Martin joins Polystream

Martin joins Polystream with over 20 years of experience working in the film industry. I had a chat with Martin to find out a little bit about his experience, what it was like joining a new company during these unprecedented times and how it has impacted the normal onboarding process one goes through when joining a new company.

Start by telling me a little bit about yourself and your background

I’ve spent pretty much my entire career doing computer graphics things in one form or another. After finishing my PhD, I started working at a games company in Liverpool (Psygnosis) doing centralised cross-games tool development. After that, I had a stint doing software development for the 2D animation…before joining the film visual effects industry. I spent 20 years in both London & New Zealand (at Double Negative, Weta Digital, and Framestore) doing R&D for a whole variety of films. 

I suppose the big ones people have heard of would be the Lord of the Rings, King Kong, various Harry Potters, Avatar, a whole slew of superhero films. But the only time I’ve ever impressed anyone at a party on my work is still Bridget Jones’ Diary.

My favourite is still ‘Gravity’. that did take many years to make though. Perhaps there is an element of me identifying with my captor.

Why were you interested in joining Polystream?

Technology in film is no longer the visual effects industries biggest problem, so I was looking for a new challenge in graphics related things.

I’d been looking around for something technically stimulating, and an opportunity to do something innovative in graphics related technology. Despite the technology still being very fluid it’s surprising how conservative many industries are in embracing change..so when I came across Polystream it was quite a breath of fresh air.

Here was a company addressing one of the weaknesses in the accepted wisdom of how computation and graphics go together. That and everyone involved was very nice!

How did you feel joining during a pandemic & how have you settled in?

Well…the thing about programmers is that we’re quite good at social isolation, so I was sure Polystream would be adjusting quite well!

That said joining any job is quite a slow process, understanding the technology..the people…and how people work together…is anything but straightforward. So I was a bit concerned that being remote just makes that even slower…and It absolutely does!

But, like most of the world, the existing Polystream staff are also living through the change to their working style and only a couple of weeks ahead of me in the process of learning to love zoom, so in many ways it was easier than I was expecting. Because the existing team were having to learn how to communicate with each other remotely it meant there was a nice workflow to fit into. Everyone had already had to get used to the pace of communicating over zoom/slack/email and so things seemed quite straightforward. 

Working from home isn’t anyway near as painful as I expected. Plus, let’s face it, the commute is hard to beat.

What new or emerging technologies excite you the most?

I’m not sure there is really a single ‘wowser’ piece of technology out there at the moment, or if there is I haven’t seen it.

Instead I think the interesting steps come either by refining previously clunky approaches until they become ubiquitous…or by previously expensive approaches becoming feasible as computing speed rises.

So part of the fun is it’s hard to guess where moments of serendipity come from!

Image credit Martin Preston: Wired