FMX 2012 Announces Program Highlights

With less than seven weeks remaining before FMX 2012 opens its doors, Europe's leading conference on the creation, production and distribution of digital entertainment is proud to present this year's program highlights.

Press release from FMX 2012:

With less than seven weeks remaining before FMX 2012 begins, the 17th Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia has announced this year’s program highlights. This year's FMX audience can look forward to visual effects extravaganzas such as John Carter and presentations on blockbuster movies such as the upcoming Men in Black sequel, MIB III, in addition to brand-new animation highlights like Ice Age 4, Madagascar 3, Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! as well as presentations on the popular games series SSX and Mortal Kombat.

FMX has an illustrious guest list this year: In addition to Oscar winner Rob Legato, who gives an in-depth account of the VFX creation for Hugo, FMX 2012 is happy to announce two further confirmations by renowned Academy Award winners: VFX pioneers Doug Trumbull, who just received an Honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievement and worked as Effects Supervisor on 2001: Space Odyssey, Blade Runner or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and four-time Technical Academy Awards winner Ray Feeney. At FMX, Trumbull provides an in-depth look into this prolific work. Together with RFX president Ray Feeney and presenter and renowned film journalist Bill Desowitz of Immersed in Movies, he will also explore how higher frame rates will improve the quality of cinematic presentation.

Moreover, audience and experts will get more than their money's worth when FMX highlights the vast field of Virtual Production. With the success of Avatar, Virtual Production exploded on the scene as a new, effective way to make movies in the digital age. Centered on the ability for filmmakers to interact with virtual worlds in real time, Virtual Production enables an iterative workflow that is blurring the boundaries between pre-production, production and post. Stay tuned for further information on the Virtual Production track, sponsored by FMX main partner Autodesk, which will cover topics from World Building and Previsualization to the Virtual Production stage on movies such as Tintin, Real Steel, Hugo, War Horse and Total Recall.

The FMX 2012 program is now online at www.fmx.de.

VFX pioneers Doug Trumbull and Ray Feeney

Director and VFX supervisor Douglas Trumbull, who has substantially shaped VFX ever since Stanley Kubrick's 1968 cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, has helped to create cinematic milestones such as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and, most recently, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. At FMX, Trumbull provides an in-depth look into this prolific work. Together with RFX president Ray Feeney and presenter and renowned film journalist Bill Desowitz of Immersed in Movies he will also explore how higher frame rates will improve the quality of cinematic presentation. While current movies like Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is being shot at 48fps and James Cameron intends to shoot his upcoming Avatar sequels at 60 fps, Trumbull is already paving the way with his Showscan Digital process of 120 fps.

In addition, Ray Feeney presents a retrospective on the history of Visual Effects. Feeney himself has created and implemented numerous new technologies, many of which have become industry standard techniques. Intimately familiar with Robert Abel and Associates (RA&A) from his time there, Feeney reveals how the innovative work of RA&A continues to influence various VFX developments and processes that are nowadays taken for granted - spanning from full ray-traced renders to fluid character animation.

Men in Black III and Sherlock Holmes 2

Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) return once more to save the earth when Men in Black III premieres on May 25th. It's the first of the Men in Black movies to be released in 3D. Two weeks before its opening day, Jay Redd, Visual Effects Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, offers an exclusive look behind the scenes of the upcoming science fiction comedy. It's been ten years since Men in BlackII conquered the screen and fifteen years since the original MIB first enthused movie goers. Since then, a lot has changed in Visual Effects technologies and approaches. Jay Redd analyzes how the mixing of old-school approaches and new-school techniques were able to create a large-scale, extensive variety of effects from nearly invisible to fully-virtual characters and environments all the while staying true to the spirit, look and feel of the first two films.

With Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, FMX features yet another successful sequel. Ben White, CG Supervisor at Framestore, dissects several sequences of the blockbuster that stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, highlighting a wide variety of techniques that were used. In his presentation, White pays special heed to the impressive final slow motion waterfall shot.

John Carter: Environments and creatures

FMX is most happy to host three presentations on the adventures of John Carter as part of the "Effects: Showcase" track. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs's 11-volume Barsoom series, Andrew Stanton's John Carter features over 2.000 visual effect shots delivered by four companies.

The major part of these visual effect shots were produced by Double Negative. Their Visual Effects Supervisor and Co-Founder Peter Chiang discusses how to raise the bar of visual effects production in his presentation "Creating the world of John Carter." In a similar manner, his colleague Ken McGaugh, Visual Effects Supervisor, explains how his team brought to life CG characters and creatures inhabiting the red planet. McGaugh speaks about the challenges of taking the various Tharks, Thoates, Woola and the white apes all the way from initial concepts, through modeling and rigging, and into animation. Moreover, the British company Cinesite, which produced over 800 visual effect shots and converted over 87 minutes of the final film into 3D, will presents its approach to John Carter. Sue Rowe, Cinesite's Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, reveals how her team created a considerable part of the film's environments, amongst others the warring cities of Zodanga and Helium, the Thern Sanctuary, the big air battle and full-screen digi-doubles of John Carter and Princess Dejah.

