Another video test


I did another video test on saturday when biking through Paris. The weather is great here these last few days so it was the perfect timing.

This time I was filming only when I was at an interesting location. Still, in the end I had more than 40 minutes of video, including a long chase with two policemen on bikes :p So I had to make some choices to edit that down to less than 20 minutes, which is already too long. I also tested without any acceleration, so that I can film while moving on the bike. It’s not always very good while I’m not looking directly at the point I want to film, which is… most of the time in a city, as I need to check for traffic.

I’m not completely happy with the result, as I lose the main idea of sharing a ride in a video. I still have to look for the perfect solution…


Job satisfaction



It’s the 8th of march here in paris, and I signed my departure deal more than two weeks ago. Which means it is now definitive. Well, there are still three weeks now where the administration can veto it, but it won’t happen. So I can talk a bit more freely about all that 🙂

I started a skills assessment plan as part of the deal I signed with ubisoft to leave the company. It wasn’t the main aspect of it of course, compared to the monetary arrangment, but I wanted to try this kind of program. A few colleagues have done one before and I was curious. Plus, it’s the perfect moment for me to detail what I know, what I can do, and what I have to learn or improve.

As part of this training, which is going over one and a half month, so it’s quite detailed, there was this exercise where I had to plot the satisfaction I got out of my work, on a scale of 0 to 10. It was supposed to be approximate during the training itself, but I made a more precise, month by month version of it later, which you can see in the picture. I tried inserting a mean curve of the values, which is easy enough to do with excel, but couldn’t find how to do it in google docs. Oh well.

So this is my level of satisfaction over more than 16 years of experience in the games industry. Apart from the first year where I was game designer, I’ve been a project manager or producer ever since (or something close to it). I’ve worked at Ubisoft for about 3 years, then left for Kalisto, Planet, was out of work for some time, then founded Black sheep studio, joined Microids, and was back at Ubisoft more than 10 years ago.

Doing this exercise made me learn a lot on the big picture of my career. First thing is, I love this job and this industry. I’ve had a great time most of the way. Almost all of the curve is above 5, and even above 7. The average over 16 years is actually 6.6, and I doubt many employees can be this satisfied. If I leave out the past year, which is certainly the worst I’ve had, it’s above 6.9.

Second point is the extreme variation of the curve. Life in the video games industry, at least for me, is not a smooth ride. Sure, I’ve changed jobs, projects, and even companies quite a lot, but there are many hiccups along the way, mostly linked with projects being stopped. However, it seems I’m bouncing back quite quickly, and I don’t stay low for too long. When things to wrong, I just leave and go somewhere else. It has not always been a positive choice, and I switched companies a lot between 2000 and 2003, but then again, it was shaky for everyone, and even for all tech companies at the time.

I was also stunned to see so clearly how long I’ve been in Ubisoft : more than 13 years, which is more than 3/4th of my career as of now. It’s more striking on the graph than just reading the value.

Finally, I had a fantastic ride working on Heroes of Might & Magic 5 and Heroes Kingdoms. From late 2003, when I started working on H5, to the release of HK late 2009, that was 6 years of bliss. The projects were ambitious, there was a lot of autonomy, I learned a lot and grew in my job, I opened a lot of new directions for the company, and H5 was very successful. Sadly, HK a lot less so, but still, it was the first free to play game for such a large company, and it was amazing that we were able to develop it (from our own concept), publish it and operate it for almost 5 years.

This is a really good exercise that I can only advise everyone to do.



Before_riding After_riding


I really like the stretching exercises I’ve found on Mike’s Bikes, so I did two quick reference cards on one image each, before and after the ride. This way I can save them on the phone and access them without being connected :p

The images are clear enough but be sure to read the detailed instructions to avoid overstretching and make the movements correctly.

Before :

After :

Going around in circles


Today I went north of Paris in search for a large sports mall, Intersport, one that doesn’t have any outlet in Paris (yet, apparently). I passed the northern suburbs, ever so populous and industrial, and, quite frankly, not worth a visit, really. But my destination was laying in this area.

I actually discovered a great park on the way, the Courneuve park (or Valbon park), really big and picturesque. It’s stuck between the Bourget airport, industries, shopping mall, large social buildings, highways, and more industries. There was hardly anybody in the park (well okay it was a week day).

After searching around for half and hour I finally found the “mall” I was looking for, saw everything it had to offer in about 5 minutes and was back on my way. It was so small there was no wonder it wasn’t registering on the map 😉

Now, as I was making my way back on another route, filled with even more highways, some of them under construction as if we were going out of stock, I was yearning for the real trip.


For a week now, I’m making longer journeys, 30, 40, 50 kms today. But I always end up at the same place. Sure, it’s comforting, but it’s also boring. I *know* that my destination is actually where I started from. I’m looking forward to go from somewhere to somewhere ELSE. There is no real excitement in knowing perfectly well where you’ll end up. There is also a pretty limited ways of ending up there : a few roads, all merging into the same street, then the same entrance.

If that isn’t a metaphor for life, the routine of work / eat / sleep, and death, then I don’t know what is.

