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Standard Meeting Formats?

Do we want a structured format for each meeting?



In a standard 3-hour meeting (shorter or longer?)


<00:15> - 00:00:  Lab Prep & Volunteer Business

     The lab computers are routinely swept clean. So, Blender and any other applicable programs and files will need to be reloaded on the computers we intend to use. At the same time, volunteers might also conduct any group business that may need face-time, but does not require all participants' involvement.


00:00 - 00:15:  Newbie Orientation, Q&A, News, Discoveries &/or Reviews

     Opening w/ informative trivia should help to absorb stragglers and late-comers.  Anybody with questions can hope to find fellow attendees w/ potentially have quick answers or how to find the answers.  Whoever has learned of any 3D-related news and current affairs are encouraged to share them, such as the latest upgrade version releases, professional movies, games and similar CG-world events.  All participants' are also encouraged to shared discoveries or other Eureka! moments that they're enthused about.  The first 15 minutes might also include recapping the highlights of the previous meetings for any who missed them.


     Depending on if and how many newcomers we have at any meeting, we can adjust the scope and scale of Blender basics orientation.


00:15 - 01:25:  Project, Activity, Focus of the Month

     To be discussed at length under other Discussion Topics and selected for each meeting agenda.

01:25 - 01:35:  Quick Challenge -- 10-minute (maybe 15 minute) Refreashment break

     Those who may not need or want any/all of a break-time could get a jump on a quick Blender-related brain-teaser, puzzle or mini-project, like a simple model, or the most appealing material or texture for a given model, or the most creative application for a modifier or add-on, etc.  This Quick Challenge time might also be used to focus multiple minds to tackle any participants' hang-ups or problems that they just can't seem to overcome on their own.  Any Quick Challenge could be one of the perplexities posed by a PorBUG participant in the "Help! I've a Blender Problem" folder in the Discussions section of PorBUG's KeepAndShare site.

01:35 - 01:45:  Quick Challenge Wrap-up

     Ideally, a Quick Challenge would fit into this 10-minute slot, so that all participants have the opportunity to take a break and not miss out on a challenge they are interested in.  Others who need or want more than a 10-minute break could opt to skip these 10-minutes as well.

01:45 - 02:55:  Continued or Additional Project, Activity, Focus of the Month


02:55 - 03:00:  Next Month's Considerations

     If we can come up with the next meeting's plans by this time, introducing those plans allows participants to investigate, experiment, attempt or explore the topic on their own until the next meeting.  Then at the next meeting, all those who explored it will more likely have experiences and discoveries to share.


03:00 - 03:15:  Clean-up, Shutdown & Tie-up Any Loose Ends


     It is, of course, always appropriate behavior for guests to return facilities to their original condition. But, to show our appreciation for how exceptional Portland A.I.'s patronage is for our group, I ask that there be a couple of us, preferably not always the same ones, stay a little after to push in chairs, shut off computers, save neglected items to reunite with their owners in the future, shut off the lights and whatever else needs to be done.



     Also, if there wasn't enough time &/or early-arriving volunteers to conclude business before the meeting, they could consider doing so with the closers.

We might want several different standard formats?

Any format would, of course, be only guidelines.  The participants could organically adapt a given format to fit the prevailing mood or activities.  For example, forego a full 10-minute break and skip any Quick Challenge to continue exceptional momentum and energy on the current activity.

Creation date: Sep 15, 2012 3:42pm     Last modified date: Oct 15, 2012 9:41pm   Last visit date: Jun 8, 2024 5:58pm
22 / 20 posts
Oct 18, 2012  ( 3 posts )  
Jennifer Bogartz (jen_b)

@Jevelyan  No problem.  I'm sorry if I upset you.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone's work and how they use their imagination.  I would love to see more from you.

Will Woodhull (will_w)

@Jevelyan-- That meeting structure looks pretty good to me as a starting place.


WRT what I hope to get from BUG:

  1. It is a way I can give back to the worldwide Blender community. I can't code nor do I know enough to submit a useful bug report, but user groups are important, too.
  2. I would very much like to make things easier for newbies than it was for me.
  3. I know I will pick up some better ways of doing things, just through hanging around with Blenderistas.

One of my dreams is to see Blender clubs in Portland high schools. I have been at the forefront of the word processing revolution, the email / BBS revolution (that eventually brought you the Internet), and the revolution that replaced wet photography with digital darkrooms. Blender is a big step toward The Next Big Thing.



