FMX 2013 ended two weeks ago. And just like last year, The Art of VFX was one of the media partners:
For this edition, I was accompanied by Pascal Chappuis, former artist at Rhythm & Hues, which handles audio podcasts for The Art of VFX. Don’t miss his first podcast on the occasion of GI JOE: RETALIATION.
As always, the FMX program is very rich and varied. It was difficult to make choices for the conferences. My report is therefore a glimpse of what the FMX offers each year.
// DAY ONE
What a better way to start this new edition than go see the presentation of CLOUD ATLAS by Florian Gellinger, co-founder and VFX supervisor of Rise Visual Effects Studio. Through numerous great breakdowns, he explained in detail his work on the film. And focus on the importance of making the right choices before the shooing. If you want to know more about it, here is my interview Florian Gellinger.
My attention then focused on The Big Shift in VFX which was moderated by Marc Petit. He received Rob Bredow (SPI), David Morin (Autodesk), Don Parker (Shotgun), Ludwig von Reiche (NVIDIA ARC) and Cevat Yerli (Crytek). The discussion was quite interesting and the Cloud was really put forward as one of the big thing for the future of the VFX industry.
The Visual Effects Society (VES) proposed several discussions and meetings with visual effects people. The moderator was the president of the VES, Eric Roth. His interview with Kim Libreri, Chief Strategy Officer at Lucasfilm was really interesting especially when Kim showed to the audience some new test of Real Time footages. They were just amazing!
The day continues with the presentation of Chris Kenny, compositing supervisor at Rhythm & Hues about their amazing work for LIFE OF PI. Each important step in the visual effects was illustrated by numerous breakdowns. Viewing those videos leave me voiceless. It was an impressive amount of work. Still sad that Ang Lee didn’t recognize it!
To complete this first day, there was very promising discussion about the future of the visual effects industry. To animate this meeting, Erich Roth received Pierre Buffin (BUF Compagnie), Mark Driscoll (LOOK Effects), Christian Vogt (Pixomondo) and Jean-Noël Portugal (jnko). With such a theme, the expectation was relatively high in the audience. And inevitably some disappointment quickly appeared. Politically correct seemed to be the watchword. The theme was perhaps too ambitious.
// DAY TWO
To start this new day, nothing like attending a presentation of Pixar. Alexander Nehls, Simulation Technical Lead, explained in detail all the simulations created to bring life to BRAVE. The scope went to clothes from fur and of course focused on the hair of Merida the heroine of the film. If you want to know more, here is my interview with Claudia Chung.
My disappointment of the previous day during the debate about the future of visual effects would be swept away by the brillant conference of Ed Ulbrich, CEO of Digital Domain. The explanations on the biding system and also the importance to find diverse and various market for a visual effects studio made this conference one of the best in the FMX.
William Cheng, set designer on PACIFIC RIM, explained in detail his work on creating the cockpits of the robots (Jaeger) of the future blockbuster signed by Guillermo Del Toro. We have seen with many plans and designs how attention to detail had been pushed on this film.
As mentioned earlier, the Cloud has become the important term for several months and the use that Atomic Fiction has made of it on FLIGHT is a very good example. Ryan Tudhope, co-founder and VFX supervisor at Atomic Fiction described the benefits of it on this production. Then Todd Prives, Vice President of Business Development ZYNC, described more precisely the benefits of his cloud computing system. If you wish to learn more about the work of Atomic Fiction on FLIGHT, go read my interview.
// DAY THREE
This day was less busy in conference, but stronger in meetings. Nevertheless, the presentation of student Kyra Buschor, Anna Habermehl, Jonas Kirchner, Constantin Paeplow and Chrisoph Rasulis about their animated series Rollin ‘Wild was interesting. Each of these short films are really great and so funny:
The day continued with meetings and especially by recording an audio podcast led by Pascal Chappuis with Aaron Gilman, Animation Supervisor at Weta Digital. Aaron explained in detail his career in animation and challenges encountered in IRON MAN 3. This podcast will be available in a few days.
// DAY FOUR
This last day is a major focus on feature films:
Alessandro Cioffi, VFX supervisor accompanied by Luis Guggenberger, Head of Art Department, begin the day by explaining the work of Trixter on IRON MAN 3. The studio was one of the first to be involved on this film and in particular with the responsibility of creating the new armor of the film, the Mark 42. Our audio podcast of Alessandro Cioffi will be available soon.
Then, Guy Williams, VFX supervisor and Aaron Gilman, animation supervisor of Weta Digital, come on stage. The studio had the huge challenge to create the final sequence of the film within a very limited time. Both speakers tell us with great details the tremendous work done by the artists, but also how they approach a project like this. Mainly by doing the right choice before starting the work. By the quality of the material and information received, this conference is by far the most interesting of this 2013 edition!
Note: My interview with Guy Williams and Aaron Gilman will soon be available as well as Aaron audio podcast made by Pascal Chappuis.
Now comes the zombies of WARM BODIES with the presentation of Dan Schrecker, VFX supervisor at Look Effects. This presentation focused on the collaboration between different departments either on the set or in post. And very valuable, Dan quoted every time the head of each department. Don’t miss my interview of Dan about WARM BODIES.
Then Scott Stokdyk, Senior VFX Supervisor at Sony Imageworks, spoke in detail about the huge work preparation for filming OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. His animation supervisor Troy Saliba, explained in great detail the creation of the characters including the monkey Finley and China Girl. For more information on this film, read my interview of Scott Stokdyk.
This final day of conferences ends with the presentation of Bjørn Mayer, Overall VFX supervisor and Thilo Ewers, VFX supervisor of Pixomondo about their impressive work on OBLIVION. The team focus on the recreation of the Bubbleship and also about the canyon chase. Bjørn explains with more details about the way they filmed the background of the Sky Tower set. Here is my interview with Bjørn Mayer about this movie.
// FINAL WORDS
Finally, this new edition of FMX was again excellent!
This is a perfect place to meet many majors people of the visual effects industry and also many passionate people.
A huge thank you to the FMX team and especially to Mary Ketzscher and Lars-Christian Daniels for their help and availability.
See you in 2014!
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2013