When I first heard about THU I was not only a freelance 3D artist but also an editor at 3D World magazine. Part of the job meant jetting off to to a wide variety of industry events, from closed door press releases to large exhibitions and conferences. I spent a reasonable amount of time in the air and was lucky enough to go to SIggraph, FMX, Klik, and many others and I thouroughly enjoyed them all. When I was invited to THU I looked forward to another in the long list of events with the added bonus of a little Portuguese sunshine. What actually happened for that week was unexpected but wonderful and my entire view of what an industry event could and should be changed pretty much on day one.
Of course the first thing to strike a visitor to any event is the location and Troia doesn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful peninsular with white sandy beaches, clear turquoise sea and a selection of good hotels, chalets, a casino and a small assortment of shops and restaurants. Apart from a short spell of cloud the weather as perfect; hot and dry. TRoia feels like a very exclusive hotel resort, specially as a ferry is needed to get form Setubal on the mainland. But enough of the tourist talk.
THU is first and foremeost an artist driven event. Unlike almost all other shows there is no trade floor, with developers and vendors battling to show off their latest shiny tools. This is all solidly about being inspired, learning new ways of thinking and working and, most importantly, of spending a few days with like-minded people, sharing a beer whilst discussing some of the best art and artists on the planet, many of whom are standing a feet away doing exactly the same.
It’s the familiarity amongst the 500 or so attendees and the speakers that helps to make THU so special. Being able to chat freely over dinner or a glass of wine, with the best artists is an unbeatable industry experience. Other shows will get a big name, fly thme in, let them talk for an hour, then ship them off again. THU treats things very differently and all speakers are there for the whole show.
A show would be no good if it was just a week long party with no content, no matter who was there and it goes without saying that if you want to be inspired or informed then THU is by far and above the show of the season. The amount and breadth of talent speaking at THU is pretty incredible, with veterans form the film, tv, games and print industries coming together to share their passion and knowledge. Not only that but the mentoring sessions let people really get to know artists on a personal level, while gaining deep insights into how to improve their own work.
Daily happy hours (or two or three hours) were an opportunity to mix it up, chat to new people while enjoying some local food and drink in the sun. Many friendships were built during this time and have developed long after the event. I made friends there that I am sure will be lifelong.
Evenings didn’t mean the fun was over. Take a break to eat then more talks, fireside chats with industry veterans, followed by art battles and rinks in the casino. Most nights saw this followed by more drinks elsewhere, often spilling on to the beach, where it was still warm at 4am.
I can’t think of a single element of THU that stood out for me. The whole event was very special. Well organised, thoughtfully put together with an incredible mix of art and artists. I’ve seen some great speaches from big names at other shows but it’s a very rare sight indeed to see that person sitting drinking wine wi the people they were talking to not minutes before. That experience exemplifies THU and is the main reason it’s so special. Youcan be a first year student, hobbyist or an artist with 30 years working in hollywood, you all need friends, fun and a source of inspiration.