Out in the real world, we all have hobbies and interests in addition to the work we may be most known for. Here at Renderosity, our vendors have their own stories to tell. Things they do away from their products... special projects, awards, citations, or things of interest that most may not know about.
In an effort to better introduce our vendors to the rest of the community, we've asked them to tell us more about themselves, and share their stories. Rather than a straightforward interview, these are their stories, in their own words.
This week, we find out all about artist and vendor, Michael Crisafulli, better known to the community as Michael_C.
I'm an electronic systems engineer by profession. It's an interesting and fun job, but it keeps me at a desk much of the time. It's especially good that two of my hobbies get me up from my chair, out of the office, and into a completely different environment.
I'd been taking long vacations to get away from my desk for some years but, single and unattached, the travel could be lonely and I found planning a long vacation arduous. Just going on the road someplace with little planning was interesting, but a little haphazard. Still I couldn't imagine taking a pre-arranged tour.
A little flier in the mail one day revealed the perfect solution. An organization called Earthwatch Institute provides a way for ordinary people to participate with scientists in many kinds of field work, all around the world. I could travel to an exotic location and work on a project for two weeks with fellow volunteers from all walks of life, getting a much deeper understanding of the locale and community than any tour could provide. And every project offered a new opportunity and challenge.
I chose archaeology for my first project. I have long been interested in history, and archaeology provided the opportunity to delve deeply into a small piece of it. Better yet, excavating in an archaeological trench was about as far from sitting at a desk as I could get.
I loved my first project, excavating around some ancient standing stones on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Of course it does rain a lot in Scotland and even in the summer it can be cold, so the next year, for my second project I chose a Copper Age excavation on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. During the two weeks it rained for all of 30 seconds. I've participated in a different project every year in the two decades since then.
I’ve taken the opportunity to help re-excavate the Temple of Apollo in Pompeii. It was a joy to walk all the way across the ancient city to the temple before any tourists arrived, almost like being in Roman times. I’ve excavated a castle in Wales, a Mayan sacred site on a small rain forested island in Belize. I participated in a survey of sites around the south-western coast of Turkey, living on a traditional wooden gulat sailing vessel for two weeks, going ashore every day to hike and investigate ancient sites in areas accessible only by boat. I spent two weeks on the very remote Easter Island, surveying an even more remote part of the island for signs of prehistoric cultivation, occasionally coming across one of the famous Easter Island statues that no tourists ever see. Best of all, I met my wife Karen on a Bronze Age excavation in the hills of northern Spain. With such similar interests we immediately clicked.
The opportunity for another hobby arose unexpectedly. I am a long-time fan of opera and a few years ago, looking only to sit in on a rehearsal, I was offered the chance to be a non-singing extra in a production of Bizet’s Carmen. There was no way I could say no, and the experience - from rehearsals through opening night and the following performances - was even more fun than I expected, on stage with song all around me. I've been called back for nearly every opera since then, three a year, and had some challenging parts that involved split-second timing and close interaction with the principal singers.
It was another hobby that eventually brought me to the Renderosity Marketplace. I started working in 3D modeling in the mid 1980s with Tom Hudson's CAD-3D program suite on my Atari ST. For some years I did little with 3D beyond modeling a room or two to plan furniture rearrangement. Then, rereading Jules Verne's 20,000 Thousand Leagues under the Sea, I decided to try reconstructing the Nautilus as Verne described it, applying my engineering skills to visualize the submarine and modeling it in RayDream Studio. Investigating this fictional nineteenth-century technology led me to some of the real technology that inspired Verne. I collected as much information as I could on one inspiration, the Winans cigar ships, and reconstructed them in 3D. In 2000 I became intrigued by the recovery and excavation of the Confederate submarine Hunley and again turned to 3D to visualize it. This was an interesting convergence of two hobbies, archaeology and 3D modeling, and resulted in my providing the end paper illustrations for Tom Chaffin's book, The H.L. Hunley. You can see all three of my 3D reconstruction projects (and some of my archaeology projects) described in detail on my personal web site, the Vernian Era (http://www.vernianera.com/).
My interest in nineteenth-century technology didn't end there. While recreating an 1886 steam submarine as a 3D model I had the thought that other folk might be interested in this too and that I just might be compensated a little for the many hours of effort expended to build it. I wasn't sure what response there'd be to my first Renderosity product, the 1886 Turkish submarine Abdulhamid, but there was enough interest to keep me going.
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