Screenshot from Brett Leavy's Virtual Songlines - hero image
Virtual Songlines
Stories & Ideas

Mon 21 Sep 2020

Preserving Indigenous culture through VR: Brett Leavy's Virtual Songlines

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Learn how Brett Leavy, Creative Director and “Virtual Heritage Jedi”, is using VR, AR and "serious gaming" to preserve First Nations culture through his monumental Virtual Songlines project.

It's about really immersing people in the culture. We want to gain better respect, understanding, knowledge about our mob. And I just think this medium is the best.

Brett Leavy

Brett Leavy

About Brett Leavy

Brett Leavy is a First Nations, Digital Aboriginal and descends from the Kooma people whose traditional country is bordered by St George in the east, Cunnamulla in the west, north by the town of Mitchell and south to the QLD/NSW border. Brett’s dedicated his working life to cultural knowledge recording and the industry of communications. His digital work seeks to represent the arts, cultural stories, heritage, traditional knowledge and histories of First Nation people using new, immersive and interactive technologies.

For over three decades, Brett’s researched how to “build a time machine” to take people back to places where the traditional knowledge of First Nations people originated. Guided by Traditional Owners, anthropologists, archaeologists, botanists and the interactive games industry, he is inspired to create entertaining and engaging systems to represent the interactions between first settlers and traditional peoples. His studies inspired him to establish a business that sought to deliver virtual reality products that merged traditional knowledge with 3D virtual landscapes to present pre-colonisation Australia with all its embedded traditional Aboriginal culture, language, artefacts, community, trade and much more.

Watch a trailer for Virtual Songlines

Transcript

Narrator

"While we may no longer be the title holders to this land across which Maiwar meanders, the Jagera, the Turrbal and the Yuggera are still connected in a spiritual way to this country. The land is special as it holds the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of our first peoples. We will remember and not forget that below the bricks the mortar, the concrete, and the asphalt, that this land was, and always will be, the traditional country of the original custodians. The flag of the watch tower pays respect to the Elders, past, present and future. To the Turrbal, Jagera and the Yuggera people. The traditional custodians, they're the couvntry for its values, its resources, for its culturally significant places. And the stories that interweave amongst the obligations to areas and its landscape features."

Vincent Trundle: Welcome Brett

Brett Leavy: Vincent, how are you going, mate?

VT: I'm good.

BL: I don't if you heard, but there was a big Kookaburra going off, so he must be here to welcome me to speak as well; there is one outside the window. Those are pretty amazing.

VT: Excellent. I've got a three Kookaburras here too. They're going off in unison.

I'm gonna introduce Brett Leavy properly now. Brett Leavy created [Bilbie Virtual Labs] a company that makes a range of products called Virtual Songlines and Brett's joining us from up in Brisbane at the moment, where his company is. Let's perhaps first, Brett, talk about where you're originally from. You're a Kooma man. Can you tell me about where you grew up and your land and your people?

BL: Well, I was born in Sydney actually, when my mum was down there, but my traditional country is from Western Queensland. The centre point of my land is actually the town of Bollon, which is just West of St. George and East of Cunnamulla. So that's the centre of our country. Our country's basically mulga. So, if you remember the stories about the old history of that space, Major Mitchell came up our way and he was an explorer. Way back he opened up that space for grazing. Major Mitchell was a big redhead. And I think he actually liked our women because some of our family have got red hair. I'd say it's from Major Mitchell.

VT: All right. Okay. And so going back sort of just a bit more, we'll go talk about last century, what you were doing last century before you really started to the more digital life.

BL: Yeah, well, yeah, I started last century ... Make meet feel old, big fella. But I remember back in the 90s ... I mean, I like playing games, all right? All through uni and you know, booking computer time in 1983 at Griffith University and I used to book it at about 2.30 in the morning and the reason why 2.30 was good because by about 3.30, when I had the off, the next guy would be booked in. And most of the time he didn't turn up, but sometimes didn't. So I got an extra hour on this computer mainframe at Griffith, where I also played this wireframe dungeon crawl. I can't remember the name, but I used to go down and down and down and just be immersed in this experience. Now, that was great. But then after you play games for a long while you're thinking, what can you do? How can you get involved? How can you make a better game? And naturally I'm a strong Aboriginal fella in my culture and I want to see that shared, understood, respect and all. So, the marriage between games and culture began there.

