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  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles Faculty Senate President Jenni Powell Crews The Gathering 2017

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    It’s a cold Wednesday morning and thousands of young people are standing outside what looks like a giant Viking Ship turned upside down. A light snow falls from the sky and sticks to the ground, as well as to the tarp-covered equipment most of the people have with them, many using computer chairs as make-shift dollies holding PC towers, wooden structures that resemble book shelves, and more energy drinks and sodas than should ever be consumed by a human being, let alone about 7,000 of them. This is the opening day of The Gathering, the world’s second largest computer party in the World (behind DreamHack), held every year over Easter Weekend in Vikingskipet Olympic Arena in Hamar, Norway.

    The event started in 1992 and was originally created as a demo party, but over the course of 25 years has expanded to so much more, including game development, coding, graphic design, filmmaking, Cosplay, e-sports, and much much more.

    One truly defining characteristic of the event is that it is almost totally volunteer run by a Crew of over 500 people, most of them who had been doing so for many years.  The event is hosted by the organization KANDU (Kreativ Aktiv Norsk Dataungdom or Creative Action Norwegian Computer Youth), which is an organization aimed at promoting the use of technology to youth across Norway (as well as to the international attendants of The Gathering, of which I am one of many).

    This is my forth year in a row as a member of the Crew at the event. Many people wonder how a transmedia producer from America ended up at a Norwegian computer party. At the time I first attended, I was working for Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry, and a fan of that network, who also is a long-time Crew Member at The Gathering (who incidentally, is also an International Crew member, hailing from Denmark), reached out to see if Geek & Sundry would like to be involved. I jumped at the chance and organized a small group of Geek & Sundry talent to attend and create live content for the event. That first year was truly magical, as has been every year since — even now as I’ve moved on from Geek & Sundry and am now a faculty member of the New York Film Academy.

    Why do I and literally thousands of others keep coming back to this unique event year after year? I think to pinpoint that, one needs to know more about exactly what The Gathering is and what makes it special. I spoke with Jørgen Vigdal, one of the organizers of this year’s event, and he has this to say: “The Gathering is about creating a venue … that gathers people and makes them create, learn, and hopefully (inspires participants) to want to do more than just play with a computer.”

    One year, in my personal experience, I was able to run a complete live streaming stage, producing multiple shows a day with a full production crew with multiple cameras, jibs, and other state-of-the-art equipment. Another year I helped produced four hours of television-quality content in just as many days — the most insane production schedule I’ve ever had in my career, but also one of the most fulfilling production experiences I’ve had. (Right up there with winning my first Emmy!)

    Every year, The Gathering takes on an overall theme that focuses on an aspect of either computer gaming or technology in general and explores it both through gaming but also through educational lectures and presentations. This year’s theme is #Secrets, and centers around the important issues of cyber security and protections from hacking.

    Vigdal continues, “We know that the participants are very involved in social media. Many of them are sharing a lot of pictures and information. Perhaps they are writing on social media or in other social networks such as Slack or Discord. We don’t want to scare them but we want to show them some of the consequences. Hopefully by learning what a hacker can do or what a social engineer can do with the information that gets published, they would be more careful or be more aware of it.”

    Christian Funk (Kaspersky Lab Head of Global Research & Analysis Team), one of the speakers of the event, had this to add: “There’s all this (security) stuff going on and being offered to the community … people have to know about it. And there are some gaming companies that are trying to straddle keeping it usable for people and (keeping) security, and we are now at a stage where they are getting together really, really nicely.”

    As the popularity and international reach of the event grows, the organizers are continuing to evolve with the times.  As Vigdal explained, “The Gathering and KANDU are having a more focused vision and plan for the next three years.  That’s good for us because we want to focus on specific areas. There’s many sponsors and there are many communities that want us to focus even more on professional e-sports. Many people can say that The Gathering is doing e-sports and in some ways, we are. But at the same time, what we are really doing is entry level e-sports for the participants. We are not holding any large prizes, we are doing the production locally and we are focusing on the participants in the Ship, not on everything outside.”

    If getting together with 7,000 of your closest friends for four days of gaming, creative competitions, educational lectures, concerts, computer programming and design, and lots lots more, The Gathering might just be for you and if you can make it out to Hamar, Norway for Easter, perhaps you’d like to join us at TG18. #isiteasteryet

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  • NYFA Faculty Spotlight: Brian Dilg, Photography

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    My ultimate goal is to help students find their own creative voice, to create images that simply don’t look like anyone else’s.

    New York Film Academy blog has decided to catch up with a few of our talented faculty. Meet Brian Dilg, Chair of the NYFA Photography Department

    Photo by Brian Dilg

    Photo by Brian Dilg, all rights reserved.

    “I teach courses on the techniques and aesthetics of cameras, lenses and lighting, as well as digital darkroom practices. I also help students investigate their own creative process, the themes they’re particularly attuned to, and how to bridge the gap between theoretical understanding of technical concepts and real-time application. Part of that process is learning exactly how the human brain-eye system actually perceives the visual world, and the surprising ways in which we don’t actually see what we think we see, both as image-makers and as viewers. Understanding how cameras actually “see” light allows photographers to exploit the way the human eye seeks visual balance and harmony. Image-makers can than build layers of perception and meaning into images, which creates a rich discovery process for the viewer and rewards repeated viewing. At this image-saturated time in history, having this ability at your command gives photographers a major competitive advantage, and helps them overcome the tendency of flawless modern equipment to produce generic, forgettable work. My ultimate goal is to help students find their own creative voice, to create images that simply don’t look like anyone else’s.”

    Photo by Brian Dilg for In Montauk

    Photo by Brian Dilg. Shot on assignment for filmmaker Kim Cummings for the feature film In Montauk.

    Brian Dilg is an internationally published and collected photographer and award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of professional teaching experience around the world. His images have been published in the New York Times, Time Out, and the Village Voice, and on book covers by Simon and Schuster, Random House and Hyperion. He has provided image retouching services to clients including Victoria’s Secret, Polo Ralph Lauren, Revlon, Nike, NBC and Allure. He is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop, an Adobe Certified Instructor, and a frequently consulted authority on retouching and color management hardware and software. His feature film directorial debut, “Auf Wiedersehen,” premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. He recently shot “The Greims” starring Wes Bentley (American Beauty), featured at the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival. He previously served as the Technical Director of the film program and as the Director of the digital imaging program at the Maine Media Workshops. He did his graduate work in film production at New York University, where he was a full scholarship student. He has worked as director, cinematographer, and editor on over 70 other narrative, documentary, music video and commercial films. He currently serves as the Chair of the New York Film Academy Photography Department.

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    December 31, 2010 • Acting • Views: 4344