Now, when you go away, the possibilities multiply with each turn, and the farther you go, the bigger the adventure. On the trip that I envision, each starting point, each ending point are undefined, and thus the journey is only defined when it is done, not before. I’ll choose where I end up depending on my feeling, my stamina, the weather, the environment…

And overall, I have no idea where I’ll end up on the trip as a whole. Paris, probably, but with a new work to find, a new place to live, a new horizon to define. It’s exciting as it is frightening.

I’m watching Dead Poets Society as I write that, and the quote fits perfectly : “To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Rampup – week 3


So, I’ve started the physical rampup for a bit more than two weeks now. Time to check where I stand.

My rampup program is pretty simple : do an average of 10kms a day on week one, then 20, 30, etc, up to 90-100 on average, and then keep this plateau. This would include one day off a week, as well as starting to train with a new bike about early march, and with the camping equipment over april.

My main objective is not really the daily average, but a weekly average of 500kms a week on the bike, so that, apart from the time where I will be visiting, I can move forward fast enough. It’s also a round number and make calculations easier 🙂 With 6500+ kms to cover on my trip, it would then take 13 weeks of biking, or 4+ months to cross the US – without any time to visit. I may have to revisit the distance though, as I ordered the adventure association route maps last week. I’ll see that when they arrive.

So, about the rampup status. I started on the 24th of february, as planned, and during the “crazy week” with one critical meeting each day. I did an average of 15kms a day during the week, with simple trips around the nearby Vincennes garden. I also did the trip around Paris on sunday, which was 40kms. So in total I did 135kms in the first week, way more than the 70 I planned. I was really exhausted on sunday evening, and was starting to question my capacities to maintain even small distances for long.

Over the second week, I was not very consistent. I did my usual small trip to work on monday, then two days with 30 kms (one going straight through Paris, one with a leisurely trip along the Marne river), then two small days with a crappy weather. I had a first real day off on my birthday, and on sunday another 30kms, doing the second video test. So a total of 125kms, similar to the first week. But I was feeling ok after the 30kms days. That was somewhat reassuring.

Now, in the middle of the third week, things are moving up again. I did two strong days with 45kms, going to the park near Sceaux, south of Paris, and one going to the park of Noisiel, east of Paris. Today I did a smaller 20-25kms going to half a dozen shops in Paris, looking for various equipments and tshirt printers. My legs were really starting to feel the pain after the long rides, but I was ok on the next morning. Tomorrow I’ll go north of Paris, to a famous sports brand mall which, strangely, is very present anywhere in France but not in Paris. I still have quite a few things to find on my packing list. I’ve let that slide during the rampup, but I can’t wait too long.

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue going up in the coming weeks. Sometime next week, when I feel I can move past 50kms regularly, I’ll go public on my facebook page with my project :p

Paris tour – 2nd test


I did a second test video yesterday. This time I chose to go along the very touristic routes of Paris, that is, going through the city center. So I’ve been along Nation then Bastille, then passing by the town hall, the Louvre, and reaching Concorde, before my battery went out !

I thought it was filled up completely, but probably (hopefully) not. The battery is supposed to hold for 140 minutes, or 2 hours 20 minutes. I checked with gopro video cameras, and their battery, depending on the model, is 1,5 to 2,5 hours. Comparable, and not very long in any case. I guess these kind of cameras are not meant to record long journeys. So I’ll have to turn it on only if there is something to share.

Another point with this test was the video stability at high speed. I’ve been trying to hold my head very still while riding, which is not good for safety with traffic. Well in any case the result is a little bit better than the first test, but only barely. I also tried completely stopping to record interesting points, and that worked. Editing got a lot faster, and I uploaded the video the same day. But the learning here is that recording while riding a bike isn’t good, unless in cases where you go down a hill and CAN stand perfectly still (as with the tramway races in the first video).

So, thinking about my project to record my going through the US and editing that down to one hour, or one hour and a half. I’ll have to select only a few points, a few rides down, without acceleration or only short ones. I’ve done x4 accelerations, so, even with half of the hour being accelerated, that’s a end total of 2 hours accelerated and a half normal.

The positive point here is that my sd card can hold all of that easily 🙂 I was trying to find a way to upload gigas of video along the way, but if I restrict the recording, I can hold 4-5 hours on one card, and if I buy a couple more it should be enough for the whole ride. Still, I’ll try to upload through the iphone in order to have more leeway. So that means linking a micro sd card to an iphone, and getting that iphone to send that to the cloud. Pretty much advanced scifi stuff if I’m able to do that in the desert !

Paris tour


I finally managed to edit, compress, annotate, convert and publish the tour of Paris I did last week. Took me some time, as I’m very inexperienced with videos 🙂 The original file was 14go for 2 hours, and the reduced one under 30 minutes but still more than 7go. Youtube was ok to upload it, but it was taking more than 15 hours, and any glitch in the connection meant starting over again.

Now, a final version is 1.5go, and 3-4 hours to upload, much more manageable.

The result is close to what I had in mind : accelerated tour (x4), with normal / slow speed when showing interesting points, with notes and maps along the way. There are many things to improve and I’ll do just that with a next version 🙂

Notes from the video :

This is a bike tour of Paris, along the “Maréchaux”, the large streets circling the city. You will see many difference facets of the city along this trip – the real city, not the one visited by tourists. You will see very different levels of wealths, different activities, many ongoing constructions, and not that much traffic, as I was riding on sunday.