Nate Sullivan (irishspacemonk)

What I'm looking at getting from the Blender User Group:

1. Expand my general knowledge of Blender by sharing and learning from others

2. Meet other Blender Users and encourage new people to give Blender a try

3. Collaborate on projects


And I like the idea of perhaps an annual NW Blender Conference - sort of a SeaBug/PorBug mixup.



Oct 17, 2012  ( 2 posts )  
Philip Modin (philmaker)

I think your enthusiasm and the way you understand the potential of this group is what makes you such a great leader. I totally support you because you are confident and I agree with the way you do things, but that may differ with other members.


An established facilitator is probably essential for our group, otherwise we might get nothing accomplished in the anarchy.


I was commenting on the intensity of the expression and desperation of needs. The rest of us might just be too soft spoken (look who's talking). I don't think you can be too assertive in this group, we'd let you know ;)


Now I'll express some opinion..

I was interested in attending SeaBUG before this group was formed, but I was not sure it would be worth it. I knew I'd probably learn something, but I wasn't sure if it would make me want to come back the next time. PDXBUG (or what else was propsed as a name) must be worth attending for us to last beyond 2012 and to get something accomplished. For me that means: an opportunity to see if there are any people interested in the same Blender things I am, being able to get some solid Blender knowledge from others, and to share what I have learned to assist others.


Maybe we should list the things we are looking to give/gain from this group to be able to form a clear group goal.

Here's a quick list of mine in order of priority:

1. Gain solid Blender knowledge.

2. Share my knowledge/ideas.

3. Collaboration.

4. Socializing.


The way I see it, we could have a mini Blender conference every so often.

Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

[After very long consideration, I felt it necessary to publicize this rather than send a private email.]


jen_b, I am sincerely sorry for appearing so intense.  I did not intend to intimidate or offend you.


I could attempt to excuse myself by pointing back to my prefaced caveat about web flames.  Yet that still failed, since at least two others still perceived my comments as intense.  So, I apologize.


Looking back over all so far, I assume maybe some contribution for misconstruing my intensity might be my assertiveness at our meetings?  Even if this assumption is wrong, I still apologize... to everyone.  I may have let my enthusiasm for what I envision as this group's potential get the better of me.


I do not want to lead or dominate the group.  I should not.  No one should.  Rather than just say this though, I will take a lesser role in facilitating meetings from now on to allow all others to facilitate as much if not more... don't everyone try to do so all at once though. :)


I also assume maybe the volume of my typing, suggestions and activities might be overwhelming and contribute to my intensity.  Instead of apologizing for this, I hope all of you will strive to be as active, if not more so, in your own ways.


Everyone should suggest, contribute and criticize uninhibited and without reservations, just as jen_b did, just as I did.  I guess I just have to figure out how to tone it down.


… but I still want more than a social club.

Oct 15, 2012  ( 3 posts )  
Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

irishspacemonk writes:  "Learning to teach other's is a great way to learn your craft even more."


Oh!  So true.  In my college degree, all students were required to "teach" their term paper topics to the entire class and answer all peer questions relating to it... and we were graded on how well we fielded those questions.


I also learned as much if not more from producing all my own course syllibi and class materials for my Peace Corps work.

Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

I am truly sorry that I came off intensely. I made a deliberate effort not to be.

Philip Modin (philmaker)

Man, it's getting intense. :D


Somewhere Jenuvyel once or twice mentioned that the face to face time we have is limited and precious, therefore we must use it wisely. I agree.

In my opinion, having an open workshop is ok, but we can do some of that at home and it does not address the needs of many people.

I'd say that the best use of the time we have is to help those who are struggling with Blender first of all, then move on to more advanced things.

Of course it would be neccessary not to bore the people who wish to come for some workshop time or learn some advanced things since people can also follow tutorials at home.


So here's what I came up with:

The Mac lab has an instructor's screen, and the inside rows are arranged for optimal viewing of that screen while the outer rows face away from the screen. So the room can be divided to have an instructional session as well as an open workshop time where the inner row seats are reserved for those who want to listen to the lesson, and the outer rows become open for those who aren't as interested.

To meet needs of both beginners and of those who are more advanced we could have a beginners lesson first and a more advanced lesson afterwards. Then open the floor to anyone who wants to share anything else or receive feedback on something they've been working on.


I wouldn't mind if my proposal would be mixed with some of those below. I like the idea of 15 minute social breaks mentioned by irishspacemonk.

Oct 14, 2012  ( 6 posts )  
Nate Sullivan (irishspacemonk)

After reading everyone's comments, I think it's safe to say, we all have the same goals - and that's to have fun with Blender, to learn new things, become better artists and ultimately inspire others to give Blender a try.