Icy entertainment: Ice Age 4 & Arthur Christmas

The Ice Age movies, which were produced by Blue Sky Studios, rank among the most successful animation series of all times. The fourth installment Ice Age: Continental drift, which premieres July 13th, will continue this unique success story.

At FMX, Supervising Animator Nick Bruno and Lead Animator Jeff Gabor, who won the Annie Award for "Best Character Animation" for Rio just a few weeks ago, provide valuable insights into the process of animation two months before Ice Age 4 is officially released. In their presentation "How do you Scrat?" Bruno and Gabor pay tribute to Scrat, the most popular of all Ice Age characters. They share Blue Sky's approach to squashing, stretching, manipulating and contorting the CG squirrel into his famous extreme poses.

And as if that isn't enough snow for one FMX, Aardman Animation brings additional winter cheer to Stuttgart. The British production company, internationally known for their Academy Award-winning Wallace and Gromit series, constitutes another "Animation Highlight:" Director-Supervising Animator Seamus Malone explains the work on the Christmas tale Arthur Christmas. He traces the film's creation from its story development, character design and animation test at Aardman in Bristol to the actual animation production at Sony Pictures in Culver.

Madagascar 3 and The Pirates!

The Madagascar movies have been just as positively received by both movie goers and specialist journalists as the Ice Age movies. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is the third installment and the first of all three films to be released in 3D. The story follows the much loved characters Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippopotamus on their adventurous escape from Africa and involuntary stop-over in Europe. One month before its official release, Scott Peterson, Head of Effects at DreamWorks Animation, looks behind the scenes and delivers exclusive insights into their journey.

In a similar vein, Tom Barnes, the Technical Director of Aardman Animations, discloses why The Pirates! Band of Misfits is not only the company's first stop-motion clay animated feature to be released in Digital 3D, but also the most ambitious Aardman stop-frame film to date. One of the film's outstanding features is its attention to detail: Several Aardman designers molded approximately 340 individual latex figures to give the movie its distinctive touch.

Wild 'n Strange Animation

The art and craft of Animation exceeds blockbuster and family entertainment - the FMX slot "Animation: Wild 'n Strange", curated by Animation Director Andreas Hykade, explores how three short films and one media institution use animation to achieve their aims.

Director Marv Newland explains how he used animation techniques to create his experimental short CMYK that constitutes a symphony of color and sound. In a similar vein, filmmaker Rosto A.D., whose artwork has been compared to Tim Burton, reveals the animation processes involved in creating his 30-minute musical The Monster of Nix that features the voices of Tom Waits and Terry Gilliam. In addition, Bo Mathorne, who directed the graduate film project Backwater Gospel from the Danish film school Animation Workshop, demonstrates how animation can be used in a convincingly macabre style. However, animation is much more than entertainment: Kevin Chuan-Chang Wang (Next Media Animation) elucidates the production of Animated News with the help of game development technologies that accelerate the production processes to match the rapidly changing news cycle.

Two successful game series: SSX and Mortal Kombat

The extended games section at FMX serves two successful gaming long runners this year. TJ Galda, Senior CG Supervisor at EA Sports, illustrates how the latest SSX edition sets new standards for visual arts in Games. Moreover, he illuminates how he was able to create one hundred drops on 29 different mountain peaks with a budget that would have sufficed for a mere 15 tracks a few years ago.

The popular Mortal Kombat series, which has been playing a pivotal role in the game scene for twenty years now, is another point of interest in 2012. Dominic Cianciolo, Cinematic Director at NetherRealmStudios,devotes his talk to creative aspects of different production processes and essential components that are needed in order to create a long-term, emotional bond between the gamer and the franchise: an elaborate character performance, realistic fights and a complex storyline. Working together, these components can achieve success even in the face of massive competition as exists in the fighting game genre.

 Outside the box: Games and Transmedia

As is an international meeting point for the merging film and games industries, FMX broadens its perspective beyond singular case studies: It thinks outside the box. Rick Stringfellow, Executive Art Director at EA Sports, speaks about the quickly transforming game industry. In a further talk, Stringfellow observes the difficulties of adjusting both quantity and quality to the ever-expanding games sector and its spread onto mobile devices and web browsers.

On the other hand, Microsoft Studios' Director of Central Media, Ben Cammarano, reveals why his company dropped the word "Games" from its title. He traces how the game industry aspires to increase interconnectivity to the adjoining interactive media branch and elaborates on the challenges this development presents with regard to budget and content.

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