Animfx, Wellington, 14 November: Scientist and self-proclaimed nanogirl Michelle Dickinson says she is proud to admit she is also a gamer.“AnimfxNZ 2014 will be the first conference where I’ll admit I’m a keen gamer, so in effect I’m coming out,” says Dr Dickinson who will speak at the digital entertainment event at Wellington’s Paramount Theatre on 21 November.
Dr Dickinson, who has a PhD in biomedical materials engineering and runs New Zealand’s only nano mechanical testing research lab, will talk about how she has applied gaming to her scientific communications work.
“Admitting my gaming habit would definitely mean raised eyebrows at the scientific conferences I attend,” Dr Dickinson explains. “But I’m an introvert, so as well as enjoying gaming, I use it to help myself as a presenter.”
Her technique is working as Dr Dickinson has just been named Science Communicator for 2014 by the New Zealand Association of Scientists, one of the year’s top honours. The award recognises her ability to make science accessible for a wide range of people.
At AnimfxNZ 2014 Dr Dickinson will explain recent advances in nanotechnology which could make animation more realistic, data more manageable and life easier for a range of creatives including animators and gamers. She will give Animfxers an introduction to nanotechnology, quantum computing and what light reflection algorithms mean for animators.
Dr Dickinson says her work as a roving science ambassador has her speaking to everyone from “five year olds to grandmothers”, building connections between science and people. Her work includes giving direct science communications to thought leaders such as Richard Branson, speaking at conferences such as TedX, and regular appearances on national television and radio.
Dr Dickinson will join Dean DeBlois, writer and director of How to Train Your Dragon I & II, and other respected industry speakers at the conference day of AnimfxNZ 2014. On 22 November, Weta Digital will offer a presentation around the many facets of modern visual effects, including an insider’s look at the 2014 film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to be held at The Roxy Cinema.
Other key industry players to present include Fabian Erlinghauser, from Irish company Cartoon Saloon, Michael Polis, president of Atomic Toybox Entertainment and former executive producer of education technology UMIGO project, and Mario Wynands of Wellington’s PikPok and Sidhe gaming companies.
AnimfxNZ 2014 is open to the public and industry. AnimfxNZ is organised by Grow Wellington, the Wellington regional economic development agency, with the support of the GAV Trust, PikPok and Weta Digital.