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What would Della wear?

2005-04-06 17:07:23.862061+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

I've started with Digital Fish, reading a lot of documents marked "Confidential" and sprinkled with greek letters, starting to slog through code. Alas, however, I'm still waiting on computer delivery, so it's all theoretical, but I'm jazzed: I'll be doing what I'm good at, I'll be challenged, I'm excited about the product, and I think I understand what the market for it is. However, the lack of a build environment does have me slightly distracted...

[Orcas] We missed a real vacation last fall because of the whole job situation, and similarly this spring, so we've decided to go a little above for a late summer trek. Normally we'd take a week and go road tripping, but the whale watching on our trip to the San Juan Islands two summers ago has us interested in wildlife. We figured we could probably do 4 or 5 days straight of just that. Hence the query about Alaska.

There are a number of ways to see Alaska.

The cheapest is on land. Fly in, camp and hike, see the back country. But we're more interested in whales and wildlife, and Charlene's not in shape to do serious hiking. You could do this without hiking, via bus and train (or even rental car) from Anchorage, but the whales are more prevalent over on the southeast, in the inside passage. And the terrain is rough enough over there near Juneau that roads and railways are scarce.

The easiest is from a cruise ship; fly to Seattle, cruise out of Bellingham, $1k per person "all expenses paid" for an inside cabin. But that only gives you what you can see from the cruise ship, quickly you have to supplement that with trips on shore, $400 a person for a helicopter flight to a glacier here, $200 for a whale watching trip there. And these trips are hurried, a thousand people descend on a town for a few hours and all hell breaks loose.

Everyone we've talked to who's gone that route has been happy with their experience, but has said they've looked with envy from four stories up as the people down below in the little boats really saw Alaska, and that the experience is really more like a week in Las Vegas with different scenery. Frankly, the idea of wearing a tie to dinner to appease the red staters had no appeal. And after the third time we heard "yeah, two hundred packed seats in the auditorium for the movie, but the next morning I was one of 5 people there to hear the nature talk before we went ashore" we realized that maybe that wasn't an experience tailored to us.

So knowing that a cruise would actually end up being at least twice the advertised price, and probably wouldn't be what we wanted anyway, we started thinking about the "do everything for one rate" trips. What really sounds cool, if money is no object, is a trip on a small charter boat. $3.5-4k each gets you that same 1 to 2 staff to guest ratio as on a big ship, only it's two crew and four guests, and if everyone's having fun on the glacier then the boat leaves a little later. The Heron and the Home Shore are two such boats. So we started with the "well, a cruise is really going to cost us $2k each", and the escalation started, and the next thing you know we're trying to find a schedule which works with Alaska Passages.

[Bald Eagles]But finding two other people to share that week is hard, especially matching arrival and departure schedules, so we were searching around last night and realized that the reason so many (I think we've found four or five) of these charter boats run out of Petersburg, Alaska[Wiki] is that Frederick Sound, one of the great places to see Humpback whales, and Le Conte Glacier, icebergs and calving and all that, are right near by. And you can do day charters of fishing boats and all-day whale watching for a lot less than the 3 hour tours out of the towns with cruise ship docks. And apparently the bald eagles are as thick in Petersburg as pigeons in most towns.

A B&B there appears to run about $100/night, and Alaska Airlines says in their Domestic Contract of Carriage:

Bicycles: One item of bicycling equipment is defined as one bicycle, non-motorized, with single or tandem seats.

Emphasis mine. So we could fly in, pedal from the airport to town (and have transportation to tool around the island), spend the week doing day trips, see whales, glaciers, and experience at least one small part of Alaska up close for roughly the same price as these big ship cruises. And it'd be a vacation that feels a lot more like us.

So we've got a bunch of email out, but right now we're tending toward that.

[ related topics: Nature and environment Aviation Travel Boats Bicycling - Tandem Dan & Charlene's 2005 Alaska Trip Alaska Dan & Charlene's July 2003 San Juan Trip ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Digital Fish made: 2005-04-06 19:03:58.243158+00 by: Dave Goodman

Congrats on the new job!

I'm a programmer and storyteller, but I'm no artist. I'd love to have a tool that let me set up 3D worlds easily, or make a 3D movie, that doesn't require that I be good at 3D design. Is that something Digital Fish will offer, or are they going another direction? Thanks.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-04-06 19:46:07.039864+00 by: ebradway

Dave, Once upon a time I worked for Cyberflix out of Knoxville. The DreamFactory engine was exactly what you are asking about. You design "sets" and "actors" (rather, puppets). You move things around on the sets in very simple language. A scripting language acts as the glue. It was a very good system and a number of good titles were produced with it. Unfortunately, Bill has taken in it some weird direction...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-04-06 22:27:17.995326+00 by: Dan Lyke

Dave, one of the branches the business plan could take down the road is toward a consumer version, and I haven't been paying too much attention to the long term because I understand the short term play (I'm also reluctant to say too much because I'm not yet sure what's public and what isn't), but at least in the near future I don't think this will be that sort of tool.

It might be something that would integrate in a pipeline with a tool like Eric describes, but its place is really more towards enabling the classically trained animator to do what they already really know more effectively.

#Comment If you've already started, but you're waiting on your computer... made: 2005-04-07 03:00:06.909171+00 by: baylink

Your sysadmins clearly haven't read Limoncelli and Hogan. :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2005-04-07 15:52:17.561603+00 by: Dan Lyke

You've just pushed me over to the other side of things, guess I need to get the admin-ish stuff fixed first...