VT: I was definitely gonna ask you what your first videogames were. I thought maybe I might not ask, but yeah, it's important. I think it really sort of suggests where you've come from and where you're gonna go to. And that, 1983, booking 2.30 in the morning in a computer lab is pretty amazing, I think. And so, you sort of hinted at it there, you've talked about being a "digital Aboriginal". You've talked about what digital Aboriginal is. Can you tell us a bit more about what that means to you?

BL: Oh, listen. It's for me, it's pretty straightforward. I mean, it's about knowledge sharing. It's about telling stories; digital storytelling is part of it. It's about really immersing people in the culture. We want to gain better respect, understanding, knowledge about our mob. And I just think this medium is the best. And right from the very start, when we talked about that history, what we just yarned about, the vision hasn't changed. The vision of what I wanted to achieve hasn't changed, but the technology has, and it's become for all of us, anybody in game design, a lot easier to become a storyteller. That's the people that want to become storytellers. Some people might want to just make a game. That's important, but I want to do something that I think not many people are doing this is it. There is something in it.

VT: Yeah. And you mentioned it's like a totem behind your company.

BL: Are you talking about my Bilbie? My Bilbie Songlines ... you got that flashing up?

VT: No, no, not yet. Let me just sort of come back a bit still. I want to find out what the first actual game that you made was.

BL: Well ...

VT: Before Bilbie labs.

BL: Well, I had a company called Cyber Dream, and back then I had a company that was doing lots of digital work, like web design, a little bit of graphic design. We try to make that artistic. We wanted to use arts and ... [sound of Kookaburras calling in the background] there the Kookaburras are again ...

VT: Yeah. Loving it. Yep.

BL: And that is what the design was all about. Making it work. Way back then when we were trying to dabble in this digital space with the design of a website for a city or city council, back in 2000 where we did things with flash that they said couldn't be done. And we did it. So we were always innovative and groundbreaking back then. And then in that sort of documentation of knowledge in a website, which was word-based, it was really boring. But if I come back and step and say, on native title, you might know about cultural heritage, you would know about, cultural heritage is about the land. Is about Indigenous peoples' connection to land. And whenever I go to my meetings with my people, we would sit down and we put a map on the table and people would gather around that map. And there'd be things and stories that will be told about that map, where people are imagining being on their country, where sometimes there might be a cattle property or a farm or a cotton farm. Like you can imagine which cotton farm I'm talking about. But we couldn't get there. We couldn't get to the sites of significance or the objects of significance we could couldn't get to. They might've been taken away or confiscated or things like that. And all I wanted to do was make a statement in these games about that connection to country. And really this is what I see this digital storytelling is about. Another way of describing it is "serious games". It's serious games for some purpose. Now, I love making games like that, but then also gamifying it and then giving people a purpose in that world to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. That's the nature of the beast in this.

VT: Right, and so you started, Bilbie Labs in turn of the century – 2003, I think you said. There's the logo [logo on screen]. I want to find out what that is, what's the object in that logo. Apart from the Bilbie of course.

BL: The thing in the front is the Virtual Songlines product. So, that's the stone with the water inside the stone with the fire inside the water. So it's all the elements of the earth. That's what that logo means. And behind it is Bilbie, that's my totem.

VT: And it's great. I love it. It's really excellent. And so with Bilbie labs you've started Virtual Songlines. Can you explain us a bit about whatVirtual Songlines is?

BL: Well, Virtual Songlines has been a lot of things. It's been PC games initially. It's been AR type games recently, most recently. And in between that we've been doing a lot of VR type work. And we just try to dabble with those mediums to tell the stories more immersively, more interactively, and just to really wow people, because I think that wow factor was really great to achieve, but then I think the wow factor also makes them look a bit harder at the knowledge or the content. And there's lots of examples I can talk about that as well, but at the moment we're really busy with Virtual Songlines. Now Virtual Songlines is in effect is a toolkit. It's a virtual heritage toolkit for in a sense, serious game design. And so we're trying to build that toolkit better. We've been on that toolkit for a long time. It started, like you said, back in 2003, and that started with the help of the University. When we really weren't knowing what we were doing, a lot of R&D, a lot of mistakes, a lot of learning from our mistakes more to the point, and then iterating slowly as we went. We don't have a lot of investment. We don't have a lot of money. It's a lot of blood, sweat, tears, all nighters – a lot of all nighters. And, and as a result of that, we learned from others. We ride on the shoulders of giants and we look at what they've done and see how we can adapt that in the Virtual Songlines toolkit. And with that toolkit, ultimately now this is the crux of it all, we want to build an interactive multi-user game that relates to every capital city and regional town across Australia.

