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Mike O'Neal  –  computer graphics effects supervisor
Click for larger image " Creativity requires spontaneity and a great memory...(to) think free from constraints... sort through them all, pick out the best... and synthesize them together."
How were you motivated to choose your particular field?
  Movies always fascinated and impressed me. They were a way to reach millions of people, and an artform unlike any other. They require a gigantic team effort to pull off, and they are always looking to technology to leap beyond the movies made even six months earlier. This ever changing technologically advanced environment was what I wanted. Having been trained in Aerospace Engineering and having several years of experience designing spacecraft using computer design tools, the realm of digital effects seemed like the most natural entry point into the film business. Just after finishing up my work on Mars Pathfinder at JPL, I directed my first feature length film (Green Eggs and Hamlet), and I knew this was the next step I had to make. And as it turned out, my job as a Computer Graphics Effects Supervisor is remarkably similar to my job as a Mechanical Systems Engineer.   Click for larger image
What can you share about your creative process?
    Creativity requires spontaneity and a great memory. You need to be spontaneous and think free from constraints to get the ideas out there. Good ideas, bad ideas, get them all out. Then you need a great memory to sort through them all, yours and others, pick out the best ones, and synthesize them together. Its important to not get lost in details, also, the big picture must be paramount, for every little detailed change inevitably effects some other part of the whole. Improvisational acting is a great exercise for anyone interested in becoming more creative. It teaches you to create new ideas very quickly, and to integrate the ideas of others, while all the time driving the scene to a natural and hopefully humorous conclusion. The creative design process is very much the same way. Whether I am creating a painting, a 3D digital world, a musical piece, or a spacecraft, I basically approach it the same way.  
What ideas do you have for a future human community on Mars?
  Mars is a vast place. What really appeals to me is a nomadic kind of community, so you could move around and see everything, not just settle in one place. Large inflatable tents could be used, using solar powered pumps to pump up Mars' thin atmosphere, and hardy plants to convert the carbon dioxide into oxygen. Tubes could connect the various chambers, the living quarters, the labs, and the nurseries. Thin air tight fabric could be assembled with velcro and sealed with Ziploc type seals. Then, after a couple of weeks of scouting the local terrain, you could pull the plugs, pack the whole thing back up, pile it in the trunk of your rover, and move along to the next interesting spot. Mars has so many interesting spots, it would be a shame not to see all of them.  
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