Every year hundreds of creatives gather at THU to find inspiration, learn more about the industry they work in, network, and share their experiences. However, we at THU felt there was still something missing to make this experience complete. That's why this year we are introducing the Co-Labs.
The Co-Labs are an opportunity to simulate a real world creative work environment with the task of bringing ideas for movies, games or animations to life as a team, guided by some of our most valiant knights.
Sounds good, but what does this mean practically? We asked Eduardo Gonzalez, an Art Director at Riot Games and head of the Co-Labs at THU, to explain. “This is something completely new,” he says. “It comes from a method we use at Riot Games: when we introduce an idea, we try to develop it in a way that empowers all the team members.”
Empowering. That seems to be the key word to understanding what the Co-Labs are all about. It's a change in the standard top-down structure used at many companies in the digital entertainment industry. There are no directors, managers, or supervisors telling you what to do. The approach is more collaborative. The Co-Labs will help you learn and grow by giving you ownership of the project you will be developing. You will be creating goals, not receiving them.
Will you be working alone?
Of course not! That would be against THU's rule number 1: if you see someone alone, please go and talk to them. 40 attendees will be divided into 5 teams, balanced in a way to include different sets of skills. Each team will have artists from different disciplines: concept artists, animators, storyboard artists, 3D artists etc.
Who will be the boss?
No one. Each team will be mentored by two Knights, who will help moderate, facilitate, and, when necessary, act as tie-breakers for decision-making. They will only be there to sustain the team, help it align the project and move forward by making sure there are no bottlenecks. The team members' own strategies will drive most of the project and decisions. You will have to divide the task using people's strengths, but also challenging them.
“Be careful though, it's not a design by committee situation,” warns Eduardo. “There sure will be many designers involved, but there must be a unifying plan or vision. The focus is on team-building: pushing each other, trusting each other, and internalizing.”
How will the participants be selected?
We will announce this at a later stage. Attendees will have to request participation since the places are limited. As many of you already know, there are a lot of activities going on at THU at the same time. Don't select something just because it sounds cool. Take this time to reflect on all the information we just gave you and decide whether or not Co-Labs are the experience you are searching for. Bear in mind that you don't have to be “the best” in order to participate, you just have to be committed to doing your best.
How much time will the Co-Labs take up?
There will be some warm-up talks and an introduction on the first day, and then the teams will have four days to come up with the idea for an IP: be it a game, an animation, or a movie.
“Time limits can reduce quality, but you'll be surprised by what people can do,” Eduardo points out. “It's not as tough when you're working with people, even if under pressure to meet a deadline.”
What will happen at the end of it all?
Each team will give a brief presentation of their IP to prove their communication abilities and show their understanding of the project.
“It will not be a chance to show off,” Eduardo reminds us, “but to practice and be proud of what you've achieved together.”
What will you gain out of this experience?
The main focus of the Co-Labs is to unlock the potential of every creative that will take part in this experiment. They're designed not to go smoothly to make you reflect on how to react to situations when things don't go well.
“You need to bring passion and focus to it,” Eduardo continues. “Be committed and persevere! Prove you will see it through no matter what. That's what we ask of each other on the foundations team at Riot Games all the time.”
The Co-Labs are not about the final result, but about the experience. What will you take back to your studio? Think about it.
“Use this situation as an opportunity to self-reflect on how we work with others,” suggests Eduardo. “Team success is not important. It's not a competition and no one is getting an award. Help each other and always keep in mind the real goal.”