VT: Well, that's, I might come back to that in just a sec. I wanted to talk about how, when you first start looking at making a particular Songline for a particular area, what do you do? What's the first step in the process?

BL: Well, the first step is the land. So how do you get the landscape right? And it took a while to work it out, but then we found out we could get that landscape from shuttle mission satellite data. It's now a bit different, but that data gives us the proper view of the land. And then we found that companies or government departments like Geoscience Australia, were doing soil maps. That soil maps will help a farmer. Where it might help, some other manager of the land. So we will use those soil maps to determine the vegetation that fell on that landscape. So if we're in an urban centre and we don't know, historically we don't really have accurate data. The geology of the landscape tells you what it could be. And that's what we use to determine what tree would be there.

VT: That's really interesting. That's incredible use of the technology. You mentioned that you get to the heart of the stories of the land and you go and out and speak to people?

BL: Yes.

VT: Actually, we might just play a video that you've made just recently.

Video:

Donald and myself, from the Yuggera people, I'm from the Turrbal clan and Donald's from further West of the bidder.

He's acting out particular scenes that our messenger men used to do via sending the smoke signals from the highest points around in the mountains and ridges and different areas throughout Brisbane. Then the next tribe would send their signals and their signals and all the tribes will come in. And on the 4th of September, we'll have the Corroboree. We're doing it exactly how my grandfather Mooken. He was a messenger man. Last one known of the tribe, he would carry the message sticks for different countries. And it was the host of the ceremony that would actually smoke the area, make sure that it was a clean and ready to go for the mobs. That was their responsibility you see? There's a lot of history that still remains around Brisbane, even though the buildings are up. And even though we're settled in some places, we'll hold it all dear in our heart.

VT: Yes, that's a really interesting, important sort of factor to the stories that you craft, isn't it, Brett?

BL: Yep. Well, see that video there. Many people ask me, like when I have a client that's a council or a government department, say, or anybody who might sponsor our work. They say, "Do I talk to the community?" And am I engaged with the community. And I could say yes, but do you believe me? So what I do is, everybody I talk to, rather than just yarn to them and say, "This is what I'm doing" and getting them onside – they always agree. Don't get me wrong. I've got no centres that I'm aware of ... if they are, come and talk to me because I'll get you onside – I do a video on them, and I produce it like that and I give it to them like a gift, then I pay them to do the video. And that's how I consult. Now, I've got 72 people. I've done videos like that for. You can imagine, I can only do so much with as much as I've got, but that's the type of work we do. Now I think that's a really good way of doing it. I also think that when you look back in a photo album and you imagine your old people long time ago, you know those black and white photographs? So a become a black and white video in a hundred years time. Alright. And then we're talking about those values. And I don't think those values will change. Shannon Rusk is a subject there, and the other fella's Don, he's from the west out toward Bramwell way. And I've done it with so many others. So everywhere I go, I try to get at least a half dozen, I suppose, speakers, and I capture the knowledge and then they help me. They empower and strengthen the work we do in Virtual Songlines.

VT: And so, I think you've mentioned that it's what the Songlines exactly are. So you're telling the stories of the people as opposed to you telling a story, describing what they say. It's, it seems very important part of it. So perhaps in terms of the more technical side, say, and I might just get an image up of the ... the Sydney Harbor bridge overlaid over it, how do you go about getting the overlays of the city? So you've talked about getting the geography and geology there. How do you go about getting those buildings?

