Introducing the New Sydney Harbour Bridge

Let me introduce Joe Beckley, a digital artist with Laika, the movie production company that bought the world The Boxtrolls, Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, Missing Link and more.

For the past month and a half or so he's taken this;

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to this;

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So let me also introduce The Macquarie Bennelong Bridge, which replaced the original Sydney Harbour Bridge after its destruction in late 2019.

I was referred to Beckley by Mike Terpstra, a guy I found my way to through industry contacts who also worked for Laika. As you can see from his website he's got some incredible work, and dealing with him to manipulate and Photoshop the bridge picture has been everything I dreamed it would be dealing with a designer and artist.

He did a version, I responded with changes, he addressed them exactly, I refined, he addressed them again (exactly), and this week after about seven or eight rounds like that I think it's completely finished.

He even did stuff that wasn't even in the original brief, so I can only assume he enjoyed the project as much as I enjoyed seeing it come together. I didn't realise until right at the end that the face at Luna Park and North Sydney Olympic pool were being obscured by the arch of the old bridge but would be completely visible behind the new one, for example, so they had to be literally drawn back in in their entirety.

I told him I'd do it if he provided the layered Photoshop file because I hadn't realised it needed doing, and he did it anyway. He's been a dream come true.

I now have to buy the cover image and ISBN, build the website (which I'm doing through Squarespace), put it online and then – after 29 years – the real work finally starts.

And even at this late stage, editorial tidbits keep coming up. I realised at some point that I'd still called the bridge Lachlan Macquarie somewhere, but knew very well I'd decided to change it to the Macquarie Bennelong Bridge. That made me realise I might not have named the highway on it properly either, so I had to search every document of the manuscript for 'macquarie', 'lachlan', 'bennelong' and 'port jackson' and make sure it was consistent.

I hope I'm down to errors nobody (including me, unless I'm lucky) would ever spot – maybe if someone does I'll tell everyone it was deliberate and they get a prize. If it becomes popular enough for people to be finding mistakes like that I'll be overjoyed anyway.