CGSociety - FMX 2013 Diary

Closing FMX 2013

Sat 27th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

As the final day draws finally to a close, the report on the show's standing has been delivered at a special meeting on the sidelines, straight after the Iron Man 3 presentation. 

A total of 3,200 attendees came to the Haus der Wirtschaft and surrounding venues in Stuttgart this year. A greater number and percentage of attendees were professionals came to be part of the show. Talent from 46 countries, nearly two-thirds of conference attendees were working in the industry.   There were 289 speakers (yes, every one of them arrived despite the Luftansa strike). They spanned from 23 countries, and three quarters of them were from outside the country.    The CEO Summit and the Transmedia Lab took place for the very first time, bringing a new venue for those involved at the decision coal-face to discuss pressing issues behind closed doors, and dare I say, outside of California.

There was a peak in female attendees as well.  26% of all attendees were gals, and 34% of the students were female.  The Animation Production Day was especially blessed, and the topics discussed brought 32 projects from 12 countries with a 80 million Euros.

An area of interest was the Marketplace, a Trades Hall on a smaller scale, bringing more interaction with the attendees.  This big room was popular all week, not just because the clients selling and showing their products and goods, a selling books, but also for the additional area where digital research projects were given pride of place in the middle arena. Very cool idea that I hope stays in the program and expands.

The Marketplace also had the Recruitment Hall which at times resembled a party.  The Mill, Crytek, MPC, DNEG and others were rushed at some points. clogging the hallways with hopefuls. There's nothing wrong with that. Workshops were also very popular this year, booked up each day.  The Autodesk Company Suite held industry focused demonstrations on the new 2014 range and with SideFX and Chaos Group, were the most popular stands.

This year the FMX conference key presentations were streamed from the FMX site. This was tremendous, not only for overseas 'non-attendees', but also for those of us who couldn't be at every session we wanted to see. Up until Friday morning here, there were approaching 200,000 view minutes.

FMX 2014 will take place in Stuttgart April 22 to April 25 2014.

FMX 2013 Friday

Fri 26th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Trixter and Weta on Iron Man 3

Trixters were introduced as the elite fashion designers of the world at the moment. If that's the case, Cioffi Alessandro had an unusual beginning in this Marvel movie. Straight away a deadline. Comic Con trailer in San Diego. They had a couple of insane months to create a full sequence of animation of the Iron Man3 movie, which hadn't been created by then.  No pressure.

Looking at the concept art of the suit, the garage workshop suit in Iron Man 3, the suitcase suit in Iron Man 2 and the new suit in Iron Man 3 that actually rescues Tony Stark as he falls out the window of a building. 

Like the glove, the suit was designed from the concept and also has an under layer which was not seen in the movie. A sequence that had Stark fitted with one foot and the opposing arm bounces off a wall and lands a controlled land was created in the end as a fully LiDAR'ed set with lots of smoke, atmospherics and dust.

Guy Williams and Aaron Gilman from the team at Weta Digital came on stage later on to give an even more in depth explanation of the creative design process and animation of the Iron Man assets.

Weta worked on 500 shots and completed 37 suits, digital doubles and what was known as the Extremis effect. They were on the show in October and the whole swag had to be done in three months.  They built an entire seaport in CG.  The whole thing needed to be completely photorealistic. Six different variants of the crane was created as well, including the damage that occurs over the course of the battle. Of course there was also a ship.  A bloody great tanker. The only way Weta could work on the show was to exercise massive economy of scale. Make short cuts only when they had to and make no mistakes with the assets from DD and ILM.  A fiery glowing virus is also another character in the movie, call the Extremis effect. Generated almost entirely in Houdini, the Extremis effect took into account skeletal, muscle form, vein systems and generally made the 'sufferer' look pretty knarled up but turned them into immensely powerful adversaries.

There were some reshoots called for some of the Doc sequences, but actor Guy Pierce had started to grow a beard for the next project. So Weta had to replace the lower half of his face. An interesting workaround ensued.

FMX Thursday

Fri 26th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

What a gorgeous warm sunny day out in the plazas of Stuttgart.

