Leadership Academy awareness activity: Connection

Leadership Academy awareness activity: Connection

The new standard

Late 2018, the Council I work for rolled out a new-ish standard guideline for leaders. It’s a blueprint for desired behaviours, meant to help leaders better understand where their capabilities currently sit against Council’s standards, and also each other.

In order to ease leaders into this new system, a few programs have been developed. One of them, is an interactive online activity I developed with the L&D team, aimed mainly at aspiring and team leaders. Middle and executive managers will enjoy the effort and see the value, although they might find the activities too basic for their level.

Story and logic

(A method to the madness)

The Synopsis – You’ve been invited to join Earth’s delegation and represent Council on the most prestigious intergalactic summit in the Open Space. In preparation for attending the summit, you’ll make key decisions that can make or break the project. They will affect the course of history, the outcomes, your performance and have an impact on the people around you. Your job is to lead your team, make positive connections and deliver a world-class presentation.


The logic

The overarching story is based on the blueprint’s sub-factors for Connection, one of the capabilities promoted, and all passages and decisions are backed by supported (and expected) behaviours.

During the activity we track two variables, CONNECTION and TIME. They are points you may gain or lose in every decision you make. For instance, at some point you’re given the option to get to know more about your team members. If you choose to do so, you’ll lose time points (time invest). However, connection points may be rewarded.

Based on your score, you’re presented with one of four results, from nailing the project to failing not going to the summit at all. Also, based on performance, 70:20 activities are recommended.

The result

The activity is still new, so it’s early to pull any definitive data out. However, the reports already show we’re off to a good start. The majority of the learners (leaders) enjoyed the overall activity and they find the awareness gained will be useful in their jobs. The feedback rate went up to 46%, that’s far more than any other training we have in-house. Also, importantly, the vast majority (83%) liked the way the activity was presented. 

I’m very excited to participate in this new approach, be able to introduce game based activities to Council and work alongside high caliber learning professionals to bring leaders training that is engaging and fun to play yet serious enough to make it to the official Leadership Academy. 

Character animator and other solutions

Character animator and other solutions

While trying to figure out a way to meet the tight deadlines for the training courses we have on, after a bit of research, I’ve started testing the lip sync features of Character Animator, one of the newish apps Adobe has made available through CC. Turns out, it works like magic, the team really liked the results and was happy to add it to the workflow.

If anything, perhaps not as cool as the actual 3D mouths, in my view, but it’s a way faster process and will save us loads of time (equals budget). Pretty decent compromise to get the issue solved and the project delivered on time.

Groo the Wanderer in 3D

Groo the Wanderer in 3D

Here’s my first attempt on an old favourite character, Groo, from the brilliant Sergio Aragonés. It’s a side project I’ve been considering for a while but too often kept hitting a wall with both rigging and rendering. Did I err? said the Wanderer. Well, not this time.

I was pretty happy to manage the whole thing in Maya, using its human IK and rendering it with Arnold. Groo does what Groo does best!

City of Tea Tree Gully visual ID

City of Tea Tree Gully visual ID

I just spent the last month and a bit helping the communication team at the city of Tea Tree Gully council sort out their visual and corporate identity. I have to say, I was surprised.

From other people, I know that work with councils, the impression I had is that things are generally (too) slow, I thought I’d fighting bureaucracy and quickly start hitting walls. Instead, I met a dynamic team, young and young at heart, they took me in as part of the team from day one, and together we worked. In the course of 5 weeks, we fixed the brand style guide, signage, events collateral, the mascot team for Waterworld, their website new look, intranet, asset management system and more. Few! It was full-on, but it was fun.

Design is collaborative

Coming from a creative agency background, I was quite used with ridiculous deadlines, with everything being for yesterday. Top that with two direct managers, one older and insecure yet arrogant, the other young and overly ambitious – both incredibly arrogant, fresh graduates, ready to treat everyone on their level or below like dirt, for no good reason. So this time, joining a friendly team in such an open and collaborative environment, was just bliss, like fresh air.

For this reason, I can say my first experience with working within the Council was great, and I have the communication team to thank for. I understand some of the designs proposed may take a long time to be implemented, if ever, but in the end, it was fun taking on the challenge and working alongside professionals who truly understand the meaning of teamwork, inclusion and collaboration. Thank you CTTG team.

BHP training went global.