BL: Well, the first time we did those buildings, we actually went to an engineering company and we bought them. And at the time ... actually, that's not true. I didn't buy them. I got a client to buy them for me. And that helped because it was a lot of money back then. So they shelled out, I think at the time, $50,000 for that city model of Sydney. And it was a lot of money and it was money for other people to do it. We didn't know how to do it back then, but nowadays, it's become a lot easier as you probably can guess. So, if you remember a while back, would have been 10 years ago, councils were buying city models remember? if you can recall an old paying, I think, with all due respect, I might be off the market, but a million dollars for that type of work. A million dollars. And the city is important. I think that's important for town planning and all those things that go with it. The point for us though, is that we wanted the ghostly forms of the cities. To show what happened after. At the time of first settlement and up to the present. We wanted to say that where your city is below those bricks and mortar is a connection for First Nations people, whoever that might be in Sydney, it's Gadigal, in Brisbane it's the Turrbal, Yuggera people, Melbourne we know who that mob is. In Perth, it's the Wajuk, the Nyoongar people and others. In every town is traditional and the group that we want to honour. And we want to say that, "Hey this city is here," but now don't forget First Nations were there before. And the point of the city models is they were hard to get. We're focused on those urban areas. People think of Indigenous people being out there somewhere. They celebrate Ayer's Rock or Arnhem Land, but I feel like the vast majority of our people, 70–80% you'll find them living and trying to make a go of their lives in the cities and regional towns. And their connection and their identity is just as important as anybody else, which we're all striving to make sense of in this difficult time.

VT: And it's quite striking to say, there's the ghost of the present. And then as they disappear, you actually really get a sense of where you are. And I think it's a really strong point to say it wasn't there all the time and for a hell of a long time before they were there, it's ...

BL: If I could just add, we spent a lot of time doing historical research and of place, of sites, of objects of significance, trying to grab the recipe and put them back in the context of country where they belong. And so the work we do is not Mickey Mouse. It's very carefully thought of, we're trying to, when we talk about a Songline, we're talking about a track that might have been walked. A track that might've been sung. And if we were to play a dozen of those videos that you saw – you just saw one from Shannon – if I show you a dozen, there's a recurring theme that comes out of these speakers, my countrymen, about that connection to country, in all different ways. There's one moving one, which I should have shared with you Vincent, about Aunty Beverly Head who hugs a bunya tree. Now bunya tree is a feasting space. Have you heard about the bunya nut festival up in Queensland, up in the hinterland there, the Great Dividing Range. And it's a wonderful story she told. It is moving and even though we do this work, this serious game work, it's that depth of knowledge, that depth of the story that we want to capture, and that instills a sense of identity in the virtual that we're reconstructing.

VT: Well, I think let's sort of move, into that a bit deeper. We just have, I might play the video for Barani video that depicts the Sydney area now. And we'll talk a bit about that. [Plays video]

I've got, I've got a range of questions coming in, but I want to talk about the production. I want to focus on the tech side here, Brett. I know there's a mixture of in game footage and animation and other images that you put in there, but I want us to look at some of the technical aspects. I know you've included some motion capture in there. Is that right?

BL: Yeah. Well, all the characters that you see moving are all motion captured. You see the second dancer on that dance? With the curly hair? That's me.

VT: I recognised you, sorry.

BL: Well, they're all different dancers and we brought them all in doing the same dance at a different pace and you can notice them out of sync, so they're not the same person. And so they will do different things, it's all good. It's fun. That was so rewarding. If you you'll see there's a shot there. I think I sent you about the motion capture suits. We put all the little dots on our bodies and the guy – I don't know who was singing that one – one of that fellas was singing, but I haven't seen that for a while. It looked pretty good. I think the work about [inaudible], I think is important too. What we did with, those words were planted on site. So that was the surveillance photography of the day, those oil paintings. And then I just took these painting as a guide and then created the work around it. And I think there was a criticism of that. People said, "did I get the rights to do it?" And I said, "Yeah, I should have." The other thing I should have done is got the written releases from the Aboriginal parties as well, who were present, but I didn't get the written releases either.

VT: That would have been tricky. I think if we got images of the MoCap, we can show people. I think they're pretty fascinating. They sort of talk about the production process in game-making quite nicely. We've not? That's okay. We can move on.

BL: It's the MoCap stuff, so....

VT: I think it was quite nice seeing you there working with the performers, actors, I suppose, dancers?

BL: Yeah.

VT: And it speaks a lot to the storytelling process, I think, because you're actually, you're really getting down to the nuts and bolts, if you like in their niche. There's you?

BL: Yeah.

