In my experience Halloween’s either all in–you’re jumping in with both feet–or there’s no point in even playing the dress up game.
I guess Bevel’s resident Maker Madman and XR extraordinaire, Simon Manning got that same memo because he takes his Halloween costume game to the next level.
Last week Lexi sat down with Simon to see where all of this creative juju comes from and to see if maybe she might be able to catch some of it.
So Simon, tell me a little bit about Halloween for you? And how the extreme costuming began?
Halloween started out as my favorite holiday, because of all the holidays it has the least obligation surrounding it–it’s one of those times where I have more free time than usual.
It’s a great opportunity to get inside the workshop and make something crafty. I combine that additional free time with craftiness to do something above and beyond.
The tradition of “sickly sweet couples costumes” started when my partner and I moved to Seattle, and first dressed up as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That was before we had any access to a workshop – so we used what we could.
Tell me about this workshop that you use?
As the years have gone on I have had more access to laser cutters. At my old job I was a model shop manager – so I had my own spray booth, woodshop, all this kind of equipment – my costuming got more and more sophisticated each year.
From then on, each year has been a tradition of one-upping the previous years.
More recently I have started to create multiple Halloween costumes a year. I make the couples costume, but also there are separate events where I don’t want to rely on a couples costume if I am attending events like a VR Halloween meetup on my own. This year for the VR meetup I’m going as a Beat Saber player.
Do VR games inspire your costumes?
Totally. A few years back, I went as Job Bot from Job Simulator–it was the first year of the HTC Vive so it was one of those things that VR people would instantly get – everyone else just thought it was ridiculous.
Beyond the inspiration from Virtual Reality games, more broadly I’m inspired by spatial technology. This year I think I have outdone myself. This year we decided to go as Google Maps.
I’ve painted this really long ribbon, with yellow and red patches, like the navigation/ traffic line – we’re going to have that connecting us at the various parties – so wherever we go there will be this long ribbon snaking its way through the party from one of us to the other.
It’s ridiculous, its fun, but the key is its comfortable.
How do you come up with your ideas?
I’m really bad at procrastinating – so last year I waited till just a few days before Halloween and we were looking up couples costumes and one of them was this really cheesy sheet of cardboard with a printed out Oreo on it and I was like:
Oh that’s nice but I can do so much better than that.
So I 3D modeled an Oreo and fabricated all of the bumps and designs and we ended up going as 2 halves of the double stuff Oreo
How much time do you put into these things?
I usually spend like 1 day. This year I was in there from 4 pm – 12 am, an 8-hour stretch. I created 2 full costumes (Google maps), 1 alternate costume (Beat Saber) and an art piece.
I’ve got one thing in the laser cutter, while another is being spraypainted, and I have the woodcutter running. I just put in my headphones and get to work.
A lot of my work is deceptively simple.
Another awesome thing that Simon manages to fit into his busy maker schedule while crafting his 1-3 costumes per year, is a specially made art piece. To give back to the firm that allows him to use the workshop – he designs a piece to be donated to their annual art auction.
Is it the costume making or the reactions you like most?
Making the costumes! It’s always up in the air of whether it’ll turn out the way you imagine it. It’s such a rush of excitement as I’m peeling the stencil of the shirt – seeing this google map slowly emerge the way I planned it. It’s like I designed my own puzzle, and somehow it looks like it should.
There’s kind of a zen to accepting the things that turn out differently though. Over the years, there’s always a few things that don’t pan out the way I intended. It’s a nice exercise to let go of those things. It all works out anyways.
Tell me about the process?
I like taking a lot of photos of the process because it tells the story a little bit easier. I find that part of the process really fascinating, the step by step of it. That’s how I learned.
Adam Savage from Mythbusters has a series called One Day Builds – he is definitely an inspiration of mine with these kinds of projects. It’s also a great source for crafty tips.
How is costume making related to what you are doing at Bevel?
It ultimately comes back to the philosophy of why I think Bevel needs to exist. Which is everything that we are doing with VR and AR, it ultimately comes back to making real things – which is my passion. Whenever I’m making this stuff I’m using computers, technology, I’m writing plans for robots to cut this stuff out for me. I’m essentially leveraging technology to the fullest so I can create these things that are in my head as detailed and intricate as possible.
And I think that Bevel is doing the same thing but for the construction/ architecture industry. We’re building tools that are making it easier and faster to create things. It’s all about that “R” in the XR.
The future of VR and Halloween
VR is enabling a new type of Halloween costumes, which is the virtual avatar.
Rec Room has implemented a new costume system, you can make your own clothing and hats and hair in the game.
I see on the horizon some really awesome creative enabled applications for Halloween, like Magic Leap / mixed reality costumes, so when they look at you through their AR glasses or iphones, they see a costume overlayed with your body.
People are using AR and VR to express themselves, which is really what Halloween is all about.