Hopefully we can step back for a second. First, kudos should be given to some of the structure Jevelyan has helped pull together, as it's meant we've now had two Blender User Group meetings - and thats awesome. Every group needs this. 

So with that said, I'm suggesting for the next PorBug, the following 3 block structure. I think this is lose enough for those that want a less formal structure, but also provides some deep dive tutorial/work-thru help that would benefit Jevelyan and others that are really looking for help on getting over some Blender hurdles.


I'm thinking we break it into roughly 3 - 45 minute blocks, with 15 minute social breaks. Each block would be geared a bit differently and I don't think a person should feel they have to stay for all 3 - although that would always be the ultimate goal.


Block 1 - Have fun, show and tell, share what has inspired. 3 people get the floor for 15 minutes to walk us through what they think is cool about Blender, something they've tried, a success they've had - whatever it is. Each meeting this is open to at least 3 people. This should be more inspirational and motivational. It's too bad this can't be shared with some beers but if it could, I think that might losen things up. Let's call this the Blender Social block.


Block 2 - Project Challenge - I'm sure that in the 4 weeks between each PorBug meeting, someone's going to run into a challenge they can't solve. This is the Blender Support Group block. With the full power of the group's experience, you'd think this could be solved . 2-3 people should expect to have the floor and the group's attention - but this is really where the collective group brain power helps out those problems. Everyone to take on the challenge, and work it through. (We can't forget possible render times here - which is the reason for only 2-3).


Block 3 - This is the workshop - each meeting we tackle a certain topic that really seems interesting. This could be posted ahead of time - perhaps we choose a tutorial - or perhaps someone in the group wants to give us all a tutorial. Learning to teach other's is a great way to learn your craft even more. Or if we're privledged enough to have someone like Nathan give us a rigging workshop...


Afterward, we can take care of housekeeping and business issues can be taken care of by any and all who wish to engage and post any major decisions or outcomes on a community board we all can read.




Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

Regarding the actual “Meeting Format” proposal above:


It seems that the first and last paragraphs were overlooked or forgotten? Those being, “Do we want a structured format for each meeting?” and “Any format would, of course, be only guidelines.  The participants could organically adapt a given format...”


Ya, I'm not interested in rules or a rigid agenda either, jen_b. Is it because I specified times that you feel I'm proposing 'rigidity'? In response to a comment Nathan Vegdahl made at Meeting 000, I shared that I have never been at a non-business meeting that has ever held to its planned agenda. I'm sorry I did not thoroughly explain that the above specifications are only to suggest time frames and not to force us all to bring stop watches and alarms.


It takes too much typing to thoroughly explain everything, as you can see here by this comment entry. But, what are our alternatives? (And this isn't a rhetorical question; does anyone have an answer?)


I have been involved in Internet Blender project “Show-and-Tells” for over 3 years, now. Granted these are more limited, lacking Q&A interaction. A “Show-and-Tell” format for our meeting will still not allow us to take full advantage of all our combined experiences, especially if we cannot gain, refresh and prepare those experiences over considerable time (like about a month) before a particular meeting.


Imagine, instead of the “Show-and-Tell” we did at Meeting 001, we agree that jen_b would share with the entire group how to texture an apple using GIMP. Throughout the month leading up to the meeting, the group could post preparations (related tutorials, an apple model ready to texture, etc) and experiment independently.


Then at the meeting, while jen_b is showing how she did it, all other participants following along can, at the appropriate times in the lesson, point out “I could NOT get it to do that,” and “Did you consider or know this way or that alternative?” In this way, everybody learns from everybody dynamically. Without the preparations and independent experimentation beforehand, there will be far less questions and input. It would still be a beneficial learning experience, but limited to only spontaneous off-the-cuff questions and problem solving and fewer potential shared insights.


I've watched a lot more tutorials than I've actually attempted to dupe, and I've learned a lot more when attempting to dupe them. I've learned extremely more by attempting to do on my own, but with equally extreme and frustrating difficulty. The above proposed dynamic group tutorial prepared in advance is the best way I can think of so far that offers the best of all possibilities while eliminating a lot of the undesirables.


jen_b stated, “I just think we can overthink the point of the meet-up...” There are also consequences to under-thinking a meet-up as well.


If salsa ends up being the star attraction of our party one meeting, I'd like to know ahead of time so that I can bring my favorite chips to share, and someone else might have a favorite drink to complement it further. And what if someone dislikes marinated mushrooms and liver pâté and nobody like their cream vichyssoise?  They could leave the meeting starved and feeling dejected as an uncontributing non-participant.


