocap tech that they used in Titanic
Virtual production that was “director-centric”
“performance capture” emotion not just motion
captured facial performances
Every nuance was created by the actor, it wasn’t animated
replaces prosthetics, “captured their soul”
We create “creative content” not technology
3D allowed audience to sit with the characters
He thinks this will have a bigger impact on education than movies
cites research (?) on 3D’s influence on education
Nigel Rodwell (?), cites increased retention of 70% for 3D
improves quality of conversation with students because recall is better
“Don’t look at glasses as a deterrent, look at them as an opportunity” – Bono ?
Do the glasses give you special content, can you embed a usb stick in them?
Why did Avatar work? because of the themes that are relatable across international boundaries
Deliver not just on an intellectual level, but a personal one; make learning unique to them, so they know why it was meaningful for them to learn
Technology a means to an end
Stan Winston – technology will go on, but art never dies
His best attribute as a producer was that he dreamed about movies; their has to be a symbiotic relationship between dreams and innovation
A dream w/o courage is a delusion; a dream w/ courage is innovation