After gathering some Vitamin D at the outdoor cinema for the ITFS Animation Festival that has literally transformed the middle of Stuttgart, I spent some time with Niklas Jacobson, the coFounder and VFX Supervisor at Important Looking Pirates (ILP). To compensate having to come in out of the sun, I took a virtual trip into the Pacific with this small Swedish company that works in TV and cinema commercials.

The reason I mentioned the Pacific was their work the ILP did on the feature 'Kon-Tiki', the true tale of Scandinavian scientists out to prove that Polynesians were descendants of South Americans who learned how to navigate around the Pacific using currents, with 60 VFX shots on the movie, but mostly the emotional peak moment when the Shark jumps on board. 

The shoot with the water was done off the coast of Malta. There were a lot of scenes that weren't going to have any VFX in, that in the end ILP were called for help. ILP have a great slate of proprietary software, but Maya, Mudbox, ZBrush, also Smoke and After Effects, naiad and Houdini. And always rendering with V-Ray. "Chaos Group looked after us, and kept us abreast of great ideas for fixes, tweaks and modifications," says Jacobson.   If you want to grab a look at the ILP showreel the link is down page. Totally amazing.

The most challenging shot in the 'Kon-Tiki' was the one of the Shark on deck, finding the balance between creating the active, twisting shark out of the water, while conveying the massive weight and mass of the beast in the same shot. "There was the water surface and animation of the shark itself, since it was very wet; and there was some good brute force animation," explains Jacob. "This was the first shot we started working on, and the last one we delivered."  When the Kon-Tiki sailors attack the shark and have to kill it, the set's polystyrene shark would sink down like a Smurf. So there was a reconstruction of the floor, the replacement of the shark and the creation of the blood and such coming from the wounds."

There is a scene where the ship's pet parrot is in the water with the shark. This is insanely real. There were hundreds of millions of particles in the final simulation. The session is also available to see for the next two weeks after the FMX.

There's no much stuff going on that the company has recently branched out to web, film, and game work as well.

Related links:
Important Looking Pirates
ILP Showreel page
Chaos Group
FMX 2013

Halo 4 @ FMX

Wed 24th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Matt Aldridge lead character, weapon and vehicle assist for 343 Industries had the Gloria 2 cinema full to busting when he showed the presentation for creating the faces of Halo    He drew some sly guffaws when he mentioned that a two dollar blue balloon, the Calibration sphere, was the most valuable asset on set. "Break it and you're dead," he said. This sphere gave the systems artists used complete scale, resolution and the ability to morph the rigs of one face into any other face. Creating 3D geometry was instrumental for Disney Research collaboration with Microsoft 343i.  After creating tons of images, each was categorised and scanned for an angle of incidence. Wrapping the texture around the wrap mask using the 343i plugins, the heads were then cleaned up in Mudbox and ZBrush.

Universal head technology allowed the use of the meshes of some heads to be used to create others. Simple blend shapes could author and extract different shapes from the one scanned face.

PCA is 'principle component analysis'.  This is when you can install only the bits you want to show and nothing else. But there are no hard limits or controls in the rig. The pipeline is pretty simple after that, 127 face controls, Five minutes for 2,000 frames with 3,500 verts.  For the 343i crew, PCA seemed to tick all the boxes and ended up being cheaper as well. "Multi headed characters and gameplay facial animation was available with any scan we put on," Matt adds. "Oh and Spoilers: Tilson dies in the end."

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Lara's Realtime Hair

Tue 23rd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Stephan Hodes is the Development Relationships Engineer from AMD and Wolfgang Engel is the CEO of Confetti Interactive. They presented some great guidance on the Hair Rendering, a new industry addition in the new Tomb Raider game. Confetti see themselves as a VFX studio within the game industry.  So, what's is the coolest development in games?  Realtime rendering of hair has got to be the most cutting edge work. This is the first game with hair being lit and rendered per strand of hair at runtime.

Square Enix saw this as a great chance to make their character stand out. After  the earlier milestones of hair rendering done with Nalu, Sarah Tariq, the Alice Returns game and Agni, this project was a team effort from Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Nixxes.  AMD also used additional work from Joe Alter's Shave a Haircut in creating the hair mass for Lara.

Square Enix limited the work to 7,000 guides splines for the hair. "Research included staring at a lot of hair, which made the artists seem to much like the creepy guy from Charlie's Angels," said Stephan.

Stephan suggested that sourcing some decent reference from YouTube of Michelle Jenneke, the Australian athlete who does a lot of running and almost dancing before she runs. There were constraints and influences needed to be shown in the equation. Wind, body, extra body, collision and gravity were applied as the rendering progressed.  And the whole process is artist driven.

Wolfgang Engel continued with his explanation of how the geometry process goes. "Each hair has 16 vortices and we still can't do line data, so the hair had to be converted into triangles," he explained. "Creating hair that is actually a sub pixel in width can still be rendering by using alpha blending."

Lighting Lara uses the Kajiya Kay model with the colour of the light and the second one shows the highlights using the colour of the hair. There were two rendering profiles. One for dry hair and the other for wet hair and these can be saved in profiles. Deep shadow maps were too expensive, so the shadow value of hair closer to the scalp is set lower and the hair on the top is set higher. Allocating memory to the resolutions  of people's monitors, is another step entirely.   In Tomb Raider, every strand of hair is animated and lit. There is research going on and source code and such will be online at the AMD web site in a couple of weeks. AMD, Confetti and Crystal Dynamics spent six months on this one special effect on this game.


Tue 23rd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Tarek Elaydi brought the lighting and look development together in the 'Life of Pi' is formerly from the Sydney house Animal Logic, and now has moved back to Canada.

Elaydi showed several important key images from the magical 3D title sequence of Pi, bringing wonderful shots of CG lizards and birds of paradise. Tarek showed how he controlled and worked the color range of each character and its surroundings by bringing them into a histogram and strategically balancing the relationship between the colors, being careful not to overpower any one color with the other.  "How your eyes perceive color is dependant on outside influences, a wider gamut of linear color," he said.

Later on in the afternoon of Tuesday, a VES Special presentation introduced by Eric Roth was presented by 'Life of Pi' compositing supervisor at Rhythm & Hues, Chris Kenny.

At the start of his session, Chris Kenny made a point that Rhythm & Hues is still around, but with nothing like the numbers of artists like the 1,000-odd who made the 'Life of Pi' Oscar award winning offering. "'Rhythm and Hues' is still around, but it will never be the same," he said.

Kenny also dug deep. He described the R&H CAVE.  This stands for 'Cloud for Animation and Visual Effects', an extra tool to the many different remote rendering servers in each studio location of India, the UK, USA and Canada.  He talked about the three Don't of Filmmaking.  1. Water: It can't be controlled and is dangerous; 2. Tigers:  also can't be controlled and are dangerous, and 3. Kids: They can't be controlled and are susceptible to teeth and claws.  While this was merely a variation of the old adage of never working with 'children or animals', it was a point made loud and clear that R&H doesn't dodge a challenge. Another challenge was that the lead guy had never acted before and couldn't swim. He had his own challenges as well.

Chris Kenny described the challenges of Environment interaction for the many 'characters' in the movie. By characters, he of course means the ocean, the sky as well as the expected animals and the lead. Huge workload doubled up by being presented in stereo. The many angles of VFX have to be a lot more precise. Library is all mono.  The 'Aslan test' allowed some R&D to begin years earlier, focused on 'new and different' being the type of R&D that leads to awards and further prosperity.

Director Ang Lee wanted the ocean behaving like a character. A wave could be lonely or threatening. Limited wave size. Directionality was another consideration, in that he even directed the appearance of particular wave peaks.

The ocean tank in Taiwan had its own 12 wave generators.  Kenny showed us into a library of over 70 different waves types. Tracking the boat, waves and the linear wave estimation. This is an R&D worthy from R&H.

Kenny showed us the waveTool, and five different wave codecs to allow Ang Lee to produce a gut feel of how the parameters behave. The steep waves could be translucent and show details underneath. The water and skies HDRI could be painted in. There was a SkyGrid team who spent weeks on a beach in Florida taking pictures of skies, which, Kenny says, is not as easy as it might sound. Also, if the waves was needed larger, the camera could be moved and the boat and horizon would move a whole lot more. Sometimes the small dinghy with Pi and the lifeboat with Richard Parker each moved independently and all the water is replaced with CG.  This effort also became part of the VES Simulation Awards reel.

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The long awaited session Future of the VFX Industry promised a lot and there was a commendable list of subjects talked about. The problem here seemed to be that they talked about what was a problem, why the industry "wasn't having much fun anymore". They voiced what many of us had heard before. Transacting a million dollar business into 'fun on the screen'. But to the question of what they were going to do about it, the bank of CEOs couldn't or wouldn't answer that question. It was a quandary which has an answer that was not, it seems, for this venue. Perhaps the answers belong in another forum, but it certainly dodged this afternoon.

EPIC cinematography

Tue 23rd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Karyn Monshein has been cinematographer at Blue Sky Studio for seven years. Before that she was working with NASA animating black holes, coronal animations and the rest of the cool material that makes up our night skies. Among the camera mechanics, lens and light considerations, as well as stereo and everything that this brings, the story has to be the goal and nothing else.

"You never want the viewer to see the camera or what you are doing with it. You just need to allow them to be emerged in the story," she said in her Tuesday presentation at FMX. Monshein and the team created the forest with the intention of it being photorealistic.  She wanted to see it as an audience member.  "One way of doing this," she explains was to, "use normal 40mm lenses and human head height. We feel we are part of the screen when we are placed at the height we expect."

The use of fish-eye and macro lenses brought with it both a new viewpoint, as well as scale play. The character looked small with wide angle lenses and lens distortion. A range of 18-50mm was selected, with a very shallow depth of field. As EPIC was also created in stereo, the third such production at Blue Sky, there were a lot of prior experiences the crew could draw on.  The next consideration was that the human sized characters moved very slowly, as seen by the smaller folk, and the smaller folk can be hardly seen at all by the humans.  A simple additional step, which works amazingly. The conduit of the dog character Ozzie, who sees everything of course, is also a funny touch to the story.

Several key sequences were shown during this session, all of course, unshowable here.


Screenings, Cloud Atlas

Mon 22nd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

NATALIS was one of the long awaited pieces shown at the screenings of the Animation Institute and the reception given at FMX was very positive indeed. The first FMX screening  was pretty full and gave a pretty fitting prediction of the both the calibre of the audience, the enthusiasm and the sheer number in attendance.

'Ophelia: love and privacy settings' was also very well received.  A short in colourful 3D, showing the thought-balloon that we all possess will get us into trouble if visible at critical moment. If you haven't seen it, search around. It's a pearler. 'Harald' is the misunderstood wrester with a mother trainer who misses the point. Directed by Moritz Schneider, that is another to watch out for.

Florian Gettinger from RISE spoke about the $100 million 'Cloud Atlas' in one of the first presentations of FMX. As the VFX Supervisor at the Germany outfit, he spoke about the use of Houdini in this movie and also in Iron Man 3.  There is a huge explosion in the first half of the movie. RISE is at the moment, also working on 'The Book Thief'.

Rise started by doing the Previs by Dan Glass as the first VFX production company on the shoot. Another huge job was creating the bridge in the bay island with the Volksie Bettle driving across it with the nuclear power station in the background. The director found a bridge in Scotland. But instead of using the bridge, they scanned it and brought it back home.  They dressed a runway, set up lights and put in a CG water, power station, dust and rubbish in the cabin, all digital. "Just because we could."

The Concept Art, Preproduction and Design exhibition was opened with some fanfare on Monday night. The two floating wall blocks are home now for the duration of the FMX Conference and on into mid-May with 30 of the most astounding examples of concept art for projects spanning through game art, comic art and movie concept art. There is a block of amazing frames of concept work from the team at MPC in London with some tremendous plates.   The show was opened by the show's organiser Renate Haegele and the two curators JinHo Jeon and Bin-Han To. This exhibition has been organised by the Design Center as part of its Ein()Sichten series.

Stuttgart is ready

Mon 22nd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

The FMX conference in Germany is revving to get under way.

The registration desks are amped up, the Speakers are booked in, and despite the German airline Luftansa pulling a strike over the weekend, the FMX organisers are up beat and have announced that every single speaker on the bill for FMX 2013 is still coming. The stands for the demonstrations are coming together. The cinemas across the street and upstairs are ready to be filled, and the venue generally looks totally sensational. The Haus der Wirtschaft is literally the 'House of History'. The numbers are up for attendees as well. They are all making their way or are already in the city getting a few walks in around the amazing historic buildings, restaurants, bars and amazing laneways.

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CGSociety has made into the city as well, flying 27 hours on Qantas via Dubai and London. Even took a trip in the black courtesy Audi from the airport. Thanks for the lift Ray!  Looking forward to a very productive week here in the heart of Germany.

Related links:

FMX 2013

ITFS 2013

VES, SideFX and Chaos

Tue 16th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

The Visual Effects Society is bringing a powerful series of presentations to FMX. The VES director Eric Roth presents Chris Kenny from Rhythm & Hues, who will be talking about the impossible. The so-called 'unfilmable' effects created for the Oscar winning 'Life of Pi'. Also, LOOK Effects' Mat Krentz will discuss Warm Bodies, that zom-rom-com that broke the NY Box Office and tipped Twilight off the top.

Eric Roth takes the stage and interviews Kim Libreri from Lucasfilm about his career at the helm of one of the biggest and prolific film companies in the western world. This should be quite an interview.

Christian Lorenz Scheurer has a slot on Tuesday at 12pm titled Anthropology of the Imaginary. He's set up in the Meidinger-Saal to show you through his amazing career so far as a Conceptual Designer, Matte Painter and Art Director for movies, animation, games, and theme park ride creations. Scheurer gives advice about how he sustains his career by shifting within various artistic disciplines and genres.

Fast Forward Education is a new forum for students of the craft. And this is a high-speed presentation format at FMX, just a little like the Fast Forward or Dailies at SIGGRAPH but this is for students and fresh alumni. The following schools out of the School Campus in Steinbeis-Saal at FMX will present one brand-new top project in no more than five minutes in quick succession:

AKV | St. Joost School for Fine Art and Design, Netherlands
Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin, Germany
Bournemouth University Media School, NCCA, United Kingdom
Fachhochschule Oberösterreich Campus Hagenberg, Austria
Fachhochschule Salzburg, Austria
Fachhochschule St. Pölten, Austria
Hochschule Ravensburg-Weingarten, Germany
MD.H Mediadesign Hochschule, Germany
School of Visual Arts, MFA Computer Art, United States
Technische Universität München, Germany
Universität des Saarlandes, Germany
Universität Freiburg, Germany
University of Hertfordshire Animation Program, United Kingdom
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Game Design, Switzerland

The motivation in this exciting presentation series is to show the extent of their education and confidence in selling their stories, efforts and ideas.

The Chaos Group has quite a presence at FMX, bringing workshops, presentations and special guest speakers, starting up on Tuesday morning and reaching down through the week, with an exciting range of highlights and giveaways.

Jeff Wagner is going to be at FMX too, for the very popular SideFX workshops. Senior Tech Specialist Jeff Wagner will be showing the latest effects tricks to generate effective 'destruction FX'. This is at 4pm on Tuesday in the Raum Karlsruhe room, quickly followed by his musings on Procedural Modeling workflows of Houdini 12.5.  Sounds dry?  no, not with Jeff Wagner.  This is really good, meaty instruction on Houdini, about as entertaining as it gets. 

No pressure Jeff.  ;-)

Related links:
Fast Forward Education
Chaos Group at FMX
SideFX at FMX
Anthropology of the Imaginary

FMX cherry picks

Sat 13th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Throughout the FMX week, the range of different tracks available to follow, make this an unbeatable attraction for the digital artist.

Tuesday also sees one of the important discussions of the VFX industry today tackled head-on. While not wanting to recreate the VFXSoldier session, those same issues are discussed with level heads from around the world in a panel discussion. Christian Vogt the EVP of Pixomondo in Europe, leads the discussion, together Pierre Buffin from BUF in France, Mark Driscoll, the President of LOOK Effects; Jean-Noël from jnko in France, as well as Eric Roth, the Executive Director of the VES.

Dipping into Wednesday, Renaldas Zioma from Unity Technologies shows off the 'Butterfly Effect' short, and talks about the ways that lighting, effects and all manner of deformations could be accelerated using the GPU and the Unity Editor. Working with Passion Pictures, Zioma will show off some different new ways to plan, construct and create the best animations using a game engine.  That's Wednesday at 5:30pm in the Bertha-Benz-Saal.

On Thursday, at 10am in the Grosser Saal room, the gang from Polynoid show off some of their latest and most celebrated productions. Mostly commercials, these have some interesting stories to be told. Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay, Fabian Pross and Tom Weber bring their design and storytelling prowess to this presentation.  Since opening in 2007 after their Award at Boston SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival with that unforgettable short about the fighting snails, Polynoid today is using that same spirit but combining it with the resources of a production studio.

On Friday 10:30am, catch the Trixter crew including Alessandro Cioffi and Luis Guggenberger as they get as deep as they can on the creation of the Iron Man 3 assets. There are many aspects of producing this instalment of the Marvel franchise. One being the short timeline and the surprise job of creating the spectacular Comic-Con trailer with a Maya suit without any rigging. This one is really worth catching.  Straight up after them in the König-Karl-Halle is Guy Williams, the VFX Supervisor at Weta Digital for the same production. Alongside him will be Aaron Gilman who discusses Weta’s approach to handling the transformation and destruction of 32 different Iron Man suits throughout the battle sequence as well as the role of the animation team in overall shot composition.

Autodesk also has a full day Customer Suite open to show off the best of the 2014 Digital Entertainment Creation Releases, from 9am to 7pm.

Alongside and accompanying the FMX 2013 Conference is the 20th edition of the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film. Every year at the ITFS the best applied animation in the fields of advertising, spatial communication and technology are awarded with the Animated Com Award. The ceremony will be at the Mercedes-Benz Museum on Friday night.

Related links
Unity Tech Talk
Iron Man 3

FMX getting close

Wed 10th Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

FMX is the annual animation, effects, games and transmedia conference held at the Haus der Wirtschaftin in the midst of Stuttgart, Germany. It is organized by the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg. Alongside and indeed integrated within the FMX presentations are ITFS screenings and presentations.

The topics covered in just the first half of Tuesday, the first day of FMX, cover enough of the real issues facing the industry today to be extremely useful for anyone involved and wanting to continue to be involved. Thinking outside the box is introduced as a Paradigm Shift, with virtual production, open source and crowd-funding some of the topics.

Of course, there are some great case studies of the productions on 2012 as well.  Florian Gellinger from RISE FX (as mentioned in earlier posts), with go through the sequences tackled in 'Cloud Atlas'. Renato dos Anjos from Disney Animation will show the work done on 'Wreck it Ralph'.

Blue Sky Studio and DreamWorks Animation will also be in Stuttgart in April to show the latest offerings from their talented crews.  The Blue Sky Studio movie is 'Epic', which will be shown in part in three presentations through the week, by Karyn Monschein.

There will be Recruitment presentations by Method Studios, AXIS Animation, Traffox, TOPALSSON and Mackevision in a hall/room set aside for the purpose.

Learning to be Lean, Smart and Agile in the new industry environment is a catch phrase this year, while gearing up for that challenge is an active component in five Workshops on the morning of Tuesday. These are from Chaos Group – Rendering Superpower: V-Ray in Production at Industrial Light & Magic; Setting up a V-Ray shading and lighting pipeline.  Adobe is also active with two workshops in the morning with 2D Animations Tips and Tricks, and a class to demo how to output animations to various TV and iOS formats.

Autodesk has a suite all week and Tuesday morning is set aside for the 3ds Max Entertainment Suite, Smoke in production and Maya being used in data prep and Automotive Viz.

The Screenings for the morning, include the S3D Shorts from Filmakademie, the Ars Electronica screening and the ITFS screening, with the Indie Games followed straight up after them. What a morning that will be.  And that's just the first day.

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Conference Pass
Valid for all four days of FMX 2013 from April 23-26
Professionals: 300 € / 360 € (early bird until April 19 / on site)
Students: 150 € / 180 € (early bird until April 19 / on site)
Student groups: 120 € (advance booking only)

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Related links:

FMX Registrations

Procedural FMX

Wed 3rd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

In a specially curated room Grosser Saal will be set up for a special display of Procedural Animation on Wednesday the 24th April.  Frank Reitberger will curate a world where visual beauty is generated just with code and numbers. These are experimental animations conjured together as real-time 3D graphics and animations.

From 2pm on Wednesday, the Transmedia Experiences of procedural animations are demonstrated by a run of several amazing artists. Finnish designer developer Simo Santavirta shows off his findings from almost a decade of work in real-time graphics and music visualisation as a demo scener. In a session called 'Maridane the Subconscious Mind', Santavirta shows some of the APEXvj visualisation project using an entirely new language called Uno.

Nicholas Barradeau the creative coder is let loose next up in a non-linear walk through an inventive generalist session from 3pm that sounds kind of fun. Having studied fine arts in Lyon, Barradeau presents this session which seems to be an entertaining collection of ways he has found to use his insatiable klepto-habit of gathering patterns, pictures, code, principles and notions to reorganise code into very useful and unique ways, with tangible results.

David Lenaerts is a developer from The Away Foundation and In 'A Trick of Light', what he has to present has a lot more to do with pixels and how we see 3D light and colours than this description gives out. Keeping to the Procedural Animation theme, modeling how light travels through a 3D scene is one of the most essential and exciting parts of creating a realistic looking setting. With hardware accelerated content permeating the world far beyond consoles and desktop games, it has become more important than ever. In this session, get introduced to the world of 3D and shader programming in as much a platform independent way as possible. These techniques can be applied whether you're into Stage3D, WebGL, OpenGL or DirectX.

The last session of these Procedural Animation, Dr. Frederik Vanhoutte throws it out there that 'Creative Coding' can take so many forms, but generative art and design has much to take from the form.  He'll throw a snowflake around (not literally) to describe that the great diversity of art disciplines and methods are allowing continuously stunning work is appearing both in the webspace, architecture, print and on movies and game screens. Some pretty cool visual examples are expected from this feast.

Related links:

Simo Santavirta
Nicolas Barradeauen 
The Away Foundation
Dr. Frederick Vanhoutte


Wed 3rd Apr 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

RISE's Florian Gellinger will be giving the talk on Tuesday 23 April at 10am in the Meldinger-Saal. This session will be about the work RISE FX did on 'Cloud Atlas' in which the company did a lot of work in the 1972 Louisa Rey sequence, with Halle Berry in the main cast.

Through the production, RISE took on more and more work with the Wachowskis on the other sequences. "At the end of the six stories that the movie tells, we worked on five of them.  Some science fiction CG replacement of the satellite station opening like an artichoke, all of the power plant off an island in the SF bay area, the road bridge across the bay, which we shot on a deserted airfield in Berlin,"  Gellinger says. "We just created the railings along the sides and water underneath."

RISE has just finished their work on 'Iron Man 3'. In the past they worked on many VFX heavy films like 'Captain America' as well as 20C Fox on 'X-Men First Class' and right now Florien is supervising 'The Book Thief' for 20C Fox, which they are shooting in Berlin.

RISE is also showing off their PointCloud9 LIDAR 3D scanning services which they established for use in 'Cloud Atlas'.  The system can be used to scan whole streets to be archived for later use, or 3D tracking, or Previz for CG recreation of sets.

Related links:


Pixar lights

Sat 30th Mar 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

Pixar Global Tech and Research TD Christophe Hery will be presenting a session about what new directions in regards to computer animation techniques Pixar is taking, in particular what was let loose in 'The Blue Umbrella'. "The work was begun and shared as well on 'Monster University'," Hery adds quickly. "I was working on the technology on 'Monster University' for months before, bringing the photo-realistic finish to the characters. It's a sign that this technology we put together can achieve all the different looks."

There are two or three different uses of this new technology in RenderMan used at Pixar. Giving deeper translucency and a technique used by Hery in his previous employer at ILM, in the 'Iron Man' movie. Christophe Hery shows the effects of materials that behave and react in such photo-reality within 'Blue Umbrella', as well as 'Monster University'. "It's photo real but in a styled world," adds Hery.

"The art direction and direction from Saschka in The Blue Umbrella and the DP on the show Brian Boyd, was referenced by some Japanese classics," says Hery. "This will all be revealed at the show in my talk. The lighters created all kinds of modules and unique ray-tracing tools. The big push in working on 'Monsters University' was too simplify the setups."

There are always a few people at places where Hery had worked, who were afraid when they moved to physically-based lighting. They were used to lighting with point-light sources which would never 'fall-off'. "The lighting team here at Pixar were all over the technology and loved deep compositing," Hery says, "and it helps when the director and the rest of the crew were all onboard with the tools, language and the tech.  They weren't painting with a brush anymore. They were painting with a camera."

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FMX Registration

Blue Umbrella

Wed 27th Mar 2013, by | fmx2013

New Pixar director Saschka Unseld to talk about the technology under the Blue Umbrella at FMX.

Saschka Unseld is the director of the new PIXAR short 'The Blue Umbrella'. He still works as a camera FX artist at PIXAR but he won the chance to create his short with some of the most inventive crew in the world. 'The Blue Umbrella' is to be shown before 'Monster University' when it releases later in the year.

Unseld tells me anyone at Pixar can pitch three ideas to the Heads of Story there at the Emeryville studio. "It was surprisingly straight forward," he says. "The person who decides is John Lasseter. 'Pixar shorts' is more or less his baby." Going through the 'development department', it took a little while before the three ideas were tight enough to present to the board, including Lasseter.

The story was all based on an idea of faces in the city environment coming to life. Saschka shot tests with his iPhone and animated it in Maya to assist him in both the initial pitch and helping the other artists understand what he wanted to achieve visually. He wanted to make the phrase 'the city comes to life' become literal. Add night city lights, water and wind. From what looks like a live action cityscape, the scene slowly but clearly becomes an animated story. To achieve the look, Pixar developed tools on the run. This is the first Pixar short to use the Physically Plausible Shading in RenderMan.  "There was a lot of new implementation of lighting and deep compositing. A lot of the tools were developed as we went along in the production. It was like walking on moving ground," Unseld says.



Saschka Unseld and renowned colleague Christophe Hery (the Global Tech and Research TD, formerly Lead Research & Development Engineer at ILM) will be presenting a detailed look at the technology behind 'The Blue Umbrella' in a special 'Keynote' PIXAR presentation at FMX 2013, Friday 26 April at 2pm in the Konig-Karle Halle.  In my next post, I will be talking to Christophe Hery.

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Blue Umbrella Event

One month to FMX 2013

Thu 21st Mar 2013, by Paul Hellard | fmx2013

One month to go before the doors open for the FMX for 2013 in Stuttgart. CGSociety and Ballistic Media will be going to FMX 2013, the most influential conference set in Europe on the VFX of digital entertainment and CG. The CGSociety Diary is launched right on cue for when FMX reveals a first preview of its daily program including illustrious names, high-quality presentations and workshops.

FMX 2013 has the mantra of 'lean, smart and agile' which gives a few clues to the way through the present minefield of the VFX industry. One of the main events of the first days of FMX will be an address and debate by Ed Ulbrich, CEO at Digital Domain, together with VES Executive Director Eric Roth, Mark Driscoll from LOOK Effects and Pierre Buffin from BUF, followed by an open Q&A session on this very contentious issue.

There is of course sunshine with the rain, the yin with the yan. There is another session, called 'The Big Shift: Five Reasons to be Optimistic about the Future of VFX'.  Hear from Marc Petit, Rob Bredow (SPI), David Morin (Autodesk), and Don Parker (Shotgun).

Oscar winning films such as 'Life of Pi' and 'Brave', the creators behind the most recent Bond adventure 'Skyfall', Guillermo del Toro's highly anticipated 'Pacific Rim', the zombie romantic comedy 'Warm Bodies', Indie Games, gaming hits such as 'Crysis 3' and 'Tomb Raider' are among this year's presentations. Moreover, technical talks complement the program with SIGGRAPH Papers as well as a series on Cloud Computing, Cloud Gaming, Open Source and 3D Printing.   More info very soon.

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FMX 2013

Schedule Overview

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