Again, I agree; too much rigidity is not good. A lot of flexibility is desired. But, we can get far more quantity and quality of foods from a well-managed garden than from aimlessly foraging in the wild.


jen_b wrote: “But I don't think we need to structure this as a mandatory part of the meet-up.” Nothing here is nor has been presented as mandatory. Though, apparently it does deserve to be stated that if the participants agree to change a planned meeting topic or format spontaneously at that meeting for any reason... what's to stop us, and why not? Like, what if a great new tutorial is discovered or a captivating Blender project is released a couple days before a planned meeting?


If the majority of us want unplanned, spontaneous “let the lesson opportunities fall where they may” social Blender appreciation parties, I will do my best to make the 2-hour 1-way trips or sacrifice time with other Portland friends for as many meetings as I can muster. But, I am in serious need of a Blender support group, not an aimless social club.  But, if that's what this group wishes to become, so be it.  I'll socialize when I can and continue seeking support elsewhere.


I have been stumbling through the incredibly complex Blender wilderness without a path to follow for all my Blender days (read as “daze”). When Dave LoCicero mentioned at Meeting 001 that he was all over the map, doing this and that in Blender, I thought, “Wow! You too, huh?” When Nate touched on structured learning, I enthused, “Yes yes. But, how?” Until or unless this question is ever answered, can we please at least make an attempt to get more out of our group than simply, “Wherever the mood pushes us this time?”

Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

jen_b, Agenda 001 Proposals has been up for discussion since Oct 9. “PorBUG's online base of operations” was a suggested topic open for discussion. Why didn't you or anybody else criticize it there before the meeting so that we might have avoided an undesirable occurrence? Also, why didn't anybody suggest a “Show-and-Tell” format before the meeting?


It may be that none of us foresaw this undesirable occurrence coming out of the proposed “PorBUG's online base of operations” or any other proposals in the future. Hindsight is 20/20. Criticism is always easy after the fact. But by thoroughly discussing things before meetings, we can decrease the odds of undesirable occurrences and get more out of each meeting.


We need an adequate non-meeting forum in which to gain these benefits, and we don't really have one yet. Until here and now and still, only some of us are using this temporary proposed K&S site. This type of critical discussion and exploration for a permanent online group home was not happening online. Thus the topic for face-to-face discussions at a meeting... at Meeting 001.

Multiversal Empires Collaboration Project (jenuvyel)

First and foremost, before it becomes a problem, I feel the need to point out an all too common phenomenon, regardless of how many of us are familiar with it; The web forum flame. It may not be necessary, but I'd rather be preemptively safe than sorry.


Typed text lacks the emotional vocal inflections and visual mannerisms that frequently lead to those involved misinterpreting criticisms as personal attacks. And, these pre-meeting (typed) discussions need to criticize any/all ideas without discouraging the input of ideas and all our continued participation.


So, please, everybody avoid taking or making typed criticisms in a personally offensive manner.

Will Woodhull (will_w)

If there are 3 to 5 of us who are willing to handle the necessaries of looking responsible enough that we can have the use of rooms with >$100K of equipment in them, handle scheduling, arrange for blowing our horn in the right places, and so on, that should be enough manhours to take care of business. There would be a need for 15 - 20 minutes of face time each month, but that could either be a meeting before the group meets, or after, or maybe in a separate room during some part of the main meeting.


Jennifer Bogartz (jen_b)

@philmaker  One way we could approach this is that say a person was curious about a particular modifier or add-on or technique or something, they could spend some time researching that thing with tutorials or whatever and then come to the next meet-up and share what they learned.  Chances are that most people are unfamilar with some of the modifiers since there are so many and would appreciate learning about it.  As people get more experienced, the more they will have to share.  But I don't think we need to structure this as a mandatory part of the meet-up.  If you have a cool tip or learned something cool, then share it. 


Personally, I'm interested in meeting other people who use Blender and seeing what they are working on.  I'm not interested into turning this meet-up group into an organization that has rules, or a rigid agenda, or t-shirts.  I just want to see what other people are working on. One way to look at this is to imagine that you are throwing a party where everyone can bring food if they want to.  When the guests arrive, you can either bring out the appetizers and get the party rolling or you can talk about your grocery list and seating arrangements.  If people ask how you made your cool appetizer or have criticism about it then that is an opportunity to explore the process involved in creating it.  I just think we can overthink the point of the meet-up and make it less interesting as a result.

Oct 13, 2012  ( 4 posts )  
Sep 30, 2012  ( 2 posts )