VT: Dancing?

BL: Yeah. [inaudible], I call it "blood in the digital". So it's proper Aboriginal people doing it and then making it work, making it authentic. Literally while we're doing this show, I just got another call from three groups who want to do the motion capture sessions. All right. So that might, I think too, seeing it at the end is really important, but the journey of getting there is also important. There's a real healing. I find if you ever want to get to one of these sessions, Vincent, see it. It's really quite important. And I feel so chuffed when the feedback I get from my own people, when we do this, it is just important. I mean, it's good to do the storytelling and sharing with others, but I just love the process too.

VT: It's great to get the real essence in using the technology to what we go in and play in the end. It's fantastic. I think also you getting that technology use going like crazy. And I think you've also used weather data is that right? You've got live weather data?

BL: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean with the sky, you see the clouds and the blue skies and whatnot, looking at your phone, we all know that you can get weather data on your phone. When you want the whether you can get the weather data. So it was just not very far removed to actually link the sky to the time of day. And then thinking about what weather patterns might have been. So we can actually program the weather, based on previous weather types. And you can go back over the span of it even a year and look at that data. And then it tends to be, it tends to be the same sort of weather, for us here in Brisbane, it tends to get really windy around August. I don't know about you guys down there. It gets really windy. So you know that there's a big wind blowing and you can always ... generally at the Brisbane Ekka, people sell kites because it's always windy. Weather does affect the emotions. But for the work that we're doing, having real weather data does matter. Because you know that we want to see rain falling at a certain time a year, because at a certain period of time, you would go off to the trees where they've had a big soaking, then cut the back away for a canoe. So even though people say, "What are you bothered with the weather now?" Well because it's culture, it reflects the authenticity of our cultural activities at that particular point when the weather's like that.

VT: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I think we've got some images of some of the animals that you've got. You've got quite a lot of animals and with the AI. And I think we saw they've got some great physics as well, I've noticed.

BL: Yeah. Yeah. We're trying to make the snakes in the world attack you if you get too close. We're doing very rudimentary AI for the animals. All right. But what we want to do is we want to look at ... my dream is that each one of the animals actually respond as they might do in the wild. Just with a bit of authenticity. You know how at certain times a year, you're not to walk in the bush because the snakes are a bit more cranky than usual? You know what I'm saying? You get it? So we want to reflect that now that might be good for us in real-time today that we are concerned about when we go bush-walking, to be weary what time of the year it is, as snakes are around. But for First Nations people, we also knew that. That was our own science. We knew when to be wary, or to be more careful to make sure that our Jarjums were carefully on the track and not wandering off where they shouldn't be. There's logic in that. And then once you deal with that animal you can deal with many others. So all our animals are looking pretty good. We're trying to deal with fur shaders, w're trying to look at poly counts as you can guess. We're trying to get as real as we can, within the limit of the technology that we have to manage carefully. Which is like in any game development has the same problem. If anybody's got better ways, I'm all ears as well.

VT: You've mentioned before that you're now moving into VR and AR, which I imagine is a further technical technological leap. Can you tell us what VR and AR that you've been making lately?

BL: Well, that video shot of Barani, that's actually a VR experience. So that video was just something to promote for the event, but the true experience is VR. And that's all those works. You actually walk in there and you actually throw the spear with those two fellas on the rock bed at I think it's a mullet along the Parramatta river. The actual people in the dance who're actually on the outskirts of that dance watching those dancers. And then at that fireplace, when the [inaudible] is coming up, you're actually sitting at the fireplace, watching the [inaudible] come up and then be offered. Every one of those scenes we tried to break down the social order, the cultural social order of those events. And that was in VR. So, we did that show at Australia Day this year at the overseas visitors terminal, back in January, not March if you get my drift. And it was a good event, we had nine tantrums. People didn't have enough time in there – that wasn't the kids, it was the adults.

VT: And so you've got AR now ... you've created Maiwar AR, is that, right?

BL: Yes you did. Yeah. That's been developed. It's looking good. We don't have it really launched yet. It's a bit more work with ... the beauty of this building virtual worlds is that the assets you build within it, the planes or the landscapes that you're building them, can actually be taken out of that extract and then put in another ... or repurposed in a sense. So, it's not really too much more work. It is some work, but not a whole lot of work given that we've got the assets there to be used. So, that dance you saw in the, one of the videos, we've got about 12 of those dances done. So we can pick any number of those dances at the right time of day and then put them into the AR. And then you can see those dancers perform on country, where there might have been like ghosts from the past.