BHP training went global.

BHP training finished and delivered. That was 5 modules, with 12 characters, modelled, rigged and animated. Some serious work, but also lots of fun. Cool thing was, the client was happy and the training ended up going global and was delivered in both English and Spanish. Gracias a Cortex y al equipo involucrado, bien hecho! Looking forward to the next challenge :)

ZBrush speed sculpting

ZBrush speed sculpting

This is the end result of a 3D character I did based on a speed sculpting tutorial from Shane Olson and a sketch made by Dean Yeagle. It’s also my debut in working with Dynamesh geometry, a pretty amazing tool. I’ve worked on many 3D character before but nothing like this one, with the speed and flexibility it offers. Below, a work in progress.


If you don’t know what Dynamesh is, in short, it’s a technology that allows you to re-design the geometry on a 3D model, on the fly, re-mesh it, as if you’re working with real clay – although you could also say it feels a bit like magic. It’s been years, I’ve been hearing how great it is and now I finally got to have a taste of its power. So good.

More info for those who work with or are studying ZBrush

I’ve been working on this cartoon character for weeks, not because it’s super difficult or anything – but because I couldn’t figure out why PolyPaint wasn’t working. If you search the internet, most posts discussing this issue will tell you it’s because the layer is on record mode. But I haven’t had setup any layer, let alone activated record mode, so no clear answer to me. Long story short, the problem was that, for whatever reason, my brush was using the secondary colour, which as white.

Turns out, white colour won’t show at all, no matter which shader you’re using, so it seems to act more like an eraser rather than white ink. Ok, you’re probably thinking “rookie mistake”, but… ok yes, I see now that was rookie. However, on my defence I will say, that’s not intuitive. I did post the issue on both PluralSight, where I got the tutorial from, and also Facebook and GooglePlus. I got one good answer from the tutorial owner, which didn’t solve the problem, and not one answer with a plausible solution from the social media.

So there it is, if you were stuck with PolyPaint like I was, try checking your secondary colour. Or try painting with OPTION key pressed. Hope it helps someone else too.

Before and After

Before and After

In photography, and I guess I can also include graphic design here as well, every now and then we get an image to work with which is almost there but not quite. And we get people saying, can we delete this guy, can we add that one. So here are 2 examples of “Photoshop magic” that is required from time to time.

Please add the chef.

Corporate group lunch to celebrate 10+ year employees

I did this photo for the lunch celebration of employees with 10+ years in the house. Problem was, by the time we organised the people and did the photo, no one noticed David, the head chef, wasn’t actually present. He went back to the kitchen to make sure everything was according to schedule. So in the “after” version, you’ll see him has been added to the left. Note, the body comes from one photo and his head from another.

Please delete the chef.

In this case, we had the assistant chef with her beautiful smile, something not that easy to capture due to her shy nature. Only, this time Dean, the head chef, wasn’t quite participating on the shot, and the hotel manager really wanted to use this one photo. Photoshop to the rescue. So, there he is in the “before” photo, the original one, and Hanna on her own in the “after” (edited) photo. I had to rebuild the painting in the back, which I grabbed from another shot I had, and also got rid of some red elements (eg. coffee machine at the bottom right) which are notorious for screaming for attention.

SPASA SA 2013 Awards of Excellence

SPASA SA 2013 Awards of Excellence

“We are extremely pleased with how the event turned out and it was a wonderful evening made possible by our generous sponsors and platinum sponsor, SoftSwim. The exceptional quality of the award entries is a huge credit to our members, solidifying that we have the best in the industry.

Polvo Digital Arts was an integral part of the evening, providing the digital presentation for the awards ceremony. Kudos to San for creating a presentation that fit our brief perfectly, it was exactly what we were looking for. 

On behalf of the Committee, we would like to thank everyone involved for making the night such a success, particularly MC Lindsay McGrath, the sponsors, our members, the awards judges, the staff of The National Wine Centre and the entertainers. If this year is anything to go by, next year is going to be even more exciting!”

S. Rowley, Association’s State Manager and event organiser.

Elders Insurance Conference Video

Elders Insurance Conference Video

“Within a tight timeframe, it was important to be as specific as possible with the brief and to provide some creative direction. This was well followed and while amendments were required, as they always are, they were not extensive which was great given the deadline.”

A. Lucas
National Communications Manager, Elders Insurance