Devin & Caitlin's Chicago Exhibit Proposal

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How We Met: Devin and I met at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy in Chicago, where we both studied 3D Animation. After graduating from DePaul University with a business degree and working as a marketing analyst for a major financial corporation, I decided to ditch the cubicle and pursue my passion of becoming a VFX artist. At that time, Devin was a year ahead of me and had a wealth of experience in 3D, graphics and AV installation that he acquired on the east coast where he was from. He also came from a business background and had recently moved to Chicago from Boston.

It was my second week of school and I had decided to stay in the computer lab after class to work on my dynamic poses assignment (fact #1: I’m certainly a nerd and also a go-getter, type-A kinda gal). As it was my first time working in 3D (Autodesk Maya), it was like learning a new language, and I was determined to put my best foot forward.

Devin’s class was in the same lab and he was one of the first students to show up (brownie point #1: on time always means 15 min early, i.e. a go-getter, type-A kinda guy). Right off the bat, Devin asked me if I was a new student. I was so deep in concentration with my work, that I hardly even looked at him to answer. He walked over from the door and sat right next to me, asking me what I was working on (brownie point #2: an outgoing, 20-something male in a sea of socially awkward, fresh-out-of-high-school-boys, interested in what I’m working on).

DC Bolt Big Data Exhibit Proposal Chicago (20)I think it was somewhat obvious that I could use his help, and he offered to show me a few things in the program. As I handed over my mouse and keyboard, like passing the key to my nerdy heart, I finally took a good look at his face and was struck by his beautiful blue eyes. Needless-to-say I was pleasantly surprised: he was absolutely adorable, generous, kind and extremely knowledgeable. He made me giggle (like a school girl) as we struggled through, but eventually overcame, the persistent technical issues of the program. I simply couldn’t help but smile even though the subject of our conversation was anything but romantic and peppered with software glitches. Little did I know, those technicalities would be the seeds of our budding relationship, both in love and in business.

Devin asked me if I wanted to meet for coffee at the Starbucks that was located on the first floor of our school building. We had an incredible conversation that ranged from our shared love for animation and live music to cooking, traveling, sky diving and being nerdy. The official first date was that same night at an outdoor projection mapping event called “Luminous Field” at Millennium Park.

From that day forward, Devin and I were inseparable. We lived only a couple blocks away from each other, so I would pick him and his roommates up for school each morning and we would always end back up at their place, which we called “The VFX House”. It was at the VFX House where Devin showed me his projection mapping installation made of the Home Depot boxes he had packed his life into when he made the trek from Boston to Chicago. His installation blew my mind, and I knew that it would eventually be a canvas we would share. Devin taught me nearly everything I know today about animation and projection mapping and it all started with these white-painted boxes in the corner of his room.

During the first few weeks of us dating, Devin had presented to the then CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint, Howard Tullman and Dean, Paula Froehle, the opportunity to use 3D projection mapping for a live concert performance as the focus of the school’s next Production in Action (PIA). PIA was an annual collaborative production that combines the disciplines/departments of VFX, Film, Gaming, Music and is implemented by the first year student body at the beginning of the school year. After experiencing the impressive Amon Tobin show in Chicago, Howard and Paula signed off on the production, called on DWP Live as our professional integrator for equipment and training, and assigned Devin to lead the student body. The experience was an intense, 3-week, peddle-to-the-metal production to produce 60 minutes of visual content for the show, which was brought to fruition by Devin and my countless all-nighters and a multitude of lessons learned that spanned across all disciplines.

After the production, Devin and I realized that we worked amazingly well together in high pressure, tight deadline situations. We then decided to take the professional leap of creating our own 3D projection mapping and interactive media company, DCBolt Productions, LLC, and the rest is truly history!

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How He Asked: Devin and I had been preparing for a few months for our latest projection mapping installation in Chicago, the City of Big Data exhibit at Chicago Architecture Foundation. After we won the job, Devin insisted that he man the project and that I focus my attention on new business. In fact, this was the first project in which I had little involvement with the actual content development/implementation phase, and Devin truly executed all of the hard work by himself. When I asked about making test content for the projection mapping system, he said he had it all covered.

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Devin was out in Chicago working on the system for about a month, preparing for the opening night of the exhibit while I was on the east coast working out of our Boston-based office and missing him from afar. He called and said that I should look at flights to Chicago so I could fly back for the opening night, which was Thursday, May 8th. I was debating whether I should purchase tickets because I had yoga classes to teach and would need to find coverage for any days I missed, so I waited for a couple days.

Devin ended up buying my flight without me actually confirming that I had found subs for my classes (rest assured, I eventually found coverage). When I arrived in Chicago on Wednesday evening, the day before the opening event, he picked me up from the airport and we drove back to our place. He stressed about last-minute rendering-glitches and how the content wasn’t ready for the opening. He was up all night long working and rendering, while I fell fast asleep. Little did I know that all the rendering he was scrambling to finish was the actual content he used to project onto the model and pop the big question.

At the end of the opening, 100 or so people stuck around, all of whom had contributed in some way to the exhibit. Devin grabbed my hand and asked if I had seen the city model from the stage yet. As we walked up to the stage, the projected light washed over our city and the buildings radiated purples, pinks and greens. Devin gave the signal to Craig, our visual operator and dear friend, and shortly after, a sequence of images of Devin and me taken from various stages in our relationship cascaded over Millennium Park. These images were from our first date, our first Cubs game, while we were at school, pictures of my dad taking us to a Bears game, pictures of my family and his family.

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Then he took my breath away: The light zeroed in on each building that is significant in our relationship: Where we met: Tribeca Flashpoint in the Burnham building; Our first date: “Luminous Field” at Millennium Park; Where we’ve worked/ DCBolt events and installations at the Willis (Sears) Tower, Castle Entertainment and the Chicago Architecture Foundation building; and all of the buildings where we lived and called home throughout our relationship. Text that read “Will you marry me?” projected on Millennium Park and he got down on one knee. I immediately started crying and truly thought I was going to faint.

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In absolute shock by the whole production, which was all caught on film, I yelled “Yes!” at the top of my lungs and realized the cameras weren’t just shooting B-roll for the installation, they were capturing our moment. Devin apparently had not told any of my friends that he was planning to pop the question for fear that they would spoil the surprise. I’m happy he kept it a secret and thrilled that I will be marrying such an amazing and thoughtful man.

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Photos courtesy of DC Bolt Productions