VT: Can I just ask when you talk about AR, so people can grab their phone ... and is that right? And be on land and get the real experience?

BL: Get to a site, put the camera up and that camera will trigger an AR experience.

VT: That's pretty exciting. So I think we've got a video of the, Whadjuk, is that the most recent AR?

BL: Yeah. That's a VR project actually.

VT: Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah. And if people want to visit the website, your website, it's virtualsonglines.org. You can find links to all these works. Can we just see that video that indicates that sort of overview of the experience? [plays video].

BL: Yep. That work actually, Whadjuk, that was on show and it's still on show anywhere in Perth. That's in Perth. That actually is touring in Digi Native, in Canada at the moment. Is in a big VR international film festival. So I think we're up for an award, I'm led to believe.

VT: That's a "serious game" award. Is that right?

BL: It's for cultural games. Yes.

VT: I understand that they do what they called docu-games as well?

BL: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's it. Yeah.

VT: Okay. We haven't got that much more time, Brett, but I've got a bunch of questions that people have asked that I'd like to get to. And definitely let you say your piece too, if you wish. But, so I've got a lot of people are really interested in what's being published and when stuff's being published. You might want to indicate what might be coming up.

BL: Yep. Well, the big push we're going for at the moment is a project with the town of 1770 up at Agnes Waters. Now we're gonna do that showcase at a festival up there. So that's a Queensland thing. You know what I'm saying? That's a good show. The other one that's in Brisbane, if anybody's in Brisbane, there's a showcase at the Cross River Rail Experience Center that's in Albert Street in the city, in the CBD. If you actually want to see one of our videos play out, there's a show down in the Australian National Maritime Museum. And that's a showcase. And there was obviously a video that was on show at William Station as well, that we're working for, knowing that we're in this difficult time, is that we've done this pivot at the very beginning of the year where we're trying to make a multi-user serious cultural heritage game for a number of our regional towns and capital cities. So the very first one of those will be really ready to go I feel in December. So we've been on it for a while. So we've taken all these assets. So if people have got some patience, that'll be when we're gonna have it ready. We'll have it there earlier we're hoping, but we've got to do a bit more work on testing and refinement and you can get the guess how difficult that might be, and as you know, Vincent, we're talking to you about Kulin as well, doing something in Kulin, which is similar with a fella down there called Jayden Williams. So all up, once we get the drop on 1770, you'll see that in a very short amount of time, even though we're gonna do is change the terrain, we'll have 1770, Sunshine coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Lake Macquarie, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth as multi-user virtual heritage environments. Even Ipswich and Oaky as well. And that's a big suite of landscapes, a whole lot of cultural heritage survival guide activities. And we're really hoping for the first week launch in December.

VT: Right, so we've also got questions: when do you think the cultural survival games will be able to be used in schools? And so they're talking about being implemented in education.

BL: I think around that same time. We are working with schools and we are talking to teachers. The thing about this, the games, we really have to make sure that they align as closely as we can to the ACARA curriculum framework and we're literally working on that as we speak and looking at the alignments. And most people will tell you that they fairly well fit, but we just want to be doubly sure. And in playing the game, it's not as simple like hour or so play. We're making a persistent world that plays out over the span of a month. 28 days. That's a long time and we're going from full moon to full moon. So the learning outcomes in an immersive three-dimensional world where you can walk in any direction and in a sense, follow a hero's quest, there's a real learning in that for any young person. And I think the next question might people ask is, "Which years might I be focusing on?" We're focusing on upper primary and lower secondary, in the first instance. I think those ones, we can easily fit in no time.

VT: That's really valuable and exciting. I've got quite a serious question in relation to that. It's how are you ensuring the knowledge passed on to non-Indigenous audience is one, allowed and two, respected and not performed? And so I'm keen to learn about how you're tracking those things.

