Lucy Estela

DEVELOPER

If you want to know about my writing and coaching athletics, then go look at www.lucyestela.com. Here I’ve just cut down the info to the tech stuff

I grew up in Kurrajong …. skip to the end

When I was at uni I spent more time working at night to pay the rent and food bills than I did studying and so finished without much confidence in any of my abilities. Looking around for something that I felt I could do, I found computer games. In my final year of university I met my now husband Matt and it was through him that I was introduced to the world of Quake and then Unreal. At that moment the metaphorical God rays shone down on his computer and a choir of angels sang. I was instantly in love with computers, computer games and above all else, designing and building levels for Quake. I quickly left my languages behind and started searching for a way to get into game design. One option open to me was to start with graphic design, so off I went to TAFE for a one year course.

At about this time the internet was quickly becoming the next big thing and startup dot com companies were springing up all over Sydney. Not having the money to return to a second year of TAFE I then worked in a handful of places before winding up at Leo Burnett in their digital department. This really was a very lucky break and I was desperately underqualified, but I spent the hour long interview talking with the head of the department about our mutual love of computer games and I think that won him over.

It was in web development that I would then spend the next 10 years of my life, both in Sydney and, from 2003 to 2009 in London. I didn’t do any design, I was purely on the hard core coding side of it, and I loved every minute. I found, much to my surprise, that coding was easy, while design was increasingly difficult with the multitude of client demands and changes that came with every job. I loved living in London and my husband and I bought our first home and had our first child there. So it will always have a special place in my heart.

In 2009 my husband, our daughter and I moved back to Sydney so that I could spend more time with my dad who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Child care waiting lists were and still are so ridiculously long in Sydney that one of us, either my husband or I, would have to stay home and look after our daughter while we waited for a place to become available for her. Since Matt had a job lined up already, I was the one to stay home. However, I had never been unemployed before and I found that I really needed something to keep my mind busy.

Stuff about becoming a kids book author in here….

The iPad had just been released in the US and a friend brought one back from a business trip. The moment I saw it I knew I had found my next thing to learn. I spent the next six months figuring out how to make apps and released my first one in December of 2010. Six more followed over the next 6 years.

More stuff about writing and becoming an athletics coach….

2018 saw my return to coding with a vengeance. I didn’t think I had enough work to do with raising 3 kids, writing books and coaching athletics so when an opportunity arose to take on an interactive assessment module with the UTS Sport Science Department, I joined up without hesitation. The project was to create an online 360 video experience that placed students in high stress conflict situations that they needed to navigate in a “choose your own adventure” manner. Working with the team from UTS ALA and the Sport Science Department was just the kind of techy, problem solving, code creating, video editing, multiplatform challenge that I devour and it reminded me just how much I love learning new tech and owning it!

So in 2019 when the UTS Vice Chancellor wanted a cross platform AR app created to showcase their 2027 Vision I was first in line with my hand up to take on the project. I worked with FBX files, wrote my own animated shaders, incorporated videos, particle effects, created my own animations sequencing with the most amazing soundscape developed by Jason Boyd and made it run on Android and IOS. It was very close to being finished when COVID hit and all production stopped. It’s a beautifully created AR experience and I’m hoping it is still released some time soon.

2020 started in all sorts of craziness but by the second half of the year I was very fortunate to work again with UTS, this time the Speech Pathology department, to create a Hololens 2 research project. The Hololens 2 had just arrived in Australia weeks before the lockdown so we were incredibly lucky to have the hardware to develop on. We had a small budget but Dr Lucy Bryant (AKA “Good Lucy”, while I was known as “Evil Lucy”) and I worked extremely well together and managed to create a very comprehensive experience that would allow them to test out all the Hololens 2 functionality in the UTS clinic with teens from 13-18 years of age. There are 6 experiences that use the hand gestures, gaze control and voice control systems to navigate and interact with the Hololens 2. This has by far been my favourite project ever and I hope to continue helping with research in this area in the future.

So what do I do now? Unreal, Metahumans and HL2 research so bugger off and let me get back to it!