FMX 2014 Preview: A Real-Time Experience



I’m returning to FMX in Stuttgart, Germany (April 22-25), hosting a panel to be  announced shortly. Here’s a sneak peek.

With three months to go before FMX 2014 opens its doors, the very first program glimpses are now to be had. Europe’s most influential conference on digital entertainment seeks to illustrate the differences and synergies between the Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia communities, thus transforming into an international meeting place “Where Art, Technology and Business meet.” The FMX 2014 theme is “A Real-Time Experience” and will emphasize industry changes and developments that are captured in topical issues such as Real-time, Immediate Feedback, Virtual Production, Disruption as well as a multitude of other key terms. These topics are at center of the conference program with its presentations, screenings, workshops, and masterclasses and they are also discussed at the Marketplace, Recruiting Hub, and the School Campus.

Program highlights abound at FMX. Outstanding presentations in the limelight feature Transmedia projects such as the award-winning game franchise The Walking Dead, the evolution of PDI/DreamWorks, game favorites such as Beyond: Two Souls and many more.

Contributions of this quality are only made possible by international expertise, says FMX Program chair Jean-Michel Blottière: “Art, Technology and Business merge one more time at FMX. Some of the most brilliant brains of this planet bring their cutting edge vision and exhilarating perspectives to FMX — we can’t wait to hear from them.”

Arrow Disruption and Open Source

The paradigm shift’s inherent disruption continues to transform the industries and confronts us with more than mere challenges: it also holds great potential for technological advances. Accordingly FMX puts an emphasis on the latest trends in Open Source in 2014 and welcomes renowned, award-winning speakers such as Jeremy Selan, Software Developer and Imaging Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, to Stuttgart. Selan delivers a presentation on OpenColorIO (OCIO), for which he received an Academy Scientific and Technical Achievement Award this year, and he also addresses Katana, IBL, and scene processing. Moreover, Andrew Kaufman, Research & Development Programmer at Image Engine Design Inc., demonstrates the deployment of Open Source Projects Cortex andGaffer for the film pipeline that was used for all Image Engine projects, including Zero Dark ThirtyWhite House Down, and Elysium. In addition, Ken Museth, R&D FX supervisor and principal engineer at DreamWorks Animation, discusses the Open Source C++ library OpenVDB, an Open Source sparse volume data structure and toolset. Crytek tops off this year’s focus on Open Source: lead software engineer Xiaomao Wu and Cinebox product manager Kirthy Iyer reveal insights into the company’s latest Open Source projects.

Arrow VFX: Star Trek planet archives and more

Visual effects continue to evolve beyond the boundaries of blockbuster entertainment. Sandra Joy Aguilar sheds light on the importance of archiving visual effects, providing insights into her past work archiving more than 150,000 visual effects elements at ILM and explicating the method of using tape robots at CBS Digital to archive new planets from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Chuck Peil, a founding member and Head of Business Development/Strategic Partnership with Reel FX, spotlights tenacious entrepreneurship and what it takes to build an animation studio from scratch.  In his presentation, he dissects the challenges and successes he and his company encountered establishing themselves alongside the biggest players in animation. Reel FX employs over 350 team members in Dallas, Texas and Santa Monica, California. The innovative creative shop is currently in production on their next highly anticipated CG feature film, The Book of Life, with 20th Century Fox, director Jorge R. Gutierrez, and producer Guillermo del Toro (in theaters October 2014).

Arrow Animation: “The Early Days of PDI”

In order to grasp the evolution of animation, FMX looks at the origins of one of the longest-lasting computer animation studios, namely PDI/DreamWorks. It brings together the founders of PDI (Pacific Data Images), Carl Rosendahl, associate professor at the Entertainment Technology Center at the Carnegie Mellon University, and Richard Chuang, CEO at Cloudpic Global, for a dedicated panel discussion called “The Early Days of PDI.” PDI, which was merged with the feature animation division of DreamWorks, is the computer animation production company behind notable PDI/DreamWorks movies, including the Shrek and Madagascar franchises.

Arrow Games: Beyond: Two Souls and Killzone: Shadow Fall

FMX acknowledges the fact that game technologies and workflows often set new standards across the industries. Dominic Cianciolo, cinematic director at NetherRealm Studios, curates a track on Game Cinematics — a field where this trend is especially apparent. Animation director Kenneth McDonald and animation supervisor Teppei Takehana from Quantic Dream aptly illuminate the successful interactive drama action-adventure video game Beyond: Two Souls for PlayStation 3 that stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. Beyond: Two Souls, which blurs the lines between films and games, was even chosen to be showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival. Moreover, FMX features a Realtime Rendering track curated by Confetti’s CEO Wolfgang Engel. Dan Calvert and Alex Zapata, art directors at Guerrilla Games, introduce their upcoming Next Gen AAA asset production Killzone: Shadow Fall that is one of only a handful of titles released exclusively for next gen consoles. In addition, Wolfgang Engel presents a talk called  “Real-time Global Illumination in Games — Overview on the different Techniques that are used in Games today.”

Arrow Transmedia: From The Walking Dead to beActive’s Collider

The Conference program features popular Transmedia formats in a series of talks on Serial Storytelling curated by Alexander Herrmann (Filmakademie). Cinematic artist and director Dennis Lenart explains how his company Telltale Games has risen to become the leader of episodic content in the video game industry and provides insights into the struggles and successes of the company’s flagship franchise, The Walking Dead,which won over 80 Game of the Year awards in 2012. Moreover, Portugal makes its mark as a location for Serial Storytelling: Nuno Bernardo, CEO and founder of beActive, talks about his Sci-Fi real-time project Colliderthat includes a live action web series, a feature film, a CG series and a computer game where the same virtual assets are used and integrated. The CG series is produced in realtime with a machinima approach that makes production both fast and cost-effective.


Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Education, Festivals, Movies, performance capture, previs, Production Design, Shorts, Tech, VFX, Videogames, Virtual Production

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