BL: Yeah. Well the first thing is that when we take any knowledge, we're taking what might be public domain in the first instance. So the question might be that, "What about sacred, sacred?" That's always ... we want to be careful on that. We don't want to do anything that's not allowed. And secondly, whenever I do a project for any one of the regions that I deal with, I go to the TO's (Traditional Owners) originally. I generally go to land councils and get them onsite. I did a lot of work, setting up a lot of Indigenous media things in the past. So I'd been around for a while. So most people know me as Brett, in Indigenous media. I've worked since the 90s on that. And plus, I'm just an Aboriginal fellow and you gotta be careful on that. I think there's no doubt that we have stories to tell. And this is only one medium. It's not the only medium. If someone wanted to write a book, they can write a book. If someone wanted to write a poem, they could write a poem. If they want to do a play, they can do a play. If they want to do a film, they can do a film. My stuff is just this game's medium. And in effect I'm working with local people is whatever I can and asking them, "Hey, what do you think you want to be involved?" And if anybody's out there who wants to be involved, please tell me. But let me say this. If there's any concern, any problems with me working in an area and people don't want it, I won't do it. I'll just go somewhere else. And eventually as they see that we do it right over time, I hope that they'll come around. I'm not in a rush. There's a lot to do. There's a lot to do. So hopefully I'm doing it proper. With protocol, with respect, with authenticity. I'm trying.

VT: Well, on a less deep note, what platform are you using to create the world?

BL: We're using Unity mostly and we're using Unity and a lot of other tools. So it's 3D Studio Max, Maya, we're using Photoshop on occasions or with the textures naturally. We're using Premiere for video production. We're using a GH5 camera with a very good lens for the video recording. We're doing motion capture. We're using software. There's like a plethora of things we're using. But Unity is a game engine we're using at the moment. It is the fastest way to go forward. And it's a pretty well enhanced Unity with about 30 or 40 different packages. And then once we use Unity, then we code a lot of our own code. So we might put VS in front of a piece of line of C+ or I'll just say C# code. And then we've adapted lots. There's a lot of coding that we use. I've got five people coding as we speak. Yeah.

VT: Right. Someone asked about how you get to capture the music or the audio?

BL: Yeah, this is another yarn if you want one. I've just got a guy called Simon Woods at the moment and I'm really happy to work with him. I don't really want music in there. I've got some music in the videos, but what I want is ambient sound. I'm trying to build a ... the music is a real struggle for me. I'm trying to get an idea of what that might be and it's actually not music. It's more like a sound. I really love Hans Zimmer. And I think that sort of stuff works, but I'm trying to do it where there's no instrument. So try to pick a thing that's taking away those constructions, to a sound that is more spiritual of the land. Now I've been grappling with the sound question for literally longer than I have been with the game design. And so how do you respect not only the sound of the space, but how do you geospatially and temporarily manage the audio at a site over time and space? We're going too far now?

VT: That's a great area. I'd love delve just into that. I don't think we've really got enough time. I've got one more question. Whereabouts are you doing MoCap. Are you doing it around the nation?

BL: I'm doing it at QUT at the moment. That's the easiest way. I did have plans to do it across the nation. We did some over in WA at Perth at Curtin, I believe. And we're looking at other Universities that can collaborate because that's where the kit is. Everyone knows in MoCap that studios can be very expensive. And we certainly don't have the money to set up a MoCap studio. But then again, when you do set up a studio, it's about the authentic dancers from space or place. So when you get the dance, you got to fly someone up from Sydney or Melbourne or Broken Hill, or Columella or South Australia, Port Augusta even. You know what I'm saying? It's very hard. Everybody should realise we're not funded. We're not grant funded. You know that? We don't have a grant for what we do. It's all pulled up by the shoes ... How do they say that? What's the word?

VT: Shoe strings? Shoe laces? Yeah.

BL: It's all sponsored. So we get a bit of money from here and a bit of money from there, and we just slowly interact and live along step-by-step. So you see what you're seeing from the smell of an oily rag. Yeah.

VT: Well, Brett, I've got to say, it's incredibly fascinating seeing what you've done and what you're doing. And it's really exciting to see that the progress you're making with ... well, it's huge progress with the smell of an oily rag, as you say ... but I'd like to thank you very much for telling us all about it tonight. And yeah, I think all of us will wish you all the best for the future and looking forward to seeing your work out there when we can.

BL: Happy to share it, always happy to share, love it. Thanks, Vince. Appreciate it.

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