Discreet Showreel Retrospective

Hey fellow nostalgiacs! Here’s a link to eight years worth of Discreet (Logic) systems showreels, plus a few of the “B-Sides” animation, broadcast, “software,” and such. Hopefully it a) works, b) amuses you, and c) isn’t taken down.

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Thanks for uploading these @kirk

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This is great!

Oh wow. These are amazing.

I found the shot of the first thing I ever got paid to do in VFX: model Coit Tower:

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Also, thanks to @johnt for spurring me to do this. It was much easier than I expected.

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Excellent - thank you

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1995 FTW, my first DL tradeshow season (NAB/SIGGRAPH/IBC), I still remember it from A-Z.

And then there was the year where Behavior took over Discreet marketing and decided the showreel didn’t need any pesky client work in it… (looks like you have that one, the infamous “98 blue lady” reel). That lasted one show, I think by SIGGRAPH it had been recut?

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The meddling was constant. “Blue Screen Girl” was spoken of only in hushed, shameful tones and I never even saw it until this DVD arrived in my life.

But there was a constant stream of Autodesk creative marketing types who all took their turn trying to get their fingerprints on the Systems reel. A significant memory, from 2002, was one senior guy that INSISTED on more breakdowns, before/afters, wireframes, and so forth (never mind that very little of that kind of thing was ever submitted), and really seemed like he might make good on his threats, until the one day I was informed that he was seen leaving the office carrying his rolodex.

We were mostly left alone after that.

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But yeah, Behaviour is a whole discreet logic chapter that I would pay real money to hear more about. From the inefficiently designed (but cool looking!) office supplies, to the impossibly heavy custom metal tables, it seemed like a company whose design aesthetic depended on aggravation and difficulty.

Also, you make vfx software and you’re also a vfx company? Competing with your own clients? Seems like that should have raised more red flags.

Apparently the lesson of Cineon/Cinesite had not been learned.

And yes, I had forgotten about:

  • the non-standard sized stationary: neither US 8.5" x11" letter nor A4
  • the colors that somehow didn’t have standard Pantone equivalents (or at least couldn’t be printed easily in some major market countries)
  • the transparent plastic business cards that cost more than $1 each (I remember refusing to get them until I worked through the perfectly good box of white cardboard cards with the product logos that everyone loved)
  • everything has to be lowercase all the time with some custom spacing / kerning that can’t be easily reproduced
  • *SO *MANY *ASTERISKS **********
  • everything is a variation “effect option X”, like Flint and Combustion
  • an arbitrarily different “discreet” font
  • only “major” applications are worthy of having a branded name, so in that spirit:
    • Stone → discreet storage
    • Wire → discreet networking
    • MountStone → discreet picture based networking utility (I kid you not)
    • Backdraft → don’t remember that one, discreet something something

To be fair, I may be conflating several waves of late 90s marketing silliness. And not to sound just like a crotchety old man, some wins:

  • the year we were broke AF, so our IBC booth was just construction scaffolding with Canadian winter snow fencing unrolled on it, cost almost nothing yet looked really cool
  • leading to the next year, the tradeshow booths with wooden slat panelling that would get changed every day for a different color
  • and with the exception of “blue lady”, the Discreet tradeshow reel, which was always a highlight of every show
  • the transition to the “dark grey and blue” Flame UI, within a couple of years every single VFX app had a UI that looked like that
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Leading to the distribution of vacuum sealed tighty-whitey underwear with WE COULDNT AFFORD T-SHIRTS printed on the bag. (I may still have mine)

I figured that folks mostly wanted to see the systems reels, but don’t sleep on the b-sides. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the broadcast reels (Manhattan Transfer, Attik, Plus et Plus, Red Post, etc) but my favorite gems are found if you dig around in the software reels.

There was a NY company called K+DLab that used 3dsMax to make bizarrely, unnecessarily beautiful architectural visualizations for, like, the Department of Energy and the occasional solo art project. The K in that company is Joseph Kosinski, who went on to direct Tron and the new Top Gun. I loved looking at their submissions every year.

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Neat freaks beware:

The systems reels were usually edited over one frantic week that coincided with NAB “boot camp,” where all the demo artists from across the globe would gather, build their presentations, and receive the latest messaging implants. This was, more often than not, held in Montréal.

HOWEVER, until 2005, an awful lot of other stuff like GDC reels, customer videos, IBC recuts, and so forth would happen at Discreet’s office in Santa Monica.

It was… not quite as nice as Montréal. But it was pretty close to my house.

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HFS! I found the first thing I worked on at Tape House Digital on the 1999 reel!

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1998 B Side edit has Anger - Rareforce remix of Ryuichi Sakamoto as the audio track. One of my favourite dance tracks from the days…

DTF2… never thought I’d see another one of those.

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Nice to see I have one of my early jobs on the '95 reel, in fact, my first Flame job!

This is really cool Kirk! thanks bud, hope you’re well!

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Who comped it? :slight_smile: