In Review: fmx/08 In Stuttgart
Trend No. 1: the segmentation of isolated formats and platforms is a thing of the past. Convergence has become the keyword for the increasing need to make content available on all platforms and at all times. After all, the complete array of media have now migrated to one same, digital basis technology. In the meantime, ideas, characters and stories are much less dependent on a specific medium or genre. The distribution paths they take can be woven seamlessly together. This freedom and simplicity plays into the hands of the creatives in the industry. One example among many was presented by Aardman Animation: the figure ANGRY KID was originally intended for television, but first made a splash in the Internet before going on to star in mobile content downloads and the digital channel BBC Three. Proof that convergence is rampant in non-creative sectors as well was offered by the series VISUAL COMPUTING CLUSTER, created by MFG Innovation and dedicated to visualization and simulation in scientific or industrial context. The automotive industry with its strong base in southwest Germany offers a good example of the transfer of animation and 3-D technologies to the economic sector: today, design usually relies on computer-assisted visualization. The institutions and high-tech companies in the Cluster presentations included the Universities of Konstanz and Karlsruhe, the German Cancer Research Center, the Fraunhofer Institutes of Mannheim and Darmstadt as well as TRIDELITY and IC:IDO.
Trend No. 2: the passive consumer is giving way to the active user. Prerequisite for the interactive use of digital media is the immediate availability of animation in realtime. This technology is surpassing its roots in computer games, demo-scenes and machinima and is becoming the driving force behind computer animation, even in film. And the aesthetics and narrative of modern gaming worlds are in keeping with the technology and are no longer comparable with their often crude beginnings. Serious games have become a means for education and training, casual games are now elaborate time-killers and immersive games offer the empathy and suspense of cinema. Details of gaming diversity and import were presented at great length together with Joseph Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Despite the many achievements that have already been made, we are only at the beginning of the 3-D revolution, as new artistic and technical possibilities are becoming visible on the horizon. Renowned production designer Alex McDowell (MINORITY REPORT, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, CORPSE BRIDE) coined the term "immersive design" to allude to the increasingly porous quality of story structures. The borders between reality and viruality are blurring, the audience is taking part in a world created via 3-D techniques and virtual design -- but infused through and through with narrative. McDowell discussed a new culture of design with Malcolm Garrett, Creative Director of Applied Information Group and Alex Laurent, VFX Senior Art Director with LucasArts.
Whether live-action or animation. no film can be good without a good story. MFG Filmfoerderung's Panel for Writing Animation has become an integral part of fmx. Susanne Schlosser, most recently Director of EM.TV, led the lively presentation of three current productions: THE COLD HEART by Hannes Rall and Martina Doecker (an adaption of the fable by Wilhelm Hauff); the return of ANNIE & BOO as a feature film and KLAEFF AND HAXE by Stefan Raiser (Dreamtool Entertainment) and Simon X.Rost.
fmx/forum bridges the industry and young talent, but it is also a hands-on trainings center at an extraordinary level of expertise. A wide array of talks, demos, master classes and seminars complement fmx/expo in offering visitors the chance to learn about innovations and polish personal qualifications. In 2008, the impression these offerings had on the audience was almost tangible: parallel series of events were met with a run of enthusiasm, as were the recruiting sessions.